A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Directed by Samuel Bayer [Other horror films: N/A]

Unlike some out there, I don’t hate this remake. I don’t think it’s a good movie, but I don’t hate it. What I feel is far more akin to disappointment, because while this rendition of A Nightmare on Elm Street wasn’t good, I will say that it really had potential.

To fully delve into this, I need to get into some spoilers. That’s something I try to avoid, because I like my reviews to be approachable even if the reader hasn’t seen the movie, but in this case, I have got to talk in detail about portions of this film, and so there will be spoilers in this review, starting with this next paragraph.

This film deals with teenagers who discover they have repressed memories about a preschool and a man named Freddy. Their parents refuse to tell them about it – when pressed, Nancy’s mother tells her that the kids said Freddy had abused them, and Freddy left town. During a dream sequence of Quentin’s, we see instead that the parents find Freddy on the outskirts of town, and angry that he may have abused their children, they burn his hiding place to the ground with him in it.

After Quentin sees this, it leads to what I find the most promising part of the film, in which Quentin and Nancy confront Quentin’s father about Freddy’s death. Nancy and Quentin wisely say that they were five at the time, and could have said anything – that there was no evidence Freddy was guilty, as the “secret cave” the kids mentioned was never even located, and that Freddy is seeking revenge on the kids who falsely accused him, which hurts all the more because Freddy loved the kids while he was a handyman at the preschool.

And you know what? If the film had continued to go this route, that would have been fantastic. Throughout the whole Freddy Kruger mythos, I don’t believe we’ve seen an innocent Freddy, and in this remake, they could have indeed made Freddy an innocent man who was killed due to false accusations of child abuse. The repressed memories of Quentin, Nancy, and company could have been Nancy, at five years old, deciding to play a joke and get her friends to accuse Freddy of things he didn’t do, and the finale could be her confronting her guilt, and an emotional scene of her apologizing to the innocent Freddy of her complicity in the events.

As you can probably tell, what with my hypotheticals, that didn’t happen. Upon exploring the old preschool, Nancy and Quentin come upon the aforementioned “secret cave,” and find photographic evidence that, indeed, Freddy Kruger was guilty. And everything that follows is just generic Nightmare on Elm Street stuff that you could get with a more classic feeling from almost any other film in the original series.

I think they blew a large opportunity to change the whole idea of Freddy, but instead of taking that leap, which might have been controversial, but would have been ballsy, they just keep with the “Oh, he’s just naturally evil, brahs,” stuff. I think this was a mistake, and instead of being an interesting movie, the finale of this remake is just generic and of about zero interest. Oh, and to make things better, they throw in a final scene that’s fucking awful. Even the ending of the original movie is better, and it’s not even close.

Perhaps it’s just me, but this pisses me off, because I really thought this film could have been something different. When I first saw this, I was really engaged in the story – was Freddy actually innocent? I thought it could have been so cool if they flipped the script. But they didn’t. And what was an okay movie (not great, but okay) just fell apart completely in the last twenty minutes, and I found it quite insulting, and again, a lost opportunity.

Rooney Mara (The Social Network) did pretty decent as Nancy, and Kyle Gallner (The Haunting in Connecticut) was good in the stoner-esque role. I thought the two worked well together as they were trying to figure out what their memories meant. Neither of the other teens, be it Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas, Wolves at the Door, and When a Stranger Calls) or Thomas Dekker, did much for me. Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption and Pet Sematary II) was nice to see, but aside from one strong scene, he didn’t really add much.

When it comes to Freddy Kruger, I don’t think Jackie Earle Haley did terribly. I mean, let’s be honest – anyone who wasn’t Robert Englund would have a very difficult time getting praise. I don’t personally care for Freddy’s look here, but I also understand it’s more realistic as far as burn victims go, so that’s fine. More troublesome for me, though, is Freddy’s voice, which just grates. I could do without the one-liners (“I haven’t even cut you yet”), but what really takes me away is the voice. Honestly, maybe it would have been cooler if he didn’t talk, and was just a threatening figure slowly leading these kids to realize what a mistake they made in accusing him of a false crime.

