The Cutting Room 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!
Dead Kansas (2013)
Jack's Score: 1 Rotten looking at you in black and white
So look. We’re pretty much big shot industry people at this stage, and sometimes (one time) directors email us, don’t use our name in the email or actually carry on any semblance of a conversation, and ask us to review their movie. This is exactly what happened with this movie, and so watch it I did. Because it turns out that it really takes just almost nothing to get us to do what you want. But here’s the thing about that, you ask me to review something and I’m really going to do it: Dead Kansas is not good. Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. I don’t want to sit here and shit all over what feels like an art-school project made independently without a budget, because that just kind of feels mean. But at the same time, Aaron Carter (not that Aaron Carter . . . I assume . . . ), the director, sent this thing to us and asked us to review it. The guy clearly loves horror, and props to him, he went out and made a damn movie. But that's the end of my props. I looked long and hard for something to like about this movie, but there really is just nothing. The plot is clearly thinks its vague Wizard of Oz reference is enough to label it “clever,” but fuck me is it mistaken. The dialog seems like it was written by someone who has never had a genuine conversation. The acting is stilted and forced. The photography direction forgets what light filter was used from cut to cut. Look, I’m going to shut up now. I clearly didn’t like the movie, and like I said, I don’t want just want to shit all over a guy who’s just starting and figuring things out. Just maybe don’t send that movie to a place that, for the most part, does review real movies. And you know what? Fuck it, I’m not done. What’s most jarring about this movie is how staggeringly un-fun it is. Usually with movies like this, it’s one that a few friends got together and had fun making and you at least chuckle or smile at the good time they’re having on screen. None of that is here. No one, especially the viewer, is having a good time. Okay, I’m actually going to shut up now, but I do have a lot more to say, so if you want to talk about this with me, email or tweet at me. Seriously, I want to discuss this thing more but these other yahoos won’t watch it. Tweet me.
He Never Died (2015)
Jake's Score: 7 Bingo cards
It’s hard to fit ‘He Never Died’ into a category. The fact of the matter is, this shit is funny. Really funny. As far as genre films are concerned, I’ve seen very few with such an interesting blend of humor, intensity and chills. While it’s certainly not a scary flick, it is about an immortal cannibal cursed to live forever and eat human flesh. That sounds like horror to me. Henry Rollins is amazing in his role as Cain, who has, over the course of thousands of years, been able to form a routine that keeps his cannibalistic tendencies at bay. The events of the film show what happens when that routine of bingo at the church and oatmeal at the diner is broken, and it’s a downward spiral certainly worth watching. Grab the popcorn.
Jake's Score: 2 Gene Simmons Bass Guitars
I don’t really know where to begin with this one. It’s completely absurd. Though there’s no way the filmmakers were taking themselves all that seriously, something felt strikingly off. Everyone in this film was a caricature. Sheltered rich girl. Bumbling cops. Meathead sadist who imprisons and trains his also beefcake “boyfriend” to be totally subservient as if he were a dog… wait, what? In any case, shit was absurd. I think the disconnect was at least in part because the premise could have been used for a (more) serious film. Squatters living in a condemned building begin getting sick from their own filth and find themselves trapped inside isn’t completely absurd on the surface. Something here just really, really missed the mark for me. The only character I liked was the rockstar who somehow didn’t know the difference between a bass guitar and a regular guitar. Fuck.
The Forest (2016)
Mark's Score: 3.5 Yurei
Does this count as Japanese horror? It’s set in Japan in the famous suicide forest, but its leading lady is that chick from Game of Thrones and the Hunger Games (not that I’m complaining). Moreover, I just didn’t get the same vibe that I got from the Americanized Japanese horror movies like The Ring and The Grudge. The movie starts off betting pretty hard on jump scares. Not terrible ones, but also not great, and overall I think it actually helps the pacing a bit. The problem is the movie seems to be building toward this crescendo and then . . . nothing really happens. It’s just a long succession of predictable jump scares with some meaningless “twists” thrown in for good measure.
Pay the Ghost (2015)
Mark's Score: 3 Highly Knowledgeable Hobos
At the very least this movie has Nicholas Cage reading spooky poetry. He also unironically invokes Lovecraft and Poe. Let me tell you, I am always a fan of Nicolas Cage movies. So when this one popped up on my netflix feed I thought it might be a fun romp. After all when you mix Nic Cage with horror what could possibly go wrong? Pay the Ghost ended up being a wildly generic lazy jumpscare fest centering on a kidnap happy ghost that uses vultures to attack taxicabs. It relies on random unexplained strangers who are able to essentially vomit exposition all over the plot and then follow up with “sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.” Also of note is that the phrase “Pay the Ghost” is used ad nauseum throughout the movie, but ends up being a completely pointless phrase. Pay the Ghost wasn’t insultingly bad, however it was banal and lazy.