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.

8.5/10

Boogeyman (2012)

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), Goblin (2010), Haunted High (2012), Roboshark (2015), Suspension (2015)]

This isn’t a movie I particularly expected to like the first time I saw it, but it surprised me, and I ended up enjoying it a decent amount. Oh, it’s not an amazing movie, but I did think it was fun. Seeing it again confirms that feeling. It’s still not a great movie, but hell, I think it’s fun.

Not that the fun comes from any humor – certainly there’s some humor and funny lines here (“Grampa’s what?” perhaps having cracked me up the most) – but more due to the two brother characters.

Back in 2003, there was a horror film more oriented for a younger audience called Fear of the Dark, and in it, two brothers, one older, one a decent amount younger, never got along, but had to pull together to get through their situation. And it’s the same here – these brothers care for each other, but both being stubborn (well, and young men), they can’t admit that until they have to work together for their lives.

It’s due to that relationship – and also their relationship with their father, who is a character with pros and cons – that gives this film just a bit more feeling, even with much of it is the standard type of stuff you’d typically see in any dime-a-dozen Syfy film (though I will say, the special effects do seem decent here as opposed to many of those atrocities).

Eddie McClintock (the father and a police officer) is best-known for his starring role in Sci-Fi’s Warehouse 13, which is a series I’ve heard about, but never cared to watch (which is pretty much my history with most Sci-Fi series). He’s a decent character, and he does have some solid scenes (such as bringing home his kids chicken, and playing some video game casually), but he’s a bit too light-hearted at times when he probably shouldn’t be. He does get better, and I think becomes decently fleshed-out by the ending, but there you go.

Playing McClintock’s partner is Amy Bailey, and I rather like what little we know of her character. She’s pretty, sure, but she also gives a pretty strong performance. And speaking of strong performances, the two brothers, played by Danny Horn and Gabriel Steel (in his sole role), did a good job, and much like the brothers in Fear of the Dark, I bought their relationship.

Now, the story itself isn’t really great, dealing with some Biblical stuff that I, obviously, couldn’t care less about. The kills aren’t really that great either, but there are some subtly creepy scenes every now and again. What I think helps Boogeyman out the most is the characters, though.

This isn’t likely to become anyone’s favorite movie, nor is it really particularly memorable (though I would wager that it’s a better film than the 2005 Boogeyman), but it’s an okay slice of fun, and isn’t that all that matters?

7.5/10

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

Leprechaun’s Revenge (2012)

Directed by Drew Daywalt [Other horror films: Camera Obscura (2010)]

I’ve seen this movie once before, and seeing it again solidifies my view that it’s a damn fun movie. Worth noting before I get into any of this, Leprechaun’s Revenge was re-named Red Clover for the DVD release, which is a much better title (and less likely to confuse people into thinking it’s related to the Leprechaun series).

Let’s talk about the primary reason the movie’s so fun, being the cast. Billy Zane cracked me up here. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve seen him in mostly low-budget horror (Memory, Surviving Evil, Vlad, and The Mad), but he doesn’t seem like a great actor. Even so, he has great lines of dialogue (that whole story on his wife), and is fun throughout. William Devane’s character was fun too. Dave Davis and Courtney Halverson’s conversations cracked me up. Halverson, on a side-note, with her red hair and green eyes, was damn attractive.

Azure Parsons’ conversations with Davis cracked me up, along with Karl Herlinger’s conversation with Azure Parsons. These are just fun characters, and they have some ridiculously funny conversations that make it all worth it.

The leprechaun design is okay. It’s a lot different than Warwick Davis’ type of Leprechaun, but that’s for the best. It’s a beast more than anything, using it’s claws and teeth to attack people with gold, which is fun enough (and leads to some okay kills). I did have an issue with the fact it briefly drove a car, but that was just a small scene.

Really, other than the fun characters and the overtly Irish small Massachusetts town, Leprechaun’s Revenge isn’t really that special, but I had a lot of fun with it when seeing it again, so I rate this decently well.

