HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE PACT

Untitled

CAST

Caity Lotz (Legends of Tomorrow)
Casper Van Dien (Starship troopers)
Kathleen Rose Perkins (Gone Girl)
Haley Hudson (Freaky Friday)
Sam Ball (13 Going on 30)
Mark Steger (I Am Legend)
Agnes Bruckner (The Woods)

Nicole Barlow is finalizing preparations for her mother’s funeral at her childhood home in San Pedro, California. Her sister, Annie does not want to attend, reminding Nicole of the way their mother used to treat them. Nicole tries to contact her cousin, Liz and her daughter Eva via video call. After losing the connection, Nicole sees an open door, leading into a dark room and walks inside. Annie arrives, having been informed that Nicole is missing, and finds Nicole’s phone along with a photo. That night, she awakens from a bad dream and finds a photo of two pregnant women—her mother and a woman in a floral dress. The next day, Annie attends her mother’s funeral, and it is shown that Annie has one blue eye and one green eye, but her mother didn’t.After the funeral, Annie meets Liz and Eva, and the three return to Annie’s mother’s house. Later, Annie dreams of a shirtless man crying, and, while she sleeps, her phone shows a map, pinpointing an address. When Annie awakens and sees a figure in the hall, she enters Liz’s room and finds her bed empty. An unseen force tries to attack Annie, but she is able to escape the house with Eva. The police don’t believe Annie’s story, with one officer, Bill Creek, implying her guilt in the disappearances. In a motel, Annie notices the address on her phone, finding a blurred picture of a figure in a floral dress. That night, she dreams of the crying man again, as well as a decapitated woman in a floral dress; still in the dream, Annie tries to flee from the room but the door slams shut.In the morning she wakes up, extremely agitated. Annie, accompanied by Bill Creek, return to her mother’s house where they discover a hidden room, one which Annie has absolutely no recollection of. When nobody else will take her seriously, she recruits her psychic friend, Stevie. Stevie, Annie, and Stevie’s protective brother Giles go to the house. In the hidden room, Stevie has a hysterical fit, repeating the name “Judas”. They then see the corpse of a woman in a floral dress floating above them, and Annie realizes that it is not her mother haunting the house. Outside, Giles blasts Annie for putting his sister Stevie in harm’s way. They have a brief altercation, and Giles angrily drives away with Stevie, leaving Annie all by herself. Researching Judas online, Annie finds a serial killer, dubbed the “Judas Killer”, who decapitated a woman in a floral dress, Jennifer Glick. Annie also discovers that her mother has a brother, and that both had connections with Glick.Creek investigates the house after finding a mysterious photo pointing to a cupboard, where there is a secret door leading into the hidden room. Creek is then murdered by an unknown assailant. Desperate for answers, Annie uses a makeshift Ouija board to contact Glick, who confirms her suspicions that Glick was murdered by her uncle, the Judas killer. Annie sees Judas come up from a secret hatch, and hides, discovering the bodies of Creek and Nicole. While Judas cries, Annie takes Creek’s gun but is overpowered by Judas and knocked unconscious. She awakens to find herself tied up and imprisoned in the closet, but manages to escape, stabbing Judas with a coat hanger. Before Judas can kill her, Glick’s spirit pulls her away, to Creek’s gun. Annie shoots Judas, killing him, noting that he has heterochromia as well. In the aftermath, Annie is awarded custody of Nicole’s daughter, Eva. With Liz and Nicole dead, the house has been sold and is under renovations. In the final scene, which may or may not be a part of Annie’s dream, Judas’ eye opens, and he looks around.Most horror movies either insult the audience a little by over-explaining, or they leave many elements simply unexplained (which can be a plus too.) This one actually gives you all the clues you need to put it together and get the answers. Really, it’s all there – if you are observant, you don’t need the characters to spell it out for you. I found the characters and dialog very believable (for a horror film, of course.). A decent Horror and a must see for fans of Caity Lotz.

