Nine Dead Has No Protagonists

Nine Dead

It really doesn’t. The masked man is the closest thing to a good guy, but he kills people.

Nine Dead doesn’t really break any new ground in the well-treaded realm of horror, but it certainly provides enough intrigue to hold your interest until the end. The premise, nine people trapped in a room until they can discover why they’re there, allows the film to tantalize viewers with a slow but steady trickle of information that leads up to the dramatic conclusion. All you know is that they deserve to be there, and as they each begin spilling their personal stories, you’ll understand why.

Nine DeadNine Dead wastes no time in delivering its victims to the killroom. From the very start, you witness a chain of seemingly unrelated kidnappings that ends in nine people trapped in the heart of a vengeful scheme. Handcuffed to metal poles and placed before a timer, the supposedly guilty group must speak amongst themselves to find out just what they did to earn their imprisonment. Every ten minutes, the masked captor enters the room, asks if they’ve found the answer, and kills one of them when they have nothing to offer.

Since the entire film is essentially built around spoilers, there are only two things left for me to explain: the characters, and the somewhat dissatisfying conclusion. I’ll do a bullet list for the characters.

  • Kelley, the cutthroat attorney at law.
  • Jackson, the cop who’s not as clean as he thinks he is.
  • Eddie Vigoda, the timid and innocent type.
  • Father Francis, the devout Catholic priest.
  • Nhung Chan, the Chinese woman who sadly does not speak English.
  • Sully Fenton, the easily amused and short-fused head of a gang.
  • Leon, the gun running black guy. He doesn’t die first.
  • Coogan, the unabashed pedophile.
  • Christian, the barkeep and Hollywood actor.

Nine DeadInteresting lineup, huh? Makes you wonder how they could all possibly be connected.

My final note, aside from stating the opinion that Nine Dead is worth a watch if you like webs of intrigue and character driven stories, is that person X does NOT get away scot-free at the end. The masked man was filming them the entire time, so when the police find the recording devices, they will log the video as evidence. No evil goes unpunished in this’un.

Ben the Book beat Nine Dead upside its nine heads with a stop sign, saying the acting was vomitous and the plot was only being held together by the stubborn understains of its knickers. While I can promise you that the film isn’t that icky, it is certainly no more than a once-off horror film to satisfy an idle mind. Boredom, not stupidity. Whatever. It wasn’t like Saw at all, though. Read this collection of words:

The Girl Next Door Makes Me Very Sad

The Girl Next Door

I’d like to start this of by saying I think The Girl Next Door is one of (if not THE most) unpleasant movies I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, it fulfills several “good movie formula” requirements. Hate to start with a list, but I also hate everything about this movie so there you go:

  • You make emotional connections with the protagonists.
  • You’re immersed in the plot, hoping for the best outcome.
  • A revenge scene is set up, and it’s hard not to be hooked.
  • You hate the antagonists. I don’t care who you are.

The Girl Next DoorOverall, it makes you feel involved. You’re probably saying, “But Mr. Writey type guy, that sounds like a movie I’d really enjoy!” A preteen boy makes friends with an older teen girl who was sent to live with her aunt after her parents died. The girl winds up trapped in a basement and is repeatedly raped and tortured until she dies from malnutrition and her injuries. Yeah, and the “based on a true story” means we should be sympathetic and not offended. You don’t make a movie to glorify that kind of shit. For the love of all that’s reasonable, they take a blowtorch to the main girl’s nether regions. I shit you not.

How was The Girl Next Door not rated NC-17? Sensationalizing rape, torture, and eventually murder and calling it an artistic piece… Alright, I’m in my own little world of distaste here. Let’s do a synopsis or something.

