Camp Hideaway Massacre (2018)

Directed by Skip Bizr [Other horror films: N/A] & Ted Moehring [Other horror films: Bloodbath in the House of Knives (2010), Invasion of the Reptoids (2011), Camp Blood 666 (2016), Revenge of the Devil Bat (2020)]

For being a low-budget slasher, Camp Hideaway Massacre is almost okay. It’s not a good movie, but it was close to passable. The main problem, though, was that the film was so repetitive, and while occasionally things got shaken up a little, I can’t say I wasn’t somewhat bored (as bored as one can be watching a low-budget film, anyways) at times throughout the movie.

I’m not sure if this was filmed in Pennsylvania (I know the setting definitely is, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was filmed there), but I do enjoy the lush look the local environment has, and while the campgrounds themselves are rather pathetic, it was still what I know people refer to as nature.

As far as the special effects go, low-budget films always get a bit of a pass from me. Jockstrap Slaughterhouse, for instance, had horrible effects, but had a lot of heart. This film has okay effects – one of the decapitations looked a bit weak – and the kills were mostly fine, so I don’t have too much to complain about there.

The issue is the story, though, in which new people get to the campground, and are killed shortly thereafter, rinse and repeat. We go through a lot of characters, and in fact, somewhat interestingly, the main characters could really be the killers (primarily Gutrot Layton and his posse) as opposed to any one victim (the best choice would be Tina Krause, who actually appears for more than a handful of scenes), but that doesn’t really help the overall narrative structure.

Probably as one can imagine, the acting is mostly poor. I noticed that, looking through the cast, it looks like characters who were mother and daughter in the film were played by actual mothers and daughters, which I thought was cool (and certainly shows a strong localized production). Not that, of course, either of these pairs (Jessica and Haley Dittrich along with Danielle and Kanyon Fassler) had much of a chance to shine, but it is nice to see.

Tina Krause is a big name in lower-budget horror, having been in quite a few films (such as Female Mercenaries on Zombie Island and Dead Students Society), and while I’ve not personally seen her in anything until now, she did well. She also had a lengthy shower scene, so no complaints there. I think, aside from her, John Young was probably the best performance, but Gutrot Layton (and I sort of doubt, on a side-note, that’s his real name) had some charm too.

The dialogue was pretty awful at times, and like I said earlier, the largest issue was the repetitive nature of the story. None of that makes Camp Hideaway Massacre awful, and for a lower-budget movie, I definitely think that, in some aspects, they did well (such as most of the kills and skirting on an interesting story), and if it had been cleaned up a little, I think this could have been more a contender than what I thought it ended up being. Right now, though, I don’t think it’s that great.


Goblin (2010)

Directed by Jeffery Scott Lando [Other horror films: Savage Island (2004), Insecticidal (2005), Alien Incursion (2006), Decoys 2: Alien Seduction (2007), House of Bones (2010), Thirst (2010), Boogeyman (2012), Haunted High (2012), Roboshark (2015), Suspension (2015)]

For a Syfy movie, Goblin isn’t that bad. It’s not among the greater outputs from the channel (such as House of Bones or Neverknock), but it’s not as terrible as many of their other films tend to be.

The story isn’t overly original, but it was serviceable here. Some of the elements (such as the strained relationship between the father and daughter characters here, for instance) added some decent emotional impact to some scenes, though I can’t say it ultimately made that big of a difference. Also, it’s worth noting that the finale seems a bit rushed in some ways – it’s not something I want to harp on, because I was at least happy that things were finishing up – but at times it did feel like it was moving a bit quickly.

Tracy Spiridakos did quite well as the lead (and on an unrelated note, she reminded me of a younger A.J. Cook) , and I thought she got along well with both Gil Bellows as her father (Bellows, randomly, played Tommy in The Shawshank Redemption) and Erin Boyes. I appreciated Bellows’ character as a father who is actually as entangled in the supernatural story as are the teen characters, and he did good.

I think that Donnelly Rhodes did surprisingly well (think Crazy Ralph only with some emotional depth), but many of the others who pop up, including Reilly Dolman, Chilton Crane, and Andrew Wheeler, were just on the average side. Julia Maxwell didn’t appear too much, but I thought she had a lot of character, and stood out for that.