Oh, wait. I’m sorry. I forget the movie wasn’t trying to be different, and so I momentarily forgot how cliché it was. My apologies.

The CGI was hideous most of the time. It’s funny that the scene in which Freddy is pushing himself out of the wall above the bed is done so much better in 1984, as well as the Tina-equivalent death scene. I did like the pool scene – when Quentin comes up from the pool and sees the flashback of Freddy’s origin take place – but otherwise, there’s nothing here that’s all that unique.

More than anything, I believe with all my heart that A Nightmare on Elm Street could have been a worthwhile remake if they had just changed the story up a little, and instead of making a generic horror movie, had gone with a more emotionally poignant ending about facing the consequences of your mistakes (the mistake being falsely accusing Kruger). Instead, you get a subpar movie that has it’s moments, and it has it’s potential, but is largely a waste of time.


Loon (2015)

Directed by Brandon Tobatto [Other horror films: Hacked Up for Barbecue (2009), Loons (2016), Cottontail (2017), Sugarplum (2017), Madhouse (2020)]

For a lower budget film, Loon is okay. It’s not great, and it’s possible calling it good is a stretch, but there’s a somewhat interesting story here, and though I don’t think I’d go back to it, I can appreciate what they were going for.

Truth be told, I expected most of the film to deal with the group of friends going to explore an old carnival attraction – something like a lower budget version of Haunt. You can soon see that’s not where the film’s going, as it switches gears to focus on a police detective (Ryan Gray) and his attempts to go after the killer stalking the woods around the carnival attraction, which is at least different.

Obviously, being a film of this budget, some of the acting is not great. I do think that Tara Moates and Trevor Moates worked as siblings, and given the last names, it’s quite possible that’s the case. During the opening flashback, Kerissa Porter and Randy Porter were good also, and I thought it was sort of a shame that opening scene was all they got. Otherwise, no one really did that well – Ryan Gray had some okay moments, as did both Anne Tuck and John Nieman, but everything else was just ehh.

What’s more was some of the dialogue felt iffy, and the delivery especially stood out as lower quality. I don’t think that really hurt the movie as a whole – God knows I’ve seen worse in other films – but it was noticeable at times.

Also noticeable was the fact that, save for a kill toward the end of the film, there weren’t many kills here worth seeing. The killer primarily used a bat to beat people to death, which is good and all, but after a while, I can’t say it’s not a little repetitive.

Even so, from my understanding, the budget of Loon was around $100, and I know that they probably got more out of the money than I could have. I don’t think the movie’s good, but I do think they did well with what they had, and though there were aspects of the story I wasn’t a fan of (I would have liked it if Tara Moates and Trevor Moates had a bit more to do in the second half of the movie), it’s not a terrible film if you know what you’re going into.


Scarecrow County (2019)

Directed by John Oak Dalton [Other horror films: The Girl in the Crawlspace (2018)]

It’s always been my opinion, as a horror fan, that scarecrows have been an underutilized antagonist, a complaint of mine since I find scarecrows damn cool. I mean, look at them – straw, sickles, pitchforks, hats – what’s not to love? Scarecrow County doesn’t really do much for me in that department, but for a taste of local flavor, it was an okay experience.

Though I was born in Arizona, I’ve spent most of my life in Indiana. It’s a folksy place – aside from Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, it’s mostly quite rural (and even the busier cities, such as Muncie, still feel rural), farmland runs supreme, and despite Indiana Beach’s promise, I’m not entirely sure there’s much more than corn here.

One thing that’s definitely not here is any type of movie industry. I have no idea what the Indiana Film Commission is doing, but those must be some cozy jobs, because there really hasn’t been a whole lot of movie-making out here, which is a shame, because some locations (such as Brown County, to anyone in southern Indiana) would make for amazing movie locations, especially for horror.