Once upon a time, David Moran met Meg Loughlin. She was orphaned in a car accident that left her sister Susan crippled, and now lives with her aunt. Ruth Chandler. Ruth is the “cool parent” whose home all the kids visit to hang out and drink beer. She also talks about a lot of inappropriate sexual stuff, so you basically know she’s trouble from the start. Meg is quick to tell David that there’s more to Ruth than her apparent lack of decency, but that information goes unused. When Meg tries to tell a police officer what’s happening in the Chandler home, the movie quickly collapses into a cesspit of evil. I’ll spare you the finer details, as they’re basically pornographic.

The Girl Next DoorMeg winds up trapped in the basement with her clothes cut off and her arms bound to the ceiling. The rest of the movie is about how the neighborhood kids and Ruth torment her. Starvation, branding, rape, genital mutilation, humiliation, and all the damn neighborhood kids just sit by and watch it happen. Some even take part in the activities! And all the while, David Moran tries to be the “good guy,” but he doesn’t say shit to anybody about the horrible, monstrous things that are being done to his new friend. Police? Nah. Parents? Psh. So that’s why I hate him. Because he’s an ass for no reason.

In the end, Ruth gets clubbed and dies. Police show up to save the day, and Meg dies while laying down and having a heart to heart with David. Hooray! The feel-good ending everyone wanted to see, right?

Constantce of has a… delightfully misguided opinion of the film, though several points are accurate. The Girl Next Door IS a feel-bad movie, but you don’t need to watch it. Needing to watch pan-off torture porn for entertainment is… not good. It does do what horror movies are meant to do, so… it pains me to say, but I suppose it passes. Here’s a nice review for you:

The Grudge 2, Everybody Dies

The Grudge 2

Also known as Curse of the O Face in some obscure subcultures.

The Grudge 2 is the sequel to an American remake of a Japanese supernatural horror flick. That’s two layers of “Crapetize me, Captain!” that this movie has passed through, and it came out marginally okay on the other end. Fresh scares, new characters, larger body count; the Scream 2 formula applied well, unlike in Scream 2. But can the sequel to an iffy horror movie be any more than iffy? Likely not, but it isn’t that bad!

Continued directly from installment one, Karen is visited by her crappy sister Aubrey, who is under orders from their sick mother. Aubrey is to take Karen out of the country because her dearest sister is, for lack of a better phrase, cursed to insanity. It doesn’t work so well, because Sarah Michelle Gellar goes splat on the pavement from the hospital’s roof. The blood effect is pretty funny. It looks like someone spilled a slim-necked vase full of hot sauce.

The Grudge 2A couple of American students studying abroad in Japan play a prank on another student (played by the cute-as-hell Arielle Kebbel), which results in the curse being pulled from the burned down house and outward. As it turns out, burning the house only served to remove the spatial restriction on the curse. Now, Kayako’s got her work cut out for her. She needs to kill everybody in the entire world. Just kidding. That would take too long. She makes a mean cheerleader bitch pee herself so… wowie zowie.

You do get an explanation of how Kayako’s spirit actually blossomed into a life-taking curse, which is nice. Plot, eh? Kayako’s mother was a spiritual medium, taking darkness from the bodies of the afflicted and feeding it to her young daughter. Thus, Kayako was slowly filled with pure evil. There is a brief revenge scene in which her mommy dearest dies, but it’s sort of unceremonious. I mean, by this point, a girl was pulled into a mirror. That’s much cooler than just slumping over and being made dead.
The Grudge 2I’m actually watching The Grudge 2 as I’m writing this, so bear with me. Probably a little scatterbrained. It seems as though the different groups in this film aren’t at all related to one another. A married couple and a kid, a teen couple, Aubrey and her family, the kids at the school… The only connection is Kayako. It would be a lovely web of intrigue if any of them had anything to do with the curse, or if more than ONE person tried to lift the curse. But nah! They’re just meat for the grinder. The more people you introduce, the more people you get to kill, right?

Psh. Favoring the villain isn’t a bad thing, but the issue here is that Kayako is more an animal than a living curse. She just kills everything she touches, no rhyme or reason. It’s slasher movie logic embodied in a ghostly horror figure. “No salvation” can be a powerful phrase if hope of salvation actually exists, but you know from the very beginning that Kayako ain’t gonna stop ‘til everyone drops. Why bother?

