31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: THE BABYSITTER (2017)

CAST

Judah Lewis (Point Break)
Samara Weaving (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Bella Thorne (Amityville: The Awakening)
Robbie Amell (The Flash)
Andrew B. Bachelor (Fifty Shades of Black)
Emily Alyn Lind (Lights Out)
Hana Mae Lee (Pitch Perfect)
Leslie Bibb (Iron Man)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)

Twelve-year-old Cole Johnson is a naïve teenager who tries to fit in with everyone else. When he is bullied by his neighbour Jeremy, his babysitter Bee stands up for him and draws them away from him. The following day, when his parents go out for an overnight stay at a hotel, Bee and Cole spends quality time together until after 10.00pm. About 30 minutes or so later, Cole is encouraged by a text from his best friend Melanie to go see what Bee gets up to after he “goes to sleep”. To his surprise, he sees what looks like a harmless game of Spin the Bottle, as Bee passionately kisses each of her friends as part of a dare. However, as she kisses a nervous nerd called Samuel that she met the other day, she pulls two daggers from behind her back and spears them into his skull, spewing blood into golden goblets. As Cole sees this, he freezes in shock and, in a fit of fear, hurries to his room and ties his bedsheets together and throws them out the window. Unfortunately, shortly after the remaining members of the cult (including Bee) take a blood sample from him, Cole momentarily passes out.

Later, Bee and her posse question why he was spying on them. He, on the contrary, asks them why they are doing this. Bee claims that the blood sample was part of a “science project”, but Cole refuses to believe her. Just then, the cops arrive at the house and one member, Allison, is shot in her left breast, leaving a bloody wound. Max, a muscular quarterback jock, impales a cop in the eye with a pole, whereas Bee slits the other cop’s neck, again spraying blood into John’s face. As Cole re-attempts to escape, he is briefly pursued by John, but accidentally pushes him over the banister and he falls and lands on the floor with a trophy impaling his neck.Pursuing after Cole, Sonya and Max find him in a Crawlspace, where he lights a firework at Sonya but it misses her; he then traps her inside just as the firework explodes in a fireball and kills her. Max finds him and chases Cole up to an old treehouse, where after a brawl, the boys fall with Max hung by the rope, exposing part of his spine.Fresh, violent but also funny, The Babysitter is a love letter to the slasher genre. Turn off your brain and enjoy this nice experience.

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31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING

CAST

Bella Thorne (The Babysitter)
Cameron Monaghan (Gotham)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful eight)
Mckenna Grace (I, Tonya)
Thomas Mann (Kong: Skull Island)
Taylor Spreitler (Melissa & Joey)
Jennifer Morrison (How I Met Your Mother)
Kurtwood Smith (Agent Carter)
Cleopatra Coleman (The Last Man on Earth)

A single mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) moves into a new home with her three children, but the miraculous recovery of her previously comatose teenage son (Cameron Monaghan) leads to a series of sinister events that leave the frightened family fighting for their lives. Bella Thorne and Kurtwood Smith co-star.Amityville: The Awakening is notable for a variety of reasons, and many of them have nothing to do with the quality of the film. For starters, it was completed back in 2012 and has been re-scheduled half a dozen time; it was most recently pulled last June mere weeks before it was set to hit theaters. So, for those of us who have been watching and waiting for Amityville: Awakening, following the film along every bump in the road, the fact that it finally came to fruition is kind of a big deal. But while the release is long overdue, it also coincides with an unprecedented Hollywood scandal: The revelations of sexual misconduct by The Weinstein Company co-founder Harvey Weinstein. Since Weinstein was fired by the company he created, Amityville: The Awakening is the first of his productions to be released. Tellingly, the fallen mogul’s name was removed from the film’s opening credits. Whether there is a resulting Weinstein backlash that will hurt the film’s performance remains to be seen, as fans mull turning their backs on anything that might end up putting money in his pocket.Amityville: The Awakening arrived for a limited time on Google Play today; this will be followed by a limited theatrical release beginning on October 28th. The fact that Amityville: The Awakening was pulled from release so many time indicates that the studio had no faith in the film; it feels like it’s only reluctantly being released at all, and giving it away for free on Google Play suggests Dimension Films already considered it a complete loss. But even with tempered expectations, Amityville: The Awakening is genuinely, objectively fantastic. I don’t know if all the fine-tuning paid off, or if the Weinsteins simply misjudged a winner, but the movie is one of the best PG-13 horror movies of the 21st Century. Had it pursued a hard R, it could have rivaled The Conjuring.As for its ranking within the loosely connected Amityville franchise (a rag-tag assemblage of mostly low-quality knock-offs capitalizing on the infamous address’s legacy), it’s easily number 3; right behind 1979’s classic and 1982’s Amityville II: The Possession. While it can’t touch the original, it’s a treat for those fascinated by the happenings at f 112 Ocean Ave. in Long Island. The film opens with historical documents from the actual DeFeo Family murders that occurred in 1974. From there, and combines several past approaches to the cinematic property; while firmly rooted in the haunted house subgenre, there’s also an emphasis on possession motifs. Like the prequel, there’s a brother/sister dynamic and family dysfunction at the core of Amityville: The Awakening—one that provokes the audiences on several levels.Most surprisingly, and impressively, Amityville: The Awakening is a meta-film. Not only does it retain the “based on a true story” status touted by the original, it exists in a universe where all of the Amityville movies actually exist; essential, it’s a work of fiction that takes place in real life. So, imagine being a fan of the franchise and the chilling paranormal history of 112 Ocean Avenue, and then being given an opportunity to roam the property. That’s essentially what you get: A virtual tour of the iconic Amityville house, complete with windows that look like creepy eyes and a sinister red room hidden behind a wall in the basement. Imagine watching 1979’s Amityville Horror in the actually Amityville house! It would be an opportunity horror and supernatural geeks would pay an arm and a leg for. So, it’s will no small amount of vicarious satisfaction that we see a fictional film nerd do just that.Divorced from the Amityville franchise, Amityville: The Awakening is still a powerful haunted house movie, so one needn’t have seen the original (or the 2005 remake) to dig it. Though there are Easter Eggs and nods to the original aplenty, it fits all the motifs associated with angsty teens in peril. There are some incredible jump-scares, and they’re pulled early; this sets the audience on edge from the get-go and the proceeding suspense works perfectly. There are also elements of medical and body horror; Cameron Monaghan plays James, a teen who’s been in a coma for years and, as a result, his body has atrophied into a waxy, twisted abomination (think Zelda from 1989’s Pet Sematary)—complete with bedsores. It’s got one serious gross-out moment, and could have only benefitted from more; I have no doubt that upping the ante and making The Awakening R-Rated would have only strengthened the end result.While the audience associates the lead protagonist Belle (played by Bella Thorne), James is the personification of paralyzing fear. The claustrophobia of a haunted house is magnified exponentially when one loses the ability to run, react, or even scream. It’s a portrayal of helplessness that most teens, with their lives ahead of them and feelings of invincibility, would consider Hell. Amityville: The Awakening succeeds by rooting itself in the established franchise mythology, then compounding the inherent horror with extreme family dysfunction.I liked Amityville: The Awakening way more than I expected to, and I had higher than average expectations. In many ways, it’s a movie made for Amityville Horror fans, but you needn’t be familiar with the past films or a true-crime buff to get a lot out of this tense and thrill-ride. The film stars strong and maintains its intensity. While not without flaws, this Amityville fan loved it; I’d recommend it to any fan of supernatural horror for an effective & surprisingly nuanced shocker.