8/10

Haunted High (2012)

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), Goblin (2010), Boogeyman (2012), Roboshark (2015), Suspension (2015)]

I saw this one once before shortly after it came out, back in October of 2012. As is the case with many Syfy movies, I thought it was rather awful. Seeing it again with a larger frame of reference though (American Horror House came out the same year, for example, and was quite a bit worse than this one), I can accept that while rather poor, I did glean some amusement from this.

Let’s be honest here: the special effects are almost uniformly terrible, the antagonist is pretty awful (though M.C. Gainey is at least having fun), and it fails on most levels, but with at least some of the corniness and characters, it’s possible to have a fun time.

Most of the acting is about as iffy as you might expect. I certainly liked a few of the actors and actresses here, such as Lauren Pennington, Shawn C. Phillips (who has appeared in many a low-budget horror film), Jonathan Baron, Marc Donato, Danielle Greenup (who also stood out as the most attractive cast-member, in my view), and M.C. Gainey (who was hamming it up at every opportunity, which is a move I don’t think makes sense character-wise, but after reading the script, I can see why Gainey went that way).

The elephant in the room is Danny Trejo, who plays the janitor of this private school, and also knows all about the sinister and Satanic acts going on. Because of course he does. That’s how Trejo do – his character is often just important enough for him to get top billing, and it worked again. Do I have anything against Trejo’s performance here? Not at all. But seeing Trejo pop-up in ridiculous low-budget movies, be it this, 3-Headed Shark Attack, or On Bloody Sunday, just rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t help that his story here is perhaps the most generic aspect of the movie.

Haunted High, known also as Ghostquake (which I regret to inform you is a term dropped in the movie at one point) is a terrible film, but like some other terrible films, such as the Satan’s School for Girls remake, it can be sort of fun. This is nowhere near as good as Satan’s School for Girls, no matter how much Gainey tries, but I did like it more this time around than when I first saw it, so hey, I guess that counts for something.

6/10

Silent Night (2012)

Directed by Steven C. Miller [Other horror films: Automaton Transfusion (2006), Scream of the Banshee (2011), Under the Bed (2012)]

Sort of a remake-in-name-only (from 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night), Silent Night is a decent amount of fun, and includes some memorable characters, decently gory deaths, and a cast that mostly makes things work, along with a light tongue-in-cheek feel.

Malcolm McDowell was great here. I didn’t love his portrayal of Loomis in the Halloween remake, but here, his character was a lot of fun and had some great lines. The over-the-top style he sometimes took brought with it a lot of chuckles, and he definitely outstrips the main character, played by Jaime King (who, it should be noted, still did a fine, and sometimes emotional, job). Otherwise, we have Donal Logue (whom I know best as Detective Bullock in the Gotham series), who is great to see, but doesn’t appear enough, along with Ellen Wong (a familiar face from The Void) and John B. Lowe, who played my second favorite character in the film.

There’s not really as much mystery behind the killer in this film as I sort of wish there was. Oh, people wonder who the killer is, but it’s far from a focus, and the audience finds out via a flashback at the conclusion, so no on-screen characters quite figure it out. The good thing is, though, that Silent Night is heavy on gore, and there are some pretty solid kills here. A few stand out as weak (the electrocution scene, for instance), but others make up for is, such as the flamethrower kill, and the wood-chipper scene.

Like I mentioned, there’s a light tongue-in-cheek feeling throughout the film. I wouldn’t call much of the film outright comedy-horror, but a few scenes definitely caused solid laughter, such as a pre-teen girl cussing out church, or a priest who does all the things priests probably shouldn’t be doing. Even some of McDowell’s lines illicit chuckles, such as his ‘Don’t put avocado on a burger’ talking point. This is not at all like Krampus or Santa’s Slay, but there are some amusing bits spread throughout.

There’s a lot of Christmas-themed horror out there, and a lot I’ve not seen as of yet, but it seems to me that many of them don’t quite hit the mark. Views on this loose remake seem to be mixed, and I suspect that’s partially because, as a slasher, Silent Night doesn’t really add anything into the mix. Even so, it’s a film I’ve had fun with during multiple viewings, and while I’d tweak a few things, Silent Night’s a film I enjoy a decent amount.

