The Hollow (2015)

Directed by Sheldon Wilson [Other horror films: Shallow Ground (2004), Kaw (2007), Screamers: The Hunting (2009), Carny (2009), Mothman (2010), Red: Werewolf Hunter (2010), Killer Mountain (2011), Scarecrow (2013), Shark Killer (2015), The Unspoken (2015), The Night Before Halloween (2016), Neverknock (2017), Stickman (2017), Dead in the Water (2018)]

I had the misfortune of seeing this Sheldon Wilson film before, and it’s not gotten any better since that first time a few years back. The thing is, I think this could have had potential with the setting and with the characters, but it’s entirely squandered to make a generically bad Syfy original.

This is something that Wilson has a history with, though. I enjoyed Neverknock and The Unspoken, true, and to a certain extent, I enjoyed both Kaw and Stickman, but much of his recent work, such as The Night Before Halloween, Dead in the Water, and this one, are really hard to get through, and this is one of the worse (though certainly Dead in the Water was probably a bit worse).

Was Stephanie Hunt attractive? Sure. Was Sarah Dugdale attractive? You know it. Did either one give a particularly good performance, or in fact, did anyone in the film give a good performance? That’d be a negative. I don’t blame the failure of the film on the performances though – Dugdale and Hunt could only work with what they’ve got, and if they’re given a bad script, what can they do?

The monster was a combination of the roots from The Ruins and that hideous monster-thing in Shadows of the Dead (another stellar Syfy original) – most of the time, it looked like angry embers and sticks were attacking people. This had to do with revenge from some witches, but the witches could have tried harder to not send a creature that reeked of hideous CGI.

I liked the setting – an island off some undisclosed state (probably Washington or something, but I don’t think it’s said in the film). It was a large island, but much of it seemed to be forest, which was sort of cool. And the characters being focused on all being sisters also brought a little bit confort, so we wouldn’t have to deal with any horrible romantic sub-plot (unless there was some lesbian incest going on, but no dice). It has the basics to maybe make for an okay story if they had wanted to, maybe an interesting mystery-slasher hybrid, or perhaps some type of psychological horror à la Hereditary set on an island. That’s not what happened.

Oh, also the younger sister had unexplained psychic dreams, so that was #cool.

When I initially watched The Hollow, I was disappointed because I was hopeful that maybe it’d end up being one of the better Syfy originals, but that’s not the case, and it’s really not a movie I can think of any real reason to watch.

5/10

The Night Before Halloween (2016)

Directed by Sheldon Wilson [Other horror films: Shallow Ground (2004), Kaw (2007), Screamers: The Hunting (2009), Carny (2009), Mothman (2010), Red: Werewolf Hunter (2010), Killer Mountain (2011), Scarecrow (2013), Shark Killer (2015), The Unspoken (2015), The Hollow (2015), Neverknock (2017), Stickman (2017), Dead in the Water (2018)]

In some ways, this Syfy original feels likes a mixture between Sorority Row/Tamara and It Follows, with a group of friends covering up an accidental death and contending with some evil entity or something (and I do mean ‘or something’ – we never learn anything about this entity aside from the fact it takes the form of CGI flies). It’s not the worst Syfy original I’ve seen in my many years, but it’s far from the best.

One of the problems is a similar problem to what Sorority Row had – at the beginning of the film, five friends decide to cover up the circumstances of an accident (that in reality, only three of the friends were involved with), and they have the exact same conversation they had in Tamara and Sorority Row. “Oh, this will ruin our futures,” and “Fine, you can call the police if you want to spend the next 20 years in prison,” that tripe. I’m not saying this isn’t theoretically realistic, but I am saying that as soon as that deal is made, my sympathy for any of the characters, even the hesitant ones, is thrown out the window entirely.

So when people start dying, be it the bitchy girl (Kiana Madeira) or the ‘nice girl’ (Bailee Madison), I don’t care, because these people are all horrible and whether they die or not is the least of my concerns. 

