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.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Influence (La Influencia)

La Influencia (2019)
Manuela Vellés, Alain Hernández, Claudia Placer, Maggie Civantos, Emma Suárez, Daniela Rubio, Marta Castellote
Directed by: Denis Rovira van Boekholt

Oh, Netflix. Why you do this to me? Why do you make a blurb for a film look so bloody good, and then the movie so bloody bad?There is not one thing about this film that I liked. In fact, I stopped it at one point to see how long I had left (I thought it was almost done), and became so bummed out when I saw that I was only halfway that I almost didn’t start it up again. But I figured I’d finish it since I started it. I should have left it be.

HERE BE SPOILERS

The Influence is a Spanish language film made in Spain (don’t look at me like that, lots of countries speak Spanish), based on the novel of the same name by Ramsay Campbell. Wikipedia says it’s pretty faithful to the book, save some changes in the third act. I’d be interested in reading the book, since the story itself is interesting. Alicia is a nurse who comes home to take care of her dying mother (who she hates). As the film goes on we learn that the mother is a witch who used her children in all sorts of rituals. Now it seems that she’s controlling Alicia’s daughter Nora from her coma, wanting to transfer her soul into a young vessel. Hijinks, of course, ensue.

In the end, though, wasted potential is all this film is. It’s boring, most of the acting is bad, even the makeup effects are pretty crappy. And that ending… The showdown with the witch, which ends with her back in a coma all sliced up, Alicia and her husband broken and bleeding, and young Nora being tossed out the window. The film then ends with them in the hospital, locking the mother away in a room, and Nora recovering, then them driving off as a family, away from the cursed house. Now I can suspend all kinds of disbelief for a horror film. But are we supposed to believe that the cops wouldn’t get involved here? What did they tell them? That coma lady did it? That a 10 year old girl did it? I mean come on. All in all, this is a right turd of a film, and I want my hour and 45 minutes back. 2/10

M.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: Eli

Eli (2019)
Charlie Shotwell, Kelly Reilly, Lili Taylor, Max Martini, Sadie Sink, Deneen Tyler, Katia Gomez
Directed by: Ciarán Foy

When I first saw the trailer for this on Netflix, I was immediately interested, and put it in my watchlist. And forgot about it, like so many others. Last night, while flipping through for something to watch, I saw this again, and decided to give it a shot. I’d seen mixed reviews about it, some people loved it, others hated it. But thankfully no one spoiled the ending for me, which was great, since it really is something. I was going to include spoilers in this review, but I’ve decided against it.

Eli starts out as a rather generic, but well done, haunted house flick. Eli is an 11 year old boy suffering from a debilitating auto-immune disease. He’s basically, as one character puts it, “allergic to the world”. He and his family drive cross country to the home/hospital of Dr Horn, an immunologist, who says she can cure him. But almost as soon as Eli and his family arrive, strange things begin to happen to Eli. He sees shadows, hears breathing, and, soon enough, starts to see ghost children. Dr Horn tries to assure him that it’s only hallucinations brought on by the treatments, but he’s having none of it.

All of the haunted house tropes are there, creepy ghosts, creepy music, parents that don’t believe the kids. But it was just interesting enough with the auto-immune disease that I kept watching, and boy am I glad I did. The final payoff is ridiculous. Ridiculous good, not ridiculous stupid. The acting is mostly good all around, with young Charlie Shotwell holding his own against the adults. I’d been looking for something really scary to watch last night, and while this isn’t, it’s still very much worth your time. A very good 8.5/10 from me.

As a side note, my boyfriend, who generally doesn’t like horror films, liked this one. So I should probably have given it a higher score, just for that, hehe.

M.

Mel’s 5 Second Game Review: Grim Dawn

Grim Dawn is a fantasy/horror ARPG (action role playing game) in the style of the Diablo franchise, released on Steam by the indie company Crate. Called hack and slash games for their rather simple game play, they’re actually some of my favourite games. I have about 500 hours clocked into Grim Dawn, and I don’t think a minute of that was time wasted. The initial game came out in February 2016. There are two expansions, The Ashes of Malmouth, released in October 2017, and Forgotten Gods, released in March 2019.