I’m not a proud Hoosier by any means, but I am happy when I see Indiana come up in some form in media, because despite being the 17th-most populous state, I get the sense a lot of people just forget we exist. Only a handful of horror films are solely filmed here (most well-known might be Found from 2012), and many of the others are lesser-known films (Daylight from 2013, Shadow People from 2008, Beware of the Klowns from 2015, Phantom of the Woods from 2013, The Stray from 2016, Backwoods from 1987, and Terror Squad, also from 1987), and the only one I’ve seen so far has been Backwoods.

Scarecrow County was filmed partially in Ohio, but most of the locations are within Indiana (specifically, Parker City, Mooreland, Yorktown, and Farmland), and so getting a taste of a more homebred movie was nice. In fact, the director, John Oak Dalton, went to Ball State University, which is the same college I attended.

All of this is exactly why I made sure this is a movie I took the time to watch, and related, none of this background goes that far to make the movie any better. The production quality of Scarecrow County actually surprised me, as it seemed pretty damn decent (I immediately was reminded of Truth or Double Dare (TODD), only this film had more soul), and while I can’t say I really enjoyed the film, I was impressed by plenty of aspects.

Taking place in a small town (and given the main character works at the Parker City library, I’d wager the film takes place in Parker City), there’s a strong sense of the small-town oppression that isn’t uncommon in the midwest. I live in a moderate-sized city, almost 10,000 people. Parker City (which is actually a town, but that’s a distinction I don’t want to get into – look at Fishers), though, has a population of around 1,300. Even the village I lived in while a child in New York (Penn Yan) had five times that number.

Much of the film revolves around the good old days – back when the high school basketball team were the biggest thing, and those kids, now older but still friendly with each other, are getting killed off by a scarecrow after an old journal written by a gay kid they knew back in high school is uncovered. It’s a decent story of a mysterious past event and how the ramifications stretch to the present-day, something like Cherry Falls, only on a lower budget.

The film has a bit of a psychological twist to it, which does give the film a unique feeling at times, but it also renders the finale a bit weak, I felt. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the revelations during the finale, but I just sort of wish they did a bit better job of expanding on some of the events of the movie.

Chelsi Kern made for a pretty good lead, and playing her father, Tom Cherry did a nice, authentic job. I didn’t entirely get Rachael Redolfi’s character (she spent most of her time locked in her house and drawing some public domain comic strip character named Fantomah and imagining that Fantomah is talking to her), but I guess Redolfi did well enough. John Bradley Hambrick’s character was someone I was expecting a little more from, but Jeff Rapkin had that big fish in a small pond attitude down well, and I enjoyed it.

As many may know, there’s not a plethora of great scarecrow horror films out there. For every decent one, such as Scarecrows, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, and Husk, you have films like Scarecrow (2002), Scarecrow Slayer (2003), Scarecrow Gone Wild (2004), Dark Harvest (2004), Skarecrow (2004), Return of the Scarecrow (2017), Rise of the Scarecrows (2009), Bride of Scarecrow (2018), Curse of the Scarecrow (2018), Scarecrow’s Revenge (2019), and American Scarecrow (2020). That’s a lot of scarecrow films, and so few have even close to a 5/10 on IMDb.

Scarecrow County isn’t a great scarecrow horror film – I do like the scarecrow design, and who can’t love that pitchfork? But it’s more focused on some psychological aspects, and all the kills are off-screen. There are some creepy scenes here and there, but it’s not as rewarding as one might hope.

Honestly, I do wish I liked this movie more. It’s an ambitious movie, what with the various plot points and deeper subjects hit on, and I think it’s well-made for what it is. I just didn’t personally jibe that much with the story. Not by any means a bad film, for an okay slice of newer horror, this may be worth checking out.


