Laid to Rest (2009)

Directed by Robert Hall [Other horror films: Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011), Fear Clinic (2014)]

Laid to Rest is a film I’ve seen once, perhaps twice, before, and I always appreciated the heavy gore while constantly mocked some of the dialogue (“He wants to make me dead,” and “I woke up in a dead box” being two examples I use to this day). This rewatch pretty much cements that, while the gore is pretty top-notch, the story isn’t particularly deep, and the gore can only do so much.

The main cast of characters is mostly fine. There was only one performance I actually really liked, being Kevin Gage’s nice-guy Tucker, but the others did adequately. Bobbi Sue Luther’s character was drugged during most of the film, so she often went into incoherent hysterics, and I generally couldn’t stand her, but the performance itself is fine. Sean Whalen (Roach from The People Under the Stairs, interestingly enough) consistently reminded me of Steve Buscemi, and his character was okay. Lastly, Lena Headey (famous for playing Cersei on Game of Thrones) was fun to see, if only because she was almost likable in this role.

It’s a good thing that the cast is competent, because without the cast, we’d be stuck with just the gore. Now, make no mistake, the gore is great, but the cast allows the movie as a whole to come across as more full.

As for my favorite spot of gore, it’s hard to say. The tire sealant portion was perhaps the most grisly, but the scene in which a character rips his face off, or another one with a solid disembowelment, stand out positively also. Even some of the bodies in the film, of previous victims, are solidly gruesome, with plenty of dismembered and decapitated corpses just lying in deadboxes – sorry, coffins – for your eyes to behold.

Laid to Rest is decently quick-paced, so while the film runs about 86 minutes or so, it doesn’t feel like a chore to get through. There aren’t really any terribly slower moments, and action can be found throughout. The twisty twist at the end didn’t really do much for me, and didn’t really change anything, but at least we finally got some backstory on the girl (as for the killer, we never find out a single thing about him, aside from the fact he’s prolific and sadistic).

For a somewhat repetitive film, Laid to Rest is decent. If you’re a slasher and a gorehound, I suspect that you’ve probably already seen this one, but if not, I’d recommend giving it a go. I personally wish the movie had a bit more to it, but after having seen it multiple times, I still somewhat enjoy it, though it’s pretty much average overall.

7/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil, so if you’re interested, you can listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

Død snø (2009)

Directed by Tommy Wirkola [Other horror films: Kurt Josef Wagle og legenden om Fjordheksa (2010), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), Død snø 2 (2014)]

From Norway, we are introduced to Død snø, commonly known as Dead Snow, and it’s a decently enjoyable time, though not amazingly so.

Zombie movies have never been a favorite subgenre of mine, but this does pretty well. The humor isn’t generally too over-the-top (though certainly, toward the end, things get just a bit more ridiculous), and there are some pretty fun scenes here, from the memorable opening to plenty of great fight sequences.

The gore is definitely done well here too, and it’s hard to say any one thing stands out when there’s so much on-screen, but I did like one of the character’s getting their face ripped apart, and another character got his arms and legs torn off, which doesn’t sound particularly pleasant. Throughout the film, there’s solid gore, and I think most people going into Dead Snow for the violence will be happy.

It’s hard to say that any one actor stands out here. Vegar Hoel and Stig Frode Henriksen work well together in the end, and seeing the two of them kick zombie ass was, as the kids nowadays say, hella beast. I do like Hoel’s personality here, so the ending hit somewhat hard. Lasse Valdal had a somewhat fun hippie vibe, and I wish he appeared more, though he did get some solid licks in. Charlotte Frogner was especially good, and her conclusion is probably the most tragic of the lot.

Aside from the gore effects, the Nazi zombies look pretty spectacular too, and their origin (which mixes in some history for us) is fun. This was a small thing, but I did like that hammer and sickle reference – brought a smile to my face.

Off the top of my head, I can’t say that I’ve seen too many Norwegian movies. Ignoring this one, I think I’ve only seen two others, being Trollhunter (Trolljegeren) and Lake of the Dead (De dødes tjern, from 1958), and this is probably the best of the few I’ve seen. I have heard, and it’s backed up by the IMDb ratings, that the sequel to this is better, which is good, because as enjoyable as this can sometimes be, it’s not amazing.

When I first saw Dead Snow, I believe I enjoyed it more, but it’s still a fun film. I wouldn’t really go out of my way to watch this that often, but for a foreign slice of zombie cinema, I think it’s decent and probably worth watching at least once, and it ends up just around average.

7/10

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

Hurt (2009)

Hurt

Directed by Barbara Stepansky [Other horror films: I Hate L.A. (2011), Fugue (2011), 7 from Etheria (2017)]

Oftentimes, Hurt has a bleak and pretty atmospheric feel, and despite it’s not-so-stellar story, I actually think it’s a movie that’s worth watching, should slow-burns be your thing.