Josh Tyler of CinemaBlend compares Kayako’s Grudge 2 curse to the common cold, which is true. The house used to be evil, but now everyone who touches someone who touched the house previously gets cursed. It’s explained that the fire changed that, because upscaling, right? It’s fun for the scares, but if it isn’t scary to you, you’re wasting your time. Click this linkpoo for more information, okay:

The Grudge, Whack-a-Mole Contortionism

The Grudge

I remember a time when The Grudge was considered the latest and greatest horror movie. Looking back on it now, Sarah Michelle Gellar seemed a bit out of place in the American remake of the Japanese horror flick Ju-on. That could just be because I don’t care for her, but alas; this review’s more about the film than the cast. I’m sure most of you probably already know the story, but for the sake of formality, tallyho.

The origin of the curse is the most important aspect, as you’ll often see it reflected in the curse-killings. Kayako Saeki was locked in a loveless marriage with Takeo, and found herself growing obsessed with Peter Kirk, and American college professor working in Japan. One day, Kayako comes home to find Takeo reading her Peter-crazy (tee hee) diary. He doesn’t seem very happy. One snapped spine, one drowned Toshio Saeki (their son), and one slit cat’s throat later, Takeo hangs himself. Thus, the curse is born from Kayako’s rage. Toshio can come too.

The GrudgeFun fact: The Grudge uses noise triggers to tap into your fear centers. The guttural inhaling sound Kayako makes and the high pitched meowing sound Toshio makes show up in moments of great tension. Thus, the sounds become scary. You may get goosebumps the first or second time you hear them. Maybe. The more you know!

The Grudge has a lot of throwaway protagonists, which is rather unfortunate, because if you don’t wind up liking any of the main characters in a horror flick, you can’t feel bad for them when they die or go insane. Kayako chews through a whole bunch of throwaways before going after the main main character, letting her go, then performing one final scare just before the credits. Honestly, you watch this one for Kayako’s creepy shenanigans, not the plot or characters.

Because of how absolutely BORING all the characters are, I’m not going to describe them. They just die anyway. Instead, I’ll talk about the aforementioned Kayako monkeyshines! Hooray! Warning: May contain gurgling noises, kitty screams, black hair, and being pulled into nowhere.

I suppose it would ruin your entire experience if I called Kayako a whack-a-mole contortionist. She pops out when you least expect her, and sometimes she goes up and down stairs doing THE most uncomfortable inverse crabwalk you’ve ever seen. It’s almost adorable. I can’t say a lot for Toshio, aside from that he’s got a good creepy stare. And that he meows.
The GrudgeHijinks! Right-o. These are the main focus of the movie, and they aren’t too shabby. You never see Kayako or the mighty morphing Cat Ranger physically kill anyone, but they like to appear in beds and doorways and grandfather clocks. Sometimes they put their victims into a catatonic state and steal the life from them. Sometimes they pull their panicked prey into nowhere. Imagine that! You’re sleeping in a bed, when suddenly you notice a swell near the end of your mattress. What could it be? You lift up your sheets to find Kayako’s pale and bloody face nestled on your sternum, and she suddenly tugs your ankles and pulls you into nowhere.

Should you laugh? Be afraid? I have no idea, and because of that, I LIKE The Grudge. It has earned the Softcore Horror Seal of Approval.

Bill Beyrer of CinemaBlend hates The Grudge with a passion. HATES it! Says the cast should have been a bunch of unknowns, and that the DVD case is scarier than the movie itself. It’s true, eventually you get used to having Kayako’s dead face shoved in your face. Eventually, you just want to lean your head forward a little, give her a peck on the forehead, and say, “Okay, you can stop now.” Read up here:

The Caller, Time Traveling Telephone

The Caller

From what I’ve seen, The Caller is the only horror movie I know of that implements temporal anomalies in a clever way. Though it incorporates horror elements, it seems like more of a slow-paced quasi-psychological thriller than a scary movie. You encounter some lovely scenes where events in the past immediately shape the present/future, which are the high points of the film. That, and when the main character’s ex-husband comes over and tries to mark his territory. They may seem different, but they come together in the end and really flip the psychological switch.