The Babadook (2014)

Directed by Jennifer Kent [Other horror films: N/A]

This Australian film is one that I have enjoyed in the past, though that was just with a single watch. Seeing it again, though, I have to say that I didn’t care for it nearly as much this time around. Perhaps I enjoyed the allegorical and interpretative nature of the film more in my youth, because while The Babadook isn’t without value, I just couldn’t really get into it.

Part of it is that I do find the story a bit annoying past a certain part. When it becomes clear to the mother (played by Essie Davis) that she’s not able to care for her son (Noah Wiseman) as well as she should be, she should have immediately checked herself into some type of treatment. Sure, they set up a therapist for the son (though that should have been done long before the time-frame of the movie), but when she’s barely able to get any sleep for days on end, instead of being sensible, she just – stays home and continues to fall apart.

I just found elements here more than a bit annoying. Her son clearly had behavioral issues, but instead of dealing with it in any positive fashion, she ignored it, despite clearly knowing her son wasn’t “normal” (which was made clear during her outbursts throughout the film). Though I can understand it’s a straining time for the pair of them (coming up to an anniversary of her husband’s death), the lack of thought she put into trying to do right by her kid drove me up the wall.

I’ll give the movie kudos for having a cool book, though – that Babadook book was beautifully-made (and from my interpretation, probably made by the mother, if the book was ever really there at all), and I’d definitely want a copy of that in my house. Also, the design of the Badadook was decent, though it’s rare in the film that we really get a prolonged great look at it – I know some may prefer it that way, but decisions like that, while they make sense, can sometimes feel a bit lacking.

My largest problem, though, tends to be just how interpretative the movie is. Some say that it’s an allegory on depression/sleep deprivation, which is certainly possible. I do tend to think that the Babadook isn’t a real entity, and that the mother is just utterly insane, but really, with a movie like this, any point of view is perfectly valid. I’d personally like a few more concrete answers, but that may just be me expecting the unnecessary from movie-makers.

The Babadook isn’t without value, which is clear to me, as I’ve enjoyed the movie in the past. It’s also possible that upon a future viewing of this movie, I’ll gain back some of the enjoyment I lost with this run through. As it stands now, though, while portions of the film were impressive, more often than not, it was filled with awkward conversations and felt like Baby Blues for the final thirty or so minutes.

I’m hoping that I’ll enjoy this more in the future, but for the time being, I don’t really think it’s that great.


V/H/S (2012)

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin [Other horror films: Devil’s Due (2014), Southbound (2015, segments ‘The Way In’ & ‘The Way Out’), Ready or Not (2019), Scream (2022), Scream VI (2023)], David Bruckner [Other horror films: The Signal (2007), Southbound (2015, segment ‘The Accident’), The Ritual (2017), The Night House (2020), Hellraiser (2022)], Tyler Gillett [Other horror films: Devil’s Due (2014), Southbound (2015, segments ‘The Way In’ & ‘The Way Out’), Ready or Not (2019), Scream (2022), Scream VI (2023)], Justin Martinez [Other horror films: Southbound (2015, segments ‘The Way In’ & ‘The Way Out’)], Glenn McQuaid [Other horror films: I Sell the Dead (2008), Chilling Visions: 5 States of Fear (2014)], Joe Swanberg [Other horror films: Silver Bullets (2011)], Chad Villella [Other horror films: Southbound (2015, segments ‘The Way In’ & ‘The Way Out’)], Ti West [Other horror films: The Roost (2005), Trigger Man (2007), The House of the Devil (2009), Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009), The Innkeepers (2011), The ABCs of Death (2012, segment ‘M is for Miscarriage’), The Sacrament (2013), X (2022), Pearl (2022)] & Adam Wingard [Other horror films: Home Sick (2007), Pop Skull (2007), A Horrible Way to Die (2010), You’re Next (2011), The ABCs of Death (2012, segment ‘Q Is for Quack’), V/H/S/2 (2013, segment ‘Phase I Clinical Trials’), Blair Witch (2016)]

I have to admit that, after seeing this one twice, I struggle incredibly hard to see the appeal. It’s not as though the base idea isn’t worth attempting, but the final product here comes across to me as a total mess.