The story is simple enough (the world “ended” and there are monsters), but it’s so well crafted that it doesn’t matter. And if you take the time to listen to the quest givers and read the lore, you’ll realise just how dark they went with this. There’s a man who locks his family in his house and is about to set them on fire, rather than face this new world. There are journal entries laying around one of the zones, telling the story of a family of cannibals who are becoming less than human. There’s no swearing or nudity, but I still think this is one game that’s not for kids.

The game-play is standard for this type of game. The camera is above your character and you click the mouse to move around and cast spells. Some spells will require the use of the number keys. The looting system is also standard. If playing with a friend, you each get your own drops, which is nice (Path of Exile could take a page out of that book). What’s not standard is parts of the skill tree. There are shrines all over the map that you have to restore and that gives you a Devotion point. You can then use this point to chose stars on a constellation tree. Each constellation gives boosts to different builds (spell casting, melee, ranged, minion build, etc). I’m not sure I’m explaining this right, so let me show you.

That was the most complicated skill tree I’d ever seen since I started playing Path of Exile last week. But once you get used to it, it’s not so bad.

So if you like Diablo-like games and aren’t afraid of a little horror, then I definitely recommend this game for you. As for me, I give it an 11/10. Bloody perfect!

M.

Mel’s 5 Second First Impressions: Prodigal Son

Prodigal Son (2019 – )
(Season 1 cast) Tom Payne, Michael Sheen, Lou Diamond Phillips, Aurora Perrineau, Bellamy Young, Halston Sage, Frank Harts, Keiko Agena, Charlayne Woodard

First, let me get this out of the way: Tom Payne as Malcolm Bright is a stone cold fox. Got it? Good, we can move on.

8 episodes of this show have aired on Global Montreal (I imagine the same amount have aired elsewhere). I’ve seen 6 of them. And really, it’s some of the best new tv that’s played in a long time.

Payne plays an FBI profiler fired from his job, despite being the best, for being overly reckless. He goes back to his home town of NYC where he’s hired by the local police to help on some cases. He has horrible night terrors stemming from his childhood. His father, you see, was a serial killer known as “The Surgeon”, and Malcolm was very traumatised by the fact. As the episodes go on, he’s trying to separate fact from fiction, as he’s having different and more vivid dreams that he thinks may be memories.

I’ve always had a soft spot for serial killer shows, so maybe I’m a bit biased, but I love this show so far. The acting is mostly good, the stories are great, the characters are engaging, and, to no one’s surprise, Michael Sheen is electric as good old dad. I for one can’t wait to watch more, and I hope it lasts on tv for a while. They tend to can shows I like quickly, so here’s hoping that doesn’t happen this time.

M.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: The Haunting of Hill House (season 1)

The Haunting of Hill House (2018 – )
(Season 1 cast) Henry Thomas, Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Elizabeth Reaser, Timothy Hutton, Lulu Wilson, Violet McGraw, Julian Hilliard, Paxton Singleton, Mckenna Grace, Annabeth Gish

I don’t think I can fairly express how much I love this show. I read the novel a quarter century ago, so the details might be fuzzy, but I remember I loved it. And while the show isn’t quite a faithful recreation of the book, it’s so good that I don’t really care. Everything is wonderful, from the acting to the effects. Netflix really let director Mike Flanagan create his vision as is, apparently sparing no expense.

The story is simple, something we’ve all seen before I’m sure. The Crain family, mom, dad, and five kids, move into a beautiful, albeit a little run-down, mansion with the intention of flipping it for a great profit. But things aren’t what they seem at Hill House, and almost immediately hijinks ensue. The story runs back and forth, from the young family to the older, where the kids are all grown up. Some people might get a little confused with all the jumping around, but I found it was done well enough that I personally didn’t have any trouble. The story may be familiar, but it has just enough intrigue, plus it’s done so well, that it really doesn’t matter.

The only thing I could possibly say about it that’s negative, is that there’s maybe a few too many monologues. The characters talk slightly oddly on occasion, like they’re part of a one-man show. But really, I’m nit-picking here. All in all, it’s a superb show, and it more than deserves the score I give it of 10/10. If you haven’t seen it, and are at all a fan of supernatural stuff, sit down and watch it. You won’t be disappointed.

M.

