It's the middle of the June, and this month's Cutting Rooms is here to deliver the final crop of flicks we checked out for the first half of 2017! CR is a monthly post where we all do short, single-person reviews for movies we’ve watched on our own.
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!
6 Contagious Noses
I was dubious about this one from the first trailer viewing because I thought the story looked pretty shallow and it was just going to rely on cheap jump scares. For the most part, I was right, except that it still worked really well. While there were absolutely some lazy jump scares, it turns out this is one where the story just didn't need to be all that strong to serve the film. The hook here is on the transformation into the evil clown, and it nails. This one is definitely worth a watch, even more so because it's on Netflix streaming.
Here we have one of Netflix's original forays into the genre. I didn't score it so low because it's bad necessarily, but it certainly wasn't enjoyable. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why this one feels like a chore to get through. This is a thriller where a woman is haunted by a past trauma, so naturally the acting is very important, and while it wasn't actively bad, it certainly wasn't what you would describe as good. Overall, from the plot to the effects to the acting, this one just doesn't excel enough in any department to provide an enjoyable experience, even if it doesn't fail in any department either. Maybe you'll feel different from me, and because this one's avaiable on Netflix streaming, your barrier to entry is low enough that it might be worth finding out.
6 Personalized Lighters
Boy, I sure have gone about this whole Mickey Keating catalogue in a backasswards sort of way. This goes waaaay back to the beginning of his timeline, which is to say it came out a couple years ago. The typical Keating hallmarks are there; seizure inducing title card and other sequences, interestingly framed shots, the works. Though, I suppose this is really a peek inside what would become those signature elements. This is a quasi-siege movie and there is a cult involved. It takes place on Halloween but doesn’t feel “Halloweeny” (like a certain, other Halloween-based flick…). Worth a view in preparation for the Psychopaths release, but not a wholehearted recommend.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
7 Apple Presses
This is an under-watched film. I’m testament to that considering I just saw it… It falls in the same category as The Cabin in the Woods or Tucker & Dale vs. Evil for me in its tone, but it tackles the slasher genre from a found footage platform as some students film a documentary about a notorious masked killer, Leslie Vernon. What we get is a really clever unpacking of the genre from the perspective of the killer, and on top of that, it ties in all the other classic slasher icons as if they are part of the same reality. Slashing is an occupation. See it if you haven’t. Watch it again if you have.
Well I didn’t take Peele’s bait. He said we needed to catch this one in theaters to get the full effect, so I decided I’d make him a few cents poorer for what I thought was some seriously shilly horseshit. That’ll show him! Or not. After seeing the movie, I can imagine a few elements that might have been bolstered by seeing it in an environment where others were around and I could sense how they reacted. The racial element of this film is, afterall, the main point. So, apologies if that’s what you were getting at, Peele. As for the movie itself, it’s very smart, very funny, very unsettling and ultimately, very good. See it. Not sure how many 2017 horror flicks will beat it.
7 Sets of Handcuffs
I rage watched this movie after it was unceremoniously slashed out of Nightmare Junkhead’s round of 8 in this year’s “Into the Mouth of March Madness” tournament by Trick 'r Treat. Shameless plug time: check that out. Itself-proclaimed and it was a lot of fun to hang out with those guys and cover some matchups in the 1997 portion of the bracket. Ok, back to this movie. I like it a lot. It’s a great example of what found footage can be when done well, and it’s a movie I’m more than happy to pop on at any time of year (unlike Trick 'r Treat, which is an October staple, but, you know… October.) The only real qualm I have is that this flick has a tendency to feel like it’s on rails, delivering you from one bad decision-influenced and telegraphed scare to the next. For the most part, however, it’s fun as shit. Big screen, lights out, volume up, beer in hand. It’s also worth noting that if you don’t like subtitles (it’s Spanish), you can opt for the American, shot-for-shot remake called Quarantine.
Digging Up The Marrow (2014)
6.5 Famous Genre Director Cameos
Guess I had a thing for found footage-y, mocumentary-y flicks this month. This one follows director Adam Green (most notably of the Hatchet franchise) as he goes about his everyday life of Horror Con autograph sessions and tracking down real monsters based on crackpot theories mailed to him by random wackjobs. The usual stuff... It’s actually a really charming and (mostly) fun little flick with roughly fourteen billion cameos from various genre figures. This movie feels like something that was born of drunken, impromptu brainstorming after hours at one of the very horror cons the flick so prominently displays, and that’s a good thing. Throw it on for fun, but don’t expect the world.