There is a bit of gore throughout. You get some disembowelment, slit throats, intestines free of their flesh prison, stuff along those lines. It’s nothing special, and some of it looks a bit on the fake side, but at least they tried. What they didn’t do well, though, would be the CGI of the titular Goblin. It’s almost okay at some points, but most of the time, it’s as pathetic as you might expect from a Syfy movie.

Overall, though, I have to admit that I’ve seen Goblin three times now. It’s not a favorite of mine, but I do think it’s certainly watchable, and though I doubt I’ll see it again anytime soon, as far as Syfy movies go, there’s not much here to really take offense to.


Carrie (2013)

Directed by Kimberly Peirce [Other horror films: N/A]

Every horror commenter has one or two opinions (at least) that go against mainstream thought of horror fandom, and the fact that I’m not a fan of the 1976 adaptation of Carrie is one of them. Now to be fair, it has to do more with the story than the movie itself, but there you go. Here, while I can appreciate the modern-day take, I can’t say I’m much happier with this version.

Carrie is based off Stephen King’s first novel, and as it is his first novel, while I’ve consistently found it interesting in the way it was written, it’s never been a book I’ve really gone back to for enjoyment (unlike a handful of his other novels, such as It or Duma Key). I just don’t find the story all that interesting, and though I do like the spotlight being shone on the dangers of religious mania, I don’t think that’s the focus that most people in-universe would have to a situation like this.

This version follows the book (and original adaptation) pretty nicely, though with a few necessary alterations (such as Ms. Desjardin not slapping Portia Doubleday’s Chris during their punishment runs, or mentioning that the state stopped Margaret White from home-schooling Carrie). That said, it does feel, to me, like a closer version to the book than the 1976 movie, only with an updated feel (such as a far more prevalent use of technology, which made the scene in which Chris and her father were talking to the principal, played by Barry Shabaka Henley, all the better).

The adaptational attractiveness of Carrie does bother me a bit. She might look a little plain here, and she has the necessary awkwardness, but Chloë Grace Moretz is far from ugly, and I find it disappointing that no adaptations want to touch on the fact that Carrie, from the novel, was overweight and, to many people, unattractive. This doesn’t take away from Moretz’s performance, which I thought was pretty good, but just something that bugs me. Moretz does great, especially with her scenes when with Tommy (Ansel Elgort), and you really got the sense that this unhappy girl was happy, finally, for the first time.

I did like Judy Greer as Ms. Desjardin. Greer’s an actress I know from really random things, such as 13 Going on 30 and Jurassic World to Ant-Man and a single episode of The Big Bang Theory, and she does pretty good here in her role. She doesn’t really add anything to the character, but she was a solid presence. The same could be said for Julianne Moore (The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Hannibal). Now, I really did like her performance (and a lot of her dialogue was taken directly from the book, which I loved), but like Greer, I don’t think she really stood out in any spectacular way.

Neither Gabriella Wilde nor Ansel Elgort were great, but I did like the humanity I felt from Elgort. Wilde was decently compelling in her regret, but a face-heel turn like this a week before graduation doesn’t really make up for the times that she and friends made life hell for Carrie in the past. Portia Doubleday was a pretty good Chris, so no complaints there.

One way in which I think the 1976 version was undoubtedly better was during the prom sequence at the end. Maybe it’s because the 1976 movie is such a classic (even if it’s a classic I don’t love), but the prom sequence here just felt sort of shallow and almost tepid. I did like some of the scenes after, such as Carrie stopping that car with her telepathic powers in slow-motion, but overall the finale lacks the feel the 1976 version had, and that dream at the end just felt like a failed imitation of what’s been done better.

If you enjoyed the 1976 version of Carrie, you might enjoy this. You might hate it, also, and find it unnecessary, but since I don’t enjoy the 1976 version that much, it doesn’t really bother me that they made a new version of this. I found this movie passable, and certainly watchable, but still not a type of movie I’d watch for pure enjoyment. I think this movie does some things right, and the 1970’s movie did some things right, but both end up around the same for me.

