Check out my review of Pet Sematary, the 30th anniversary Blu-Ray, over on GingerNuts of Horror!
Check out my review of Pet Sematary, the 30th anniversary Blu-Ray, over on GingerNuts of Horror!
Starring: Luis Tosar, Marta Etura, Alberto San Juan
Director: Jaume Balaguero
Genre: Horror/Psychological Thriller
Release: December 2011
From the director of REC, a movie I love, we have ‘Sleep Tight’. This is a wonderfully made and acted psychological horror movie. This film really freaked me out badly.
I’d first like to thank my brother, from whom I ‘borrowed’ this (I will totally return it I promise). I stole it from him as soon as he bought it, as we (myself and hubby) thought it looked good, and we love REC! We were not disappointed.
This is a great slow burn movie, it really digs itself deep under your skin from the get go. There is no doubt from the beginning that Cesar (Luis Tosar) is a creep. He wakes to his alarm, and makes his way down to his work as the concierge of the building. We see him take part in the daily morning routine of life, thinking nothing of it. We assume that he just doesn’t want to awaken his partner, the lovely Clara (Marta Etura) who he has left asleep. What we soon find out though, is that Cesar is not Clara’s anything. He sneaks in to her apartment every night, chloroforms her as she is asleep, and (we later discover) rapes her. She has no knowledge whatsoever of this, the only thing she feels is increasingly groggy and unwell from all the chloroform and trauma.
Luis Tosar plays Cesar with the perfect level of charming nastiness. My skin was crawling every second he was on screen. His only goal in life to make people unhappy (admit it, we also know someone like that), because he can’t feel happiness. It seems that the only thing that appears to placate him is the misery of others. Clara is a happy girl, she loves her life, and always has a kind word and a smile. Cesar cannot stand this, hence making his mission to ruin her, to ‘wipe that smile off her face’ as it were.
The ending is absolutely disturbing. You totally need to watch as I won’t completely ruin it for you. Oh my days though, it’s a good one!!
A complete 5/5!!
Lesley-Ann (Housewifeof Horror)
The Canal (2014)
Country: Ireland (IFB)
Running Time: 92 minutes
Written and Directed by: Ivan Kavanagh
Release Date: April 18th 2014 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Cast: Rupert Evans; Steve Oram; Antonia Campbell-Hughes; Hannah Hoekstra
After found footage, psychological horror films are a favorite of mine. I love how they pull you into the story, how up is down, left is right, I love to be enveloped by the plot. That tingly feeling I get on the back of my neck, the hairs standing up, I know then it has me in its clutches. I had that feeling with The Canal.
David (Rupert Evans) works as a film archivist, he is given a reel of footage from the police archives to watch and subsequently archive by his work colleague and close friend Claire (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), which turns out to be old crime scene footage of he and his wife’s current home. It was the scene of a shocking crime in 1902, the brutal murder of a cheating wife, their children and the nanny by the enraged father.
David suspects his wife Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) of having an affair, so he decides to follow her one night, only to unfortunately confirm his suspicions. He watches Alice while she is with her lover, and then picking up a hammer, he appears to mull over the idea of using it, only to quickly come to his senses. Walking away, he throws the hammer into the canal on the way back to their marital home, where he has left their young son asleep in bed, alone in the house.
David, feeling sick from what he witnessed, as well as what he had considered doing about it, runs into the (quite dirty) canal-side public toilets. He hears something or someone coming in after him, and then sees them, their feet, under the stall door, followed by fingers appearing to creep over the top of the door. He then proceeds to suffer from quite nightmarish visions that include the man, the husband, from the 1902 crime scene footage. He seems to be taunting David, whispering things to him. David, in a state of distress, manages to crawl outside, where he then witnesses what appears to be his wife being thrown into the canal; he just can’t see it very clearly or coherently. He later comes round on the floor of the bathroom, unnerved and disheveled, and makes his way home. The next morning, when he realises that Alice has not come home that night, David goes to the local police station to report her missing. Obviously, the police suspect David, “It’s always the husband” says the (inept) detective on the case.
The plot twists and turns, is it David? Is it the entity? Some great revelations about the grim history of the house come up throughout. It’s an interesting watch that comes to a disturbing conclusion.
A great little scene, that made me believe David was the killer, was during one of his viewings of the old footage. He stood up, in front of the projector, silhouetting him in front of the screen, making him appear to be a dark shadow. To me, this was the director’s nod to David’s darkness within.
The Canal is a great psychological horror; it does very well to dig itself under your skin as you watch, and drag you into this nightmare that David’s life has turned into. I was really impressed with the performance of Rupert Evans, tormented and devastated, he made David’s pain almost tangible. Watching him seemingly fall further into madness as the story progressed was quite frightening. I really felt for the nanny, she is a totally innocent girl who just wants to protect David and Alice’s son Billy, and can’t leave even when she knows she should. She gets dragged deeper and deeper into the madness; everyone close to David is brought into this waking nightmare.
