EVERY TIME I WALKED INTO THEIR house; I was always hit with a mix of different smells. One time it could be cedar, vanilla and dust; well at least I thought it smelled like dust. Another time I would smell a combination of wet grass, sawdust and sandalwood. I always wanted to know where these scents were coming from, but it was impossible to narrow it down to a specific spot in their house. You see, there was so much stuff packed into their house, it was hard to decipher which one item or more were emitting the aroma. Not that their house was messy, it was not. Everything had a place; it was just their house had more places than any other house I had visited. I liked visiting this couple because there was always something new to find whenever I would be allowed to play in one of their children’s rooms, when I was a small boy. One time, when I was playing in their basement, I found a stack of old newspapers that were brittle and yellow. Looking at the dates, I realized they had been keeping these papers for over 30 years. I asked them why and they said that it was proof of the historical events that happened in our lifetime. It did not make too much sense to me, since the newspapers were disintegrating from age. AS THE COUPLE GOT OLDER, MORE types of different smells floated through the house. For some reason the inside of the house did not look as bright as it did when I was younger. Maybe the paint had dulled over the years or the lights and lamps were dimmed with age. Or maybe, the house was darker because there was more stuff in it; I really wasn’t sure. Not that it stopped me from visiting the two; I still enjoyed my visits with them. Though I have to say their cooking skills diminished greatly. Whenever we were having a meal with them, there was always some food dish that was either not cooked long enough or burnt. I remember one time there was a plate of my favorite, chocolate chip cookies. The bottoms were nearly black from overcooking and when I tried to bite into one, my teeth could barely break the cookie apart. All I could taste was the overcooked parts; they were so bitter and strong that I could not taste any chocolate. Now despite these, let us say, inconveniences; I still enjoyed spending time with them and listening to their stories. They had such interesting things to talk about and I was always a willing participant to hear what they had to say. I felt the same way about the married couple in this horror, mystery thriller. FOR THE MANY YEARS LORRAINE AND Ed Warren, played by Vera Farming (The Departed, Bates Motel-TV) and Patrick Wilson (Young Adult, The Phantom of the Opera) had experienced demonic forces, the possession of a young man would unleash a force they had never seen before. With Ruairi O’Connor (Teen Spirit, Handsome Devil) as Arne Cheyenne Johnson, Sarah Catherine Hook (Monsterland-TV, The Valley-TV) as Debbie Glatzel and John Noble (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Running Scared) as Kastner; this latest installment of the franchise started out with an interesting story line. I thought Vera and Patrick really sold this film because the script was too blurred in its message. At times I found myself being confused with what timeline I was watching, and the scary thrills were just not there for me. Then suddenly a scene would start that grabbed my attention because it was frightfully intense. If Patrick and Vera were not in this movie, it would have received a lower rating; it already had a tired feeling to it. Hopefully the next installment will go back to its roots where it made a name for itself.
They are talking though they are standing alone. Without evidence of an earpiece or some other type of cellular device, you search for any visual clue that can help you evaluate the person’s mental state. The hair is disheveled as if a gust of wind tried to steal several strands and the clothes appear to be well-worn, nothing out of the ordinary. Just their slight swaying side to side as if they were pouring their body weight from one leg to the other makes you pause a second before walking past them. I cannot tell you how many times this very thing has happened to me. It is quite ironic that I am one of the more skeptical ones in my circle of friends and yet, I am the one that attracts people who appear to be living in a reality that was somewhat askew. Walking down the street with several friends around me, I will be the one that gets signaled out by a person asking off the wall questions, expecting me to answer in kind. A majority of these encounters tend to happen to me on public transportation. In the past I have dismissed these individuals as addicts or chemically imbalanced; but after seeing this horror movie, I have to wonder now if there was something else going on for those strangers. INSPIRED by a true story, this film festival nominee would not be something I would classify 100% as a horror picture. It was more of a crime, thriller, horror film. Based on the book by New York police officer Sarchie, played by Eric Bana (Star Trek, Munich), this story followed Sarchie and his partner Butler, played by Joel McHale (Ted, Blended), as they were investigating a series of unexplainable acts taking place around the city. I really liked the acting from Eric and especially Joel, who was more familiar to me playing comedic roles. Edgar Ramirez (Wrath of the Titans, Vantage Point) was just as good with his character Mendoza. There were several scenes that worked well with tension and fear. Unfortunately it was not sustained throughout the movie, some parts were just flat. The main reason this film did not work as well as it could was due to the story, there was absolutely nothing new compared to any of the previous movies that involved individuals appearing to be possessed. It was a missed opportunity because there were inklings of this movie becoming a good scary flick. On the other hand I now have something else to think about when a stranger approaches me and that scares me more. There were several scenes that had blood and violence in them.