Top 8 Onscreen Demons

Movies featuring demons are numerous, but there’s really only a small amount of them that are good. With such a high schlock content, a lot of films about or starring demons are awful, either being boring or stupid, or even both. But when done right, they can be downright terrifying.

I’ll only be including films in which the demon has a physical body, so no possession films. I’ll do another post dedicated to that sub-genre, since there are so many. So without any further ado, let’s get this show on the road. Oh, and spoiler alert, as usual.

 

NUMBER EIGHT

 Dogma

“No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater… than central air.”

Name: Azrael
From What?: Dogma
Played by: Jason Lee
Scary or sexy: Sexy-ish (he was kinda cute back in the day, hehe)
His Goal: To negate all of existence. Apparently hell is awful.
Alive at the end?: No
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: Silent Bob killed him with a golf club that had been blessed by a priest.

 

NUMBER SEVEN

HellBoy

“In the dark I heard your voice, what did you say?”
“I said, ‘Hey, you, on the other side – let her go. Because for her I will cross over, and then you’ll be sorry!'”

Name: Hellboy
From What?: Hellboy
Played by: Ron Perlman
Scary or sexy: Neither, really. Liz digs it, though, hehe.
His Goal: To stop the incoming Apocalypse and save his lady love.
Alive at the end?: Yes
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: N/A

 

NUMBER SIX

Sinister

“The symbol is associated with a Pagan deity named Bughuul. He consumes the souls of human children. The ancient church believed that Bughuul actually lived in the images themselves and that they were gateways into his realm. Children exposed to these images were especially vulnerable to Bughuul’s abductions.”

Name: Bughuul
From What?: Sinister
Played by: Nick King
Scary or sexy: Scary
His Goal: Infecting a child so that he/she kills their whole family, then he abducts the child.
Alive at the end?: Yes
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: N/A

 

NUMBER FIVE

Constantine

“Word is you’re on your way down. Fresh meat. Finger lickin’ good.”

Name: Balthazar
From What?: Constantine
Played by: Gavin Rossdale
Scary or sexy: Sexy (at least until John melts his skin with holy water)
His Goal: The usual demon stuff, plus mess with John as much as he can
Alive at the end?: Yes, but is sent back to hell.
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: N/A

 

NUMBER FOUR

Buffy

“You don’t know how to kill this thing?”
“I thought I might try violence.”

Name: Der Kindestod
From What?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Played by: James Jude Courtney
Scary or sexy: Very, very scary
His Goal: Feeding on the life essence of children in a hospital.
Alive at the end?: No
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: Buffy killed it by snapping its neck.

 

NUMBER THREE

Angel

“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. That was… you were so… brave!”
“You think you could say that again without so much shock in your voice? You’re stepping on my moment of manliness here.”
Name: Doyle
From What?: Angel
Played by: Glenn Quinn
Scary or sexy: Sexy (until the demon comes out)
His Goal: To help Angel save people using his visions from the “powers-that-be”.
Alive at the end?: No
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: He sacrifices himself to turn off a device that would kill a lot of humans (and I cried like a baby).

NUMBER TWO
Conjuring 2
“Your name gives me dominion over you, demon, and I do know your name! You are Valak! The defiler! The profane, the marquis of snakes! In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I condemn you back to hell!”

Name: Valak
From What?: The Conjuring 2 / The Nun
Played by: Bonnie Aarons
Scary or sexy: Very, very scary. Omg, did this thing give me the absolute heeb.
His Goal: To kill Ed Warren via a haunting he’s investigating in England.
Alive at the end?: Yes, but is banished back to hell by Lorraine.
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?: N/A

NUMBER ONE


“Easy, love. If you remember our time in Mesopotamia the way I do, you know I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

Name: Various, there are so many demons in this world, with Crowley being the most important.
From What?: Supernatural
Played by: Various, but Mark Sheppard plays Crowley
Scary or sexy: Both
His Goal: Again, various things. Crowley wants to be the King of Hell, Lilith wants to start Armageddon, etc.
Alive at the end?: Both
If not, how did (s)he bite it, and by whom?:  Those that are killed are usually done so by Sam or Dean with their special knife or gun.

And that’s it for the demons. Who (or what) are your favourites? let me know in the comments, and I’ll see you next time!

M.