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.

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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.

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. 

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)

Starring: Jill Larson (Deborah Logan), Anne Ramsey (Sarah Logan), Michelle Ang (Mia Medina), Ryan Cutrona (Harris), Brett Gentile (Gavin). 

Director: Adam Robitel.

Plot: a daughter and her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, let a film crew come into their home and film a documentary about her ailing health. Throughout the duration of the film they uncover a much darker presence fighting inside Deborah. 

I don’t like found footage, there I said it. HOWEVER! Deborah Logan provided me with a huge reason to enjoy the style of film. It just seemed so real, I think the crew definitely handled the subject well, as we all know, mental health is a very touchy subject but they tackled it tremendously. 

Jill Larson was a real winner in the way she pulled off her performance, the way she presented herself as the lovely Deborah Logan, a sweet old lady with old fashioned manners, with a stern side, a very straight minded lady who could hold her own.

Like a lot of found footage movies, this didn’t need the blood and gore that other movies rely on, Deborah Login pulls you into its visceral storyline with mere intrigue and mystery surrounding who, or what, is actually going on inside her head. It’s interesting to see an actress change throghout the course of a film, not just their characteristics but there visual appearance, below are a couple of images showing the transformation she undergoes. 

So the top picture is Deborah as she is made up for her interview with the film crew around a third of the way through the film, note the vacant expression on her face, this shows that although she looks healthy, there is more going on than we know. The bottom image, is Deborah nearing the end of the film, you can clearly see the changes that have been made, her early self is glowing, fresh faced, but the later image shows her blue, gray complexion as not only the illness, but also the evil entity that has taken over her body, comes more and more malevolent. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this viewing, I’m going to award Robitels’ flick a 3.5 serpents out of 5.