Mel’s 5 Second Review: Barbarian

Barbarian (2022)
Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long, Jaymes Butler, Richard Brake, and Matthew Patrick Davis
Directed by: Zach Cregger

Barbarian

So, I hadn’t really planned on watching this one. I’d heard of it, seen it mentioned a few times in my Facebook horror groups, but I didn’t really know what it was about, save the vague synopsis of the beginning of the film. But my mom started it last night (then walked away cause she doesn’t do horror), so I figured I may as well. And boy, what a ride.

Tess gets to the Airbnb she rented just to find out another person has also been booked for the same time. Against her better judgement, she decides to stay the night. She soon finds out that may not have been the best idea, since the house is not what it seems.

I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this film. Don’t get me wrong, it was very well done. Everything was great. Acting, atmosphere, makeup, all pretty stellar. But it was off-the-wall bonkers. And pretty gory, which I’m not a huge fan of. It’s a little slow in the beginning, but definitely not a slog. The characters are engaging, so even when they’re not doing much of anything, it’s still at least mildly interesting to watch them. At least until they do truly idiotic things, which, unfortunately, is a lot of the time. I was watching with my sister and dad, and the main thing that kept coming out of our mouths is “Why would you do that…?” There was also one laugh-out-loud moment that I won’t spoil, but if you’ve seen it, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about (it comes near the end). Now I’m not sure if it was intentionally funny, or if they were trying to be scary. If they were, it didn’t work. There was also the ENORMOUS suspension of disbelief that had to happen to get this story to happen at all. All I’ll say is: all those years. How?? It just doesn’t make sense. All in all, I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. It gets a 7/10 from me.

M.

This film is currently streaming on Disney+

Mel’s 5 Second Review: Grave Encounters

Grave Encounters (2011)
Sean Rogerson, Ashleigh Gryzko, Merwin Mondesir, Juan Riedinger, Mackenzie Gray, Ben Wilkinson, and Bob Rathie
Directed by: The Vicious Brothers

Grave-Encounters

So, I generally don’t like found footage films. The blurry, bouncy camera work does nothing for me, except maybe make me slightly nauseous. But every so often I’ll get drawn into watching one, either because I’ve heard nothing but good things, or someone I generally agree with in movie tastes says it’s good. Which is what happened with this one. Darren from Flick Connection recommended it in one of his videos, and I mostly trust his judgement, so I decided to watch it.

For their ghost hunting reality show, a crew lock themselves in an abandoned asylum over night. They’re used to having to make up their own scares. This time they won’t have to.

SPOILERS INCOMING

First the not-so-good. The camera work was bouncy, just the way I don’t like it. They had a few static cams set up around the place, but it was mostly all hand-held. But I knew that going in, so I tried to ignore it and move on. Another down point was one of the characters, TC, was so thoroughly unlikable that it actually took me out of the moment in some places. He was so stereotypical that I just had to cringe sometimes.

Now the good. The rest, really. The story, while nothing new, was good. The acting was mostly good, the characters, save one, were engaging. I like the ambiguity of what happens to the characters. Are they dead? Are they now “patients”? Obviously Matt died, having jumped to his death, but the others? Lance is alive, in a sense, at the end. But we really don’t know what happened to the others, and I kinda like that.

All in all, I liked it. I might even look up the second one to see if it’s as good. I’d definitely recommend this film to anyone who likes found footage films, and/or ghost stories. I give it a solid 8/10.

M.

This film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Cursed

The Cursed (2022)
Boyd Holbrook, Kelly Reilly, Alistair Petrie, Amelia Crouch, Max Macintosh, Roxane Duran, Nigel Betts, Stuart Bowman, Tommy Rodger, Aine Rose Daly
Directed by: Sean Ellis

the cursed

First, let me say that the trailer for this film is incredibly misleading. I thought this film was a ghost story. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was nothing of the sort.