Obviously, the biggest problem here is that almost none of the stories are good. Even the framing sequence is flimsy (and the low-budget British anthology Screamtime did a similar set-up better), and of the five segments (“Amateur Night”, “Second Honeymoon”, “Tuesday the 17th”, “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger”, and “10/31/98”), only two are passable, and that’s being damn generous.

The only thing “Amateur Night” had going for it were occasionally decent special effects, and they faltered horribly come the ending (those wings, tho). “Tuesday the 17th” struck me as a total waste, if I’m being honest. “Second Honeymoon” tried, what with the plot twist, but as the plot twist had little in the way of set-up, I’d say that it failed horribly. “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” had the most potential out of all of these, but I found the ending laughably atrocious.

“10/31/98” was decent. I think what really pulled that one miles above the others here were the special effects. I didn’t love the story, but once the guys got to the house, we did see some creepy things (hands coming out of the walls, random birds flying by, that random type of stuff), and I appreciated the vibe. I do think the ending (which is also the final scene of the movie, because the framing story doesn’t frame around the final segment, because of course it doesn’t) was lackluster, but by this point, I’m just happy that the movie has finally ended.

And that’s another thing that needs to be mentioned. Not only are most of the stories severely lacking in enjoyable content, the movie is almost two hours. Most of that just had to be wasted time, as if you edit just the interesting things out of each respective story, there’s no way you get more than 15 minutes of content, and again, that’s being quite generous.

One last thing before hitting on one of the few positives of the film – there are almost no likable characters in this whole film. The framing story just gives us guys who routinely sexually assault women and laughs it off as a joke, which isn’t too different from the guys we got in “Amateur Night.” The characters in “Tuesday the 17th” were more generic-slasher types, and were at least bearable, but aside from a single character, there’s no one in V/H/S who is even worth rooting for.

That person is Emily (played by Helen Rogers), from “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger.” Rogers does a great job with her character, and gives us someone quite sympathetic, and her emotional performance near the end of the segment was great. Really, she’s the only performance in this film that even came close to standing out, so definitely I give kudos to her.

Otherwise, this movie is just awful. For the life of me, I cannot see why there seems to be a decently-sized contingent of people who enjoy this one. On the one hand, I am glad that there exists people who get more out of this movie than I ever have (as I have seen this twice now, and I wasn’t impressed either time), but on the other, I just don’t get it. I don’t see what’s impressive here, and when I wasn’t bored, I just felt that, save for some occasionally-good special effects, the story was uninspired.

V/H/S may just be one of those movies that wasn’t meant for me. I didn’t enjoy seeing it again, and I think it’s safe to say that there’s not many circumstances that exist that’d cause me to watch this again in the future.


Sea Fever (2019)

Directed by Neasa Hardiman [Other horror films: N/A]

I forget when I first heard about Sea Fever, but from the beginning, I was intrigued. It was partially the poster, partially the title font, and of course, the plot sounded like it had potential. Well, the movie isn’t amazing, but I did find it quite decent, and personally, I found a mostly solid movie.

Never having heard of any of the actors or actresses here, I was impressed by just how quality some of them were, especially Hermione Corfield. She may be younger than me by a month and a half, but boy, what a stellar performance. I actually rather liked her anti-social character, and got a kick out of her being thrown in a situation where she had to interact with others, despite her utter disinterest in doing so.

Of course, most of the cast is strong – though I don’t know the names, the performances by individuals such as Jack Hickey, Dougray Scott, Connie Nielsen, Ardalan Esmaili, and Olwen Fouéré were all worth seeing. It’s also nice that we got a decent amount of personality from each of these characters, which isn’t always a given with movies featuring a smaller cast.

