Welcome to ROTLB!

Hello world of WordPress! My name is Luke,  a lover of all things bloody and scary. I decided to create this blog to share my opinion (and obsession) of the best, and worst horror movies ever to grace the big screen. 

So as you can guess from the name and theme of my blog, I do love good ol’ fashioned zombie flicks, not this new age Tom Cruise s#!t,  I’m talking real zombies that moaned and groaned like there’s no tomorrow. I will try to cover all eras and sub genres of horror as I can, I like to think of myself a connoisseur of horror, but if there are any requests or recommendations then please feel free to leave them in the comments section. 

So as for now folks I bid you ado, I look forward to sharing this experience with the WordPress community, and remember guys, Stay Scary!

They’re coming to get you Barbara!

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I Saw the Devil (2010)

Plot: a secret agent exacts revenge on a serial killer through a violent series of capture and releases.

Director: Jee-woon Kim (a tale of two sisters)

Cast: Min-sik Choi (Oldboy), Byung-hun Lee, In-seo Kim.

When special agent Kim Soo-hyeons wife is brutally murdered, a violent chain of capture and release events begins.

I’m gonna be upfront and just say this is nothing short of an ultraviolent masterpiece. During a time where all we see is the same old stories being told my different actors, I Saw the Devil bursts through the doors and ultimately spits in the face of Hollywood film makers and delivers an expert storyline, paired with no holds barred visuals.

With a story as gritty as Se7en, and visuals as dark as the controversial French flick, Martyrs. I Saw the Devil takes viewers to the dark underworld of serial killers. Jee-woon Kim is unforgiving with this piece as he places female characters at the receiving end of violence, rape and torture; which is controversial now more than ever. Although people may not want to admit it, the harsh reality is that things like this do happen, and I think that is what needs to be absorbed when watching this film, its a very real subject matter.

It is a heavy film that’s for sure, by the end of it you want as much physical pain inflicted on Choi’s character as humanly possible. Which makes me think of the classic video nasty I Spit on Your Grave. In that movie we see a very graphic rape scene, so when you see the revenge being carried out, you crave more, because its justified violence, its karma coming to set things straight.

A lot of I Saw the Devil is pretty dark in terms of lighting, which I think caters to the subject matter and the level of violence. No punches are pulled in this movie, so if someone gets raped, expect to see it. If someone’s head gets smashed in, expect to see it. There are no happy endings or snappy remarks, there is violence, and lots of it.

I Saw the Devil scores a well deserved 9 out of 10 from myself. Stay scary, but more importantly, stay safe.

Awaken the Shadowman (2017)

Dir: J. S. Wilson (pseudonym for James Zimbardi, Skyler Caleb, Woodrow Wilson Hancock III.

Cast: James Zimbardi, Skyler Caleb, Jean Smart, Emily Somers, Andrea Hunt.

Plot: after the disappearance of their mother, estranged brothers reunite and discover an unknown supernatural force.

I could scour through the English dictionary to try and find a word that better describes this movie, but none would compare to this next one; Trash. Realistically I could end this review right there, and I would of accurately described each and every aspect of this so called movie.

However, we are going to continue. The title and description of the movie implies that there is a powerful supernatural force involved, so I kind of expected the shadowman to put a heavy stamp on the movie. This wasn’t the case, we catch a couple glimpses of the creature, his main screen time is in the last 15 minutes of this 1 hour 23 minute long disappointment. From what I can see, shadowman is a rather slender fellow with elongated fingers, in a nutshell its a dude in an all black morphsuit, if you don’t know what they’re are, Google them.

And here we (barely) see the Shadowman in his natural habitat.

With three people at the helm of this slow burner, you would expect at least one of them to have some kind of sense of direction, but sadly this is a classic case of, too many chefs spoil the broth. Two out of three directors acted in the feature, and honestly I’m not sure what was worse, their flat delivery of lines, or their poor direction.

Shadowman had a number of factors that led its ultimate downfall, as previously stated, we have the acting; no one involved in this movie could carry a role, at all. The direction, or rather the lack of it. The music and the storytelling were nowhere near as effective as they should of been.