After a horrible slaughter of Gypsies, a small late-19th century town in France is plagued by what seems to be animal attacks. A pathologist comes to town to try help, but he seems to have an agenda of his own.

First the good. The film is beautiful. They take full advantage of the French countryside, the costuming is gorgeous, and most of the effects are great. The story is interesting, even if it’s a little basic. (I paused for a long time here, deciding whether I should include spoilers in this review or not. I decided against it.) The acting is quite good. And there were a few things that I’d never seen before in a film of this type, so that was surprising, and nice. The bad? Well, there’s not much, to be honest. The film is a little slow at times, but it never feels like a slog. The creature effects are a little janky at times, but whenever there’s practical effects, they’re great. The beginning was a little gory for my tastes, but they eased up for the rest of the film.

All in all, it was a pretty good film. Probably not one that I’d line up for a rewatch, but still quite good. 7.5/10

M.

This film is currently on Amazon Prime, and available for purchase on YouTube.

Mel’s 10 Things About… Netherworld

Netherworld (1992)
Michael Bendetti, Denise Gentile, Holly Floria, Anjanette Comer, Robert Burr, Robert Sampson, Alex Datcher, and George Kelly

Netherworld

(SPOILERS INCOMING… but since it’s a movie from the 90’s, I’m not too worried)
1. The lead actor, Michael Bendetti, who plays Corey, is a stone cold fox. Now that that’s out of the way, we can continue.
2. The story is interesting, if a little all over the place. The bird people, the “is she bad or isn’t she?”, the flying hand, all intriguing enough to keep me watching.
3. Lots of boobies, but they don’t add much to the story. Pretty gratuitous. Which, I suppose, is par for the course for a 90’s horror film, especially one by Full Moon.
4.  The pacing left a little to be desired. Scenes were either too long, or too short, and it really jumped all over the place.
5. The music wasn’t great, and often didn’t fit the scenes. The love music for Corey and Delores was cheesey to the Nth degree, it almost took me out of the moment.
6. Unintentional laughter was had. Some scenes were so “wtf” that my bf and I just had to laugh out loud.
7. The final plot twist, while kind of obvious after a while, was still good and gave a lot to the story.
8. The idea of turning bad people into birds was interesting and something I’d never seen before, or since.
9. The love interest is introduced as “jailbait”, which makes Corey’s interest in her a little questionable. I mean, she doesn’t look underage, but you don’t introduce someone over 18 as jailbait, so…
10. Overall, despite its flaws, I rather liked it. It was fun and entertaining, definitely one of the better Full Moon pictures.

6.5/10

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Conjuring, The Devil Made Me Do It

Conjuring 3The Conjuring, The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)
Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, John Noble, Shannon Kook, and Eugenie Bondurant
Directed by: Michael Chaves

This is the third instalment in the wildly popular The Conjuring films. And honestly, it has not lost any of its steam. Or thrills.

After the intense exorcism of young David, Arne invites the demon into himself instead of the boy. Just when things look like they’ve gone back to normal, Arne starts seeing things, which escalates into him killing a man. Enter demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, who convince the defence lawyer to plead innocent due to demonic possession.

“Based on a true story”, and yes, I’m using giant quotations for that. I don’t believe a word of it, but I can’t deny that I love pretty much everything about this film. The love story between Ed and Lorraine is wonderful, even if in real life they were nothing but scam artists. Fans of the other two Conjuring films might find this one a little different, a little slower, but I found it great. All of the acting and effects were stellar, as expected. They did a good job making Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga 50-ish. I couldn’t tell if it was done digitally or with makeup, so job well done. The story was more detective-like, with Ed and Lorraine trying to figure out what happened. My dad actually found the film too slow, enjoying only the beginning and end, but I thought the pacing was just fine. But it’s true that if you don’t like slower films, then I would not reccomend to watch this. All in all, I thought it was bomb, and it gets an almost perfect 9/10 from me.