It doesn’t help that the entity isn’t made clear – apparently it can use cell phones (and it uses smileys when it texts, so yay for technological demons, I guess) – but we never learn anything about it’s origins, and we don’t even know if “the curse” that gets passed onto them is legit, because it seems that whether or not you complete it’s specifications (if those even are it’s specifications and not something previously -cursed people thought would help), you can be killed by it anyway.

None of this is the fault of the cast, who are all reasonably fine playing hateable characters. Kiana Maderia later showed up in one of Syfy’s better original movies, Neverknock. Bailee Madison was sort of cute, but also played a horrible person. Anthony Lemke (American Psycho, of all places) played an almost-interesting but ultimately generic cop, so no award there.

When everything’s said-and-done, there are worse Syfy original movies out there (look at 2018’s Karma, which even had a similar idea to this), but there are plenty of better, more memorable films, and I’d probably say the only thing I’ll remember about this one was the okay twist. Otherwise, it’s just not a good movie.

5.5/10

Shark Week (2012)

Directed by Christopher Ray [Other horror films: Reptisaurus (2009), Megaconda (2010), Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus (2010), 2-Headed Shark Attack (2012), Mega Shark vs. Kolossus (2015), 3-Headed Shark Attack (2015), A House Is Not a Home (2015), Circus Kane (2017), Minutes to Midnight (2018)]

I’m not playing around with this one, brahs.

I recorded this off Syfy for some unexplainable reason (well, I guess the reason was that, at the time, I recorded almost any horror movie I hadn’t previously seen, so there’s that), and so I got what I expected, and it’s just another God-awful shark movie by the Asylum, void of almost anything enjoyable.

So a crazy guy captures eight people and puts them on his island, where he’ll make them fight sharks and go through traps because he’s angry about the death of his son (all of these people have a connection with that death in some way). It’s basically Saw: With Sharks, only nothing like that, because as bad as the worst Saw movie was, this was worse.

Acting was horrible throughout. Patrick Bergin and Yancy Butler were the worst offenders, but literally no one did well. Frankie Cullen almost looked like David Arquette, so there’s that, and Joshua Michael Allen was almost a hero worth rooting for, but I didn’t care for a single one of these characters at any time, and even if the acting was atrocious intentionally, it didn’t make it ‘fun.’

Obviously the plot is stupid, and special effects were more like not-special effects (see, this film drained away my clever way with words), and were just horrible throughout. Look at the land-mine scene for a good example. Oh, and speaking of which, whoever did the cinematography should be drawn and quartered. Listen, I don’t have the vocabulary to explain exactly the techniques they use – it was like instead of showing a whole scene, they just cut a second out every other second – it’s jarring, annoying, and entirely unnecessary.

A good example, again, is the landmine scene. A guy steps on a landmine. Another guy comes over. And we get a few quick cuts to his foot, then to guy A’s face, then to guy B’s face. It just looks like amateur hour.

Oh, and the dialogue was horrible too, but there was one joke I laughed at, though, so I’ll give it a point for that.

Also known under the title of Shark Assault (not that a retitling is like to change anyone’s mind about this film), Shark Week is horrible, and I don’t know why I bother.

1.5/10

Survivorz (2017)

Directed by Craig Tudor James [Other horror films: Granny of the Dead (2017), Solar Impact (2019)]

I recorded this off Syfy some time ago, and before I started to finally watch it, I looked it up on IMDb to gauge some feeling of what I was going to watch. At the time I read this movie’s entry, though, it had an astonishingly low 51 votes, which blew me away then and still surprises me now. How can a movie that was on Syfy a handful of times have such a low amount of ratings? Are people that tired of zombie films? [I have delved deep, though, and after my review, have found the answer].

Well, no matter the reason, I feel that the now 52 of us who have actually rated the film were the unlucky ones, because Survivorz is almost intolerably a pointless movie.

Everyone’s seen zombie movies (apparently everyone outside the characters in this movie, I guess) that are just following all of the expectations and adding nothing of their own into it. It’s for this reason that, to me, many zombie films just seem repetitive and harder to really come into their own and feel enjoyable. Some movies can definitely manage it, such as 28 Days Later… and Zombieland, but I feel that easily 60% of the zombie movies that have come out past 2000 have been on the other side of good, and this movie has to be one of the worst offenders of that.