Mary Kee is the main character, and she’s recently moved into a crappy apartment to escape her ex-husband to be. Very early on, she is called by an older woman named Rose, who is asking for Bobby. As it is a horror movie, watchers may wonder just who or what Bobby is. Is he a ghost haunting the apartment? A stalker? A squatter? As the calls go on, however, Mary discovers that Rose believes she is calling from the past; the 1970s, to be specific. Bobby is her abusive husband.

The CallerMary is very skeptical, making an extreme effort to stop the calls, only to receive proof that there is some temporal anomaly taking place. The more proof Rose offers, the more insane her behavior becomes. She murders Bobby and builds a wall to hide him, a wall that shows up in Mary’s own apartment. At that point, Mary tries to cut off contact altogether while seeking information about Rose herself.

According to her landlord, Rose is dead. She had hung herself several years earlier. The dead time-traveling old lady doesn’t take too kindly to being ignored, though, not with such a good friend to give her life reason. She begins picking off people in Mary’s present, spontaneously altering reality to match her actions in the present/past. In fact, she even sends her surviving future self to meet Mary after a particularly unpleasant encounter. But that’s the conclusion, so you go figure out how it ends.

On the excite-o-meter, I’d rank The Caller moderate-dull. Everything between the time-traveling bits and abusive ex-husband gambit is uninteresting. I read that this film began as a 30-45 minute short, and I’m inclined to say it should have stayed that way. Further reading on the movie would reveal that all the phone call scenes were done real-time, and most of them were improvised. Still boring. What a bummer.

The CallerMichael Gingold of Fangoria reveals that several of the main actors are plucked from some vampire series called True Blood. I’m not sure if that’s relevant to you or not, but it could be nice to see one of your (“your” in a general sense) favorite fanged actor/actress. Otherwise, this alt-review is rather positive. Take a peek:

Se7en – All He Wanted was One


I never really saw Morgan Freeman or Brad Pitt as old-fashioned detective types. I mean, they’re probably two of the most adaptive actors I know, but even so, they feel a little out of place in Se7en. Unlike Kevin Spacey, whose acting as the serial killer John Doe is nothing short of beautifully morbid and morbidly beautiful. Maybe I’m just using sketchy mental references. After all, Freeman was in Dreamcatcher. That’s… that’s even more out of place. I’m going off on a bit of a tangent, so I’ll get back on track with a little synopsis action.

Detective William Somerset (Freeman) works in an unnamed city plagued with crime and urban decay. A stoic man with a grim philosopy, Somerset wants to quit the force and leave the city as quickly as possible. He takes on Detective David Mills (Pitt), an emotional married man, as a partner while working a case involving the murder of a particularly obese guy. When a second murder pops up, centering around the word Greed and a dead lawyer, Somerset returns to the scene of the first murder and finds Gluttony written in grease behind the fat man’s fridge.
Se7enThat’s when Somerset realizes that the killings are connected, and postulates that the killer is going to kill five more people based around the seven deadly sins. Still on the list are Sloth, Lust, Pride, Envy, and Wrath. The progression of kills continues smoothly until they move past Lust, when Mills accidentally cues Somerset to try to link the killer to the library books he’s checked out.

Right on the money, they stumble onto John Doe’s apartment. After a close encounter, the killer passes up a chance to kill Mills and makes a successful escape. For his next kill, he carves the face of an esteemed model and glues a phone and sleeping pills to her hands. As she is his target for Pride, I’m pretty sure you know how this one goes.