It is true that the story itself isn’t altogether that amazing, but I do think aspects here are there are well-done, such as Corfield’s character diving beneath the trawler and seeing quite a terrifying creature (one of only two full appearances, which is something else I appreciated – they didn’t overdo it), or the argument her character gets in with the others about quarantining themselves off.

As far as violence goes, there’s really only one scene that’s worth talking about, but I think it’s quite a great scene. Of course, any scene that has eyes bursting has to be quality, so I think I’ll leave it at that.

Oh, and during the ending credits, they played a totally thematically appropriate song titled “Shallows” by Daughter. I know Daughter only from a Sound Melody remix of the song “Medicine,” so I’m not really familiar with their untouched music, but this song was a fantastic way to close out the movie, and it’s somber and dark sound fit really well with the conclusion here.

For a movie that doesn’t possess a whole lot of originality, Sea Fever had a strong presence. Partially it’s from the fleshed out characters, and partially it’s due to really nice cinematography and a unique setting, and though it’s not a great movie, and maybe you can see the ending coming long before the movie ends, it was still a pretty fun ride, and I’d suggest giving it a chance if it sounds like it could be your type of thing.


The School (2018)

Directed by Storm Ashwood [Other horror films: N/A]

Maybe I’m becoming quite bitter and cynical in my old age (27 is now old age, alas), because I found very little in this Australian film to be worth it. Maybe it’s just my mood, but this struck me as utterly abysmal, and if I rate it above a 0/10, that should be seen as a mercy.

From the very first time I heard about this one, I was expecting to dislike it. When I started the movie, it only took a minute for my preconceptions to be confirmed, because the film starts with a woman waking up in a bathtub in a dark and ominous room. I said aloud, “She’s dead, I’m calling it.” Well, she wasn’t dead, but I was still pretty close to being entirely correct, as it’s revealed an hour into the movie that she had slit her wrists, and it revealed this as though it wasn’t obvious from the very beginning of the fucking movie.

Maybe that’s just a small thing. In truth, it’s not as though this movie couldn’t have been okay, in a dark-fantasy-dealing-with-grief type way. Perhaps that’s even what they were aiming for, and the story of the obvious purgatory could have been one that at least held some mild interest. Instead, I just got a headache, what with the Hungries, the tribe of dead kids, the dead kids who weren’t in the tribe, the Wall-Walker, and the Weepers. The Weepers were dead bodies, the Hungries were ghosts in pipes or something like that, but it doesn’t matter, because it was all shit.

As always, I give credit where credit is due, and in this instance, I wanted to commend Will McDonald’s performance. I don’t get his character whatsoever, but he was having a fun time, and came across, more often than not, much like Jack Gleeson’s Joffrey – he has that manic, playful energy that suits him. The only other performance I wanted to mention was that of Milly Alcock’s, not that her character got a lot to do, but at least she stood out more than pretty much anyone else, including the central actress (Megan Drury).

It’s also worth mentioning that a rather beautiful song plays during the credits, titled “Better in the Dark” (which may be sung by Australian musician Brooke Addamo, also known under the moniker Owl Eyes). I think it was supposed to add emotional resonance to the end of the film, which didn’t work, given the film itself was utter shit, but the song in of itself is quite nice, and unlike The School, pleasing to the senses.

I also wanted to touch on the purgatory setting, which possessed some elements I sort of liked (such as some underground stream-type thing). The school is quite dark, dingy, and sometimes spooky at times, but from the very beginning, I got the sense that they tried way too hard. It just felt fake most of the time, as opposed to organically creepy (in a similar way that the dingy house in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre felt too glossy to be authentic). I don’t think that this hurt the film that much (and certainly not as much as the pitiful story), but it was definitely noticeable.