Certainly this movie had the budget to have some potential. I don’t know exactly how much they had to play around with, but most of the shots in the film look well-shot, and though the special effects aren’t great, this film wasn’t made by a bunch of teens on a camcorder (and in all fairness, most films like that have more heart than Survivorz does). So it had potential, but the story and characters? Oh, fuck me with a whirling lawnmower.

Listen, I liked the setting, at least. A bunch of younger American kids in London meant we still had to deal with a mainly-American cast, but seeing a slightly different locale added maybe a little spice to the movie. It didn’t make any difference, as the story done here would have played out exactly the same in the States, but hey, spice.

Here’s my problem. Early on in the film, a woman comes stumbling in from the street, and she is visibly wounded (she was bit in the early stages of the zombie outbreak). Now, they don’t know she’s been bitten, of course, and they try to help her, but of course she turns and attacks them, and they rightly defend themselves. That’s fine.

Later on, one of the guys in the group, Gabe, gets bit. It’s bothersome when they keep telling him “it’ll be okay” when he’s obviously showing the same symptoms as the woman before, but it’s been a few hours, and he’s a friend, so I get it. When he starts attacking them, though, and is killed, one of the guys is like “Oh, I wish you were alive” or something bullshit like that. What, he wishes the zombie was alive so he could too be infected and/or eaten?

Then Benny gets bit (sorry for the spoilers, by the way, but this movie doesn’t exactly set out to surprise anyone, as the two people who make it to the end are the exact two people you would expect), and his girlfriend is like “oh it’s okay” and the others are like “oh, it’s okay” and the fact that they care so much means that he won’t actually be infected.

That’s a joke, because he is infected, and he eventually does the smart thing and locked himself in a room before he starts attacking his girlfriend. On a side-note, it took Gabe maybe five minutes before he became a mindless zombie, but it took Benny at least ten minutes (long enough for him to propose to his girlfriend, and then hide with her from another zombie, then talk to her for an additional few minutes), so that’s great. But when he locks himself in the room, his girlfriend wants him to come out, and the others too find it a hard pill to swallow that he’s protecting them from himself.

All of this could be explained if no one in this universe has ever seen a zombie movie, which has got to be the case, because I feel like if something like an onset of zombies were happening here (which, this is written in 2020, so let’s not jinx it), I would know immediately after the first person bitten and turned that “Hey, it’s a lost cause. Sorry you were bit, but we need to kill you.” It’s harsh, but there’s no other options unless they can be locked in a room and wait for a potential cure (more on that soon, though). But no, these people must think the power of friendship will prevent their friends from turning into zombies after being bit, and it annoys the fuck out of me.

Later on, they meet a guy whose wife was bitten. Now, he can’t kill his wife, so he has her tied up in her room with the hopes that a cure can be found and she’ll be fine. This isn’t a bad idea as long as he is upfront and tells everyone to not go into that room, and ensures the room is secure. He goes into the room himself, though, because that’s where he keeps his firearm, and lo and behold, his wife breaks out and bites him.

Earlier on in the movie, the group of friends see a zombie woman with a baby carrier around her neck, and the two women (played by Penelope Shipley, the one British group member and Lucy Aarden) want to “save the baby.”

Slams head on desk and dies, then revives to finish shitting on this movie

If there is a zombie apocalypse, and there is no safe way to save anyone, it sucks, but if you care about surviving, you cannot set out on a lost cause to save people. It’s a fucking baby. It would only be a hindrance, and they don’t even know if it’s actually alive (plot twist – it’s not, it’s some freaky zombie baby, because of course it is), so why even discuss trying to save it? 

Takes a deep breath

So obviously, I have some problems with the story here. What I will say is that I actually rather liked the hopelessness that this movie showcases. Even though there are three survivorz at the end (the third one, if you’re wondering, is the sister of Shipley’s character, who was miraculously alive), there’s not a hell of a lot of hope for them, because they’re trapped on a church tower with no food or water and hundreds of zombies surrounding them, so they’re probably screwed.

