I USED TO HAVE A FEAR OF dachshund dogs when I was young. It started when one chased me down the street. I was riding my bicycle over by a relative’s house. The streets were familiar to me, but I did not know many of the neighbors; only the ones that were close to my relative’s house. I remember it was before lunchtime and I was riding my bike on the sidewalk of a main thoroughfare. Because the dog was short, I did not see it at first; it was not until I heard it barking as it ran up alongside of me. I started to pedal faster as the dog kept up its barking between snapping at my ankles. I could not believe someone would let such a mean dog out without being on a leash. The dog continued chasing me down the block, only stopping after I veered off the sidewalk and rode over the curb into the street. I was so scared I did not look for traffic beforehand. Luckily, a car wasn’t driving by at that moment. The dog stood at the edge of the curb while it kept barking. I rode back to my relative’s house as I could feel the sweat dripping down my face and back. AFTER THAT INCIDENT ANY TIME I saw a dachshund I stayed away from it, even if the dog was on lease. if I saw someone walking towards me with one, I would cross the street. In fact, I stopped riding my bicycle around my relative’s house because I did not want to take a chance, I would encounter that demon dog. My relative noticed the change and asked me about it. I told her what happened, and she told me not to judge all dachshunds based on one encounter. She suggested, since I loved riding my bike, to ride in the other direction because she could not imagine the dog crossing any streets if it did not follow me into the street. What she said made sense and I did start riding my bike around her place; however, I still hated that breed of dog. It was not until I got older when a close friend of mine got a dachshund. At first, I was hesitant going to his house; but he begged me to come over. Once I saw how docile and cute the puppy was, my dislike for the breed waned. The more we hung out together, the more I started liking the puppy; I had confronted and overcame my fear. This is something the main characters in this mystery, horror thriller needed to do. OVER THE HOLIDAY BREAK A GROUP of sorority sisters staying on campus make plans to celebrate Christmas. However, when a couple of sisters go missing the remaining ones must band together to find out what was happening on campus. This movie starred Imogen Poots (Green Room, The Art of Self-Defense) as Riley, Aleyse Shannon (Charmed-TV, Instinct-TV) as Kris, Lily Donoghue (The Goldbergs-TV, Jane the Virgin-TV) as Marty, Brittany O’Grady (Star-TV, Above Suspicion) as Jesse and Caleb Eberhardt (The Post, Love Beats Rhymes) as Landon. The idea behind this story was a valid one; I could see what the writers were trying to accomplish with female empowerment. However, it seemed that was their only focus because this movie was a disaster. There was nothing that was scary enough to make me react to it. The beginning of the story was okay but then it took a wrong turn and became a silly mess. I thought the acting was below average. At one point it seemed as if everything was going wrong with this picture. I must tell you the scariest part about this movie was me having to sit and watch it. There was a brief extra scene during the credits.
1 ½ stars
WAKING UP FROM A deep sleep I immediately knew something was not right. It was still dark outside so the house remained richly seeped in muted shades of black and gray. My eyes were trying to adjust to the lack of light but my ears had already detected an unfamiliar sound. Lying perfectly still my brain was trying to decipher this foreign sound; a sound that I realized could be associated with some form of movement. There was a slight delay between my mental state and my physical body, but a surge of fear flooded across me when I realized there was someone in the house. Paralyzed with fear I could not move for all of my energy was diverted to my mind, as a stream of options for my next course of action popped up into my brain. The sound was coming closer to me. I wanted to scream something out but only dead air wafted out of my mouth, my vocal cords were frozen in fear. THE LAST THING I remembered was seeing a shadow growing up on my bedroom wall before I would wake up, panting for oxygen. This reoccurring dream happened to me several times over the course of a year. Having done some studies in the field of psychology, I was slightly familiar with interpreting dreams. What threw me off though was the intensity of this dream. Every time I woke up from it my body was in crisis mode, with my heart pounding and my breathing rapidly taxing my lungs. I would even hear my heart pounding in my ears. When I woke up it always took me several minutes to calm down because the dream felt so real. I literally would remain still in bed trying to make out any unusual sounds in the house. Once my breathing slowed down I would try to figure out the meaning behind this dream or more appropriate, nightmare. At least I never dreamt long enough to experience my own death; unlike the poor, unfortunate college student in this horror mystery. EVERY DAY STARTED THE same for Tree Gelbman, played by Jessica Rothe (La La Land, Summertime). She would wake up from a dream that ended with her murder and have to start the same day all over again, knowing that later she was going to be killed. She could not understand why someone wanted her dead. This thriller’s cast also included Israel Broussard (The Bling Ring, Flipped) as Carter Davis, Ruby Modine (Memoria, Shameless-TV) as Lori Spengler, Charles Aitken (The Girl on the Train, The Knick-TV) as Gregory Butler and Laura Clifton (The Alamo, The New Guy) as Stephanie Butler. For the most part the actors were adequate in their roles; nobody stood out for me except Jessica. I not only enjoyed her performance but liked the development of her character. Basically this story was a cross between the movies Groundhog Day and Scream. What made this film more palatable was its campy, tongue in cheek script. It didn’t take itself too seriously and had a few scenes that generated laughter out of me and the theater goers around me. There were no big surprises in this picture; sorority students were stereotypically portrayed and the dorm residents were either wholesome or nerdy. I did appreciate the absence of blood and gore from the scenes. This was light fare that at least for me did not produce any nightmares.
2 ½ stars
As I walked into the backyard I could see him out the corner of my eye, crouched down and staring intently at me. He did not move until I called out his name. Immediately after hearing me he sprung up and bounded over to the fence that separated our two yards. He was the youngest of my neighbors’ three dogs and knew he would be getting a back rub once I called out his name. I have even seen him get down on all fours as soon as he hears me pull my car into the garage, for he knows I will be coming out the side door and giving him a back rub. While I was massaging him the neighbor happened to come outside to do some yard work. We talked briefly; he caught me up on the latest news around our neighborhood. He also told me they were thinking of putting up a privacy fence around their yard but they wanted to check with me first and see what I thought about it. I told him I did not have a problem but their dog might get upset; we both had a good laugh over my comment. I have to say I have been very fortunate with the neighbors who live around me. We are respectful and mindful of each other; asking each others’ opinions before undertaking a major project or at least letting others know about repairs that could be intrusive for a short time. I have been lucky that I have not experienced any drama, violence or even out of control loud parties when it comes to my neighbors. There is no way I could live in the type of neighborhood that was in this movie. WITH their house on the verge of being sold Mac and Kelly Radner, played by Seth Rogen (Steve Jobs, The Interview) and Rose Byrne (Spy, The Meddler), only needed 30 more days before the sale would finally close. Unfortunately a lot can happen when a sorority moves in next door to you. This comedic sequel followed a similar game plan to the first film which involved a fraternity instead. I liked what the writers were trying to do here and credit them for allowing Zac Efron (That Awkward Moment, Dirty Grandpa) as Teddy Sanders to shine with his comedic timing. He surprised me with how well he did in this picture. The trailers unfortunately showed several of the highlights in this film so my reactions to the scenes were somewhat subdued. Most of the humor was made up of sight gags; however, I felt the writers could have gotten more punch out of the story if they would have given more focus to Teddy’s household skills. It seems like Zac’s recent film roles make sure he is in some form of undress during them; maybe the movie studios are hoping it will give them better reviews. Fans into that will not be disappointed with this film. My disappointment was due to the story being pretty predictable and similar to the previous film.
2 1/3 stars