Taking place in a desert junkyard many miles from civilization really helped increase the feel of utter isolation, which in turn helped dramatically with the moody, aforementioned bleak feel the film possesses. It doesn’t hurt that the circumstances the main characters are placed in are rather realistic, going into financial ruin after the death of a provider. More importantly, I think most of the drama here worked, as well as most of the tension.

It does take a little while to get moving, though, so luckily some of the main performances are pretty solid. Jackson Rathbone and Johanna Braddy make for a solid brother-sister dynamic – their scenes felt decidedly more real than many of the other relationships in the film. Sofia Vassilieva does pretty good as a creepy little girl, and doesn’t come off as annoying as many other child actresses can. The mother, played by Melora Walters, came across as the most stale character here, and though the performance improves as the movie goes on, she always seems to be the weak link.

Since the movie does move at a slower pace, I’m happy to say that the increasing tension as the film carries on seemed solid. Given that there’s not much in the way of gore here, it’s good that some of the performances and tension worked out. The story itself has some holes in it, but I sort of like the direction the movie went in.

I think I first saw this film five, maybe six years ago. Perhaps longer. I just know that I wasn’t overly thrilled with it when I first saw it. This time around, while it’s far from a perfect film, I do think I appreciate it quite a bit more. Generally, this film’s gotten tepid responses, and I get it, but as for me, I was moderately pleased with this re-watch.

7.5/10

GoatSucker (2009)

GoatSucker

Directed by Steve Hudgins [Other horror films: Maniac on the Loose (2008), Hell Is Full (2010), Spirit Stalkers (2012), The Caretakers (2014), It Lives in the Attic (2016)]

For a low-budget film, this monster movie is generally a pretty enjoyable watch.

While on-screen kills are almost entirely absent, there is quite a bit of blood splatter throughout the film, so while there’s not a high quantity of good kills, the movie still feels rather gory. That, mixed with the memorable characters and interesting story (well, more interesting than what you might initially expect), really meld everything together well.

Plenty of the performances here were pretty fun. I won’t say many of them were good in the traditional sense, but I had fun all the same. Amanda Stone was sassy, with an enjoyable screen presence (I just wish that she had become more relevant to the plot than she eventually did). Randy Hardesty played an interesting character, and could perhaps be called the hero of the film. Overall, a good performance.

Emily Fitzmaurice had one of the shrillest screams I’ve ever heard, and did well playing the dumb, blonde bimbo. And Tom Dolan? He stole every scene he graced us with. Loved his over-the-top style. Overall, though, I don’t think anyone here really stuck out in a negative fashion.

Firmly tongue-in-cheek, GoatSucker took some interesting routes, threw in some deeper characters than you might expect in a lower-budget flick, and wrapped it up with some decent suspense. It is true that the film felt a bit long at times – maybe they could have cut it down by a bit, like five or ten minutes. Still, if you can get past some of the downsides, and revel in the fact there aren’t many chupacabra flicks out there, you may have fun with this one.

7/10

Deadfall Trail (2009)

Deadfall Trail

Directed by Roze [Other horror films: Speak No Evil (2013)]

I saw this once before, and it didn’t do much for me. Alas, it’s much the same now, and while I won’t say it’s god-awful, I will say that there’s little here of any interest to me.

Much like the expedition in the movie, the plot is pretty bare bones. Three people go hunting, tensions mount, stuff happens, and suddenly one of them snaps and starts trying to kill the others. I didn’t catch why exactly one of the characters suddenly become the antagonist (though it does lead to the ending scene, which is perhaps the best part of the film), so there could have been a better way to explain that.

Really, Deadfall Trail is an odd film. It’s very stark, minimalist, with a pretty realistic tone, which in a way is nice, but at the same time, it’s not very fun. At all. Sitting through this one is really a chore, as it takes a while for any action to pop up, and when it does, it’s not the most enthralling stuff (because, like I said, this film takes a rather naturalistic, realistic approach).

It was sort of cool to see a bunch of survivalist techniques (reminding me a little of the 1997 adventure film The Edge), but that wasn’t enough to interest me. Shane Dean did pretty well in his gruff role, but with the type of film that it was, his performance, as solid as it occasionally was, wasn’t enough.

I really don’t know what more to say about this one – it was just dull, without much to really cause it to be noteworthy. The vibe was interesting, and the horror elements almost muted until the end (if you discount some scary visions), so I’d probably not recommend this, nor would I watch it a third time.

