Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Interview: Writer/Director Seve Schelenz, Skew

When I say the words 'found footage', some of you might be instantly turned off. Even the most diehard of horror fiends will quickly scoff. So when I say that Skew is worth your time and attention, it isn't paint-by-numbers and it will melt your brain with its humdinger of an ending, well, I hope I've made you stand up and take notice.  Once you peel back the layers, you'll see it's not the typical type of film seen within the sub-genre. And make no mistake, it has plenty of scares which will induce anxiety within the viewer. In fact, I'll put them up against the likes of Paranormal Activity and recent independent productions like The Tunnel.

The film itself features a trio of young kids who take a road trip out to a friend's wedding. Before you can say 'Haven't we seen this movie before?', one of the young men who's chosen to document the whole affair begins to see weird images through the lens of his video camera. Distorted faces are sported by seemingly normal people. If that wasn't enough, everything he turns his lens to meets an untimely demise.

I recently had an opportunity to interview writer/director Seve Schelenz. We talked about the idea behind the film, why it isn't your prototypical found footage flick, and what to expect next from the filmmaker. As you'll see, he's highly engaging and he actually encourages viewers to reach out to him to discuss the film.

Planet of Terror: What brought about the idea behind Skew?  It’s obviously influenced by the found footage style of filmmaking.  But the idea and philosophy behind it is wholly unique.

Seve Schelenz: In 2004 I put some thought into creating my first feature film.  The one roadblock that seemed to always come up was budget.  I’d seen so many independent films that tried to be bigger than they could actually afford to be - essentially trying to look like a Hollywood film within a shoestring budget.  I really felt these movies didn’t work in their attempt and the quality of the film removed me from the cinematic experience, therefore displacing me from the story and characters.  During the summer of the same year, a few days before a road trip with two other friends, the idea finally hit me.  How do I get around shooting a low budget film that will still be accepted by the audience? With a video camera in hand for our road trip, the film’s concept instantly came to mind.  I furiously wrote the first draft of the feature during the four days of the trip.  Six months and a few drafts later, I completed the final version of the film.  Years before Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, and Diary of the Dead were even thoughts in Hollywood producers’ minds, I looked to The Blair Witch Project for inspiration.  It had been five years since this style of found footage film had been successfully created and I thought it was time for another one.  The big difference was I didn’t want to be a copycat and make something that had already been done.  So instead of using the camera as a gimmick, as most found footage films tend to do, I decided to go another direction.  Without giving any spoilers away, let’s just say that once you’ve seen Skew you’ll quickly realize it’s unlike any other found footage film you’ve seen.  The reason why?  Because it’s not actually a found footage film at all.  It’s actually a narrative feature that happens to be filmed in POV style from the video camera of one of the characters.  Have fun, look for the clues and maybe you’ll figure it out.

POT: The end of the film sits with the viewer for a while and the ambiguity of it could be a challenge for some viewers.  Without giving anything away, is there more than one interpretation or is there really only one way you see the film concluding?

Seve: This is a fantastic question.  Upon finishing the first draft of Skew I had two endings in mind for the film.  I wrestled with them both until deciding upon the one I thought would be best suited for this film.  Not only did I not want the typical ending the viewer would guess or had seen in so many other horror films, but I wanted to give proper respect to the audience and make Skew a thinking man’s film.  Since completing the film and sending it out into the festival circuit I have had a few moments where I catch myself thinking, “Wait a second, what about this kind of ending?  Or this?”  Yet, I inevitably go back to the one that exists in the film now and realize it was the best choice.  As a writer I think it’s important to know every aspect of your story and be accountable for it.  There are obviously many films where the writer has left the story hanging in the final scene to let the audience make up its own mind in regards to the outcome.  Sometimes these films work and sometimes they fall pretty flat.  In terms of Skew, I know exactly how it ends.  There’s no ambiguity or question in my mind as to the fate of our hero.  Now having said that, the ending does open itself up to a few interpretations and I did leave it up to the viewer to decide how they feel it ends.  Yet if you take all the clues that are presented to you in the film you will come up with the conclusion.  On a related note, I have had the great opportunity of personally screening Skew at several festivals.  One of the little treats I have done at these venues is give the audience insight as to what my version of the ending entails.  If any of your readers absolutely need to know, they are more than welcome to contact me through YouTube or IMDb and I will answer any questions they have.