That’s when things get funny (not haha funny, I can tell you), though. John Doe turns himself in, shocking both Mills and Somerset. He sets up an ultimatum: either they accompany him to the location of the remaining bodies, or he pleas insanity across the board. That’s when one of the greatest twists in murder mystery history hits, and Brad Pitt makes the best set of facial expressions I’ve ever seen. No spoilers, though. Sorry.

Se7enSe7en’s a morbid classic that you can always go back to. It binds curious interpretations of faith and morality into a darker, consolidated theme that makes the viewer ask questions after watching. Whether it comes off as thought-provoking or not is irrelevant in the long run; it’s one hell of a good movie. Great acting, great tone, satisfying finish. Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, and Kevin Spacey pull their roles off admirably, resulting in a story that keeps you intrigued until the end.

Nick Venable of CinemaBlend… Holy CRAP that was a lot of puns. This guy’s credible in my book. Seriously though. Se7en’s one of those murder mystery movies you don’t want to pass up. Regarding tone, I couldn’t agree more. The bleak, disillusioned city that the sin murders takes place in feels all too perfect for the scenario. Regarding the Blu-Ray content and extra features… you’ll have to check this one out:

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:

Let the Right One In: Come for the Blood, Stay for the Story

Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In is deceptive in many ways. I don’t mean that at a negative. It’s kind of like a movie party that you aren’t looking forward to, but then it turns out to be awesome. The title suggests that it’ll be about a survivor and his/her vampire friend surviving some sort of Nosferatu holocaust. Then, you read the description. Wait, what? It’s about a bullied boy meeting a troubled vampire girl and falling in love with her? That sounds corny and not horror-ish at all. Then, out of sheer curiosity, you watch the movie and stumble through the sweetest, saddest emotional trip you’ve ever experienced, all the while taking the gratuitous bloody violence in stride. That’s right, this is a love story that’s better, much better than Twilight. Stephanie Meyer, you can kiss the broadside of my a-

As I was saying, it’s a sweet and sad tale about a boy who falls in love. This boy’s name is Oskar, and he’s your atypical oddball bully victim. He has a morbid interest in death and accidents, and is picked on by a control-freak of a classmate. His life is okay, though. He lives with his divorced parents, moving from house to house cyclically. He’s got a small knife, and is planning to use it to stab his bully. Good times.

Let the Right One InAnd then, Eli moves into the apartment just next to his. The audience isn’t kept unaware of her state for very long. The moment she settles, you see an older gentleman blocking the window with cardboard and posters. This older gentleman is also responsible for murdering people in secluded areas, slitting their throats, and draining their blood into a plastic container. It seems he’s stricken with the foulest of fortunes, because as you’ll see in the film, he is nearly found out each time he tries to harvest.

In the middle of all this, Oskar and Eli have a few exchanges. They meet in the snow courtyard in front of their homes, and talk a little. Eli expresses that she can’t be Oskar’s friend, but ends up accepting a Rubik’s cube from him and solving it. It becomes increasingly obvious that Oskar adores her, and after her ward suffers from a terrible accident, she begins to reciprocate.

The core of the antagonistic force in this movie lies with the bullies and the townsfolk. Bullies to Oskar, townsfolk to Eli, obviously. Eli can’t help herself when she needs to feed, so she is forced to pick off the townsfolk, bit by bit. Oskar, thanks to some encouragement from Eli, stands up to his bullies. He whacks the leader in he ear with a stick and causes his eardrum to burst. As such, they want revenge, just as the townsfolk want revenge on Eli for murdering their friends.

Let the Right One InIt isn’t the plot that makes the movie, in my opinion. It’s the curiosity. Oskar is so curious about Eli, and once he discovers that she’s a vampire, that curiosity skyrockets. He discovers the little nuances of being a vampire from her. He offers her candy, which makes her throw up. He asks her to come into his apartment without being invited, and she begins to bleed from every orifice. Even skin pores. There’s more, plot-wise and nuance-wise, but I’m cutting off here. Let the Right One In is too good a movie to spoil. The conclusion is perfect, and I wouldn’t want to take that away from you.