And I wish I remembered more about the 2002 Carrie TV movie, because, ironically, I actually remember liking that one more than the 1976 version, and thus, more than this version. Until I see it again, though, I’ll refrain from pissing people off.

Carrie is a movie that looks pretty good, and has fantastic production quality and names attached to it, but it’s not a story I ever cared for (be it novel or most adaptations), and as such, I found this below average. Kudos to the guy in the library who shows Carrie how to make videos full-screen, though – he’s perhaps the most stand-up character in the movie.


You’re Not Getting Out Alive (2011)

Directed by Kristine Hipps [Other horror films: The Monument (2005)]

Coming to us from Colorado, You’re Not Getting Out Alive is a rather low-budget horror comedy. Like many lower-budget films, some of the special effects can be questionable, but what’s not in question is that this movie has a lot of heart. I enjoyed most of the performances, the story, and overall, no matter what the budget was, this was a lot of fun.

Of course, I’ve always held a healthy respect for independent horror. Even if the movie isn’t great (such as Camp Hideaway Massacre or Curse of Halloween), you have to respect everyone involved for doing their best and trying to pull a movie together without the bottomless well of money that Hollywood can dole out. As such, some of the better lower-budget horror, such as Silver Cell (2011), The Horrible 4 (2010), Clownz R Us, and Vampire Ticks from Outer Space, deserve as much accolades as possible, and this movie is no different.

So many of the performances were great, but before I can even touch on that, I wanted to speak briefly about how amusing the story here was. To be sure, it’s not abnormal as far as slashers go – a group of people are killed by a mysterious killer in a rural location – but what allows this to be more is the fact these people are actors in a low-budget play. The play itself is hilarious – written by a stoner director, the title is “Southern Greens: The Story of the Civil War Stoner.” This stuff is comedy gold.

Aside from the director and assistant director of the play, the seven central characters are actors in the play, and are introduced to us via their auditions to be cast in the play. Some of these auditions are decent, and what you might expect, but some are damn funny, such as Toby’s ridiculous hand-puppet skit, Misty’s piece from Memoirs of a Confederate Jezebel (“Papa? Is that you, papa? I cannot see you for the tears in my eyes and the blindness”), or Ellis performing a piece from Julian Caesar: The Musical. These performances are great, and this is a comedy horror I can get behind.

There are a few performances that don’t stand out that well, but that’s only because some of them here are just so wildly fun. Though James O’Hagan Murphy, Patrick Mann, and Krista Rayne Reckner have a harder time being remembered, I really don’t think that takes away from what they brought into the movie, especially since Reckner’s character of Misty was legit funny at times.

Taking it from the top, though, we have Michael Kennedy, playing the stoner director. This guy, though maybe too stereotypical in his caricature, cracked me up. His play about marijuana saving the Union was great, and possessed some quality lines, such as “I propose a toast to Southern victory and the marijuana plant,” and a bit about “sucking on” someone’s “bubbling pipe” (being a bong, but it’s entirely possible his character didn’t get the sexual innuendo). I loved his character, and Kennedy did a great job with it.

Playing his assistant director was Dawn Bower, who was high-strung and the exact opposite of the laid-back, stoner director. Her character could be curt at times, but I thought she was a lot of fun. And speaking of fun, there’s David William Murray Fisher, who played Ellis, a rather flamboyant gay guy, who was great, and he worked well with Duane Brown, who played Toby. Brown brought a decent amount of humor too, so kudos.

Linda Swanson Brown was pretty perfect as the straight final girl. Not too quirky, but not without personality, she did really well in her role, and playing an entirely different role, Jillann Tafel was amazing. Playing an older actress past her prime, and always drinking, she had a lot of funny lines (“I once took it in the caboose from Benny Hill. That’s how I got my union card,” and “Isn’t she Miss Sunny Tits?”).

You’re Not Getting Out Alive is a funny movie. It’s not over-the-top, like The Stripper Ripper – once bodies start piling up, most of the jokes and banter stop – but for the first forty minutes, there is a lot of fun to be had with this movie.