POT: Another question about the ending, I applaud you for it as it’s not neatly tied up in a nice bow and again, it's something that will sit with the viewer for a while.  Were you at all concerned with something that could be perceived as open-ended?

Seve: As mentioned, I debated about the ending of Skew for a while.  I know that North American audiences are very accustomed to a certain formula or close-booked ending to a film.  It seems like it’s so important for us as viewers/readers to know how something finishes otherwise we don’t feel satisfied.  I think we need to break this pattern sometimes and learn that not everything has to end the same formulaic way.  When written well, a story should not only take its audience along a journey but also allow them to think and piece things together on their own.  We shouldn’t always be spoon-feed or told how to think. Otherwise every film follows the same formula and how boring and predictable is that?

POT: Boring and predictable indeed. So how has the film been received thus far?

Seve: Skew has been a real passion film for me.  Written in 2004, shot in 2005, and finally completed in 2010. The film has been six years in the making.  Upon completion of Skew I screened the film with a sales agent who, once the credits rolled, turned to me and said, “This is a slam dunk sale!”  I was pretty excited to hear that news.  A few weeks later, he was headed to the AFM (American Film Market) to hopefully line up the sales.  Well, one week before AFM a little film entitled Paranormal Activity premiered and took the weekend as the highest grossing low budget horror film in history.  We figured this was great news, as it would help to garner attention for Skew.  Well, the opposite happened.  Every production company and their grandmother had “found footage” horror trailers of films that didn’t even exist at the Market and by the time distributors arrived at our table they didn’t want to hear any more about this type of film – even though ours was complete and ready to be bought!  So Skew sat in limbo for almost six months before its world premiere at A Night of Horror International Film Festival in Australia.  From there it gained a little momentum and buzz as it started hitting some festivals in North America.  Nine months later Skew has been burning up the festival circuit by premiering in 40 festivals.  This combined with a sale to Netflix in the U.S. and DVD sales in Germany have given Skew a great run so far.  We’ve also had some great reviews on the film and you can check them out on the IMDb site.

POT: Tell me about your filmmaking influences, past, present or both.

Seve: I am very fortunate to have grown up in the 70s and 80s.  These two decades are filled with some of the greatest films ever:  Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Terminator, Jaws and Back To The Future are just a few that have had a huge impact on me.  The writers and directors connected to these films have been a big influence in my life.  Spielberg, Cameron, and Zemeckis are fantastic directors who know how to tell a story through film.  When it comes to horror, hands down the best writer/director out there has to be John Carpenter.  Halloween and The Thing are two of the best horror films ever made.  The pacing and anticipation in these films add an incredible element of horror that is very rarely successfully done in Hollywood horror movies today.  For me, story is the number one element to a successful film.  I seem to gravitate towards films that take the time to provide a good narrative and a great payoff.  Rosemary’s Baby, The Sixth Sense, and The Exorcist are great examples of these kinds of films.

POT: You could relate to all 3 characters and without their honest interactions the film would not have been as successful as it was.  How important was their believability within the context of the story?