4/10

Last of the Living (2009)

Last of the

Directed by Logan McMillan [Other horror films: N/A]

This film pretty much feels like New Zealand’s answer to Shaun of the Dead (Zombieland came out some months after this, but that possibly influenced this also). A low-budget flick with a small cast but a lot of heart, Last of the Living is a generally enjoyable watch.

Despite using some techniques that I never much cared for (such as blood splatter hitting the camera), this movie did pretty well with the small budget they possessed. Plenty of fun fighting sequences, not to mention a few enjoyable collages, and just some stand-out smaller scenes, such as when the three main characters go shopping. It wasn’t anything special, but it just felt right, for lack of a better description. Special effects weren’t that amazing, but personally, I think the characters and the overall fun of the film sort of make up for that shortcoming.

The cast, with all due respect, are pretty much nobodies. Our three main male characters, played by Morgan Williams, Robert Faith, and Ashleigh Southam, all did pretty good with their roles, and all three were pretty likable characters (Williams’ character could be a dick at times, but he was still a mostly solid guy). Southam in particular was a fun actor, playing a somewhat nerdy, yet still efficient, zombie killer. Emily Paddon-Brown, playing about the only serious character in the film, was both a beauty to behold and honestly, probably put up one of the better performances in the movie.

Because there are virtually only four important characters in the film, it sort of helps add to the whole “last of the living” type vibe, even though we know there has to be more people out there. There were some pretty touching scenes, even, toward the end of the film, which came across sort of a surprise given this is pretty much your run-of-the-mill zombie comedy. The soundtrack was also pretty solid, for the most part.

The biggest flaw here is that the movie runs a bit longer than I’d have liked. Sort of felt a bit spread thin near the end, say the final ten minutes. If it could have been wrapped up in 80 minutes, and it easily could have been, I’d argue it’d come out a bit better. Not only does it drag a bit toward the end, but the ending itself wasn’t really what I’d have expected from a movie like this. Nothing is wrong with it, it just went a route I would’ve preferred the film left alone. Lastly, while most of the comedy is perfectly fine, there were a few small scenes that didn’t do it for me. That, along with some minor audio quality issues, weren’t that big a deal, but if you’re going into this looking to be disappointed, I think they’ll definitely stand out.

Sure, Last of the Living isn’t much different than Shaun of the Dead, and certainly didn’t introduce anything new (though I’d argue it’s much the same case with most zombie films), but it had some pretty fun characters, enjoyable and touching scenes, and overall a sort of low-budget party vibe to it. Does it run a bit long? Sure, but I can certainly see myself putting this in my DVD played again and giving it a third viewing. It wasn’t original, but I don’t think it was meant to be. It was meant to be fun, and I think Last of the Living succeeded.

7.5/10

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009)

Cabin Fever 2

Directed by Ti West [Other horror films: The Roost (2005), Trigger Man (2007), The House of the Devil (2009), The Innkeepers (2011), V/H/S (2012, segment ‘Second Honeymoon’), The ABCs of Death (2012, segment ‘M is for Miscarriage’), The Sacrament (2013)]

I sort of wanted to like this movie, if for no other reason, to erase the taste of the first from my mouth. But while this movie had some pretty decent effects and disgustingly heavy gore, I felt extraordinarily lukewarm toward it as the credits began to roll.

Let’s get the good out of the way, which won’t take too long. I liked both Noah Segan and Alexi Wasser in their roles. I thought they played a cute couple, despite not really being a couple until perhaps the end. Neither one has been in much I’ve particularly seen, but they did well here with what they had. The idea behind the film, in which contaminated water spreads the skin-eating disease past the perimeters of the original, was fun. I just don’t think it was executed well.

Lastly, the gore was moderately top-notch. There were two scenes that were frankly difficult to stomach (keywords being “fingernail” and “dick”), and though I felt repulsed, I can’t deny those scenes’ efficacy. The problem is, I expected a bit more during the prom sequence. Sure, every other person was throwing up blood, but come on, that’s it? No body parts falling off? No grisly face melts? It just felt toned down, which could probably be explained by the fact they hadn’t been exposed to the disease long enough for those extreme effects to be seen, but even so, it was disappointing.

Also disappointing was the pretty unexciting first half of the movie. I don’t mind a little high school drama, but come on, get to something good. Occasionally showing us the party cop from the first movie investigating doesn’t do it for me. And while we’re at it, I was pretty disappointed in Giuseppe Andrews’ story-line in the movie. I was hoping for some type of redemption from his actions in the first, but instead, he sort of goes nowhere.