Let the Right One in addresses vampirism in a classic yet new way. Interview with a Vampire shows you what happens when a vampire is stuck as a child but wants to be an adult. Twilight shows you what happens if you write while you’re drunk and horny (zing). Let the Right One In shows what happens when a child vampire interacts with someone of their visual age. End result? You heard it in the intro; A deeply emotional, immersive movie that keeps you wondering until the very end, and maybe even after that. Fair warning, though. Things get bloody intense.

Brian’s Film Review Blog also has plenty of positive things to say about Let the Right One In. If you’re into vampire subculture, you need to see it. It’s too sweet a story to pass up. I will agree with Brian that the momentary flash of vampire groin is a bit much, but it’s not exactly human, so there’s no need to actually get your knickers in a knot about it. All the same, it can be offensive if interpreted as dirty instead of a curiosity. I’m not sure whether or not beheading is as offensive, so I’ll just let you know that there’s a beheading. Here’s the link:

The Strangers Come Knocking

The Strangers

The Strangers is a movie meant to make the already paranoid feel as though their suburban homes are actually holiday homes in the middle of nowhere, and that being attacked by psychotic murderers in cutesy masks is an inevitability. It’s a movie that plays off of the fear of home intruders, which is meant to have a lasting impact. You know how some movies have a lingering effect, like the way The Shining makes you uncomfortable about turning a corner into a long hallway.

Sadly, The Strangers makes the mistake of slapping “inspired by true events” onto their piece and using an ominous, deep voiced narrator to set the mood before the actual events of the movie take place. If you can stomach these things without letting them ruin your outlook, you may actually enjoy yourself. Let’s talk synopsis, shall we?

James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) and Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) head back to the Hoyt holiday home (say that ten times fast) after James pops the question and Kristen bursts his bubble. He had everything set up: rose petals everywhere, dim candlelight, fine wine, and even a tub of ice cream. Why would she say no? Oh that’s right because what’s the use in being married when you’re going to have a six inch blade inserted into your sternum-
The StrangersWhoops, did I say that out loud?

Jamesy boy takes it upon himself to drive to the store to get Kristen some smokes after she flatly announces that she has none, and to call his drunken friend over in the meantime. He needs someone to pick him up, after all. Before he can leave, however, a weird blonde girl knocks on their door at four in the morning, asking for Tamara. Unusual. Strange. Unnerving. Dare I say… dangerous? They turn her away promptly.

While Kristen’s home alone, blondie makes a second appearance, asking for Tamara again, though repeating her question and response to the letter. Odd. Freaky. Ominous… Then she starts bashing the door and blocking the chimney shaft and telling her sack-headed accomplice to startle Kristen’s shit by standing outside a large window and ringing chimes to get her attention. Sack-headed as in wearing a burlap sack on his head, not the other crude bit of imagery that I didn’t intend to invoke.

James returns, acting as manly, assertive, and doubtful as he can when his not-quite wife starts panicking and crying and being useless all over the place. Then they try to drive away and a third cutely masked figure rams a huge pickup into their little car several times in order to convey a less than polite “nope.”

The StrangersYou may have thought that James getting a gun and having called his friend Mike over would mean they stood a chance, but you’d be silly if you did. James blows half the head off of his poor, intoxicated chum and is taunted for doing so by the masked trio of murderous hypocrites.

Once that happens, the two protagonists start looking for phones and radios to use, wind up getting captured, and all that jazz. When you see “inspired by true events,” you have to assume that’s a load of tripe meant to scare you, so you can safely assume that the worst possible ending occurs. Adding insult to injury (a tasteful pun), Liv Tyler pulls one last jump-startle scream when two Mormon boys investigate the house in which these bloody antics occurred and find the couple maimed.