 

 

 

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: BLOOD & CHOCOLATE

CAST

Agnes Bruckner (The Woods)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Oliver Martinez (S.W.A.T.)
Katja Riemann (Bandits)
Bryan Dick (Master and Commander)
Anatole Taubman (Taken)

Vivian (Agnes Bruckner) is a nineteen-year-old werewolf born in Bucharest, Romania to American parents who then moved back to America. When Vivian was nine years old, her parents and two siblings were killed by two hunters who then proceeded to burn down their house. She then moved back to Bucharest to live with her aunt Astrid (Katja Riemann), who was the mate of the pack’s leader, Gabriel (Olivier Martinez) at that time. To Astrid’s distress, Gabriel left her after seven years in accordance with pack law to choose a new mate. The culmination of another seven years is only a few months away and Gabriel wants the reluctant Vivian as his.This is not, however, what she wants. She begins a romance with a graphic novelist Aiden (Hugh Dancy) who is researching for his latest book. Though he is human, he knows much about her kind, the Loups-Garoux (werewolves). Their romance is closely watched by her cousin Rafe (Bryan Dick) and his friends Ulf (Chris Geere), Gregor (Tom Harper), Finn (John Kerr), and Willem (Jack Wilson), together known as The Five. Believing that she is telling him all their secrets- as seen by a drawing he did of her and wolves because he knew her as “The Wolf Girl”- and may grow to be a danger to their pack, Rafe tells Gabriel of them. Gabriel then tells Rafe that Aiden must leave or he must be dealt with.Rafe lures Aiden to an abandoned church with the ruse that Vivian wanting to reconnect and attempts to scare him away. When this doesn’t work, Rafe attacks and underestimates Aiden who defends himself and forces him back into a table where he cuts himself. Aiden, who did not know prior what Vivian and her friends were, sees the golden glow of the Loups-Garoux and realizes what he’s been dating. The two fight, with Aiden attacking Rafe with a silver pendant and Rafe turning to a wolf, until Aiden eventually gains the upper hand and sends both over the rail, killing Rafe.Afterwards, Aiden confronts Vivian about what she is, tempting her with his blood. She does not give in but is hurt that Aiden would think she was such a monster. Not long after, Aiden is captured by the pack to answer for killing Rafe, Gabriel’s son. He is made to run through the forest while being chased by the pack. If the pack catches him, he dies. If he makes it to the river and crosses it, he lives. Vivian is scared for him and changes into her wolf form, a white wolf, to save him from the rest of the pack. Aiden makes it to the river by confusing the pack, using his blood to spread his scent and make it harder for the pack to track him. Gabriel, however, is angry that Aiden made it to the river and attempts to follow him anyway, to kill him. Vivian helps to protect Aiden by throwing Gabriel off. Aiden, not realizing that the white wolf is Vivian, strikes her with a silver knife causing her to slowly die unless she gets an antidote.After hiding from the pack, Aiden and Vivian find the pharmacist who has the antidote for the silver poisoning and steals it from him, but not before he calls the rest of the pack. After being chased, Vivian tells Aiden to save himself and is captured by the pack. She is held in a cage and taunted by the rest of the five while Gabriel attempts to curve her to his way of thinking. Aiden comes to Vivian’s rescue and in the end Vivian has to kill Gabriel.Aiden and Vivian go towards the age of hope. Driving past other Loups-Garous, the wolves are shown to bare their necks in respect to Vivian and Aiden, showing Vivian to possibly be the new leader of the pack.Not necessarily the most original plot or delivery but the locations in the film are stunning, the transformation into wolves (and use of real wolves) is simple and effective and the soundtrack wraps it all up together, creating a beautiful film in my opinion. If you like a love story mixed with the supernatural set in a gorgeous location then I would definitely recommend this film.