Unless they’re shot down by the helicopter, because that ending even made things more suspenseful somehow (??????) why

Survivorz was almost entirely pointless. I thought that there was some potential, and the fact that only 50 others had taken the time to rate it (and on average, the rating at the time I watched this was actually a 5.4/10) added to the mystique, but I look at a movie like Isle of the Dead, which I abhorred, and I at least can admit to myself that that movie tried to do something almost interesting. This movie really didn’t. Fuck it. Fuck life. Fuck zombies.

3/10

And now for the spicy research.

Up near the director’s name, I list another movie he directed, being Solar Impact (2019). Now, it’s important to note that the IMDb entry for Survivorz doesn’t list the director – I got that information from Moviefone.

Solar Impact is the same movie as Survivorz. Sort of. I mean, I’m guessing it’s mostly the same – I watched the trailer and I recognized most of the scenes. Under alternate titles of Solar Impact, Survivorz is listed as an ‘working title for the UK.’

Here’s the rub – IMDb lists Solar Impact as 2019, and I know for a fact that I recorded Survivorz off Syfy in either 2017 or 2018.

I don’t know why the movie is listed twice. I don’t know if Solar Impact adds anything. It could simply be a mistake. But as far as I’m concerned, until IMDb addresses this, these are two separate movies.

Also, while Survivorz does only have 57 total ratings, Solar Impact has 637, which is something I found worth addressing.

This has been IMDb delving with Jiggy. See you next time there’s an issue with multiple entries of movies.

Donner Pass (2011)

Directed by Elise Robertson [Other horror films: N/A]

This is one of those slashers that I saw some years back, found almost entirely forgettable, and thus promptly forgot, and then moved on. Seeing it again and remembering only the basic scenes from it really showed just how unremarkable this film was, and that’s a feeling that I think resonates today.

It’s not Donner Pass is a necessarily terrible movie, because it has the basic staples that you’d expect from a slasher movie. Hell, there’s even a kill that’s almost worth it. The problem is that there’s not much in the way of on-screen kills, and the addition of cannibalism (à la George Donner and the infamous history of the Donner Pass) leads to some story ideas that don’t fly wit Jiggy. I’m not saying the movie doesn’t hit enough spots to be called a competent slasher, but it definitely falls flat of good.

No one shines from the cast. Erik Stocklin is easily the most sympathetic, but the route his character takes isn’t in any form surprising. Desiree Hall was decent, and I liked her character well enough, but Colley Bailey, who played her boyfriend, was rather spineless and unlikable throughout. Bailey also appeared in likewise unmemorable slasher Madison County, on a side-note.

With as unlikable as Bailey’s character was, though, of course they have to up the ante and give us Dominic DeVore’s character. To be fair, his story, especially regarding his girlfriend, played by Adelaide Kane, was sort of unique. I think it was thrown in only to give the movie ten more minutes to play with, but credit where credit is due. Speaking of credit, Kane (who played the daughter in The Purge) was great as a bitchy, unlikable piece of trash, so kudos to her for a quality performance.

It’s never easy to really get into a slasher wherein a bunch of unlikable or uninteresting characters are killed. Well, it can be easy, if the gore is top-notch, but that’s not at all the case in Donner Pass. Really, aside from pulling in ideas from history, there’s not much here to really warrant a look. It’s not an exceptionally poor movie, though. Just sorta there, and that’s admittedly damning enough.

5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Donner Pass.

Devil (2010)

Directed by John Erick Dowdle [Other horror films: The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007), Quarantine (2008), As Above, So Below (2014)]

To be honest, I was hoping for a bit more from this one. Now, Devil is a movie I’ve seen before, but it’s been years upon years, and I was thinking that maybe, if I went in with fresh eyes, I could garner a bit more enjoyment from this one than I got the first time through (in which I found the movie passable but little more). Alas, that’s not really what happened.

Certainly the basic story of the movie is interesting, but I could have done without any of the religious talking points thrown in, and wish that the film was more based on, you know, reality. In particular, Jacob Vargas’ character Ramirez was pretty bad, especially when he said that even people who say they don’t believe in the Devil actually do, a little bit. Yeah, that’s not how it works, but this character’s mind was too warped by religion for anything otherwise to make sense to him, I suspect.