Seve: Writing a POV or “found footage” script is quite different than writing the standard narrative film.  The area where it differs the most is in the dialogue.  In a traditional narrative film you typically bypass the standard greetings and jump to the chase.  Dialogue flows between characters without hesitation, repetition or stuttering.  We are so accustomed to characters saying the perfect line or performing the perfect action, essentially cutting through the fat.  In a found footage film you look to create a truly real life experience by trying to represent how we would really speak and react to a situation.   As a result, we mumble, talk over each other, overreact, use extensive slang and commit constant grammatical errors. The trick in creating a good POV film is finding the right balance between authenticity and story pacing.  In Skew, there was very little adlib.  The dialogue not only had to be delivered as it was written but also in a tone that would reflect the situation.  This was very important to propel the story forward and reveal tidbits of information to the audience in order to piece the puzzle together.  I worked with my three main actors—Robert Scattergood, Richard Olak and Amber Lewis—to create the proper feel for the film and they delivered stellar performances to back this up.  The cast for Skew definitely deserves so much credit for making the film what it is.

POT: How did you create the fantastic effects that served as the basis for some of the scares?  I'm thinking about the police interrogation room and the roadside abandoned gas station in particular.

Seve: While writing Skew, I had an opportunity to confer with the visual effects supervisor over the script.  We would talk about what my intentions were for certain scenes and if the effect would be a practical or computer generated one.  I had certain ideas of how scenes would play out and where the big or subtle scares would happen.  Once the shots were locked down, it was really in the supervisor’s hands to create this magic.  It was truly amazing to watch the first steps of these effects come together on set.  For one particular shot we had our actor run on a stripped down tread mill in front of a green screen.  As I watched this on set, I had an understanding of how this was going to be put together but was really curious to see the final product.  Once the visual effects artists got their hands on the footage, I was astounded at what the fully created shot looked like.  I have received nothing but compliments on how the effects look and you really have to look no further than the amazing talents of the supervisor and artists who worked with me on Skew.

POT: Any upcoming projects you'd like to mention?  Anything we should keep our eyes peeled for?

Seve: The festival run for Skew is coming to its tail end right now.  After so many festivals it’s now time to focus on the sale of the film.  I had so much fun working on Skew that I couldn’t wait to get started on the next one.  Yet, with all film projects, it takes a lot of time to prepare yourself for the beginning stages of a new film and right now we are still working on a script.  Once this is locked down, we’ll move into pre-production – which I feel is the most important stage of filmmaking.  This is the best place to work out every issue before you go into production.  The worst thing is to be unprepared while you’re on set.  Trust me, you deal with enough surprises once you start shooting; you don’t need any more, especially ones that can be dealt with in pre-production. So, the next film is looking to be another horror but this time it will be a little more traditional in terms of style.  What does that mean?  Let’s just say that I’ve been there and done that for POV at this stage.  It’s time to release a few psychotic killers and scare the hell out of everyone.

POT: Sounds great! Well thank you kindly for your time. Best of luck in the future and I hope Skew continues to gain the recognition and notoriety it deserves.

Seve: Thank you for taking the time to interview me.  Without fantastic sites like Planet of Terror, horror fans wouldn’t have the opportunity to hear about independent films like Skew.  Your enthusiastic effort to review films like mine and post interviews with the filmmakers is exactly what we need to get the word out there.  Please keep up the great work and let the bloodletting continue!

Skew is currently available via Netflix and can be viewed via its streaming feature:  http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Skew/70209219?trkid=2361637

Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Subspecies (1991)

Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 2/5
T&A Factor 3/5

Looking for something to bring you out of your vampire fanboy loving funk? Something that will ease the pain of seeing sparkly beings and idiotic teens and their mothers fawning over them? Check out Subspecies, a neat gothic tale that features a vampire in a way that it they should be: grotesque and menacing.

Meet Radu. He's a bastard of a guy who's seeking to kill and overthrow his father (Angus Scrimm) and gain the precious power of the blood stone. The blood stone is apparently an ancient relic that has a never ending supply of blood provided by the saints. Which saints exactly, who knows. Yes it's goofy. Just go with me m'kay?

A couple of American girls seeking to better research and document the Romanian countryside make their way out to the small town called Prejnar where Radu supposedly inhabits. They meet up with a local, a friend of theirs they previously met when she was studying in America. Together, they make their way out to a small inn located in the middle of the town. They settle in and immediately get to work.

