Saturday, July 5, 2014
Where credits due. West, Russell pay homage to 80s style slasher films!
Things you never see black people doing in horror movies: Thing # 13
Scream, "Go ahead without me. Save yourself!"
I grew up watching the horror films of the 80s and I tend to compare all the movies I watch to the cinema excellence of that bygone era that scared the shit out of me when I was kid. So needless to say I was super excited to see modern day horror movies shot in the 80s style.
Â The two I've seen so far are House of the Devil (2009) written and directed by Ti West and The Sleeper (2011) written and directed by Justin Russell.
House of the Devil
Winner of the 2009 Best Feature Film for the Birmingham Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, winner of the 2009 Festival Trophy award for Screamfest and winner of the 2010 Producers Award Independent Spirit Award.
Plotline: A standard issued plotline, Samantha Hughes, takes a strange babysitting job to earn enough money to be able pay the 1st month's rent and move out of the dorm.
Scariness Factor: Is off the scale! It's extremely creepy and suspenseful in the way of John Carpenter's 1978 Halloween, the 1st Friday the 13th on Crystal Lake, and Fred Walton's 1979 When a Stranger Calls! There are some really good jumpscares and if you're like me, you'll be screaming warnings to the babysitter not to go in that damn attic!
Gross-Out Factor: There is only one part in House of the Devil that is kinda gross, it's towards the end of the movie during the ritual.
High Points: The House of the Devil was filmed in 2009, but watching it you'll swear it's an 80âs horror film. To help with the illusion of time travel there are a couple of actor's that starred in older horror films that we all grew up watching and loved.
Overall: There is a reason why House of the Devil is an award winner, this is a scary film with a well thought out plot and the fact that the film makers takes us back in time a full decade, with feathered hair, high waste jeans, smoking inside restaurants and a tape player walk-man to do so is flawless.
Stars: 5 Stars!
Where I rented it: Blockbuster
Plotline: The girls of Alpha Gamma Theta sorority are having a party. As the new pledges arrive, so does an uninvited guest.
Scariness Factor: It isn't very scary at all. Even with the right music and setting cue's Russell isn't able to pull it off. I think a huge reason why this movie fell flat is because there isn't a strong story line and the characters are pretty one dimensional. The opening scene is the death of a college in her dorm room but we never find out who she was and no one else, including the police, seem to know about her death.
We all know why Jason, Michael, Freddy and lost their shit, but there is no back story for our Sleeper and while the aforementioned villains are terrifying The Sleeper is just a little startling.
Gross-Out Factor: True to form of 80s slasher films there is not a lot of gore. The camera zooms in on the hammer and you pretty much know what happens next. There are some close up shots that display the talent of the Fx team but they don't go overboard.
Complaints: Besides the weak storyline Russell has his characters doing things that even in the most outer limits of reality don't seem plausible. Where ever this was filmed it was freezing, there is snow on the ground, you can see their breath, and the wind is more than a breeze yet he has his characters wandering around outside at night for no reason other than to be accessible to the killer. And you have a police officer refusing back up when charging off to apprehend the suspect and another cop who falls into a deep peaceful sleep just minutes after the senior officer charges off alone.
High Points: This movie looks really good, its grainy so it gives it that old VHS tape feel. And there is a scene in the bar where everyone is line dancing to 80s "pop rap" and that made me smile.
Overall: It just didn't do it for me
Stars: 2 stars
Where I rented it: Amazon Prime instant video