Right now, at the time of this writing, The School sports a 3.9/10 on IMDb (with 610 votes), and I can understand that, though I think it’s actually worse. Of course, I can sometimes be a dick, but that’s what comes with watching a lot of films, some of which turn out to be quite terrible (immediately coming to mind are films like I Think We’re Alone Now and Toyko Stay Home Massacre). In a better mindframe, maybe a movie like this would work better, but I can only be honest, and say that I rather hated this one.


All Through the House (2015)

Directed by Todd Nunes [Other horror films: Scary Larry (2014)]

I have to say that I found this Christmas-themed slasher disappointing, but I also have to admit that I’m not surprised, given the generally lukewarm reception I’ve heard from this one.

And it’s a shame, too, because I suspect that, more than most people, I was looking forward to this one. Why? Because back in 2011, the director of this film, Todd Nunes, directed a 13-minute short titled Here Comes Santa. This is a short which I reviewed on my now-defunct Beyond the Darkened Door, a horror blog I was trying to run for a short and inconsistent time in my college days.

To keep things short, I found Here Comes Santa a pretty well-made short. I gave it a glowing review, and definitely saw potential should the director attempt a full-length version of the story.

But to all hope comes death, as the poets say, and the final product here just felt more hollow than anything. Which isn’t to say that the movie doesn’t have strong points, but really, aside from gore, what does All Through the House really have going for it?

I will say that I like the base idea of the film – three young women terrorized by a killer wearing Santa garb while helping to decorate a large house – but the story beyond this, what with the mystery of the focal character’s mother and another character’s missing daughter just sort of fell off the rails.

Again, I have to mention the failed potential here, because while neither of these mysteries were up there with those seen in classic giallos, it still brought a little additional element to the movie, but come the finale, the answers we get aren’t really that satisfying to me.

For what it’s worth, I thought most of the marginally more important performances were decent. It’s not likely that many would be blown away by Ashley Mary Nunes, Melynda Kiring, Jason Ray Schumacher, or Natalie Montera, but they all do fine enough with what little character they get to play around with.

That’s part of the problem, really. Most of these characters just seem shallow, and I don’t think we even get to know the main character of Rachel (Nunes) all that well. More than anything, this movie feels like an excuse to show off decent gore effects, which, while certainly appreciated, isn’t enough to keep interest in a story going. Had the mystery here been handled a bit differently, then maybe we’re talking another story, but with what we got, it just didn’t do it.

There’s also something that should be said about the editing. I don’t think I’m the guy to say it, because I’m not a film-maker, and I have literally no idea what goes into production and post-production of films, and thus lack the vocabulary to explain my problem, but the editing here just felt off at times. I sensed it from the very beginning, and though I can’t put a finger on why things felt off, I know that, to me, they did.

Overall, you have some impressive gory scenes here, but once you get past that, I don’t think there’s a lot holding this one up, and as far as Christmas-themed horror films go, I think that All Through the House will end up in the forgotten category more so than anything else. Definitely not a great experience, and a film I found rather below average.


The Furies (2019)

Directed by Tony D’Aquino [Other horror films: N/A]

I feel like The Furies had something going for it, but it wasn’t able to fully use it’s strong points to it’s advantage. While not a movie without merit, I doubt that, in the end, it’ll make much of an impression for many who see it.

Human-hunting-human movies aren’t a new concept (just check out Naked Fear, or Turkey Shoot, or Bloodlust!, or The Most Dangerous Game), but this one managed to throw in a few ideas that at least gave it a little more identity, being how the masked killers (the ‘Beasts’) were sort of supposed to protect one of the kidnapped women (the ‘Beauties’). It’s also Australian, so it has quality accents. At the same time, I don’t really know if this was explained well enough, or really delved into in enough detail to qualify it as that impressive an addition to the sub-genre.

I think that’s my biggest problem, by the way. Certainly this movie knew what it was doing in terms of special effects (which I’ll touch on shortly), but the plot felt like it was missing something. Whether that something has to do with the lack of explanation received or something more, I can’t really pinpoint, but I can say that I felt they could have done more (and the film was only around 82 minutes, which was sort of refreshing, but like I said, maybe adding a little more meat would have been beneficial).