REVIEW: MURDER BY NUMBERS

CAST

Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Michael Pitt (The Dreamers)
Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate)
R. D. Call (Waterworld)
Chris Penn (After The Sunset)
Tom Verica (Red Dragon)

Nick Offerman (Sing)
Jim Jansen (Death Becomes Her)
Brian Stepanek (Young Sheldon)

Richard Haywood (Gosling) and Justin Pendleton (Pitt) are high school classmates; Richard is wealthy and popular, while Justin is a brilliant introvert. After months of planning a “perfect crime”, they abduct a woman at random, strangle her, and plant evidence implicating Richard’s marijuana dealer, janitor Ray Feathers (Chris Penn). Detective Cassie Mayweather (Bullock) and her new partner, Sam Kennedy (Chaplin) investigate. Cassie sleeps with Sam early on—as she has with previous partners—but won’t let him see her chest, and curtly sends him home afterward.

Footprints at the crime scene lead to Richard, and vomit nearby implicates Justin. Both have alibis, and deny knowing each other, but Cassie is convinced that Richard is the murderer and Justin is involved. Sam criticizes her refusal to consider other suspects, as most of the physical evidence points away from the two boys. Cassie’s boss, Captain Rod Cody (R. D. Call), and her cuckolded ex, Assistant D.A. Al Swanson (Tom Verica), fearing Richard’s influential parents, take Cassie off the case. Sam, following the (planted) evidence, tracks down Ray. When Ray is found dead, apparently a suicide (actually killed by Richard), the woman’s murder appears solved; but Sam decides that Cassie may be right, and continues the investigation.

Justin, who has a crush on classmate Lisa Mills (Agnes Bruckner), works up the courage to ask her out. A jealous Richard seduces Lisa, then gives Justin a video clip of the two having sex. Justin is enraged, but regains control, knowing Sam is still watching them. Cassie begins receiving calls from her ex-husband, Carl Hudson, who went to prison for stabbing her in the chest 17 times. His parole hearing is coming up, and he wants her to speak on his behalf. Cassie confides to Sam that although she became a cop to prove to herself that she wasn’t a victim, she is terrified at the prospect of seeing Carl again. She also confesses that Richard reminds her of Carl—which is why she is convinced of Richard’s guilt, and obsessed with proving it.

Sam and Cassie bring Richard and Justin in for separate interrogations, trying to induce each to implicate the other, but neither will talk, and both are released. At the victim’s home, Cassie determines how the boys carried out the abduction and altered the physical evidence. Justin and Richard, knowing that Cassie is closing in on them, flee to an abandoned house, where Richard produces two pistols and proposes a mutual suicide. On the count of three, Justin shoots (into the air), but Richard does not. Justin demands to see Richard’s gun—which is unloaded. As a furious Justin is about to shoot Richard, Cassie arrives. Richard grabs Justin’s gun and shoots at Cassie, wounding Justin instead. Cassie gives chase and tackles Richard on a rickety balcony jutting out over a cliff. As Richard strangles Cassie, the balcony gives way and Richard falls to his death. Justin grabs Cassie, who is hanging on the edge of the balcony, and pulls her back into the house.

Cassie assures Justin that she will intercede on his behalf, since he was an innocent dupe, manipulated by the ruthless Richard. Then she notices a mark on her neck caused by Richard’s large ring, and realizes that the dead woman’s neck did not have a similar mark. Confronted with the evidence, Justin confesses that he strangled the victim to prove his “courage” to Richard. In the closing scene, Cassie faces her fears and enters the courtroom to testify at Carl’s parole hearing. The bailiff calls her to the stand by her legal name: Jessica Marie Hudson.

Schroeder does not build his film visually. It has a conventional TV movie feel to it and, despite being well played, Pitt’s nerdy all-knowing geek is a bit too formulaic. But the film holds you nevertheless. Schroeder displays a storyteller’s gift for how things should develop, And as the cock-of-the-walk arrogant yet vulnerable rich kid killer Ryan Gosling is the real McCoy. He can convey charm and menace in equal measure and often in the same moment and confirms his status as one of the best actors in movies.

