[Editor's Note: We're bringing some of our columns from DEADLY Magazine into Daily Dead as well and today we have a look at our review roundup from Monte he likes to call "Movie Mayhem." Each month, he'll give you the rundown on movies he watched over the last 30 days that you may be interested in checking out. In the first installment on Daily Dead, find out what he thought of The Visit, Turbo Kid, Deathgasm, and more...]
The Visit: “The Visit” is a modern day spin of a familiar grim fairy tale; you could call it “Hansel and Gretel” the documentary. Director M. Night Shyamalan returns to better form with another frightening tale where children are placed in the center of complicated, sometimes perilous, situations. Shyamalan, a director whose films have been a mix of accomplishment and disappointment, crafts an effective horror film with “The Visit”, a scaled down success of simple and strategic storytelling heavy on the “creepy” factor. Ploys like a rickety old house, monsters with smiling faces, and the hand-held horror techniques are a few of the genre characteristics that are utilized by Shyamalan. While some of time this works other times it falls into familiar trappings, like annoyingly predictable jump scares. Still “The Visit” is effectively strange enough to keep one watching until the end.
3.5 out of 5.00
Turbo Kid: Some call it a guilty pleasure while others, like myself, wholeheartedly defend the action, science fiction, and horror films of the 1980’s. “Turbo Kid” is an homage to all the era specific qualities you’d see from these guilty pleasure films combined into one. The fact that it gets nearly everything in tune with the 80’s is remarkable; the fact that it is also has an earnest and humorous story is an unexpected plus. The elements are satirized so precisely, like the over-the-top gore, 80’s arena rock songs perfectly emulated by composer Le Matos, and deliberate editing style that pulls and pushes with attention grabbing ferocity. The narrative is filled with a consistent comedic tone, from situational humor, to a character that spouts intentionally verbose speeches, to cheesy one-liners; it’s laugh-out-loud funny while also being charmingly heartfelt. It’s pure fun, constantly energetic, and completely nostalgic, and if that’s not enough for you, Michael Ironside plays a villain named Zeus!!! That last line alone would have brought me to the theater.
4.00 out of 5.00
Cop Car: Stealing a cop car is a bad idea from the beginning, but for two young boys venturing on the outskirts of town the allure of joyriding in a cop car found in the middle of nowhere is too tempting. Director Jon Watts, who helmed the Eli Roth produced film “Clown”, turns this setup into a tense and methodically paced thriller with a menacing lead performance by Kevin Bacon. “Cop Car” does a great job of telling the story of two budding buddies, innocence still wholly intact, who are thrown into the middle of a defining situation. You can see the shedding of innocence in these two children, as the film grows more dangerous with every scene they are forced to mature much faster than they should. Unfortunately the third act turns the focus away from the children and instead offers the familiar bloody gun shootout scenario. Still, “Cop Car” moves with desperation, building an uneasy and foreboding quality throughout.
3.50 out of 5.00
The Nightmare: Sleep paralysis is a terrifying condition where people suffering with the disorder have a temporary inability to move or speak just as they fall asleep or immediately upon waking up. Director Rodney Ascher, who last helmed the fascinating conspiracy driven documentary "Room 237" about Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”, explores this scary phenomenon in the film "The Nightmare". Ascher molds this documentary in the same vein as a horror film, crafting reenactments of what the people interviewed feel and see as the sleep paralysis takes hold. The visions of horror that come alive are chilling, and knowing that there is nothing you can do to escape makes it even scarier. Ascher never delves too deep into the science of the disorder but remains content with keeping the focus on the people affected by sleep paralysis. This makes the film feel somewhat repetitious at times. Still, Ascher is a talented filmmaker who understands the dynamics of telling a scary story.
3.50 out of 5.00
Deathgasm: If you like denim jackets with heavy metal band patches over every inch, if you like long hair built for headbanging, if you like screaming out “SLAYER” at the top of your lungs in the middle of the mosh pit, then “Deathgasm” is the film for you. If you also like your horror films filled with blood and demons, then stop reading this review and watch “Deathgasm” immediately. Director Jason Lei Howden has made one of 2015’s most wild and fun horror films. Two boys in a heavy metal band unknowingly summon an evil entity and must fight through their small town to save the day. “Deathgasm” tackles the teen comedy, mixes in raunchy humor, adds a little metal music culture, and drenches in splatter horror film buckets of blood. It’s simple, fun, and completely worthy of both hands throwing up the devil horns.
4.00 out of 5.00
When Animals Dream: The Danish film “When Animals Dream”, directed by Jonas Alexander Arnby”, is a moody and atmospheric horror film that handles a familiar genre monster with complex emotion and confident femininity. Arnby builds a film that moves with calculated pace, constructing a quiet tension that builds towards a boiling point of panic, frustration, and anger for the young lead character named Marie (Sonia Suhl) who is dealing with bizarre changes in her mysterious island town. Arnby displays why horror shouldn’t follow the guidelines and how it often works best to break from the path and challenge genre characteristics in meaningful ways. While some genre fans may be disappointed at the lack of the typical genre styling here, there is something mesmerizing about the composition of this film, a quality that is far less terrifying and more thought provoking.
3.75 out of 5.00