It seemed to be the simple mistake of too much of one, not enough of the other. The music was so overplayed and over used that it didn’t even fit with the scenes. Douglas Pipes really let the movie down with his bizarre mix of bog standard horror music that has been used since the dawn of the genre, and techno sounding beats! The music tried to be dramatic in all the wrong places, so when it would of actually made a scene appear better, it had no effect because the score played throughout the entire movie! Repetitive and boring, is how I would describe the absolute shit show he put on.

Now onto the storytelling. The boys really tried hard to make this movie more of a mystery/thriller, but the only mystery I uncovered, was how they even found a production company willing to put this out there. The story fell apart at the seams, even after the movie finished, we know very little about the shadowman and his origins, or even the cult that worship the creature. As a group of directors, connecting your own dots in your own movie should be priority number 1! They failed in telling their own story, I wanted less mystery and more big reveals of the creature.

I can’t help but feel that J. S. Wilson ran out of time, or even budget. I can’t dislike this movie more than I already do, it was a pointless 1 hour and 23 whole minutes that I won’t get back. I urge Netflix to remove this movie, do your duty! And guys, do yourselves a favour, give this one a miss, you’ll thank me later.

1 out of 10 from myself. What a shame.

Cube (1997)

Fear. Paranoia. Suspicion. Desperation.

Director: Vincenzo Natali

Cast: Nicole de Boer, David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Maurice Dean Wint, Nicky Guadagni, Wayne Robson.

Plot: 6 total strangers of widely varying personalities wake up in an endless maze containing deadly traps.

Cube is genuinely one of the most intriguing movies I’ve had the pleasure of watching, however, it could of easily been a feature length distsater, down to its one location and minimal casting, it could have been very easy to lose interest in what was happening if not executed correctly.

The actors who were on board didn’t have massive reputations, so there were never going to be any Oscar worthy performances, but they managed to pull it off, what the movie lacks in acting, it makes up for with originality.

The idea behind the movie was a solid one, no faults at all, group of strangers wake up in an unfamiliar place with no recollection of how they got there. We have seen this technique perfected over recent years in the form of the noughties powerhouse franchise “Saw” but I like to think that Cube kick started the vibe off.

Sliced and diced

Cube uses quite inventive, futuristic looking traps, rather than something like Saw where it is a man made trap using materials with a sacrificial method behind it. The idea with Cube is that you don’t actually have to sacrifice anything in order to survive, the traps used are based off a mathematical theory, this then determines whether the room is safe or not. This gives the cube a living, breathing prison kind of feeling.

I feel like the music could of been slightly better in certain scenes just to amp up the tension between the characters, this would of contributed massively to the overall feel and vibe of the movie, but it still worked with what was used so this isn’t a massive thing that viewers will pick up on.

In a nutshell, I have arrived at the conclusion that Cube is a twisted view on the egos of certain individuals, and how far we would push ourselves and each other in order to survive when given a glimmer of hope. On a side note I would also say that it touches upon the way we treat certain people, who may seem useless to us and society but they actually may hold the key to survival, so accept each other no matter what walk of life you are from.

Deep revelations there from a movie that seems like such a depraved idea. With all things considered, I would definitely recommend giving Cube a go, it is a highly entertaining, low budget sci-fi /mystery. I believe the budget was 350,000 CAD approx.

7 out of 10 boots from myself.

The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018)

Dir: Dierderik Van Rooijen

Cast: Shay Mitchell, Grey Damon, Kirby Johnson, Nick Thune.

Plot: fresh out of rehab, Megan Reed, an ex cop, takes a job as an overnight intake assistant at a city hospital morgue. Strange and violent events occur after the corpse of a young girl gets brought in.

So, The Recovery of Megan Reed. Oh sorry, The Possession of Hannah Grace, is a 2018 horror movie that revolves around the struggles of anxiety and overcoming addiction, oh and there’s also an exorcism too. I genuinely believe the director forgot what movie he was making and what he was trying to achieve with it as the possession flick primarily uses Megan as its focal point. So obviously I’m not bashing anyone overcoming the afore mentioned, but let’s keep it horror.