REVIEW: VACANCY 2: THE FIRST CUT

CAST

Agnes Bruckner (The Woods)
David Moscow (Just Married)
Scott Anderson (Titanic)
Arjay Smith (Perception)
Nelson Lee (Blade: The Series0
Brian Klugman (Bones)
Gwendoline Yeo (American Crime)

Set three years before the first film, the action takes place in and around the Meadow View Inn, a small roadside motel in rural North Carolina. It opens with newlyweds driving and the bride wants to have sex in the car, which makes the groom stop. They are then stopped by a man, whose property they are on. The manager, Gordon (David Moscow), oversees an operation of using cameras within the motel to videotape the newlyweds having oral sex. Later, a serial killer (Scott G. Anderson), who checks into the motel as Smith brutally murders a woman he brought with him in one of the motel rooms. The horrified staff see the whole crime on videotape and then subdue the man. They, however, do not know what to do with him as they will endanger their operation if they call the police. Smith manages to convince Gordon and his staff to hire him to torture and murder the motel guests on videotape and then sell them as snuff films.

The trucker confirms that this is indeed a functional market and Gordon agrees under the conditions that he is the leader of the operation. Smith mockingly agrees. A couple of days later, a young couple, Jessica (Agnes Bruckner), Caleb (Trevor Wright), and their friend Tanner (Arjay Smith) check into the Meadow View Inn for a night’s rest, unaware of the inn’s sick-minded employees and their nefarious intentions. As the killers begin to terrorize the hotel guests, it quickly becomes apparent that Smith is a loose-cannon, with no intention of following Gordon’s lead. He fashions a crude mask out of wire and proceeds to murder two of the hotel’s three guests. They capture and stab Caleb in the stomach until he dies, while Jessica and Tanner hide in the woods and then to a nearby house. It is revealed that the man who stopped the newlyweds lives in the house with his wife. It is revealed his name is Otis. They let Jessica and Tanner in. They tell the couple about the killers, but Otis does not believe them. Smith and the others come in, telling the man that Jessica and Tanner stole from them, which Otis believes. But his wife does not, as she takes the phone and is about to call the police. Quickly, Smith shoots Otis then his wife and runs after Jessica and Tanner.

They catch both and torture Tanner first. Smith calls the others off, since he wants to kill Jessica himself. The others are watching on tape what Smith is going to do. But one of them does not want to kill anymore and Gordon says to let it play out then they will call the cops and blame the whole thing on Smith. Smith leaves the room to check on Gordon and the others. Jessica found a way to untie herself. Smith comes back and is about to kill Jessica. Jessica manages to stab him in the jaw, but Smith survives. Jessica escapes and Gordon and the others run to see what happened to Smith. Jessica hides and finds dead bodies. She then finds Caleb dead and Tanner, dying while choking on his blood. Meanwhile, Smith (who took care of the wound) and the others desperately search for Jessica. One of the staff go to the place where Jessica hid, but she hides under Caleb’s body and pushes it upward, killing the employee (since it had low ceiling with nails sticking out of it). Jessica takes his gun and runs to the truck and rummages through the glove box, then she goes underwater in the lake. Gordon goes to the lake and searches for her.

He finds a sweater sticking out of the water, thinking it is her. Jessica, underwater, pulls out the gun out of the water. Gordon turns around to see it as Jessica pulls the trigger, killing him. Smith hears the gunshot and runs to the lake. Jessica gets out quickly and hides in Smith’s trailer. He finds her and tries to stab her, but she burns him and runs. The next day, the cops arrive and Jessica tells the story. But they are skeptical of her story because the cameras and bodies have disappeared. At another hotel (it is disputed as to whether or not this is the Pinewood Hotel seen in the first film), a badly scarred Smith informs the trucker that he will have the motel up and running in a few weeks just as soon as the cameras are set. Smith gives the trucker the very first snuff film that features one of the guests he murdered at the Meadow View Inn. He tells the trucker that he will make more copies as soon as he can.Overall this is one of the better horror thrillers I’ve seen recently and is well worth checking out even if you’re not a fan of the first film. I was very surprised at how good this film was.