The ending is well, quite creepy and rather disturbing as I have said earlier. The story feels to me to have come full circle, and you can envision that it is a tormenting nightmare that will repeat itself over and over with future residents of the house for years to come.
4/5 – It’s rather worth a look if you like a good psychological horror
Stream now on Shudder:
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)
DVD Release: 20th August 2018
Directed by: Brandon Christensen
Starring: Christie Burke; Jesse Moss, Rebecca Olson and Jenn Griffin
My one worry before watching this film, being the obvious antagonising incident in the title, was that I was praying they would handle it both tastefully and respectfully. This is a sensitive subject for many people, and I was concerned that it would be handled a little too blasé within a horror genre movie. Thankfully, it was handled very well, and quite discreetly (the entire scene was screened without any real sound and it was just the look of heartbreak between the new parents and the nurse when they came to the realisation that one of the twins had sadly not survived). I appreciated also, that they didn’t show the scene graphically just for cheap shocks.
The central focus of the story was of course the tragic loss of one twin at birth, as well as the developing post-partum psychosis of the twins’ mother, Mary. The film deals with how her depression and breakdown affects her both mentally and physically, as well as affecting her relationship with her husband Jack. Their relationship made more strained as, due to his work, he is required to be away on business trips.
It’s suggested to be an evil entity, intent on taking Adam, the surviving twin. And we follow Mary as she hears noises, see lights coming on, even windows smashing – ghost or troublesome kids? Jack does his best, offers to fly her mother in, puts in security cameras throughout the house so he can keep an eye on her and Adam. It’s a shame though in the capitalist world we have made for ourselves, that he chooses to work away for ‘the big account’, than stay with his grieving wife and new born son for a little longer. I guess if we want the nice things, we have to sacrifice the real things that matter.
Mary, while taking Adam for a stroll, meets her neighbour Rachel, who also happens to be a new mother, and they soon become fast friends. I found it quite heart-breaking how Mary’s descent into her depression is played out within this friendship. She begins to mistrust Rachel more and more, as well as seeing things that are not real – scenarios playing out in her mind involving Rachel and Jack, even watching Rachel appear to seduce Jack via the new security camera feed that Jack had installed to make her feel safer.
I think, for me personally, this film would have been better suited as a character driven thriller/horror rather than a supernatural horror. The entity that wanted the surviving twin, Adam, was well done, well portrayed to a point, but sadly got neglected, and we didn’t see too much of this. The story was more overtaken by the post-partum depression and heightening anxiety of Mary (not a bad thing – I just feel it was too much of one thing and then the other, over and over), and her descent into delusion, with her desperate need to save Adam at any cost. For me, I thought the entity was used just as a metaphor for her psychosis, and as a way for her brain to come to terms with the loss of her child, as well as her terrible fear of losing her surviving child Adam.
The film started with some genuinely frightening scenes, courtesy of the baby monitor in the nursery. It tailed off a bit closer to the end, losing its way with a decent, yet slightly awkward feeling finale.
In my opinion, this film tried to be two different things that just didn’t mesh well. There wasn’t enough time to fully explore both the supernatural element and the psychological aspects. For me personally, it would have been much better overall had they chosen one path for this movie and ran with that.
3/5 – It was good, but it could have been great.
Lesley-Ann (The Housewife of Horror)
Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)
Release Date: August 10th 2018 (UK)
Directed by: Steven Susco
Running Time: 1 hour and 32 minutes
Starring: Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Colin Woodell and Stephanie Nogueras
The sequel to Unfriended (2015) didn’t disappoint. It was a slow and shaky start, some of the characters are a tad (one of them a lot) annoying, but what came later made up for that in spades.
I’m always a bit wary of a sequel, is it that they maybe haven’t tried as hard with it as what they could have or should have? I tend to wonder if they are possibly just riding on the coattails of the originals’ successes. I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved as I love the first one) that this was not the case. Unfriended: Dark Web really could have been a stand-alone movie. Yes it had the obvious similarities; the film was set on the computer screens, and of course, something nasty was happening to the group of friends. Apart from that, it was its own film, very different to the first one in many ways.
There was no paranormal element in Dark Web, the villains of the piece being a criminal gang, dealing in kidnap, torture and murder for profit. Unfortunately for our group of web savvy young adults, one of them, Matias O’Brien (Colin Woodell) ‘found’ a laptop and took it for himself. What he later discovered was that the laptop was a direct link to the dark net, filled with sickening clips of people being hurt and killed.
The golden rule of the internet – never click on a link when you are not sure what it is.