As far as performances go, I don’t think anyone really blew me away. Certainly both Airlie Dodds and Linda Ngo (whose character had some undisclosed anxiety issue or something, it felt like) did well, as did Taylor Ferguson, but no one here stood out that much above the rest. It may just have been the nature of the story, but the actresses and actors here didn’t really do much either way for my experience.

Where the film really nails it is in the special effects. Well, “really nails it” may be a bit of a stretch, as some of these kills (such as a head getting split in half by an ax) looked a bit too CGI, but many of the kills and violence were of decent quality, such as an ax being pushed into a woman’s face, eventually cutting off quite a bit of it, and there’s that throat-slitting toward the end. Someone’s arms get ripped off (this particular piece of violence is off-screen, but we do see the body afterwards), someone’s hand is mostly cut off – I mean, this movie was violent at times. I just wish there was a little more to it than that.

And when all is said and done, that’s probably my take on this Australian movie. The Furies was okay – I didn’t have a bad time watching it or anything. It’s just that I didn’t have a good time watching it, and I really felt that more could have been done with what they had. Below average, but not disastrously so. For a better take on the basic idea, you might want to check out The Hunt, which came out a year later.


If a Tree Falls (2010)

Directed by Gabriel Carrer [Other horror films: Desperate Souls (2005), Kill (2011), The Demolisher (2015), Death on Scenic Drive (2017), For the Sake of Vicious (2020)]

This is one of the films I watched during an October challenge, and I think it was the year I watched 275 movies in a single month, mainly because I didn’t remember any of this, and I do mean any of it. It felt like a completely new movie, but I have seen it before, so I was hoping for a more memorable occasion this time around.

And I think it will be more memorable, but not in any good way.

Ponderously and pathetically bare-bones, If a Tree Falls is almost entirely void of anything worth seeing. The plot is simple, the only mildly interesting thing about it being characters that were brother and sister, and most of the film deals with people running from other people.

The killers (there were something like six of them for some goddamn reason) were like ultra-cheap rip-offs from The Strangers. Their reasoning, though, is even worse, as a character explains “We find the ones who will never be found.” That’s why they killed three of the four characters and kept the other one alive – because killing is finding and ones that are not found are alive people or something.

Yeah, it makes zero sense, I know.

Aside from the fact that this film was painfully repetitive, it also suffered from somewhat lousy audio, with the music going above the voices multiple times. It didn’t matter, really, as no one in the film was capable of having a conversation worth hearing, but mix that with some shoddy camera-work, and you have what the kids call “shit.”

This may be worth mentioning. When I saw this film years ago, I watched a version that was around 77 minutes, but this time around, I watched what IMDb labels as “the 10th anniversary edition” which runs 89 minutes. I have no idea what was added or changed, and I sort of wonder if I’d have liked the shorter version more, but there you go.

Ry Barrett, Breanne TeBoekhorst, Jennifer De Lucia, and Daniel Zuccala are generally not great. I don’t blame any of them, though, as even if they were the most stellar performances in the history of cinema, the movie would still be God-awful.

And it was indeed God-awful. I did like the exploitation vibe that If a Tree Falls occasionally attempted to give off, but that doesn’t excuse the utter lack of story or meaningful antagonists or the atrociously terrible conclusion. I mean, there were sometimes okay special effects, but when the final product has this much wrong with it, it really doesn’t matter.

I don’t know what happens if a tree falls, and this movie didn’t let me in on the secret (I’m guessing it’s one of those pseudo-intellectual titles that might have some relevance to the movie in a roundabout way). It also wasn’t entertaining, and I hated it. I’ll give it points for being filmed in Canada and having some attractive women in it. Elsewise, there’s virtually nothing going for this.


This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below to the disappointment of Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I as we discuss If a Tree Falls.