This film is currently available for rental and buying on YouTube (which is where I buy my films) and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!

M.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Seventh Day

The Seventh Day (2021)
Guy Pearce, Vadhir Derbez, Brady Jenness, Stephen Lang, Robin Bartlett, Keith David, and Chris Galust
Directed by: Justin P Lange

A young priest fresh out of seminary school gets paired up with a hardened exorcist to take on the case of a young boy who killed his entire family with an axe.

First, let me say that the acting was all around sketchy, even from Guy Pearce, who looked like he gave no fucks (but that could just be the character), but especially the possessed boy, who was downright cringe-worthy at times. I don’t like to be too hard on child actors, cause it’s a tough gig, but possession films are a hard enough sell without the possessed writhing around like bacon. The younger priest, played by Vadhir Derbez (who I’ve never heard of before), was, to quote another reviewer, “seemingly in a frozen, detached mode of vacancy”. I had a good laugh at that, since it’s pretty true.

What I can say good about it, is it had some good ideas. I was expecting a bland, “just an exorcism movie” kind of film, and while a lot of it is that, there’s just enough different to make it interesting. The makeup effects were pretty well done, I have to admit, all except the “smiles”, which you’ll know what I mean by that if you see it. But I don’t think those were done with makeup anyways, pretty sure those were done with (rather mediocre) CGI. And the end twist (cause every movie’s gotta have a twist!) was actually pretty good, even if I did see it coming. So I give it a 6/10, and would recommend cautiously.

This film is currently streaming on Netflix Canada.
M.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Wailing (곡성, Gokseong)

The Wailing (곡성, Gokseong) (2016)
Kwak Do-won, Jun Kunimura, Kim Hwan-hee, Kim Do-yoon, Son Gang-guk, Jang So-yeon, Hwang Jung-min, Chun Woo-hee, Her Jin, and Kil Chang-gyoo
Directed by: Na Hong-jin

So, I’m not quite sure what to make of this one. It was so all over the place. I’m not even sure if I liked it or not.

After a bizarre Japanese man comes to their village, some of the inhabitants seem to lose their minds and become homicidal. A hapless police officer goes to great lengths to protect his daughter who has started showing signs of the infection.

First of all, I hated the first 40 minutes or so. All the characters act really dumb, and it feels more like a slapstick comedy than a horror film. After that they calmed down with that aspect, and the film finally started. It had great ambience, some really tense moments, but it was all so confused and complicated that it took away a lot of the good they were laying down. There were so many twists that I got whiplash. So many things that the characters do simply don’t make sense, and the film does nothing to explain it. The acting was mostly stellar, especially from the possessed child, but again, it get lost in the over-convoluted story. And can someone please tell me who the woman in white was? All I can figure is she’s a creature from Korean folklore, and since I know nothing about that, I simply didn’t get it. And holy hell was it long. At 2 hours and 36 minutes, I think it’s the longest horror film I’ve ever seen. All in all, it wasn’t a bad film, but it’s definitely not something I’ll ever watch again. It gets a decent 7/10 from me.

M.

This film is currently streaming on Shudder.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Assent

The Assent (2019)
Robert Kazinsky, Peter Jason, Caden Dragomer, Florence Faivre, Douglas Spain, Hannah Ward, and Tatum O’Neal
Directed by: Pearry Teo

Watched this on a whim last night before going to bed (instead of going to bed? Yes, probably). The Netflix blurb looked pretty interesting, and I was looking for something really scary to watch, so I decided to go with this film. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.

Joel is a single father who recently lost his wife in a car accident. He’s also schizophrenic. When he sees something that he knows is not real, he snaps a polaroid of it to prove to himself that it’s not there. When his son starts to see similar things, he tries to do the same thing, but the pictures come out wrong. Meanwhile, a priest on a mission is sent to Joel’s house by a concerned friend to check up on them, and finds the boy possessed by a malevolent demon.