Despite warnings about the surrounding areas, the girls go about their business, roaming the countryside and exploring some of the ancient structures for their research. But on their way back home one night, they're spooked by the sounds in the woods. A young man also staying at the inn runs into them and guides them back safely.

We come to find that the young man is not the documentary writer he was advertised as. Instead, he's the half brother of Radu, with vampire-like inclinations with half the guilt! Wakka wakka wakka.

Anywhos, he quickly falls for one of the girls. Radu sees the threat in his half brother and looks to destroy him on top of working his sexy time magic on the girls. After converting two of the girls to his vampiric ways, Radu turns his attention to the girl whom his half brother has fallen in love with. The half brother comes to her rescue and our gothic tale ends on a happily ever after note. Awwwwww, isn't that sweet?

Subspecies isn't the best vampire movie ever made. But it's certainly a fun flick. It has a goofy charm about it and I've always been a fan of the Nosferatu look which this film is heavily influenced by. You could do a whole lot worse. A great Friday night in flick.

Cortez the Killer

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupant (2011)

Fear 2/5
Gore 1/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 2/5

Occupant is a film with an interesting premise and set-up: take a young man, struggling to get by and offer him a prime real estate location that's rent controlled in New York (read: on the cheap). All he has to do is lock himself in the apartment for 12 days and the place is his free and clear. While the concept is interesting, and other worldly forces come into play (I think), the film is plagued with indecision in terms of direction and ultimately, an ending that leaves way too many unanswered questions.

We're introduced to our central character, a young man named Danny who's college educated but for some reason, decides that working at a local thrift store is a much better career choice. Awkwardly, he's being followed on the city streets by a beautiful young woman who's videotaping him for a video blog that she runs. At his request, she stops filming and a bit of flirtatious banter ensues as he tells her that he's on his way to his dead grandmother's apartment to collect some things.

Getting into the apartment building, he meets Joe, an Eastern European accented man who's charming and talks about the history of the building. He encourages Danny to take ownership of the apartment, putting it into his ear that he was there to take care of his invalid grandmother during her final days even though he hadn't had contact with her in years. This would serve as 'proof' that he really was a resident there and not just someone looking for a handout.  With this, it becomes apparent that Joe has an agenda. After talking to a lawyer who assures him that the place will be his after 12 days, Danny moves in with what little things he has which includes his companion: a cat.

Almost immediately, weird things begin to happen. Danny notices a row of his grandmother's shoes which were neatly lined up near her bed the previous night are now missing a pair. Even more worrisome, is a large hole in her closet wall which leads to god knows where. After having not been at work for a few days, the girl whom he'd met on the street days earlier randomly decides to show up to the apartment. It's a bizarre moment which feels completely awkward and unnatural as they had no prior communication before she came over.

Anyways, they cook dinner together, flirt and get down to bedroom business. She leaves the camera running and films the whole fling. In the middle of the night, she decides to get up for a bit of a snack. With camera in tow, she heads to the darkened kitchen, grabs her snack and we briefly see a figure in the hallway. As she walks through the living room and back to the bedroom, she's struck over the head, the camera falls to the floor and rolls around. The next morning, Danny awakes to find her gone. Never once does he question how she got out since they were both locked in from the inside and the door remains bolted.

Despite numerous efforts to get to Danny and try to forcibly remove him from the apartment, he persists and continues to keep himself holed in. Joe gets him food and groceries as well as provides a daily affirmation. Just a few more days he tells him. Things quickly escalate when Danny puts the woman's camera in the area of the house to film whatever weirdness he thinks is going on. His mental state is obviously slipping but it never comes about in an organic way. Around day 8 or so, he goes full on cuckoo for cocoa puffs for no real rhyme or reason. You don't get a sense that it was because of claustrophobia or some sort of supernatural element that drove him to madness. He just flips out and barricades himself even more in the apartment with Joe bringing over a massive amount of barbed wire. He builds crude, medieval-like weapons to protect himself from god knows what. He builds a trap which involves a swinging door with spikes lodged into it. This device becomes the vehicle he uses to do himself in and our story abruptly ends.