The opening sequence shows us the final moments of an exorcism being performed on a young girl who is strapped down to a bed, convulsing and screaming. Yeah we haven’t seen that before. Upon finishing the movie I came to realise that this is actually the best part of the movie! We see the vessel die, fade to black, then up pops the words, 3 months later. Bit of a long time really.

When you’re not wearing any makeup but your boyfriend says you look cute anyway.

Here we meet our leading lady, Megan Reed, as played by Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars) . Unfortunately the movie is just a downward spiral from here, we get to know so much about our main character that we almost forget we have just watched an exorcism. If you’re doing something as dark as a possession movie, the last thing you want to do is lose focus, and that is exactly what happened, it had way too much of a touchy feel vibe.

The plot is mediocre, it left me constantly thinking about the 3 month gap at the beginning, why was she brought in 3 months later, like I have ideas but as an audience we need clarity, what was happening? Where was she? These are questions that needed answering, and Van Rooijen did not deliver.

We all know that every movie genre has a formula, but not all of them stick so closely to it, this however, was so formulated it hurts. The characters, the location, the lighting, all the way up to the supposed scares. The Cliche of Hannah Grace would of been a more fitting title. I would honestly put this on par with The Nun, purely because yet again we have another hyped up horror movie that was let down by a sub par plot, cheap scares, and no substance or tension being created. Van Rooijen attempted to stir up the tension by using motion sensor lighting in the movies location to his advantage, all this did was make the movie difficult to actually watch, and his creepy crawlie corpse grew tiresome and repetitive. I was hoping to walk away from this needing a change of underwear, but the only thing that needed changing, was the movie.

An overall bad movie with an idea that is old, boring and has been executed better in the past. Poorly written, poorly directed and poorly acted. A mere 3.5 out of 10 from me.

The Predator (2018)

Director: Shane Black

Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Trevante Rhodes, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown.

Plot: When a young boy unknowingly triggers the world’s most lethal predators, a ragtag group of ex servicemen must band together to stop the imminent destruction of the human race.

Gentlemen, they’re large, they’re fast, and they’re fucking up your idea of tourism.

As a huge fan of the Predator movies, I was overjoyed when I heard that a new one was in production. I caught a look at the trailer, and it made me even more excited. Upon its release however this all changed, after I read a few reviews and heard what the public had to say about the masked alien’s return to Earth.

Upon starting the movie I was skeptical, fearing that I wouldn’t enjoy it and that I was going to tear it apart and pick faults after it had finished, so I told myself: “dude, relax, just sit back and enjoy the ride.”

After following my own expert advice I sat down and just took it for what it was. Honestly if you go into this expecting it to follow the same suit as the original then I’m sorry but you’re gonna hate it. If you go in and expect crude one liners and profanity, then you’re in for one hell of a treat.

The whole movie is pretty funny, I don’t think there is a scene that doesn’t have a joke or a crude comment thrown in there somewhere, but it works. The chemistry of the squad is fantastic, I wouldn’t say you grow to “love” them, but you definitely enjoy their screen time.

My favourite part of the movie is the escape scene. Situated in a government lab, the Predator containing human DNA lays upon a table, heavily sedated, unfortunately for the scientists and military personnel, the Predator awakes and goes on a complete rampage, attempting to slaughter anyone who gets in his way. I love this scene purely because we see that the Predator is still a force to be reckoned with, he can still kick ass and utilise his surroundings to survive, and its the first real time we see the Predator in combat in this instalment.

I think the only thing that let’s this movie down slightly is the acting, some of it was amazing, Body Holbrook was fantastic, but the rest of the squad didn’t quite match up to him. Its not something that sticks out like a sore thumb, you just kinda have to deal with it and take it with a pinch of salt.

The hunt really has evolved in this movie, we have the introduction of the Predator dogs! These beasts are the predators hunting companion, and they look vicious! You wouldn’t wanna see these guys at your local dog park put it that way. I feel that with this addition, it gave us a little bit more of an insight into the predators, I guess it makes them seem a little bit more, human, and that they’re not actually that different from ourselves.

So there you have it, The Predator might be seen as a bit of a flop, but I loved it. Each to their own I guess guys. If you’ve seen it let me know your thoughts in the form of a comment, or an angry email, whichever.