8/10

Arachnoquake (2012)

Directed by Griff Furst [Other horror films: I Am Omega (2007), Wolvesbayne (2009), 30 Days to Die (2009), Lake Placid 3 (2010), Maskerade (2011), Swamp Shark (2011), Ghost Shark (2013), Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators (2013), Starve (2014), Cold Moon (2016), Trailer Park Shark (2017), Nightmare Shark (2018)]

When I first saw this one, I was somewhat amused, because unlike other Syfy films that actually try for a more serious tone and epically fail, from the beginning, you could tell that this one knew it was utterly ridiculous. There’s a humorous tone throughout, and that went a long way to make Arachnoquake more enjoyable despite the atrocity of the CGI.

One thing I definitely didn’t care for, though, was Edward Furlong. I didn’t really see much of a point in his character, other than to pad out some additional time. Most other performances were fine (or at least not terrible), but Furlong just rubbed me the wrong way. On the other hand, there were two rather attractive women, Megan Adelle and Olivia Hardt, so it wasn’t all bad. Also nice to see Ethan Phillips (who I definitely recognize, but I can’t figure out from where), and Bug Hall made for a decent leading actor.

The biggest issue with the film is the fact that the spiders don’t look anything like actual spiders, and given the CGI is so bad to begin with, it’s a rather large detriment. Obviously, I don’t think people go into a Syfy movie with high expectations insofar as special effects go, but at the same time, I feel like they definitely could have tried to do a better job with the design. Also, while much of the movie flows at a decent pace, the final twenty minutes were a bit of a grind. If they had found a way to trim out maybe ten minutes, perhaps fifteen, I think that Arachnoquake would probably work a bit better.

As it is, I generally find this film fun. There are some attractive ladies, some amusing lines, and while the special effects were just utterly abysmal, I had fun with the story. Like I said, this is one that I’ve seen before, and though it’s not quite good, I suspect that I wouldn’t have that much hesitation with watching it again.

6/10

True Bloodthirst (2012)

Vampyre

Directed by Todor Chapkanov [Other horror films: Copperhead (2008), Ghost Town (2009), Monsterwolf (2010), Asylum (2014)]

For a Syfy Daybreakers clone, True Bloodthirst (better known as Vampyre Nation) is actually okay. I can’t tell you how surprised I am exactly to be saying that, but it’s true. While there are big problems, such as horrible special effects and moderately forgettable characters, the story itself was unique enough to give the film a bit more heart than I’d have first expected.

From the get-go, the plot is interesting. In a world where the existence of vampires has been found out by the general human population, vampires live in segmented sections of the cities, treated generally as second-class citizens, and due to a synthetic blood, there’s theoretically no need for hostilities between them and the humans.

Of course, that alone might make for an interesting drama, but naturally they threw something into the mix, being tainted synthetic blood that causes the vampires to regress to a much more primal, unsophisticated killing machine, which goes after both humans and vampires. A detective, with the help of both a group of vampire hunters and vampires themselves, tries to figure out what’s going on in order to save human and vampire alike.

Generally, I don’t think I’d like most movies with the plot description above, but this made it work. Admittedly, from a political perspective, I did find it interesting to see how the confirmed existence of vampires would theoretically play out among the human populations on Earth, and the creation of a synthetic blood seems logical in order to keep both sides feeling relatively safe. Of course, one can easily see the vampires as substitutes for either racial or religious minorities, bringing an actual element of contemporary politics into the mix, which I personally found welcomed.

I think the reason that I found myself engaged with the movie’s story, other than that it was pretty intriguing, was that it seemed somewhat well thought out. Elements could have been better fleshed out, of course, but overall, I got the sense of semi-realism. It’d be a legitimate concern of humans that more and more people would chose to transform into vampires (given a much longer life-span), and of course what with not having almost any power, vampires, just by being in the spotlight, are at high risk of danger themselves, especially since humans in powerful positions are more likely to back up vampire hunters than attempt to protect the weaker class (vampires), which all brings a lot of pretty solid points to the forefront.