 

31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: SCREAM: THE SERIES – SEASON 1

CAST

WIlla Fitzgerald (Gotham)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Arrow)
John Karma (Bindlestiffs)
Amadeus Serafini (Smoke)
Connor Weil (Sharknado)
Carlson Young (Heroes)
Tom Maden (Killer Coach)
Jason Wiles (Zodiac)
Tracy Middendorf (New Nightmare)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Bella Thorne (Amityville: The Awakening)
Bobby Campo (The Final Destination)
Brianne Tju (Opposite Day)
Max Lloyd-Jones (Izombie)
Bryan Batt (Funny People)
Amelia Rose Blaire (True Blood)

We’ve been here before: A girl home alone at night; a killer taunting her by phone; a twistedly gory denouement. The new MTV series Scream doesn’t even try to distance itself from its iconic predecessor  which stood out from the slasher film pack because its young, alternately nubile and nerdy cast of potential victims were hip to slasher film mechanics. They knew the genre they were trapped in and acted accordingly, which still didn’t up their chances of survival. Nina Patterson (Bella Thorne), one of the architects of a vengeful viral video targeted at rebellious outcast Audrey Jensen (Bex Taylor-Klaus). While images of Audrey making out with another young woman are drawing Twitter and Facebook OMGs, rich-bitch Nina is basking in the glow of her prank with a late-night Jacuzzi dip. Then the texts start flooding in — seemingly from a guy who wants to climb in beside her and put the “hot” in “hot tub.” But then the guy’s severed head comes flying through the air, and it isn’t long before Nina finds herself on the wrong end of a blade wielded by the Scream series’ ghostface killer. (His/her mask has been redesigned to resemble a dead-eyed porcelain doll.)So the mystery begins, but how does one stretch the tale of a knife-brandishing maniac over ten episodesResident film and TV nerd Noah Foster (John Karna) — basically the show’s Jamie Kennedy — ponders that very question over two scenes of the premiere, noting the rise of pop and cult series like American Horror Story and Hannibal before ultimately articulating the show’s mission statement: “You need to forget it’s a horror story … that someone might die at every turn.”There’s a Sidney Prescott-like heroine, Emma Duval (Willa Fitzgerald), who isn’t as innocent as she initially seems, and whose mother, Margaret (Tracy Middendorf), is hiding a dark secret. There’s the new guy in town, Kieran Wilcox (Amadeus Serafini), who despite his own shady past, seduces Emma away from her cheating boyfriend Will Belmont (Connor Weil). And there’s catty mean girl Brooke Maddox (Carlson Young), who seems set to go the way of the first Scream’s Rose McGowan (death in garage), until being granted a reprieve.Each episode just gets better and better, with no character safe from the killer, with each episode keeping you guessing as to who the killer is, and when the killer is revealed in the finale it’s truly amazing, with a nice little cliffhanger to keep people intrigued for season 2.