Of course, the kills aren’t great here. There is a decapitated head that pops up (obviously a dummy head), and there are a few stabbings and bit of bloodshed, but this slasher is more focused on the characters and story (and on a related note, while the story isn’t great, I do think it handles some foreshadowing pretty well) than it is on kills, which works to it’s benefit given the budgetary constraints.

I really like this movie. For whatever budget they had to work with, they did a great job (and provided some amusing outtakes during the credits), and for low-budget horror comedy, I think this movie definitely does what it sets out to do, and fans of independent horror should endeavor to give this one a look.


Weaverfish (2013)

Directed by Harrison Wall [Other horror films: N/A]

Ever since I heard the basic plot of this film (teens are infected by a virus and try to survive), I was intrigued. Part of it is because I’ve always wanted to see a serious take on this type of story (my dislike of Cabin Fever not being a surprise to many), and also, due to the film being British, I thought that’d add a little flavor. All-in-all, Weaverfish is a decent movie, but I think it could have been tightened up a bit, and it doesn’t end up an amazing watch.

I can appreciate the somber attitude the film possesses, though. At times, it’s almost naturalistic in it’s sluggish set-up – nothing overly horror even happens until maybe 45 minutes in. It gives us time to get to know some of these characters, which is a good thing, but it can feel quite slow, and doesn’t really pick up until the final twenty minutes. And throughout it all, it’s just a dreary, downbeat movie.

One element of the film is a bit different, being the narration. The main character has snippets of dialogue he speaks first-hand, as if he’s telling a story (example being “Matt will never know how lucky he is to have a girl like Charlotte Menary. Maybe she won’t know it either”). At worst, it can feel a little pretentious, but I sort of like the effect. Some of the dialogue can be a bit dramatic, and maybe other parts could feel awkward, but I don’t think it’s too negatively distracting in any case.

Another aspect, which can feel a bit daunting, is the amount of characters here. Granted, half of them aren’t important, but we’re basically thrown into a situation in which characters get little-to-no introduction, and for the first thirty minutes, you’re trying to figure out the pre-existing relationships these characters have. With ten names and faces (Reece, Shannon, Matt, Charlotte, Abby, Gavin, Mike, Kayleigh, Jo, and Chris) to try to keep track of, it can be a bit annoying.

I think the story is quite decent, though, sluggish portions aside. While having a party on a long-forbidden beach (years in the past, a boy went missing, and the lake and surrounding land have been cordoned off ever since), a sort of bacterial virus from the water gets many of those present sick. Throw in some background story of a defunct oil plant and some empty barrels of chemicals, and you have a fun time. Now, nothing is firmly stated come the end (partially because the film ends in a somewhat open manner), but the mysterious people hunting the infected kids down is still fun.

Shane O’Meara wasn’t the most emotive lead, but his narration grew on me, and he was probably one of the better characters in the film. Josh Ockenden did pretty good as a crappy character to begin with, but one who gets better as the film goes on. Lucy-Jane Quinlan was stable throughout, as were most of the rest of the cast, being John Doughty, Ripeka Templeton, Jessie Morell, and Duncan Casey, the best being probably Templeton and Doughty.

We do get some nice scenes toward the end, which were suitably creepy, but what’s even better about the ending is the fact we get a small flashback, showing the formation of Reece and Charlotte’s friendship. It’s a little scene, to be sure, but it packs decent emotion, and seemed to help the film end on the same somber note it’d held since the opening.

For many people, I suspect Weaverfish is just too slow to maintain full interest, but I personally dug it. It’s not a movie I’d revisit too often, but I do think it’s pros far outweigh it’s cons, so if you’re in the mood for something a bit more character-driven, this British film might be worth checking out.


Killer High (2018)

Directed by Jem Garrard [Other horror films: N/A]

Back in 2012, Syfy had an original movie called Haunted High (which was later retitled Ghostquake, because that’s so much better), and it was terrible. I mean, in some ways, it was okay, but the point is, it wasn’t a great time. So when I marked this to record to my DVR, given this is also a Syfy original, I was expecting something much in the same vein.

However, surprisingly, I had a really good time with this.