I guess a big part of my issues with Devil is that I didn’t find the mystery of who the Devil was all that interesting. So we know it’s one of the people trapped in the elevator, and we’re supposed to be kept on our toes about the Devil’s human form, despite the fact we know that M. Night Shyamalan was partially responsible for the story? Yeah, I don’t think so. The ending itself was cliché enough, what with a reveal that was somewhat obvious, but the whole movie suffers from just feeling too Hollywood.

It’s not like the movie didn’t have some potential. If the story had been less based on religious tripe as opposed to an actual mystery regarding one of those trapped being a serial killer, the movie might have been pretty good (especially considering that some of the cinematography is top-notch – look at that scene on the roof with a guy chasing a hat). The route they went, though, might work for some people, but it left me rather disinterested.

Chris Messina was okay. I mean, he was pretty generic toward the end, but hey, it’s only to be expected. More enjoyable was Bokeem Woodbine, and the fact he dealt with claustrophobia was a nice character addition. Matt Craven had a very familiar face (I’ve seen him in Disturbia, I guess, but I can’t imagine that’s how I recognize him – maybe from the Assault on Precinct 13 remake?), and I rather enjoyed his character (especially his back-and-forth with Jacob Vargas). Jenny O’Hara (Wishmaster) was also nice to see again, but I don’t think her character really had much to do.

Despite some solid performances, though, Devil still felt, at best, competent. I can personally say that I had an okay time for a good amount of the film. However, I can also say that the ending was almost pathetically anticipated, and I wish that they had gone a different direction with this one.

5.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Devil.

I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu (2019)

Directed by Meir Zarchi [Other horror films: Day of the Woman (1978), Don’t Mess with My Sister! (1985)]

Making a sequel to the 1978 exploitation classic was ill-advised. I don’t know the story behind why this sequel was made (it may perhaps have to do with the remake which came out in 2015, followed by two sequels), but regardless, it wasn’t a great decision.

I have maybe three good things to say about Deja Vu, but I want to deal with the elephant in the room first, and the elephant is the two-and-a-half hour run-time.

Listen, I don’t have a problem with longer movies if it’s epic length is fit with an epic story. Titanic has long been a favorite of mine, believe it or not. But no matter how this movie is spun, it’s not some revenge epic, and it certainly didn’t need to be as long as it was. Now, to be fair, if it were cut by an hour (easily doable), the movie would still be bad, but the fact that this movie runs so damn long is just an insult to the viewer.

Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a ponderous journey into such a joyless world.

This movie was frustrating at pretty much every turn, and it was hard to really care about anything. Sure, after Jennifer Hill (played by Camille Keaton, of course) and her daughter (Jamie Bernadette) are abducted, you hope they can get out, but only because the kidnappers were wholly unbearable.

Maria Olsen isn’t a name I know, and I’ll give her limited props for being one of the better performances here. I couldn’t stand the idiocy of her character at all (if you’re husband was a rapist, and you don’t understand why a woman would kill him, thinking may not be an active past-time for you), and I couldn’t help but be reminded of Roseanne Barr (that voice, tho…), but her graveside conversation to her deceased husband was one of the better scenes.

Another name that I have to give major kudos to is Jim Tavaré, who played Herman, the mentally-handicapped father to Matthew (from the first film). I honestly think Herman would have been worth letting go, but after a certain point, I understand the need to protect yourself. On this note, I loved his introduction, pointing to a picture of his son and trying to understand why Jennifer killed him all those years ago.

I don’t know if I touched on this in my review for the first film, but killing Matthew was probably a mistake. He never would have done anything if he had a better circle of friends, and obviously, he wasn’t mentally competent enough to understand exactly what he was being told to do. Here, Tavaré also feels rather sympathetic at times (especially following the rape, in which he tried to stand up to the three lunatics), and he definitely stood out.

