Ignoring everything that made the 1982 ghost-horror classic so iconic, this remake merely feels like yet another Insidious movie, using the same bag of tricks to try to frighten the audience. It's very well made, and the story still sends chills down the spine, but without even a hint of originality the film never develops any real suspense, relying instead on cheap tricks to cause the audience to jump at things that aren't actually scary.
The story opens as the recently laid-off Steve (Sam Rockwell) moves his family into a cheaper home in a dodgy part of town next to some buzzing high-power lines. His wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) is determined to make the best of it, while their teen daughter Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) moans about having to move, their nervous preteen son Griffin (T.S. Spivet's Kyle Catlett) is afraid of every new sound, and 6-year-old daughter Maddy (Kennedi Clements) discovers some new imaginary friends. As strange things start happening in the house, Maddy disappears on a stormy night. So Steve hires paranormal expert Brooke (Jane Adams) to rescue her from what is clearly an angry spirit. And when the nastiness escalates, Brooke calls in reality TV ghostbuster Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris).
What made the original version so memorable was the way Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper reinvented the haunted-house genre, finding new ways to scare us silly. This remake's director is Gil Kenan, who so ingeniously terrified audiences with his animated Monster House but allows this movie to look like pretty much every other horror out there at the moment. It's all so familiar that we brace ourselves for each loud blare of noise. Each set-piece has a rather bland sheen about it, playing so predictably to the most obvious fear factor that nothing catches us by surprise.
Continue reading: Poltergeist Review
Loan Officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) wants the available assistant manager position in her bank. She hopes it will impress the parents of her psychology professor boyfriend Clay Dalton (Justin Long). But when a need for cutthroat tactics causes her to deny a geriatric gypsy woman (Lorna Raver) a third extension on her mortgage, there is literally hell to pay. Seems the old lady places a curse on Christine, guaranteeing that, in three days, a demon will arrive to drag her down to Satan's dominion. Hoping to avoid such a horrible fate, she seeks the aid of psychic Rham Jas (Dileep Rao). He suggests a medium (Adriana Barraza) who had a run in with the same spirit several years before. Unfortunately, it seems Christine's soul is condemned, and nothing can save her.
Continue reading: Drag Me To Hell Review
Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are metaphorically dead. Their relationship is on the rocks; there isn't a trace of love or joy between them -- or in either of them, for that matter. It's clear they've sucked each other dry and they're staying together out of habit. This is how the film draws us in: We pity the characters, and it'd be great to see if they can kick-start their relationship -- provided they can avoid getting stabbed to death first.
Continue reading: The Strangers Review
When last we left our duo, they were headed to the Chronic capital of the world, Amsterdam. Unfortunately, Kumar (Kel Penn) cannot wait until they land. Over Harold's (John Cho) objections, he takes out a high tech bong. Passengers on the plane confuse it with a "bomb" and, before they know it, the guys are headed to Gitmo, labeled as terrorists. Happenstance provides a means of escape, and the boys head to Miami with a bunch of Cuban refugees. Their goal? Get to Texas. There, an old friend with political ambitions (Eric Winter) may be able to clear their names. Oh, and he's also marrying Kumar's ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Harris). Harold knows the couple can help. His buddy, on the other hand, still holds a torch for his former gal pal. As they make their way across country, Feds (Rob Corddry, Roger Bart) in hot pursuit, Kumar daydreams of breaking up the impending nuptials.
Continue reading: Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay Review
Zach Helm, a gifted writer and director, unearths enough of those visual wizards for his debut picture Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, a production designer's dream that is wondrously stuffed with the type of creativity usually reserved for children's literature. Helm proved he can write whimsically with his clever Stranger than Fiction script, where tax agent Will Ferrell ignored a narrators running commentary in his head. Now Helm's charming Emporium shows he's able to construct whimsy on screen, as well.
Continue reading: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Review
Director David Slade crams Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith's unusual graphic novel through the modern-horror meat grinder, falling back on tiresome flash cuts, routine audio screeches, and an abundance of artificial gore.
Continue reading: 30 Days Of Night Review
Sure, the vampire myth has been with us forever. One of the very first films was a vampire movie. We are indeed obsessed with these blood-sucking trollops. And yet, lately, the vampire film has fallen into a rut that I worry it can never pry itself out of. We don't see the vampires of yesteryear anymore. Gone are green skinned, hairy-eared ghouls that haunted graveyards and sucked the blood from corpulent women. Gone are the baby-bird-headed stick figures that lurked in foggy London alleyways. Today vampires are all glamorous, leather-bound martial arts experts. They have great hair (that's a side-effect of living forever), nice shoes, and groove to industrial music. They are the Goth fashionistas who are as infatuated with sucking blood as they with collecting Ferraris and having swanky parties.
Continue reading: Rise: Blood Hunter Review
By this roundabout logic, Gellar seems a natural fit for The Grudge, Takashi Shimizu's sufficiently creepy remake of his own cult Japanese horror flick Ju-on, a film he's made versions of a shocking five times now. Americanized and aimed squarely at the people who turned The Ring into a surprise hit, Grudge should satisfy audiences seeking a few cheap jolts for their dollar this Halloween season.
Continue reading: The Grudge Review
But who cares?
Continue reading: Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle Review
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