Speaking of useless sequences, though, the final ten minutes, starting in the strip club, didn’t strike me as necessary at all. What did we learn from that? The disease is spreading still? As if that was supposed to take us by surprise…

The animated beginning and ending was sort of interesting, but this movie didn’t do much at all for me. I was hoping (though not seriously expecting) a more serious tone, but again, it wasn’t to be. Did I enjoy Spring Fever more than the first movie? Probably, yes, but it’s not by much, and much like the first movie, I really can’t see myself deciding to give this one a re-watch for the enjoyment of it.

5/10

The Lights (2009)

Directed by John Sjogren [Other horror films: N/A]

There’s basically only two reasons, as far as I can tell, to really seek this movie out. One, if you’re a slasher fan, and two, to see if Oscar Lusth can act (the answer is not really).

Oscar who? Well, many years back, I was a fan of the reality show Survivor, and Oscar, or Ozzy, has been a repeat contender, well-known for his strong athletic ability, outstripping almost every peer. In fact, since he first appeared on Survivor back in 2006, I’m surprised this DVD copy I have doesn’t milk the fact that they have Ozzy in the movie.

As it is, while it’s nice seeing a familiar (and unexpected) face, the novelty doesn’t really take long to wear off. That said, his character, Steve, is a decently fun guy. Other actors worth mentioning include the killer Kerry Wallum (not great acting, but a somewhat charming personality) and Joe Estevez (who has had well over two hundred roles). On the flipside, Elizabeth Jauregui had some of the worst delivery I’ve seen in a while. Part of the fault might lie with the script-writer (seriously, she was expected to tell a serial killer that the law says he shouldn’t kill her with a straight face?), but bad script aside, she was pretty weak.

None of the kills in the flick are excellent. Some quick-paced hammer attacks are nice, and an individual gets his arm chopped off in what’s probably my favorite scene, but overall, nothing really comes across as that memorable (including a dismemberment). And that final kill just didn’t look good.

There’s not really much to this movie, when all’s said and done. Some funny lines, some hammy acting, and sure, seeing half naked women is never bad, but the meandering start to the film, along with unspectacular kills, really don’t make this film one that stands out. I saw this first in October 2017, and for all the good a re-watch has done, I’d have been better served watching a plethora of other flicks. Not terrible, but below average.

6/10

Fear Island (2009)

Fear Island

Directed by Michael Storey [Other horror films: N/A]

Fear Island isn’t a great movie, and that mainly stems from the fact that from the beginning, as an audience, we can sort of see where it’s going.

Unreliable narrators are sometimes fantastic (The Usual Suspects comes to mind), and sometimes not so much, because there comes a point in which something is overdone, and it loses what it otherwise could have had. I feel that happened here

The story isn’t that bad: A girl is found on an island with six bodies, and she recounts her tale to the police, who are at first suspicious, but grow to accept what she says. And we have twists throughout. Or maybe there aren’t, as unreliable narrators can leave things out, lie, etc.

I liked how this movie was set up. But it was made past the time in which these types of movies weren’t uncommon. Hell, it’s moderately similar to The Hole, and that came out way back in 2001. So no, Fear Island’s not great. Some potential inconsistencies, almost no gore, somewhat annoying characters, idiotic characters, and unnecessary twists. You could do worse, though, for a television movie, and despite the problems, it’s certainly a movie that tried. Less than average, pretty generic even, but not disastrously so.

6/10

Hit and Run (2009)

Hit and Run

Directed by Edna McCallion [Other horror films: N/A]

I’ve not seen this since either the 2009 or 2010 October Challenge. Either way, I think I disliked it even more this time around.

The good elements Hit and Run contains are as such: 1) the main actress, Laura Breckenridge, was pretty attractive, 2) the usage of the Modest Mouse song “Float On” was welcoming to the ears and 3) some of the scenes, specifically death scenes, were acceptable.

Everything else failed miserably, though.

Most prominently among them, you don’t feel an ounce of sympathy for the main character – whether she lives or dies, you really don’t care. You dislike her boyfriend even more, though. And it doesn’t help that you don’t feel much sympathy for the murderer past a certain point. It’s a movie with no sides to root for. Not only that, but some edits and cuts in this movie just look amateurish.

Now, some have commented that this film was trying to harken back to the days of 70’s/80’s slashers. If this was their intent, they failed miserably. After the initial incident, in which our main character runs someone over while driving home intoxicated, the movie almost turns into a character study. We see how she reacts, the trials of going through with burying the person she hit instead of letting the police know. And for 40 minutes, the horror elements are zilch.

If this character had been particularly interesting, or had this been done by the hands of a far more talented director, maybe it could have worked. For what it was, though, I was bored out of my mind. And when things do happen, it’s not particularly good. This is just a disappointment of a movie, and does many things wrong. The points I gave it come from the fact that while this film isn’t good, it’s certainly leagues above the worst horror films. It’s overly generic, and just overall not conducive to a fun viewing.

4/10