So out of a possible 10, I have 6.5 spinal cords to hand out to these “lovely” alien visitors. Keep an eye out for the next long winded, relatively pointless review. Stay scary guys.

The Strangers: Prey at Night. (2018)

Director: Johannes Roberts

Starring: Christina Hendricks (Cindy), Bailee Madison (Kinsey), Martin Henderson (Mike), Lewis Pullman (Luke).

The Strangers: Emma Bellomy as Dollface, Damien Maffei as the Man in the Mask and Lea Enslin as Pin up Girl.

Plot: A family of four are staying at a secluded mobile home park for the night, but their peace and quiet is soon interrupted by three masked psychopaths.

After the success of the first Strangers movie back in 2008, it’s easy to understand why you would want to make a sequel. With Johannes taking the reigns from the first movies director, Bryan Bertino, did PaN hit the mark?

I definitely think Prey at Night lived up to expectations, Johannes didn’t do a bad job at all, I think this instalment put a nice twist on the first one. It’s not a home invasion movie, but it does have the same kind of vibe as the first one. For instance, it’s set in a nice secluded location with no one around, making our family of four, pretty easy targets for our masked lunatics.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tone of the movie, it was all pretty dark and mysterious, then it all gets flipped around when the strangers appear on screen with their old 80s music blaring out, making their hunt seem more innocent and almost romanticised. I mean what’s more romantic than an axe wielding lunatic with a burlap sack over his face, blasting Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the Heart?! I mean come on!

I think out of all this I would like one thing, and that’s a back story. I feel as though we could be missing out on so many key elements, as well as information regarding who these people are, and an actual insight as to why they kill people. Are they part of a cult? Were they abused as children? The information we have been given so far points to them just downright enjoying killing people, but I would love to be inside their heads, seeing things through their eyes with their knowledge. Maybe it’s an idea for the future, who knows.

So with some cool little action sequences, and some entertaining horror genre clichés, i.e he’s dead, but oh shit he’s back!! This movie kicked ass, the current IMDb rating is 5.5, which, for this movie is relatively low, I’m putting it out there at an 8. Am I being generous? Or did this movie just really rock my world? Watch it and find out!

Kinsey: Why are you doing this?

Dollface:…. Why not?

Also keep an eye out at the end for what I think to be a homage to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you know, the scene at the end where Sally’s in the back of the truck and leatherface is swinging his chainsaw at her? Yeah that one.

Basically if you’re home alone tonight and want to stay awake all night due paranoia induced insomnia, then you need to watch this movie.

Anyway guys, that’s a wrap from me. Stay scary.

Happy Hunting (2017)

Starring: Martin Dingle Wall, Ken Lally, Kenny Wormald, and Gary Sturm.

Directed and written by Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson.

Plot: An alcoholic drifter must battle his own withdrawal, and psychotic rednecks after he becomes a target in a deranged towns hunting game.

Okay, so this movie currently sits on a 5.1 out of 10 over at IMDb. Which to be honest, is a little harsh I must admit, been as Happy Hunting has a list of awards to its name, to name a few; best action film (Atlanta Horror Film Festival), best overall feature (GenreBlast Film Festival), best horror feature (Studio City Film Festival).

The plot is amazing, let’s be honest. The guys had an idea and they ran with it, and they were able to provide the perfect blend of character and violence. So to paint you a picture, our main character Warren (Wall) is about to do a meth deal, but it goes a bit sour, following this deal gone bad he decides to lay low from his boss and head to Mexico. On his little trip he encounters an old hunting town, Bedford Flats. I mean straight from the get go this movie is gritty, it’s gripping, and better yet, it’s violent! The movie clings on to it’s darker colours such as blue and grey, and it uses them to paint us this bleak existence that Warren is going through. For the second part of the movie, in Bedford Flats the colour is so bright, so happy and uplifting that you have to sit and think, are better things on the horizon for Warren, but no, they’re not. The townsfolk however live in absolute harmony, it’s a small town, maybe 135 residents, with their annual traditions their lives are absolute bliss.

