Here’s a pretty neat little modern throwback horror movie I took a chance on recently that turned out be quite a bit of fun. ‘Book of Monsters‘ is a low budget British creature feature that clearly makes it’s best attempt to harken back to the gory glory days of 80’s horror flicks like ‘Evil Dead 2’ & ‘Night of the Creeps’. It takes place on the main character, Sophie’s 18th birthday, when she reluctantly decides to throw a birthday party at her house. Her and her two friends are hardly the cool kids in school and aren’t even sure anyone will actually show up. To their surprise the birthday bash attracts a whole crew of unruly teens and even a few of the school bullies. Well it doesn’t take long before some weird supernatural shit goes down due to meddling with a necronomicon type of book. A full on bloodbath occurs when some creatures emerge from another dimension, invade her house and begin to slaughter the rowdy party guests. Sophie and her pals must band together to fend off the attack and protect their classmates from monster carnage.
It’s a simple story to follow and with a short run time of 84 minutes it’s a perfect party movie (literally) to watch on a Saturday nite with a gang of old school horror fans. One of it’s strongest parts is the protagonist Sophie, who’s a totally likable heroine who struggles with self esteem, teenage sexuality and the strange events of her past which tie into the supernatural events that occur. She’s also one of the only gay horror hero’s I can really recall seeing and they present this aspect of her character in a way that doesn’t feel fully forced into the narrative. Sure we got some bigoted bullies and typical teen jerks but those were always prevalent in the 80’s teen horror movies that likely inspired this one.
Now onto the horror aspect of things, though I liked the movie, I’ve got to admit I’m a bit tired of the ‘evil book/necronomicon’ angle of things, it feels pretty played out and I kind of wish they’d have used a different reasoning for the summoning of the monsters. Hardly a complaint really as once things get going here it’s pretty fun & action packed. The monster & gore effects are pretty ambitious for the most part. For the budget they had to work with they deliver a fair share of cool practical fx work avoiding for the most part cgi entirely (if my memory serves me correctly). The monster designs are pretty good too, one looks a bit like it was ripped out of M. Knight Shyamalan’s the village, one’s like a standard slasher dude and the other is kind of like a “Natasha Henstridge” Species/cenobite type-o creature. They all do a decent amount of gory, goopy damage too & it’s all executed in a fairly cartoonish way so it could easily be digested by the light weight horror fans. Oh yeah some evil garden gnomes are thrown in as well, that with a little more budget could have been far more crowd pleasing- but still an “A” for effort. There’s lots of chainsaws and general ass kicking done by the three female leads and even though most Hollywood blockbusters are trying to currently shoehorn girl power into movies ‘Book of Monsters’ does it in a tasteful way that doesn’t feel like it’s blatantly pushing some agenda for brownie points.
If ‘Book of Monsters‘ had been released in 1987 it’d have been a bonafide cult classic, it’s a nice switch from all the shoddy CGI & digital blood of modern horror movies. It leaves the door open for a sequel and I think if it gets one with more cash behind it, there’s a possibility the second installment could very well end up as a modern day cult classic. For the meantime though I think the best crowd for ‘Book of Monsters’ are those who miss the glory days of 1980’s schlock, goofy gore & teen horror flicks!
Well, well, well, I must admit I didn’t see this coming! Yeah I’m a bit perplexed myself at just how much I liked M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie “The Visit”!! I am going to go as far to say it’s quite possibly the best horror movie I’ve seen thus far in 2015. Some major contenders were “It Follows”, “The Babadook” and “We Are Still Here” but I’d certainly put The Visit up against any of those. I alway knew Night had it in him somewhere to make a full on horror movie and this time around he certainly went the distance. This is easily the darkest of any film he’s ever done and it proves that he shines on a smaller stage, with a smaller budget. Night should stay far as far away from the summer blockbuster territory as he possibly can. I also think he’s invented a new style of horror flick “Senior Citizen Terror”!!