I didn’t love Neil Jackson as the main character, but I eventually got used to him. More enjoyable was Ben Lambert, playing a vampire, and Heida Reed, who was a bit weak at times, but her character was both fun and had an interesting story. Most everyone else was a bit run-of-the-mill, such as Andrew Lee Potts (playing Harker, one of the vampire hunters, he was a bit over-the-top), Roark Critchlow, and Jonathon Hargreaves (which is a shame, as this is his sole role on IMDb). Bordering pointless, we have Claudia Bassols, who had a generic role with a pretty unnecessary character, so she didn’t really have much of a chance.

Like I said, the special effects were pretty awful. The primal state of a vampire seemed to be a blob with wings, not too dissimilar from a rather strong-looking gargoyle. The blood didn’t do it for me, and aspects of the vampire’s abilities, such as occasional bursts of super-speed, just looked ridiculous. I don’t fault the movie too much for this, given it’s budget limitations, but even so, from a technical standpoint, it was rather amateur.

I’m not overly familiar with director Todor Chapkanov’s other output; I have seen both Copperhead (2008) and Ghost Town (2009). Copperhead was actually a rather enjoyable film, from what I recall, while Ghost Town was more in the forgettable vein (until I rewatch both of these, though, my final judgment will have to wait). He’s behind other horror films of which I’ve seen, but based on what I have, Chapkanov at least seems a competent director with the budget he has. Since most of his work is on Syfy originals, though, it may be worth his while to branch out a bit at some point.

Vampyre Nation (which is the title I saw the film under) definitely had problems, but since I went into it with very low expectations, the fact that it felt as good as it did really skewed with my perceptions. It’s not a great movie, nor is it a good movie, but I could easily see myself watching it sometime in the future, so while it’s below average, Vampyre Nation isn’t disastrously bad, and may perhaps be worth a shot.

6/10

American Horror House (2012)

american horror

Directed by Darin Scott [Other horror films: Dark House (2009), Something Wicked (2014), Deep Blue Sea 2 (2018), Tales from the Hood 2 (2018), Mr. Malevolent (2018), Tales from the Hood 3 (2020)]

So, we have random ghosts with no discernible backstories killing bitchy sorority girls (who are illegally hazing new pledges), and along with this, there are also some dumb fraternity jocks around. Because of course there would be.

I first saw this film back in the 2012 October Challenge for HMF (Horrormoviefans, a forum I’ve been a member of for many years), and I rather disliked it back then also. Really, there’s not that much to say about this Syfy affair. There is occasionally some okay gore, but otherwise, the movie’s void of any pleasant additions and feels overly vapid.

None of the characters, aside from maybe Alessandra Torresani’s, have any value whatsoever. When they get killed, you just find yourself shrugging. Why would I care one way or the other if a sorority clone gets killed? If the kills were more impressive, sure, but this movie can’t really boast that.

Speaking of clones, the ghosts got a bit old. There were more than a handful, but we never really got much a read on any of them, excepting the main ghost, who, *SHOCKER* somehow is still around at the end, and should Syfy ever want to, they have room for a sequel.

As I said, there’s not really a lot to say about this film. It was bad the first time I saw it, and American Horror House does not increase in value over time. It’s just not that enjoyable or good a movie whatsoever. Part of this may be that I see absolutely no value in either frats or sororities. Why would you want to join an organization that abuses and humiliates you? I don’t get it at all. And given how horrible most of these characters are, it makes these people pretty hard to be sympathetic for. Nothing much here, and I wouldn’t recommend this.

4/10

2-Headed Shark Attack (2012)

2 Headed shark

Directed by Christopher Ray [Other horror films: Reptisaurus (2009), Megaconda (2010), Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus (2010), Shark Week (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)]

No. Just no.

The problem with some movies is that there are no characters that are interesting or much worth rooting for, no matter how bad their situation. 2-Headed Shark Attack is one of them. What doesn’t help is the hideous CGI, most noticeable during the death sequences. They put the least amount of effort possible into making the CGI passable (and, of course, still managed to fail).

These types of films can occasionally be okay. And this film in particular had, to date, three sequels, so there’s always a chance that one of those might be passable. But there’s no redeemable characters here save one played by David Gallegos, and a bunch of somewhat attractive girls in bikinis doesn’t make up for the fact that the movie and story utterly sucked. Hopefully the series can pick up after this one, as if all four movies are of this quality, I just don’t get the point.

2/10