That of course means one of them survived. If that’s a setup for a sequel, then I’m going to find Bryan Bertino and wag my finger at him SO HARD. Bad boy! Sequels of crap movies are crap movies!

“So-called thriller.” That’s it. Rafe Telsch of CinemaBlend has hit the nail on the head. The Strangers is too big for its screen, really. With such a simplistic, flexible premise, I would have expected more to be done as opposed to the observed “cat-and-mouse” game. Look here, get startled. Look there, false alarm. Eerie music, startle. Take a peek at this review and read about some more shortcomings that I likely missed:

Melting Down House of Wax

House of Wax

House of Wax is about on par with most of the lower quality horror movies I’ve reviewed. It’s got little to no characterization, a vaguely interesting plot, and loads of grody thrills. Though obviously not a cinematic masterpiece, it accomplishes most everything it sets out to accomplish via graphic violence and partial nudity. Surprise surprise, there are actually no bare breasts in this movie, despite the fact that Paris Hilton is in it. Better news? She dies. Not before prancing around in her underwear, of course, but all the same.

The characters in House of Wax are all equally detestable aside from the one who survives… and her asshole brother. He’s technically a survivor by proxy. The only reason I’m telling you which of them survive is because you’d see the end coming miles away. Paris Hilton NOT being killed? You can’t seriously expect that. Carly and Nick Jones are the twins, Nick being the utter and complete asshole, and Carly being the neutral nice girl. Blake and Paige are the horny mostly useless couple. Wade’s the sacrificial lamb that wants to hook up with Carly. Everyone else doesn’t really matter.

House of Wax
They camp in the middle of nowhere, get their car trashed by some redneck, and wander into a middle of nowhere town called Ambrose. They discover a museum called the House of Wax (ooh, movie title) and a huge collection of incredibly detailed miniature and life-sized wax sculptures within. It’s creepy at first, but gets even creepier when Bo, the self-proclaimed owner of the town’s only gas station, locks Wade in his house. This is about when the gore begins.

Vincent, Bo’s facially deformed brother, slashes Wade’s Achilles tendon and then coats him in hot wax, making a sculpture out of him. As Carly soon discovers, ALL the human sculptures contain dead bodies. They also contain maggots and rotten chunks and stuff, so whenever they break, which they will, yucky yucky ensues.

Paris Hilton gets stabbed through the head with a rusty pipe. That is the single most amazing part of the movie. Striptease? No thanks. Running around in her underwear and flaunting her tits as if they’re something the audience wants? I said good DAY, sir. No. Metal pipe jammed between her eyes? Sure thing. Her outfits, demeanor, and general presence justify this in entirety. I don’t like her at all.

House of WaxI would like to cover one horror movie anomaly, however. In most movies, a crippling injury means death. Someone goes blind, breaks a bone, loses a finger, or is otherwise disabled in some way, they’re going to die VERY soon. Carly loses the tip of her index finger, which honestly isn’t as bad as having a foot cut off or an arm broken, but still. She’s a House of Wax survivor. Kind of impressive.

Issues with this particular movie tie firmly to the characters. Despite being detestable, they’re also forgettable. Most offer little more than poor humor or suggestive scenes before being horribly murdered. Even the antagonists are boring. Bo and Vincent may be separated Siamese twins played by the same actor, but who gives a crap? Any attempts at characterization fall flat because of how fast everyone dies. If you’re just in it for the thrills, the movie is satisfactory. If you want legitimate quality… sorry. House of Wax is not for you.

Stuart Wood of CinemaBlend, I applaud you. Here I thought I was the only one feeling like I was watching a mix of Jersey Shore and Friday the 13th plus wax. I mean, I knew I wasn’t alone in replaying Paris Hilton’s death scene over and over again, but it’s still nice to hear that you found that enjoyable as well. Otherwise, this CinemaBlend review covers very nicely the thrown together teen-drama aspect of the initial stages of the movie. Here’s the link:

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