I didn’t know that it’d be a horror-comedy when I started watching this, and if I had, I’d have probably gone in with even lower expectations, but the humor here was actually pretty good (and in fact, the “rabid Snuffleupagus” line had me cracking up so much, I had to pause the movie), and I found myself laughing plenty of times. The freeze-frames were probably used once too often, but for the most part, this was a movie that knew what it was doing, and I think it showed in the script (“I don’t need your help. I have God to protect me,” followed up by, “Oh, that’s a really bad choice,” was an exchange that caused more laughter).

What really helps is that the main character, played by Kacey Rohl, is one of those annoying, overachieving types who was in every high school organization possible, and she’s in charge of the ten-year high school reunion. Rohl’s character easily could have been unlikable (and she had her moments), but it turns out that she didn’t go to college – she stayed in her dying town (and I do mean dying – the town doesn’t even have a police station) to care for her sick mother, and all she has to really look back on was her success in high school while everyone else is succeeding around her, such as her old rival, played by Humberly González, who has been around the world.

Really, this is a movie with more feeling than you’d expect. Make no mistake, most of it’s a silly monster movie with a giant warthog goring people, if it’s not eating people, that is, but there’s still some emotion, such as the tender moments between Asha Bromfield and Varun Saranga (Neverknock), or the scene in which everyone’s favorite teacher, played by Linda Goranson, comes to the reunion in a wheelchair after suffering a stroke. There are nice moments here, which is good to see, especially as I have absolutely no plans to attend my ten-year reunion. Though if a killer warthog were on the loose, I might reconsider.

Kacey Rohl is a name I don’t know, but she just did fantastic. I can’t really fault her character for being petty to high school rivals, because that’s really all she has – for ten years, she’s been in a dying town, dreaming of planning the perfect reunion, and this happens. I’ll admit I never loved González’s character, but she did grow on me. Both Bromfield and Saranga were good (especially Saranga), and I wish they had a happier ending then what they did. Jonathan Langdon mostly fell flat for me, but he did have that hilarious Snuffleupagus line, so points for that.

Killer High isn’t a particularly gory movie (though the aftermath of the main slaughter was pretty nice), nor did it boast the best effects (the warthog was pretty simple, but it had it’s charm to it), but it was a surprisingly fun ride, with occasionally moving moments and an interesting story to it’s killer warthog. It was a fun movie, and definitely one I’d give another go. It over-uses a few elements, and the finale isn’t quite that strong, but it’s a surprisingly strong film.


Sinister 2 (2015)

Directed by Ciarán Foy [Other horror films: Hotel Darklight (2009, segment ‘Untitled’), Citadel (2012), Eli (2019)]

So I’ve pretty much only heard negative things about this sequel, especially in comparison with the first Sinister, after seeing it, I can understand the negativity and disappointment. Not that Sinister 2 is a terrible movie, but it definitely doesn’t reach the same level as the first.

I did appreciate them utilizing James Ransone as the main character, though – it may have been expected, but it’s still a solid trajectory for the series to take. I just wish they focused purely on him as the first focused on Hawke as opposed to giving the perspective of kids being seduced by dead kids, which is an aspect of the film I found entirely predictable and, worse, uninteresting.

Maybe if the dead kids in question had been the same ones from the first film, it would have been a bit better, but instead we have all new kids and all new home videos. As they went, Sunday Service was probably the best (albeit a bit more complex than many of the other murders), and Christmas Morning had character (what little we saw of A Trip to the Dentist showed promise also), but Fishing Trip struck me as somewhat silly, and not quite comparable to the somewhat jarring Lawn Work from the first film.

The whole idea, though, of brothers being aware that a group of ghost kids wants to show them videos of families being killed and neither one thinks it’d be wise to let anyone know about this (I get that most adults wouldn’t listen, but these two didn’t even try) just doesn’t seem realistic whatsoever. And the ending, while not coming out of nowhere, felt somewhat off also (and not even due to the obvious fact that Shannyn Sossamon’s character could have gotten out of that abusive marriage if she had contacted the media or just utilized social media against the abusive piece of shit that was her husband).

