It's the middle of the month, and you know what that means! It's time for the Cutting Room! 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 because why would we include each other?
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 disagree about any of these movies, and check out past Cutting Rooms in the "More Horror" section up above!
The Ruins (2008)
Jack's Score: 6 Ventriloquist Flowers
So this movie was way more fun than I expected it to be. Like a lot more. Reading the description on HBO, I was not expecting very much from this thing, but it actually delivers. Now I don’t want to go crazy here: it still has a bananas plot and plenty of lazy tropes. It’s not a great movie by any stretch, but I’m giving it points for exceeding my expectations by a whole shit-load. There’s some decent atmosphere, and some halfway gnarly gore too. Toss it on to mellow out after a night of bar-hopping, you probably won’t regret it.
They Look Like People (2008)
Jack's Score: 6 Jugs of Acid
This movie lives and dies by its performances. Thankfully for all involved, the male leads are great and it lives. It’s a dark and atmospheric parable about mental health, and it’ll keep your attention throughout. At times I found myself wishing they had sacrificed some of that atmosphere for a few more scares and a little less ambiguity, but I certainly can’t say the movie doesn’t do what it’s trying to do. I also can’t say that it’s not effective, because it’s definitely that. I would put this on your “should watch” list, but unlike The Ruins, this is better if you really focus on it.
The Ward (2008)
Jack's Score: 4 Frontal Lobe Lobotomies
The Ward is just a big bag full of “meh.” Which is a shame because the execution was actually pretty good. Plus I dig Amber Heard. She’s pretty much as close as we’ve got to a modern day scream queen. The acting and cinematography are reasons to watch this movie. The overall concept and pacing are reasons not to. Despite a pretty excellent full-on lobotomy scene, the plot of this movie doesn’t really do much for me. Plus all of the “twists” are choreographed from roughly 8500 fathoms out. Too bad.
Ava's Possessions (2016)
Jake's Score: 6.5 Spirit Possession Anonymous Handbooks
Possession/exorcism movies are wearing themselves real, real thin these days. I’m to a point where if I see one of those buzzwords in a title or synopsis, I’m out. But here’s the thing about Ava’s Possessions. It knows it, and more importantly, it does something about it. When we first saw the trailer for Horror Release Roundup back in March, my interest was piqued. This is a horror movie in subject matter, but most certainly not in treatment. Instead of using the same formula, AP pretty much says fuck all that, and to fantastic effect. Now, this isn’t a great movie by almost any measurable aspect, but it knows its style, and the world it creates benefits tremendously from it. I loved the treatment of possession as a disease like alcoholism that requires institutional recovery and can carry charges in a court of law. Add to it the pervasively neon palette and you’ve got a quirky atmosphere that’s worth jumping into for an hour and a half.
As Above, So Below (2014)
Jake's Score: 6 Probably Unnecessary Advanced Degrees
I liked this movie more than I probably should. There was just something about the Indiana Jones style romp mixed in with the found footage horror element that really had me from an immersion standpoint. I’m not necessarily claustrophobic, but the Parisian catacombs made for a squirm-worthy setting on several occasions. If I have an indictment of this film, it’s that I’m not totally sold on the ‘reason for filming’ , which is pretty essential to its overall success and believability as a found footage flick. That being said, I was still interested in what was coming around each cramped corridor, and the mystery and creepiness that is inherent with the catacombs made for a setting that alone allows me to recommend giving it a watch.
The Sacrament (2014)
Jake's Score: 7 Cups of Poison
The Sacrament is a modern day look at the sad, haunting events of Jonestown. For how fucked up a situation Jonestown was, the movie does a commendable job of painting an eerie picture for the audience that swells with unease and intensity as the film progresses. Its found footage approach felt natural, helped with immersion, and perhaps most importantly, prevented the filmmakers from plastering the “based on a true story” bullshit all over the place. Though I had a bit of a problem with just how quickly things go up in (at times) literal flames, it can be forgiven for the purposes of pacing in a 90 minute feature. I also have to give a shout out to Gene Jones. He deserves a ton of praise for his amazing performance as Father. The Sacrament will leave you wanting to take a shower and make steer clear of Dixie cups, but it’s a ride worth taking.
Mark's Score: 7 Snow Globes
I know what you’re thinking, we already did a review on Krampus. Unfortunately, Krampus was one of the first movies reviewed on the site, and it was before I joined. You can tell by the rambling lack of continuity and the generally pervasive level of grammatical errors. Sooooo… here we are. It’s June and I just watched a Christmas movie. I tell you what though, this movie was surprisingly great. I had decent-but-not-great expectations going in, I didn’t know much about the cast, and I somehow managed to not realize that there was a terrifying jack-in-the-box clown demon despite it being the headlining image on the youtube trailers. The interesting thing about the movie is it’s not out-and-out scary. It’s strange, the movie has some of the creepiest imagery you can find, but the general tone of a holiday comedy drama. Seriously, that jester thing is horrifying, but everything still feels so light hearted. If you like, you can read up on the whole movie in our actual review, but in the meantime I’ll just say that Krampus ended up being a delightfully entertaining romp. It won’t blow your socks off with it’s narrative or scare factor, but I still had a pretty great time watching it.