Occupant is great in concept but not much else. Too much is asked of the viewer as they're expected to accept a lot on face value with no reveal, no clear cut rationale nor even a hint given as to the reason for this young man going insane and ultimately doing himself in. What a waste.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Fear 5/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

I initially had no desire to see this. I didn't care for PA2 and it's goofy mythos that attempted to explain what it was that was haunting our afflicted families. And I didn't particularly care for the almost identical set of scares that were employed in the first one (minus the daytime kitchen scene which was pulled off nicely). But when effusive praise came by way of many of my fellow bloggers, both after advance screenings and opening night viewings, I became curious. Well it got the best of me this past weekend and I must say the direction the story has taken about a demonically stalked family is pretty ingenious. Oh yeah, and the scares this time around are much more inventive. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that they're better than the ones doled out in the first go around.

Our film begins with video of sisters Kristi and Kate meeting, the former is in the midst of pregnancy (with the little tyke that is taken in PA2) and the latter is there to hand off a box of videos for storage in their basement. Flash forward a bit in time, and we see the husband coming home (to presumably the break-in which occurred at the beginning of PA2) and he finds the box of videos missing. Are you with me?

We then go back in time as tape begins to roll that was recorded way back in the late 80's. Who's watching the film exactly is unknown but we see the little sisters in the backyard of a family party. Little Kristi is seen in the background, talking to herself. Or is she?

The boyfriend of their mother happens to be a video editor and is enamored with his new toy, encouraging mom to get down and funky with him that night on camera. But their boom boom, get down tonight, bumping and grinding fun times get interrupted when an earthquake strikes and the family has to take cover.

The next day, the boyfriend reviews the tape and sees a figure moving across the screen after the camera had hit the floor and rolled around during the quake. This coupled with Kristi's invisible friend named Toby is enough to spook the boyfriend. So begins our camera set-up and daily review of the tape that has become a regular part of the series.

So the film pretty much follows suit as the previous two films with paranormal occurrences taking place subtly and then ratchet up as we go along. From Kristi hanging out in the hallway at night to chairs moving around to bedroom blankets being flung, things start to get hairier and hairier. One of the best scares is pulled off in what I will only describe as the kitchen furniture scene in Poltergeist times 1,000.

But that's not where the film's success lies. It takes a bit of a 180 as the boyfriend starts to research possessions and witchcraft after seeing symbols which Kristi has drawn in her crawlspace hideout. As things get crazier in the house and the family leaves to go stay with the girls' grandmother, we come to find that  grandma is involved with a group that has less than favorable intentions for the girls. Our two most horrifying scares come within the last 20 min of our film and boy, are they doozies.

Credit must be given to filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish) for churning out some really inventive scares which show that maybe a dead horse isn't beaten here. Based on the box office haul, we'll be seeing another one of these films come Halloweentime next year. OK by me if they continue to be of the quality of PA3.

P.S. I love how the marketing of the films continue to be misleading and a bit of a red herring. So the actual scares aren't revealed in the trailers. Brilliant.

Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hell High (1989)

Fear 0/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 1/5
T&A Factor 3/5

 Cheesedick horror, oh cheesedick horror. My cup runneth over. It's been awhile since I've experienced your healing powers of ridiculousness. When I watch endless piles upon endless piles of shitty screeners, I know that you're always there. There to provide relief and there to remind my of why I love you oh so much. For despite all of the 'valiant' efforts of indie 'filmmakers', it's swell to know that you're in great supply. A bountiful supply of oh so terrible films that are just oh so good.