On that note, I thought the abusive father (Lea Coco) was an interesting element, as it gave both of the kids reasons to want to join the dead bois and fuck everyone up. The father was such an unlikable character, too, that when he got, shall we say, killed, it was clearly a good thing for everyone involved. The rest of the ending, though, just seemed weak.

Ransone was still just as fun in this one as the first movie, but he even had surprising courage at times (such as him standing up to that infuriating attempted abduction by the police). I didn’t love or hate Shannyn Sossamon (from the One Missed Call remake) – she was okay, I guess, but I didn’t feel strongly at all about her. Both of the kids (Robert Daniel Sloan and Dartanian Sloan) were okay, and felt like real brothers (it helped that they actually are), but I can’t say I cared for their stories. Tate Ellington was something. I didn’t hate his performance, but I just didn’t see the point in it at all.

I guess that’s my main problem with the whole film. The first film was a very solid supernatural movie, and I’m sure they wanted to repeat that success here, but failed utterly. It’s watchable, of course, and it’s not that much worse than average, but it’s definitely not a film that’s really worth that much. Plus, it had the exact same jump scare ending the first movie did. A+ for originality.


Sinister (2012)

Directed by Scott Derrickson [Other horror films: Hellraiser: Inferno (2000), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), Deliver Us from Evil (2014), The Black Phone (2021)]

I didn’t really expect to enjoy Sinister when I blind-bought it on DVD. It looked interesting, sure, but the cover mentioned both The Conjuring and Insidious, two films that I just don’t care about in the slightest, so it did make me wary.

After multiple viewings, though, Sinister stands strong as a new-age favorite of mine.

The idea behind the film is quite interesting, and though there’s a little build-up involved, it all feels decently natural, and adds to a somewhat uneasy atmosphere, especially once Hawke’s character starts seeing more and more unexplainable phenomenon. Also, those home videos are top-notch (Lawn Work being the most shocking, but Pool Party definitely has it’s charm, and Family Hanging Out was a strong opening to the film).

Ethan Hawke (who I know mostly from the Assault on Precinct 13 remake and Training Day, but was also in The Purge) was a pretty strong character, certainly complex in that you couldn’t really blame him for wanting to chase the mystery, especially since it’s been so long since he had a successful book (and him watching those old interviews was just painful, and who couldn’t feel bad for him?), but you could certainly see his wife’s point (Juliet Rylance), though I’ll admit Rylance’s character annoyed me at times.

James Ransone (Deputy So & So, who has been in The Wire, and It Chapter 2) just cracked me up. Talk about great comedic relief (“Snakes don’t have feet”), but he was also one of the few arguably sensible characters in the film. That scene where he’s talking about how he’d never sleep in a house where someone was killed, and he believes entirely in the supernatural whereas Hawke’s character just mocks it, shows a certain strength in his character which I adore, and he does help out throughout the film.

Others who had strong performances included Vincent D’Onofrio (was was uncredited), as he was the one with what little information on Bughuul that could be found. The two kids, Michael Hall D’Addario and Clare Foley (Ivy from Gotham), were decent with what they were able to do. And of course, with only two scenes, shout-out to Fred Thompson, who’s failed 2008 Republican primary run still cracks me up to this day. He also had a presence to him, and I did like how he let the family pass without ticketing them nearing the finale.

Speaking of the finale, I thought it was decently strong. I can’t remember particularly if I was surprised when I first saw it, but whether I was or not, it is a great ending. I could have done without that final jump scare at the end (I know that some viewers were okay with it within the context of the story, but final second jump scares always leave a bad taste in my mouth, especially when it’s for the audience’s reaction only), but who didn’t like House Painting?

I found the story here pretty unique, and Bughuul a fun entity for Hawke’s character to try to learn about. Sinister was a modern-day horror film that exceeded my expectations (especially since I don’t generally have a good track record with post 2000-supernatural horror), and definitely a movie I enjoyed. Just remember, snakes don’t have feet.


Zombie Tidal Wave (2019)

Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante [Other horror films: Boo (2005), Headless Horseman (2007), Hansel & Gretel (2013), Sharknado (2013), Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014), Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015), Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016), Forgotten Evil (2017), Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (2017), The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (2018)]

As you can possibly imagine from the title, Zombie Tidal Wave is another in a fine-line of Syfy originals. It even stars Ian Ziering, of Sharknado fame. And you know what? It’s actually not bad. Well, it is bad, but it’s still almost an okay time.