The thing that makes this movie awesome is that it’s kinda like a low budget, lower class version of the Purge, but it kicks it’s ass in every aspect, I mean yeah the acting isn’t Hollywood blockbuster, the visual effects weren’t spectacular, but the characters themselves, were original. They actually had character and personalities, rather than some tarted up toffs who wore suits and used fancy weapons, this movie is what it is. And what it is, is glorious.

The tone of the movie is pretty dark, it just oozes seediness, backwoods drug deals and moonshine brewing, scattered with flannel wearing, almost primitive people. I think a lot of thought has gone into the characters themselves, something makes them so genuine and so appealing for us to keep on watching, something that makes us watch the movie as a sporting event. We almost want them to succeed in getting notches on their belts in the form of taking the life of a living, human being, we want them to go home, covered in the blood and glory of their hunt.

So if you would like to see a pensioner laying on a blanket in the desert taking pot shots with a sniper, or a fat redneck sunbathing with his shirt off, then you should watch, Happy Hunting.

Rating: 6.4 bloody meth crystals out of a possible 10.

Darling (2015)

Writer/Director: Mickey Keating

Starring: Lauren Ashley Carter as Darling, Sean Young as Madame, and Brian Morvant as The Man.

Darling follows a young girl’s descent into madness as she agrees to be a caretaker at a rather large, and rather strange house. The house itself has a history of suicide and occult rituals and practises.

So to get things started I’m going to mention the current IMDb rating for the movie, Keating’s monochrome flick sits on a rather undeserving 5.6 out of a possible 10. I believe that for such a visually pleasing movie this is a pretty shitty score, I understand it’s not some blockbuster starring Dwayne Johnson but damn it, this movie deserves so much more! (I’ll be posting my rating at the end).

So I love the fact that the whole movie is shot in monochrome, it just looks so pleasing, and it’s hugely reminiscent of the classics such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which I think Keating drew a lot of inspiration from. Carter reminds me heavily of Norman Bates, she is staying in this huge house, all alone, as the loneliness sets in, the graphic history of the house gets inside her head as she begins the descent into madness.

Keating as a director really pulled it out the bag, the camera angles and the shots used, just look so clean; by this I mean something as simple as a shot of a wardrobe looks immaculate, Keating purposely places his subjects in the centre of the shot. The picture of Darling I have included above is another brilliant example of this little technique Keating used, it’s just mesmerising to watch and extremely pleasing to the eye. So the movie only really has one main location, that being the house Darling is looking after, everything is minimal, even the characters and their dialogue, we only really see two characters engaging in proper conversation, Darling and The Man. This makes it extremely easy to follow, there’s no confusing plot to follow and no pointless characters to distract you from the perfect imagery.

By being so minimalist with characters, dialogue, and locations, when we see Darling lose her mind, it creates a better atmosphere because she is the only thing you are focusing on, and Carter pulls the role off perfectly, she goes from a shy, reserved young lady, into a vicious, no holds barred psychopath, the development of the character is just genius, I won’t go into too much detail but there’s a knife and a hacksaw involved, and a whole lotta blood! There is a time when the story is a little unclear but it really doesn’t take anything away from this spectacular movie, and it only lasts for around 1hour 15minutes, so it’s pretty easy to watch in your spare time.

If you haven’t seen it already, go and give it a go, you will definitely be surprised!

My personal rating of Darling definitely has to be a 7.5 out of 10.

Until next time guys. Stay Scary.

The Hatred (2017) 

Director/Writer: Michael G. Kehoe 

Starring: Sarah Davenport as Regan, Andrew Divoff as Samuel Sears, Darby Walker as Alice, Shae Smolik as Irene, Gabrielle Bourne as Layan, Bayley Corman as Samantha, Alisha Wainwright as Betaine. 

Plot: Four young women travel out to their professor’s new country home for a weekend getaway, only to discover that the house harbours a mysterious amulet that holds a malevolent history. 

Where do I begin? The first twenty-something minutes is a back story, which sounds pretty cool right? Wrong. It seemed to have so much potential at the start, Samuel Sears, an ex Nazi general, escaped his past and moved to the states with a clean slate, still proud of his Nazi heritage. He receives a package one day containing an old amulet  that was stolen by the Nazis during the war, the amulet is said to feed off hatred and fear. So anyway some stuff happens, we then find Samuel randomly stumbling towards his wife,  we never find out the answer as to why?  I am still asking myself this and it’s extremely annoying. 