From here on out, trouble ensues, the bad guys want their laptop back and won’t let anything or anyone get in their way. The owner of the laptop has broken into the house of Matias’ deaf girlfriend, Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras) and has threatened to kill her unless he gets the laptop. He uses Amayas laptop to covertly communicate with Matias from within her apartment, knowing she is sadly unaware of the whole sorry situation. Matias must jump through all the hoops necessary to appease the murderous laptop owner and save his beloved Amaya.
In true horror movie fashion, one by one everyone is picked off in various, although not very inventive ways, culminating in the usual big finish finale. I did like the plot twist, it was very hard on Matias especially and it led to an interesting ending. It’s one of those films where again, it’s more scary because stuff like this is happening right now somewhere in the world, we just tend to ignore it as we prefer not to know.
It’s not a bad film; not brilliant, but it’s got plenty to offer the casual viewer and the avid horror fan.
3/5 – It definitely has its moments.
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)
Cast: Bruce Abbott (Re-Animator; Bride of Re-Animator); Jennifer Rubin (Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors)
Release date: April 8th 1988
Blu-ray release date: 23rd July 2018
Directed by: Andrew Fleming
Run time: 84 mins (approx)
‘When Cynthia wakes up, she’ll wish she were dead…’
Cynthia (Jennifer Rubin) wakes up from her coma after 13 years. She was the only survivor of a Jonestown-style suicide cult, a suicide-by-fire pact, instigated by Unity Fields cult leader Franklin Harris (Richard Lynch). We see in a later flashback that she began to retreat after the fire was started, she was just far enough away from the source of the resulting explosion that she lived, badly hurt, but alive.
When she wakes, she begins to have nightmarish visions of Harris, burnt and bloodied from the fire that destroyed all bar herself at Unity Fields.
Cynthia is inserted into a group therapy session, for borderline personality disorder treatment, run by Dr Alex Karmen (Bruce Abbott). Here she meets an eclectic bunch of individuals, including masochist Ralph (Dean Cameron), who takes an instant shine to Cynthia. The film is worth a watch for Dean Cameron’s performance, he portrays a very likable psychotic patient perfectly.
The first of Dr Karmen’s patients to die is Lana (E.G.Daily). an upset Cynthia has a flashback/vision of herself being baptized into the cult of Unity fields, a vision that takes a dark twist when Harris begins holding her underwater, forcing her under until she drowns, Cynthia horrified, realizes this is actually Lana. Afterwards, with Lana’s body below him, Harris turns to Cynthia and says “I warned you Cynthia, I warned you someone else would take your place”. Cynthia then ‘wakes up’ and hears a scream. Running into the pool room, she is confronted with the lifeless body of Lana, who has drowned in the pool – much like in her vision.
Each of the group continue to meet their end, one by one, by Harris (or so it would seem). Cynthia continues to have horrendous visions of him, his face all burnt up from the fire, and then the next person meets a grisly demise. She is convinced it’s Harris, she is convinced he has returned to take her, and is punishing her and those around her for fleeing the fire.
This is a very well acted, intense and thought provoking film. It doesn’t rely on gore and shocks to garner reaction, it relies primarily on the interactions and relationships of the characters, as well as the increasing tension and fear within Cynthia and the remaining patients of Dr Karmen. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Cynthia and Dr Karmen, Bruce Abbot portrays a very sweet and empathetic character, who cares a great deal about his patients, especially Cynthia who he bonds with closely.
I very much enjoyed the end twist of the film, up on a rooftop, when we are shocked to find out that it is actually Karmen’s superior, Dr Berrisford, who has been dosing the patients with psychogenic drugs to make the patients unstable and suicidal. All this just to corroborate his research – makes you wonder how much of this actually goes on in institutions. Karmen had suspected something was amiss with Berrisford for a while, and he confronts him after he sends Cynthia to isolation – “you want this, you want her on the edge, you’ve wanted this from the beginning”.
We are then left to decide for ourselves whether Cynthia’s visions of Harris and the resulting deaths of the patients were actually suicides caused by Dr Berrisford’s drug cocktails, or was Harris actually there, was he he really tormenting Cynthia and murdering everyone around her in a twisted revenge for her survival.
The blu-ray includes a booklet from 88 Films, looking back at the 30 essential North American slasher movies from 1960-89.
I love this film, I’m extremely impressed with the Blu-ray from 88 Films’ Slash Classics Collection.
Great special features, well worth a watch and a listen.
5/5 for the film and 3/5 for the features (A Bruce Abbott interview would have made it perfect)
If you haven’t seen this, give it a watch, it’s a horror classic!!