It was not a requirement but we all knew non-participation would affect our grade. The professor of my college freshmen psychology class encouraged us to enroll in the volunteer program for the graduate students. I remember some of the studies I volunteered for were interesting. There was one where I was sitting in the waiting room with another volunteer. We had a brief time for introductions before we were called into a room. A lab assistant handed each of us a pen and notepad. We were instructed to sit at opposite ends of the room and write down our perceptions of the other one. Once we were done the supervisor asked us to switch our papers. The facilitator then asked the volunteer to read what I wrote about him. I kept my comments to simple generalizations like he seemed nice, had a hearty laugh. When it was my turn to read aloud I was stunned by his words. He had written things like I did not seem to be very smart, appeared to be uncoordinated. After I finished reading, the person in charge asked me to address any comments I might have directly to the volunteer. Turning to him I let loose with such a profanity filled stream of intense anger that the supervisor could not calm me down until he finally admitted this had been a set up and the other volunteer was a graduate student, who was studying subjects’ reactions. I chose to opt out of the program. The test subject in this horror film inspired by actual events did not have the same opportunity. Jared Harris (Lincoln, Natural Born Killers) played professor Joseph Coupland who was convinced he could scientifically explain the irrational occurrences happening to test subject Jane Harper, played by Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel-TV). Settled in a London estate with his team, the professor had everything documented to film by student Brian McNeil, played by Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire). But even some pictures could not explain what took place. The film work with its cool retro look created an interesting setting for this story. There were parts that were extremely loud which I could not tell was set by the movie theater or the film. Since I found aspects of the story far-fetched, the scare factor was somewhat diminished for me in this film. It was a shame because I liked the idea behind the story, having a central character trying to bring rationality to irrational acts. I am afraid this movie left me unimpressed. If you want to hear something scary, remind me to tell you about the time at school when they wanted to hook me up to electrodes. There were several scenes with blood in them.
1 3/4 stars
Before I began writing movie reviews here, I had my own rating system for films. It was pretty simple: do I want to spend money to see it on the big screen, wait for it to come out on DVD or catch it one day on cable. After seeing a movie back then, I would email a group of my friends to tell them whether they could see the movie or not. You see I have a couple of friends who cannot see any trace of blood. Then there is one friend who cannot see anything violent, whether it involves humans or animals. These friends were the impetus for me starting this movie review site. As this site has grown, I feel it is necessary for me to cover all genres of movies; so there would be something for everyone. It is for these reasons I went to see this horror film. Five friends met at a remote cabin where they accidentally summoned evil spirits that were hell-bent on possessing the friends until death. The friends were played by Jane Levy (Nobody Walks, Fun Size) as Mia, Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood, Deadgirl) as David, Lou Taylor Pucci (Beginners, Horsemen) as Eric, Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield, She’s the Man) as Olivia and relative newcomer Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie. There are times where it can be a fine line between horror and comedy; this film was a joke and I am not sure if that was the movie studio’s intentions. When the gore and blood is so over the top, it just becomes a comical mess. It was amazing to see how the body could keep on going as it was being dismembered. There was absolutely nothing of value in this remake; nothing new, nothing scary, nothing worthwhile. I will say for those who enjoy being grossed out this movie should provide you with enough sickening scenes to fill a vomitorium. Not that my friends would even consider seeing a movie like this; but just in case, multiple scenes of blood and gore throughout the movie.