HERE BE SPOILERS

The concept was good. The schizophrenia angle (and the polaroids) was very interesting. The acting was good from the main actor, although the others were a little (ok, a lot) sketchy. But once the possession started in earnest, it just kind of fell apart. I will say that the twist (there always seems to need to be a twist in horror these days, does’t there?) was good, and I didn’t see it coming, which is rare. But there didn’t seem to be a real point to it all. If the only point is for the demon to kill, like in The Exorcist, then that’s one thing. But the priest in this film was going on about a grand plan and then… nothing? I mean what even happened in the end? Did he die? Did he go completely insane? The demon apparently took over completely, but to what end? It was just a confusing mess. All in all, the film wasn’t absolutely wretched, but it wasn’t good either. It gets a ho-hum 4/10 from me.

M.

This film is currently on Netflix.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch, Olwen Kelly, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael McElhatton, Jane Perry, and Sydney the Cat
Directed by: André Øvredal

So, I’d been wanting to see this film for years. But it was never on any of the streaming services I had (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Shudder). So yesterday I decided to check if it was on YouTube Movies and was happy to see that it was, and that it wasn’t expensive, so I bought it. And I have to say, it was worth every penny.

Tommy and Austin are a father and son coroner duo. Once evening, just when they think they’re done for the day, the sheriff brings in the body of a beautiful young woman who doesn’t seem to have a mark on her… at least on the outside. The further they get in the autopsy process, the more they realise that something is not quite right about this Jane Doe.

This was quite a good little film. You might think that a film that has basically just 2 characters in one room would be boring, but boring it definitely is not. It kept me on the edge of my seat most of the time, and actually managed to freak me out, something that’s very hard to do to this seasoned horror fan. The two leads were fantastic in their roles, and even Olwen Kelly, who had nothing to do but lay on a table, was great. I kept on staring hard at her when the camera zoomed on her face for any sign of a twitch, and there was none. It was creepy how still she laid. There were not many makeup effects besides that actual autopsy, but they were all done very well. The autopsy was done using some sort of mannequin instead of CGI, and it really payed off, it looked great. And finally, the explanation for what was happening was both awesome and heart-breaking (I won’t spoil it here). I highly reccomend you see this film if you love horror as I do and haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet. 9/10 from me, almost perfect.

M.

This film is currently streaming on Netflix if you live in the States. If, like me, you live in Canada, YouTube Movies is your best bet. Enjoy!

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Possession of Michael King

The Possession of Michael King
(2014) Shane Johnson, Cara Pifko, Julie McNiven, Ella Anderson, Tomas Arana, Patricia Healy, Cullen Douglas, Jed Rees, Tobias Jelinek, and Dale Dickey

Let me start by saying that I generally don’t like found footage type films. No matter how good the story is, I just can’t get past the shaky cam, it’s rather nauseating. With that in mind, this film is done so well, and with a minimum of actual “shakiness”, that I didn’t mind. I went into this with zero expectations, and was pleasantly surprised. This film is much better than it has any right being.

Michael is an atheist who recently lost his wife in an unfortunate accident. After confronting his late wife’s “spiritual adviser” (a tarot card reader), he decides to make a documentary featuring what he believes will be proof that the supernatural doesn’t exist. He’s going to do any ritual he can find and when none of them work, that’ll be the proof he says. As is obvious in the title, things go horribly wrong.

Everything was remarkably good for a little indie film. Acting, effects, makeup, all were pretty stellar. The one thing I could say about it is that there were a few too many jump scares in a film that was creepy enough that it didn’t need them. There weren’t so many that I got annoyed, but still, the film could have done without. The plot was really simple, but it was done so well that it didn’t really need more. And that’s pretty much it. I’m trying to find other stuff to say, but “it was pretty great” pretty much covers it. A solid 8/10 from me.

M.

This film is currently streaming on Tubi.