Our story about asshole teens, kicks off with a little girl who Skips to My Lou on down a dirt road which leads to a nearby swamp. As she nears it, she comes upon a shed and enters inside to play tea time with her little dollies. But her happy fun times get ruined when a punker on a motorcycle stops by with his lady friend. Startled, the girl leaves the shed but peers into a hole and watches as the punker tries to break through his lady friend's chastity belt. But his efforts are thwarted as she fends him off. They both exit the shed, the punker firing up his motorcycle and telling his woman to hop on. The little girl, clearly not happy that her special playtime was interrupted, takes some of the swampy mud which surrounds the joint and puts it into her plastic pail. As the motorcycle speeds away, she flings it at them, landing squarely on the punker's face which causes him to lose control and crash. They're hurtled through the air and land in a bed of spikes which happen to be randomly sticking out of the ground in the swampy area.

Fast forward quite a few years and we come to find that she is all growns up and living in secret in the same town which is now home to the 'legend of the swamp.' So a woman, who's hiding out and is trying to suppress terrible memories of a speared couple, what do you suppose she chooses as a profession? An old folk's home event coordinator? An animal shelter volunteer? A girl scout troop leader? Nope. She chooses to be a school teacher. A BIOLOGY teacher no less who spends days teaching kids how to cut into and dissect frogs. Makes total sense, right?

We're soon introduced to Dickens a real dickhead of a fellow. The class clown and school rebel, he doesn't dig Ms. Teacher all too much. After creating a disturbance in the classroom, he meets up with his loser chums (a dim-witted, numbnut fatboy and a slutty punk rock chick) and convinces them that they need to take on a fourth member of their loser group. Enter the former star quarterback who's just been dumped and who's decided to quite the team. Together, they decide to wreak their own brand of havoc and give a big middle finger to all of the pretty people. But before we get started, let's celebrate the end of the week by drinking some Jack RIGHT in front of the school. YEAH!

So our group begins their reign of terror by disrupting the football game later that night.Things are pretty damn boring and this just might be the most wretched high school football team in the history of high school football teams. The cheerleaders really don't give a shit, the students are borderline riotous and the coaches are flipping their shit. So what does our quadruple threat of douche decide to do? Jump into their '64 Mustang and intercept a pass mid-air and drive right down the field! Cue radical 80's tunes.

After that display of ridiculousness, it's on to the real star of the show. Dickens has it in his mind to play a prank on dear ol' Ms. Hot For Teacher that night. Yes, despite his dislike of her, he actually has a bit of an infatuation. He plots with the group to go down to the swamp area and scoop up some of the muddy goodness and smear her house with it, stomp on her roof to make her think the legend of the area has come to life, all while sporting Halloween masks. Of course, completely unbeknownst to them, is the dark secret which lies within our ticking time bomb teacher. Whoops! So this sets Ms. Teacher off and she goes completely Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Dickens eventually breaks into the house and wanders upstairs. He finds Ms. Teacher completely catatonic and he decides to straddle her and rip her nightgown off. He tries to get freaky deeky with her but before he can do so, slutty punk rock chick enters the room and shows him how it's done and begins to massage her nipples. Hey, I never said cheesedick horror made any sense. Just when things are about to turn into an awkward threesome, our former star quarterback cockblocks the party and begs them to leave. Dickens isn't too happy about this and starts a wrasslin'. But before they can get into full on brawl mode, teacher randomly decides to dive out of her 2nd story bedroom window, crashing through the glass, and landing on the ground below.

With this bit of nonsensical madness occurring, our idiotic foursome freaks out and wonders what to do next. Believing their whacked out teacher to be dead, they hash a plot to go back into town and steal something out of the new star quarterback's locker, drive back to teacher's house and plant it there to set him up. But things go awry as teacher comes to and exacts revenge on these moronic, tough kid wannabes. The gore factor doesn't really get amped until this time but none of that matters as you continually witness some of the most random dialogue ever committed to film. Oh yeah, and random titties.

Hell High is a lot of head scratching, 'What the fuck just happened?', wack-a-licious action. WACK-
A-LICIOUS I say! It's a perfect film to watch on a Friday night with friends, providing your own running Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary throughout, while consuming mass quantities of adult beverages.