Otherwise, Jonathan Peacy was unbelievably annoying, Jeremy Ferdman generally forgettable, Holgie Forrester just terrible, and Roy Allen III just lukewarm. Forrester and Peacy were definitely the worst here, but God, the story itself was so damn awful that I don’t personally blame any of the performances here for how the final product turned out.

It might be fair to say that, save for some okay performances, the best thing about this film was the flashbacks to the original movie, and the fact that they tried as hard possible to let us know this was a continuation to an over forty year old film, what with the references and locations. None of the kills here were great, and much of the movie was just ponderous tripe.

There were some occasionally interesting ideas here, such as the idea of revenge being circular (the ending, for instance, could easily led to a third movie, which would be rather regrettable), and the idea of finding a family member decapitated is pretty horrifying, but much of this is drowned out by just how hard Deja Vu is to sit through.

Two-and-a-half hours.

I don’t know the intention behind this film, but more than anything, I found it an insult to the original, which is a shame, given that they got Keaton back, and it’s directed by the same damn guy. Even so, I thought this was just awful.

2.5/10

This is unfortunately one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. If you want to hear my real pain, listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu.

Scare Campaign (2016)

Directed by Cameron Cairnes [Other horror films: 100 Bloody Acres (2012)] & Colin Cairnes [100 Bloody Acres (2012)]

I didn’t go into this one knowing too much about it, aside from the fact the plot sounded interesting and Olivia DeJonge (The Visit and Better Watch Out) was in it. Otherwise, I went in pretty blind, and overall, I’d say that Scare Campaign was a pretty decent movie. Not amazing, by any stretch, but good.

The plot, dealing with a Scare Tactic-like television crew, was pretty unique and, at times, meta (such as DeJonge’s character’s love of horror films). I think it gets a bit more muddled than necessary toward the end, but it was still decent. I do applaud the fact that they kept the movie played straight, when they easily could have moved to a more comedic direction (think Fear, Inc.), so kudos there.

Olivia DeJonge wasn’t the main star here, but I think she did really well in her role. There were some aspects to her character that didn’t really hit as hard as was probably intended, but she still did great. Meegan Warner (who I know only from the woeful The Veil) played a compelling main character, especially with the direction the movie went in during the second half.

I don’t know Ian Meadows, but I liked him here, despite the fact that his character is pretty on the fence between being pleasantly annoying to being an outright dick. Josh Quong Tart’s character was an interesting one, because some of our expectations are a bit subverted, giving his character a bit more depth than we first might think. Most of the other performances are solid, but few stand out like these four did.

As far as the gore goes, Scare Campaign isn’t mind-blowingly awesome, but there were some occasionally great scenes. There’s not really a stand-out scene of gore, at least in my view, but there’s still enough here to keep the casual slasher fan happy.

Though I think the movie is far from perfect, I don’t have any major critiques of the story. I do think some reveals toward the end were a bit weak, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t welcomed, just that they were anticipated. The turn-of-events about halfway through the film, though, really took me for a ride, and I utterly loved it, so Scare Campaign definitely did some things right.

The movie isn’t amazing, but this Australian film is still pretty solid, and definitely worth at least a single watch.

7.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Scare Campaign.

Blood Widow (2014)

Directed by Jeremiah Buckhalt [Other horror films: N/A]

Blood Widow is a movie that has very little going for it. I mean, very little. Like, almost nothing, if not for okay special effects and Kelly Quinn, who played a stereotypical, yet sometimes amusing, hippie character. Even with that, though, this movie is pretty much a waste.

Obviously lower-budget movies can have a harder time making things work, but honestly, the special effects here were mostly okay. True, a few decapitations and dismemberments looked rather weak, but there were some decent butcherings here. The lighting, or lack thereof, is probably the bigger problem, though, as it rendered some of the scenes rather indecipherable.

Performances were generally weak too. I don’t necessarily fault the actors and actresses for the rather awful dialogue (“Check the other rooms” “I am not checking the other rooms” “Please, check the other rooms.” “Fine, what room?” is a quality example), but the characters fall entirely flat and into stereotypical territory, such as the hippie, nature-lover, acid-taker named Harmony (played by Kelly Quinn). Now, I liked this character far more than anyone else, but boy, talk about a walking caricature.