Combining their love for natural disasters and hideous zombies, Syfy outdid themselves with a zombie tsunami (which, on a side-note, it a phrase said by one of the characters, and I for one do not know how Syfy passed on the chance of using that as their title), and it even happened twice. In fairness, I didn’t think that looked too ridiculous, and the zombies themselves (who bleed blue blood and can only be defeated by electrical shocks) didn’t look terrible, but quality special effects were still obviously not the focus for Zombie Tidal Wave.

For whatever else Ziering has done, I thought he did an okay job in this one. He was the action-oriented leader, which, yeah, is both expected and rather generic, but he did it well. Cheree Cassidy didn’t really get enough screen-time to make an extraordinarily educated opinion one way or the other, but she did fine, I guess. Angie Teodora Dick and Tatum Chiniquy both impressed me (as much as any performances can impress me in a movie like this), and I thought Chiniquy did better than Cassidy (who played her mother), so you go, girl.

Not all performances were good, though. I didn’t understand Randy Charach’s character – he was labeled a ‘crazy loner’, but honestly, aside from being a bit standoffish, he didn’t seem that much a nutjob at all. I don’t know what they were trying to do with his character, but I don’t think they did it. Shelton Jolivette was way too much a comedic relief character, and I would have been okay if they dropped him entirely. And though I can appreciate them trying to throw in a character with depth, Erich Chikashi Linzbichler didn’t do it for me.

Throughout, the film is pretty generic as far as both zombie movies and disaster movies go, and combining them isn’t as much a win as Syfy would probably hope, but it’s still a decent movie to throw on and enjoy if you don’t really have much else to do. Below average no doubt, but passable.


Dementia 13 (2017)

Directed by Richard LeMay [Other horror films: Blood Bound (2019)]

I wasn’t really expecting much from this remake, but I was pleasantly surprised, at least for a bit. It certainly had the chance to be an okay slasher/mystery, but it sort of loses my interest as soon as overt supernatural events come into play.

To be clear, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original Dementia 13. I thought it made for an okay proto-slasher, and it did have a better, more gloomy atmosphere than this did, but there was room for improvement. This movie looks like it’s going in that direction, but then throws in ghosts and such, which is not what I call an improvement at all. It could have remained a grounded slasher-mystery and I’d have been content, but that ending, along with the small supernatural stuff sprinkled in along the way, just spoils everything, as Sansa would say.

Before it shoots itself in the head, though, Dementia 13 is okay. I thought most of the performances were decent, the film had a few hints of humor throughout, and the setting was pretty good. It didn’t have the same charm or ominous nature the original did, but it was doing well for itself.

Steve Polites had virtually no character. To be honest, it took me a little bit to figure out he wasn’t a child of the mother and actually one of the daughter’s husbands, which isn’t anything against him as an actor, but his character just didn’t have much to give us. Ana Isabelle was pretty stereotypical, which I’m guessing was called for in the script. She was attractive, though, so there’s that. Lastly, on the negative side, Julia Campanelli didn’t really do much for me, and came across as generic.

The others did reasonably well, though. Channing Pickett had the good-girl look down solid, Christian Ryan had a somewhat predictable but fun arc, Roland Sands made for a decent red herring, and Donal Brophy needed more character, but he was pretty solid the time he was on-screen. Marianne Noscheze and Ben van Berkum were my favorite characters here. Noscheze started off being a bit of a brat, but Berkum’s character throughout was good humor value.

Most of the kills here weren’t really that great, and I don’t think that this would have been a new-age classic had they gotten rid of the unnecessary supernatural elements, but I do think it could have been a decently enjoyable and competent slasher that I wouldn’t hesitate to revisit.

With the addition of ghosts (which is something that horror remakes don’t need to do – the 1999 House on Haunted Hill wasn’t any better than the original because they added ghosts, and the same is definitely true for this), though, just makes the film ultimately blah, and not really worth going out of your way for, which is a damn shame.