Okay now that that’s out the way, cue the group of ditzy, annoying college girls that think they are clever but we just know they’re not. Their acting was so flat I just couldn’t see them develop as characters, they lacked so much personality,  I think this is due to the long back story section of the film, we only needed 10 minutes at the most to get a bit of history, allowing more time and effort in the character development side of things. Regans’ character (Davenport) is the only slightly interesting one throughout the entire movie. The whole group are just so cliche and rather annoying, the writing definitely had a part to play in this though, if the characters were given better dialogue I feel the development of the whole movie would of excelled. 

I will admit though, the crew did well to produce the movie on an $800,000 budget, there were some pretty cool cgi moments that had a lasting effect on the movie, the things we see were pretty creepy.  

The most annoying thing about this movie for me, is the lack of answers. We see some German writing appear on the wall right before someone dies and it doesn’t even pop up with subtitles, they offer us no translation at all so we are sitting there in the audience kinda scratching our heads. 

It was all a bit misleading really, we never really find out how the characters die, our main girl Regan, who apparently loves her friends so much, leaves them behind not even bothering to check on them or find out whether they actually died or not. The ending was a bit of a farce really, the writing was flat, the ending was poor and the movie tried to go off everyday childish fears, including the classic short horror story that goes like this “there’s a monster under my bed” *checks under the bed* and there’s another child under there saying “there’s a monster in my bed” it was all just a bit boring really. 

I really wanted to enjoy this movie because it had so much potential, the story was solid, a Nazi general making a new life then dying, leaving the amulet behind to be found. Unfortunately Kehoe really didn’t step up to the mark in the writing or directing for that matter. The Hatred, should be called “The Hated” because sadly I really disliked it, the idea was there, but nothing else was. 

For this movie in having to go pretty low on the scoring system, a rather dismal 3 out of 10 for me, I can’t even think of a snappy rating system for this movie, that’s how much it disappointed me. 

*I do not own any images used this review* 

Stay Scary folks. 

Lights Out (2016)

Director: David F. Sandberg (Lights Out short film)

Starring: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Maria Russel, Andi Osho, Alicia Vela-Bailey. 

Plot: Rebecca (Palmer) must unravel the mystery behind her younger brother’s terrifying experiences that once tested her sanity, ultimately bringing her face to face with a chilling entity that has latched onto their mother.

So David F. Sandberg is the director behind the short film that took the internet by storm, Lights Out was a 2013 short movie (available to view on YouTube), what made it so popular was its simple setting, it made our own paranoia a nightmarish reality. We’ve all been in the situation, it’s late, we’re tired, we flick the light switch off and we have that thought “Did I just see something?” burrowing into our mind, we get in bed and try to shrug it off “It was my imagination” we reassure ourselves. But what if we did actually see something? 

So fast forward three years and we were blessed with a feature length movie! This time we see the entity terrorising a mother and her children. It’s fascinating to see the backstory of Diana (Vela-Bailey), she was merely a child with some medical complications, we see her brought to life and she really is the stuff nightmares are made of, she looks like she stands about 7 foot tall, with elongated fingers and crooked limbs.

So this is Sanbergs first major project, aside from a number of short films, and I really believe he took a few pointers from producer James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring). With a well thought out storyline sprinkled with jump scares and some excellent shots, Lights Out is certainly a horror movie for the ages. Maria Bello who plays the mother, Sophie, really is a character to watch, she acts as an enabler for Diana, because she can’t let her go, she allows Diana to exist and wreak havoc.

Overall I think Sandberg did an impressive job to extend the storyline and really turn up the creep factor, it had me scared in every sense of the word, the last 35 minutes of the film are just a constant grip of nightmares like tension. Let’s just hope Sandberg can keep this performance up with the upcoming Annabelle: Creation, which is set to release on August 11th (2017). From me Lights Out receives a whopping 7 broken lightbulbs out of 10. That’s all from me guys, stay scary, and remember to stay in the light.