Otherwise, I guess Danielle Lilley was okay, but the way she just accepted her boyfriend’s (Brandon Kyle Peters) immature behavior and consistent lies rubbed me the wrong way. In general, though, I just felt bad for her. Emily Cutting and Christopher de Padua were entirely forgettable, and I think I only wrote their names down here to take up a bit more space. #Professionalism.

I honestly think that, with a few changes, this movie might have been okay. Not great, mind you, just okay. First, instead of 80 minutes (74 if you don’t count the six minutes of credits), just make this an hour. Cut the fat out, especially if you’re going to go with an ending like this one went for. Secondly, try and write a better script that doesn’t feel like a bare-bones, by-the-numbers slasher. Thirdly, invest in some lighting.

For Blood Widow, I honestly thought there was potential. Now, I didn’t go into this one thinking that they were able to make it work (I had seen the extremely low rating this had on IMDb before starting the film), but it still could have been okay if they tried a bit harder in some aspects. As the finished film is, it’s honestly just somewhat pathetic, and save some special effects and a stereotypical character, Blood Widow just isn’t a memorable movie for anything positive.

2/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Blood Widow.

Seoulyeok (2016)

Directed by Sang-ho Yeon [Other horror films: Busanhaeng (2016), Bando (2020)]

Commonly known under the title Seoul Station, this animated prequel to Train to Busan was an interesting experience. It’s my first experience with an animated horror movie, and while I appreciated some aspects of it, overall, I just found this one pretty meh.

I guess it’s worth talking about the animation, which was okay. At times, it seemed somewhat sparse (showing a lot of empty streets with zero zombies shambling about seemed off), but that’s fine. The character designs weren’t great (the faces were what most bothered me), but animation’s not my forte, so I wouldn’t say it really impacted my feelings one way or another.

This movie is oddly somewhat poorly sourced on IMDb, so I don’t really have names to going with the voice actors, but some of these characters were very prone to over-exaggeration, such as the homeless man (who apparently was never named), especially during his “I have no home” wail, which, while somewhat dark, did rather crack me up. I understand that over-acting might be common in animation, but it didn’t make it feel any more realistic to me, which was problematic.

Certainly, I appreciate the attempt to pull in some societal issues to the forefront, such as the division between the homeless and the police (when one officer just assumed all the zombies were just angry homeless people, there’s a problem with the system they live in) and the atrocious reaction of both the city police and the military (a bunch of uninfected people easily could have been saved, but instead they’re just hosed back into their area by police, because fuck the people, amiright?), but I don’t think either of these points are really examined as well as they could have been. Even the tragic lives of sex workers is hinted at, but despite potential, this isn’t expanded on as much as it could have been either.

It could be said that the dismal nature of the story was a bit much (there are few characters who actually survive through the film), but for a zombie movie, I can’t imagine that this is really a surprise. Shim Eun-kyung’s character (Hye-sun) was okay, but I was really hoping for a stronger female lead than what she brought with her. Her boyfriend, Ki-woong (voiced by Joon Lee), was pretty pathetic throughout, and Hye-sun’s father, Suk-gyu (voiced by Seung-ryong Ryu), who brings an actually surprising twist toward the end, was decently efficient. Of course, we see him differently by the end, but at least he was good at killing zombies.

Still, Seoul Station is a bleak movie, and while the same could be said for Train to Busan, I think that this is a lot darker, and there’s not near as many fun sequences here (not that many scenes in Train to Busan set out to be fun, but at least the budget they had made them feel more epic). I don’t hate the story they went with, though I do have problems with some aspects (such as the inconsistent time it takes for people to turn into zombies once being bitten).

For an animated zombie film, while I have nothing to compare this too, it’s not an especially poor film. It’s just not especially memorable or worthwhile either, which isn’t much a positive aspect. If you’re into zombie movies, this might be worth taking the time to watch, but I personally think seeing it once was enough, and it just couldn’t match the enjoyment I got from it’s live-action counterpart at all.

6/10