Lake Bodom (2017)
6 Tarp Tents
I wanted to like this movie more than I did. It is beautiful, dark, and was different than I was expecting, with a layer that caught me wholly by surprise. However, something about the viewing experience just failed to grab me. I don’t suspect it was the language barrier forcing subtitle reading, but there was something missing. Hell, I’m a self proclaimed sucker for people getting fucked with in the woods movies, but it wasn’t quite one of those. It wasn’t quite a slasher either. You know what? Maybe that’s it. This movie did some interesting things in concept, but it wasn’t quite anything in the end. I’d give it a tenuous recommend. If you have Shudder, pop it on this summer.
What a bafflingly stupid movie this was. As visually striking as it is unnecessary. This movie is drenched in color, artfully shot, and contains some incredibly interesting cinematography. It, however, has exactly nothing else going for it. The story is banal. The horror is non-existent. The effects are boring (with the exception of lighting). Was anyone clamoring for a movie about how shitty models are? It seems like the only people artsy enough to “get” this movie, are probably also the ones this movie is making fun of. What’s more is that clocking in at about 2 hours long and with very little spoken dialogue, this thing is tectonically paced. Time seems to bend around this film. You are sucked into its vortex, the light of all colors streaking by you. How long has it been? Years? Perhaps maybe to you, but to an outside observer, it is still the opening sequence. Your skin wrinkles and hair grays. Suddenly you have grandchildren coming over and you care about the estate tax. By the time the movie is over you will be mummified in your own boredom juices. Your family, coming back from picking up junior at the airport will be nonplussed by the pile of dusty bones dirtying up the family couch and will assume you left to go get some milk at the store.
8 Unevenly Cut Sandwiches
I really like James McAvoy. Like really like him. Like I would totally check the “yes” box on a “do you like me: yes, no, maybe” type of card. This movie certainly helps his case in the matter as well, because he turns in a great performance. Like a really great performance. Like I would totally check the “great” box on a “how was my performance: great, mediocre, unsure” type of card. Why am I stuck on that metaphor? Shit. Stay focused, Mark. Seeing as how I am now the last person on the site to weigh in on Split, there isn’t much else for me to say. The movie is largely predictable, but still delivers an entertaining experience. It appears the M Night is rounding back into form, and that is something that I am very happy about.
Axe Giant (2013)
2 Blue Ox Horns
This is a bad movie, but it’s a special kind of bad movie. This is an appropriate movie to get hammered and watch with your friends and loudly deride it for how shitty it is. It’s actually sort of incredible how much shitty movie they managed to pack into just one shitty movie. I don’t advise you watch this out of those guidelines, however, because if you aren’t in the mood for silly idiocy then this will fall extremely flat.
I was pretty psyched to see this movie. It was my “Top 1” from July 2016’s HRR. That was due in no small part to my growing crush on Emma Roberts. She seems to be turning into a full on scream queen in an age where we’ve started to run out of them. The movie itself wound up being a bit of a slow burn. There’s definitely some disturbing sequences buried in this film, but they’re few and far between. Don’t expect this one to be a roller coaster ride. It’s really more of a slow stroll through a profoundly eerie park. If that’s what you’re in the mood for, but aren’t actually up to take a stroll through a park, then give this one a shot.
5.5 Blind Priests
As reported in the 2016 Awards Omnibus Spectacular, this was my most anticipated movie of the year. I don’t regret that assessment much, but I think I can certifiably say that this does not live up to it’s predecessor. This movie expands the universe of the first movie (I’m sort of choosing specifically to not weigh in on Ring 2), into a modern day (ish) setting. The problem with that, is that it expands it into a universe in which there are Matrix-esque rave parties in the basement of your local university physics building. You wanna know what was happening in the basement of my university’s physics building? Study sessions and various janitorial happenings. That’s it. No raves. No theses on the biology of the afterlife. What follows is a competent yet uninspiring extension of the Samara canon. I’m not going to steer you away from this, but I’m also not going to give a strong recommendation.
Man Vs. (2015)
4 Figure-four traps
God dammit I hate wasted potential. The core concept of Man Vs. is that Chris Diamantopoulos is a Bear Grylls or Les Stroud type of character shooting an episode in northern Canada. As the days progress he begins to think that something else is out there in the woods with him. That is an awesome concept. Lots of places you could go with it. After all, we all know the type of shit that can go down in northern Canada. Where they choose to go is what is so disappointing about this one. I found it to be utterly disinteresting. What’s worse is that now any other movies that try and do a similar concept will be viewed as derivative of this one even if they execute better. For what it’s worth Chris D’s performance is pretty solid for a role that is solo on screen for about 90% of the movie. Aside from that though there isn’t a whole lot to recommend here.