Cortez the Killer

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sweatshop (2009)

Fear 0/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 1/5
Creepiness 1/5

Sweatshop is a one trick pony that should have been taken out to pasture way before it was allowed to go on for (roughly) a hundred and thirty minutes. It drags on for so long with completely uninteresting and douchey characters that you're just praying for it to end. It plods and limps along until (thankfully) the final payoff. Its decent enough, but taken within the context of the entire film and maddening experience you've had thus far, it's much too little too late.

The film features a group of gothic punkers who love to party. The group holes themselves up in what they think is an abandoned wherehouse. They're set to rave, drink, drug and party the night away with a group of paying customers. Little do they know, the believed to be abandoned wherehouse is actually home to two mongoloid twin girls and their (presumably) big brother who wields a large steel hammer. Why they are there, how they got there, or why their broheim wields such a formidable weapon is never really explained.

The whole of our film pretty much consists of the group dancing, fucking, some internal drama between girlfriends and boyfriends, and some killings at the hands of our mongoloid inhabitants. Throw in some more dancing around to droning house music in anticipation of their big wherehouse party and that's pretty much all there is to it.

All of this leads up to the film's big payoff: the mongoloid big brother with the large steel hammer smashing all of the party goers to bits. You suffer through painful dialogue, pseudo drama, and really bad acting all to get to the last five glorious minutes. And make no mistake, they are awesome. Strewn body parts, innards, and decapitations, are served up nicely but by this point, you are wondering 'Is this it?' And it pretty much is. Nothing interesting happens in the film until the last five minutes. So if you do decide to check it out, just fast forward and save yourself about an hour and twenty five minutes of your life.

Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Haunting At The Beacon (2009)

Fear 0/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 0/5
Creepiness 0/5

You know those types of films that give you equal bouts of tourettes and fits of fury? Yeah, that is this one to a perfect T. With no regards to pacing, character development or really a coherent plot, The Haunting at The Beacon (also known as The Beacon) is one of the most boring, uninspired, listless haunted house (in this case apartment complex) films you'll ever see. Avoid this one at all costs.

Our story begins with a woman (Teri Polo, Ben Stiller's better half in the Fockers series of films) and her husband moving into a new apartment complex. Immediately, strange occurrences take place with a young boy haunting their abode, running across rooms and causing bumps in the night. In addition, the woman sees a dime store, paper-mache faced version of Pinhead roaming the hallways of the complex and even showing up at her husband's place of work: the local university where he teaches.

We then learn that the couple is there to start anew. Apparently their young son died in a tragic accident not too long ago and the woman believes she is seeing him roaming the hallways and riding the elevators in the apartment complex. Lots of goofy, awkward, and clunky dialogue ensues between the woman, some of the tenants (including a slutty blonde who's looking to get into the knickers of her husband) and the complex's guard (Michael Ironside who's obviously in this for the paycheck). It's so awkward and annoying, like a fifth grader who wrote a script thinking 'Yeah, this is how old people talk.'

So after many a rinse and repeat of the boy roaming the halls, wreaking havoc on the woman's psyche and paper-mache'd man face stalking her wherever she goes, we then find out what is actually taking place in the building. Along with her husband's geeky science-y co-worker, they come to the conclusion that some inter dimensional worm-hole or some shit has opened the apartment complex up to a greater evil. And all of it's inhabitants are some sort of trapped demons looking to take their souls. By this time, with all of the bizarre-o dialogue and really slow pacing, I had checked out. So my interpretation may not be all up to snuff. But you kinda get the point.

It's on Netflix streaming if you really want to torture yourself. And apparently it was filmed at an actual haunted locale in Texas. I had no desire to sit through the DVD extras to find out any additional details on the proceedings (supposedly some creepy events took place). This is as boring and lackluster as they come.

Cortez the Killer