The Visit is not only a return to form, but it’s also a transformation for the film maker. It show’s in a way that he’s grown up a bit and has become a bit more of a risk taker. He’s willing to scare the shit out of you this time around, pulling no punches like he did previously. I’ve always suspected if he let loose he’d be able to craft something really genuinely scary. You know how most of his movies reach the final act and they get kinda….family friendly? Well this one goes to some dark places and then some. In fact there are some scenes in this movie that you will NEVER be able to erase from your memory. A bold statement for any horror flick but it seems M. Knight was done fucking around this time. The guy has had a quite a string of clunkers under his belt recently and it goes to prove a point, never underestimate a guy who’s down on his luck with nothing really left to lose.
The Visit really shines in it’s simple plot. Two kids go to visit their grandparents which they’ve never met because of a falling out that their mother had with them when she was much younger. So really it’s a bit of a story of trying to forgive and forget the past and hopefully move on. And really, we all can relate to being a little kid staying with grandparents, no matter how sweet they were they always seem a bit odd especially through the eyes of a child. Of course the plot thickens when Granny and Gramps do start acting a bit odd during the daytime really fucking weird when the sun goes down!
This movie has got some great acting as well and the movie’s real stars are definitely the young boy played by Ed Oxenbould and his grandmother played by Deanna Dunagan. The Visit surprisingly also is one of the few modern horror flicks that really puts children in serious fucking danger, which is something you rarely see in this day and age. So kudos to Shyamalan for having the guts to go the distance here. It’s really best if you know as little as possible about this one as it’s packed with surprises and yes….a damn good twist!
Last my only real complaint at all is the found footage route Night decided to go with this. I’ll admit I wasn’t thrilled about the idea going into it all. Seeming at first a little late to the party perhaps, he really does utilize this medium quite well to tell the story. He does it so well with no creepy score that this feels pretty damn realistic when all is said and done. He also blends some great comedy throughout somehow that works leap and bounds better than any movie he’s tried to pull this in before. So final thought, I’d say it’s safe to say M. Night Shyamalan is back. Scarier, bolder and riskier than ever before and I hope this time he’s realized he’s at his best when trying to scare the shit out of us.
Well, well, well, it seems that M. Night Shyamalan has just dropped his trailer for his latest flick ‘The Visit’ and I’ve just got to say I really think he’s going to hit a home run this time! Ok so Night has struck out a LOT over the years as it seems each movie he directs gets progressively worse. But deep down in his heart I think he’s got a couple winners left to offer now that he’s kinda hit rock bottom. His problems often times are his “lessons” which he tries to teach within every movie. They come off a little too hokey most times, a little too feel good family friendly and at times a bit preachy. But many times his movies are pretty damn cool up until the final five to ten minutes.
The Visit was originally titled “Sundowning” a much better name as far as I am concerned, but perhaps he wanted to avoid giving away too much plot with the term. By the way Sundowning is a psychological phenomenon associated with increased confusion and restlessness in patients with some form of dementia. Most commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. For patients with sundowning syndrome, a multitude of behavioral problems begin to occur in the evening or while the sun is setting.
With The Visit it looks like Night is going for a much more straight up horror vibe something I’ve always wished for him to try. Let’s face it the guy knows how to create some truly nerve bending moments, straight up chills and a ton of atmosphere to tingle the senses. He’s done some real shit though too like The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth (I honestly liked all of his other movies-yes even Lady In the Water!). But “The Visit” I think just might catch people off guard as the first trailer looks exactly like what I’ve been hoping for him to try, a straight up horror romp. Let’s hope he doesn’t try and teach us some worldly lesson by the end. I’m also always down for a “twist” that’ll blow my mind, but these days getting a twist by and audience or a noisy internet is pretty much impossible.
Well now that was jumping the gun a bit huh?
So if you can find it in your jaded hearts to give Night one last chance I think we might all be surprised. I mean this one is truly his low budget independent micro film. Sometimes these overblown directors need to go back to the basics, hint hint Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi? Check out this trailer I think The Visit is going to be his comeback!
I heard about this film a while back, but typical of me, I did not do my due diligence and follow up…well now Colin, a new British zombie flick is gaining some critical mass. The most shocking thing is that this movie was made for only $70 or more appropriately, about 42 pounds and 50 pence (based on current exchange rates)!