It's the middle of December, and the last Cutting Room of the year is here! CR is a monthly post where we all do short, single-person reviews for movies we’ve watched on our own over the last month, this time complete with a Christmas-themed horror movie or three.
We have a long list of films to review, and while the movies you see here haven’t come up quite yet, they may receive the full review treatment in the future. Let us know if you have some thoughts on any of these movies, and check out past posts in the "More Horror" section up above!
The Pack (2015)
2 Missing Bullets
First things first, I'm talking the 2015 film here, which is not a remake of the 70's movie of the same name. What it is is bad. Not boasting much other than cheap jump scares and absurdly stupid decisions by all characters, this just isn't worth anyone's time.
Spirit in the Woods (2014)
1 Incomprehensibly Bad Camera Filter
Look, I get it. It's a super cheap movie made without much oversight or expectations. But that said this is still widely available on Hulu. And that's a shame because this is the worst movie I've ever seen. I can't say enough bad things about this movie so I'll just skip it and say don't fucking watch this.
Carnage Park (2016)
5.5 Distorted Vietnamese Songs
This is the most Tarantino of Mickey Keating’s movies thus far, feeling like a definite love letter to ol’ Q and many of the grindhouse flicks the man himself takes inspiration from. The Keating hallmarks are definitely here. Seizure inducing title card sequence? Check. Schizophrenic action? Yep. For the most part, the acting in this is commendable. By far the best in a Keating flick thus far. The action is well handled and appropriately over the top. At times, it feels as if this is trying way, way too hard, but the point a to point b of the film is relatively successful. If you are looking for a movie that has that will evoke the feeling of a grindhouse, this is up your alley.
Without giving too much away, this movie is basically a character study in how to react to a threatening situation. In the process of viewing the film I read that the three main characters, all girls home for the holidays from college, are meant to represent the id, ego and superego. That’s a pretty deep assessment and though it may be true, I still left this one feeling a bit dissatisfied with the characters. There is zero doubt in my mind that the course of action taken by the characters pretty much equates to viewing an hour of how to make a situation go from bad to worse, to even worse, to what-the-fuck-are-you-doing-you-goddamned-idiots level bad. I’d like to get a lawyer’s take on it all. JAAACCCCKKK!
So this is not what you’re thinking. At all. Ask Mark. This is a Finnish flick from 2008 that is not set at the World Sauna Championships, but way the hell back in the late 1500’s. It follows two brothers who are part of a party tasked with mapping the border at the end of the Russo-Sewdish War. Without giving too much away, this is a slow burn in the Scandanavian wilderness, and though I can’t claim I understand everything that happened (it’s one of those ambiguous bastards), it is definitely a chilling movie that is deeply engrained in Finnish lore. It’s for sure worth a watch if you can stand subtitles and are ok with period pieces.
The Alchemist Cookbook (2016)
6 Cans of Cat Food
File this under the ever-growing subgenre of “dudes get fucked with in the woods”. I’m not really sure how to describe this one other than to just parrot the central conceit of the movie. Dude is living off the grid in a trailer in the woods, and spends most of his time fucking around with alchemy and reading from some book that looks like pure evil. Where’d he get it? Who knows, and the movie doesn’t seem to care too much. It’s not really about the backstory, or any sort of explanation for that matter. This is a slice-of-life film that just drops you into a man’s (weird) routine and lets you join him in his inevitable decline. Can’t recommend it to many viewers, but if you are interested in minimalism, there is enough atmosphere here to crank the sound and let it ride for 90 minutes.
7.5 Bottles of Vodka
Based on the trailer, I was afraid this movie may feel evocative of The VVitch. It was a big relief that it did not turn out that way. What we get is an interesting and atmospheric take on the Jewish lore of the “Dybbuk”. It is well paced and surprisingly funny movie about a wedding gone awry and if you can stomach subtitles (It’s Polish), this is a big time recommend.
The Shallows (2016)
3 Injured Seagull Companions
Well, I watched Krampus in July. So now that it’s nearly Christmas time what did I do? I watched a movie about surfing in Mexico. The good? This is a colorful and beautifully shot adventure. It’s set on a beautiful “paradise” beach in Mexico, where Blake Lively deals with the death of her mother by surfing the pain away. Well the pain surfs itself right back at her when she’s attacked by a shark. The bad? Seventy minutes later she kills the fucker in a decidedly Loony Tunes fashion that isn’t even remotely believable. After all that, the biggest issue with the movie is that it’s just boring. Very little happens in this movie, with most of the comprising shots essentially amounting to torture porn. If you were concerned, Jaws still owns the title for best shark movie.
Ghost Team (2016)
6 Sweet Jackets
John Heder heads a (relatively) star studded cast in this send up of ghost hunting reality TV shows. The conceit here is basically a rag-tag bunch of nobodies trying to put together an audition tape to get on a syndicated ghost-hunting show that has totally sweet jackets. In so doing they stumble upon something sinister and hilarity ensues. Unlike most times that that phrase is used, hilarity actually does ensure. This movie isn’t laugh a minute comedy, but there are a solid number of belly laugh inducing moments. The movie’s story does lose itself about halfway through, but I doubt that you’re banking much on the story when you rent this thing. Overall I recommend this movie if you want a solid horror-ghost-comedy, plus you can sing along to Dreamweaver with the rest of the cast. Always a good time.
The Babadook (2014)
4.5 Catapult Backpacks
There we were, hours after our Thanksgiving dinner. My sister, staying at my house, mentions “ooh the Babadook looks good, let’s watch that.” In my head I’m all like, oh awesome she’ll love this shit. Well, 95 minutes later and it turns out that this movie is resoundingly meh when it isn’t preceded by a pile of hoity-toity praise. First, you have to parse through a pile of “I definitely want to strangle that fucking kid.” Then, you have to parse through a pile of “Jesus what the fuck is wrong with that lady.” Then, if you are so precocious as to attempt to explain “No. No, guys. You don’t get it. It’s all a metaphor for mental illness or some bullshit” then you have to parse through a pile of that same look you get when you force someone to watch a youtube video that you totally thought was hilarious that one time you watched it when you were tired. Look, the Babadook is a decent movie, but it doesn’t stand up well to repeated viewings and anyone not watching it with an eye aware for the movies backstory will probably not have such high praise.
Don't Breathe (2016)
6 Turkey Basters
When we watched the trailer for Don’t Breath for HRR back in August. I think the general consensus was that this looked good, but that there were significant spoilers in the trailer. I can confirm that the majority of the plot is spoiled in the trailer, but I will also say that there is still some twistiness to it. All-in-all this is a pretty straightforward movie, your standard reverse home invasion plot with the addition of an incredibly buff and incredibly blind 60ish year old. It probably errs more on the side of action than horror, but I still recommend it as a solid and entertaining watch.