Lesley-Ann, the Housewife of Horror
Running time: 84 minutes
Starring: Laurie Holden (The Walking Dead, Silent Hill); Nicole Muñoz (Defiance, Once Upon a Time)
‘Be careful what you wish for, someone might be listening’
After the death of her father, Leah (Nicole Muñoz) has her life turned upside down by her mother (Laurie Holden) when she insists they move house, leaving their suburban family home, for a quiet place in the woods. “I need a fresh start” her mother says, “This place feels like your father’s funeral every fucking day”. Her mother also wants her to move schools, taking her away from her friends. She unsympathetically tells her after a debate over it on the drive to school that she “can finish the school year and transfer next year…. Take it or leave it”.
Leah (left) portrayed by Nicole Muñoz
Leah, along with her friends, has a strong interest in the occult and ritual. After a heated argument with her mother, Leah, being hurt deeply when, in the heat of the moment, her mother tells her she is “acting like such a brat” and that she is becoming a “loser”, and the worst blow of all, when she tells her “every time I look at you I see your father’s face, god I wish I could just….rip it off”, Leah in a state of anguish regretfully wishes her mother was dead, and later that evening performs a ‘black craft’ ritual, unleashing Pyewacket into their lives.
The next morning, Leah, now coming to her senses, is completely guilt ridden in herself and doesn’t know what to do. She doesn’t want her mother to die, obviously, she was just upset and in pain. She doesn’t know what to do now, or how to undo the ritual, and when she starts hearing noises and things start to go bump in the night, she turns to Rowan Dove (an occult author who she had met at a book signing earlier in the movie) for help, but is it too late?
With a crippling ending, this film is an emotional ride from start to finish. Its focus being on the characters rather than cheap shocks and over the top gore, it’s a fantastic journey from start to finish. The cast is perfect and the film is brilliantly acted. Nicole Muñoz portrays the young Leah, full of torment and emotional distress with perfection. She is a very talented actress who I first came across starring as Christie McCawley in Defiance (2013-2015). This young lady has an exceptional career ahead of her.
The cinematography is very beautifully eerie, with some extremely creepy shots of the woods to add to the flavor of the film. I especially love the mother-daughter car scenes, they are very well shot as well as scripted.
For me, this film is perfect. It is very character driven, which is something I love in a movie. Yes, it’s a simple plot, angst ridden teenager, unstable mother, some poor choices made in anger, but it works very well and it delivers some genuine scares in parts. The ending, which I won’t spoil, is quite shocking. It gets you thinking and going back over the whole movie again, it gives a lot of food for thought.
In my opinion, this film is definitely worth a watch. Go on, you know you want to…
Release date: 13th July 2018
Run time: 1 hour 14 minutes 29 seconds
Directed by Diego Cohen
A sadly dull entry into the slasher horror universe, yet it is thankfully short. The premise of the movie is simple and not very original – a group of teenagers head towards the lake for a camping trip. It’s never going to end well is it?
We open with Romina, a young innocent looking girl, in the process of being questioned by a forensic psychiatrist. He has been tasked by the courts to determine her role in a horrendous multiple homicide – is she a victim, participant or witness?
We then cut to a car filled with over-sexed teenagers, heading for a camping trip to an idealistic lakeside (Crystal Lake if Netflix’s subtitles are to be trusted – my Spanish is all but non existent) for a weekend of sex, drinking and stupidity.
Romina, coincidentally, is also at the lake. She is seen stripping down and then swimming naked, unknowingly (or so we are meant to believe) being watched from the treeline by one, and later two, of our idiotic teenagers. She is later assaulted in her tent by the same two boys, and then the following morning, seemingly embarks on a solo killing spree. Taking revenge on her attackers, as well as (almost) everyone else whether they were involved in her ordeal or not.
We don’t really see any of the violence, just the aftermath. I suspect this was to avoid a higher rating for the movie. There is nothing overly graphic within this film, some mild sexual language, moderate nudity and implied sexual assault. No on screen death, just moderately graphic images of the victims afterwards.
I can’t decide whether it was poor acting, writing, directing or all of the above. It is plainly obvious from the initial naked swim right through to the assault, that she is the ‘honey trap’ for our unsuspecting idiots. This ruins what could have been a nice little twist at the end of the movie. I am going to assume that we as the viewer, were meant to believe that she is this poor innocent girl, brutally attacked, and then driven to revenge. I cannot see how anyone could believe this, it’s far too ‘in your face’ obvious that it’s a set up.
None of the characters are even a tiny bit likable, it’s difficult to garner any form of sympathy for them.
Sadly, this is a very unconvincing and even more disappointing film. With the very slow start (nearly an hour in before anything notable even happens), I was hopeful of a big exciting finish to make up for it. I was left extremely unsatisfied.
From the synopsis I had high hopes. Yes, it’s very samey, the usual plot involving kids heading into the woods etc etc, violence ensues. A lot of the time, that works, just not on this occasion.
This could have been really good.. and if you fancy a good slasher film set at Crystal Lake, well you know what to do.
My rating 1/5. Give it a miss, Love Island would be a more interesting watch than this.