• Escape Room (2019)

    Escape rooms have become quite popular over the past few years and it's surprising that a movie about this intriguing concept has only been released this year when this trend is already slowly declining. This film would have been much more successful if it had been released three to five years ago. The concept of the movie is really simple: six strangers get an invitation to an Escape Room game but the challenges quickly turn out being deadly. They must figure out why they have been chosen, try to cooperate as much as they can and survive the trials and tribulations.

    This movie has exactly one positive element which is though so important that it makes the film bearable on its own: the different rooms are challenging, diversified and intriguing. They include the settings of a frozen lake, an old bar and a twisted laboratory among others. The riddles are diversified and vary from puzzles over music to literature. The fact that parts of these rooms are connected to traumatic events of the past for the characters adds some thrills at the right moments.

    Everything else about this movie is a catastrophe. Let's analyze it chronologically. The first scene is actually one of the last scenes of the film, revealing who is believed to be the lone survivior, which takes away from the tension the movie could have built up to that point. Up next, we are only introduced to three of the six characters and this already reveals the order in which the characters are going to die. The conclusion is a shameless copy of the Cube franchise. The final scene offers a ridiculous open ending that makes no sense at all but leaves the possibility for a sequel if this movie performs well. As we all know, sequels are often even worse than the original film and since this movie is already quite bad, one doesn't want to imagine how terrible another one could be.

    Here's my proposal for you: Experience a real Escape Room challenge with some friends. It will be more interactive, peak your curiosity and help you learn more about your friends and yourself. Don't watch this exchangeable movie with its average actors and lazy plot that you will forget about as soon as it's over. This movie stupidly tries to exploit a contemporary phenomenon for its own economic purposes but it fails at so many levels that one almost feels insulted watching parts of it.

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  • The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018)

    The Possession of Hannah Grace certainly doesn't reinvent the horror movie genre but is a quite creepy genre flick without any lengths. The story is centered around a former female cop who tragically lost her colleague and job and got addicted to alcohol and medication. She gets a new job as night security guard at a morgue that should prevent her from strolling around in bars and worsening her condition. Things take a turn for the worse when the body of Hannah Grace is brought to the morgue one night. The girl got killed during a controversial exorcism three months earlier and somebody was found trying to cut her dead body into pieces. As soon as her body arrives, strange things start to happen at the morgue. Lights suddenly start to flicker, doors open mysteriously and an intruder tries to get inside the morgue for ghastly reasons. The former cop wants to prove herself and those around her that she has the strength of dealing with the situation but realizes too late that she becomes the pawn in a deadly game of chess planned by an evil spirit.

    The movie convinces on several levels. The film has a gloomy atmopshere from start to finish. It has a few quite scary scenes. The claustrophobic, dark and morbid locations work perfectly for an intense horror movie. The film has solid pace and doesn't waste much time with an introduction or conclusion. The characters are interesting enough to care about their fates and especially lead actress Shay Mitchell does an excellent job playing a tough woman with inner demons. The movie's conclusion isn't too stereotypical and leaves room for interpretation.

    On the negative side, some scenes of the movie felt somewhat rushed. Characters speak to each other in one room and are suddenly in a completely different place after the cut. This occured on two or three occasions and was slightly confusing. The story could have been a little bit more creative and especially the fact that nobody believes the security guard because of her addiction is a tired old trope.

    Still, you will get exactly what you can expect from The Possession of Hannah Grace . It's gloomy, haunting and scary. It's thoroughly entertaining. The movie feels fresher than most tired old horror franchises. It's best enjoyed at your local cinema with a couple of friends.

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  • A Quiet Place (2018)

    A Quiet Place is a very creative horror movie. It takes place in the near future when mysterious creatures roam the planet that have acute hearing and kill anything and anyone they hear. We follow the lives of the Abbott family, consisting of a courageous mother, a survivalist father, their deaf daughter, their scared son and their curious youngest child. Over the course of about ninety minutes, we see the family face numerous emotive challenges, fight the mysterious creatures and try to find their weakness in order to survive.

    The film is short and to the point, with an emotional and ominous atmosphere and story line. The fact that one doesn't know where the creatures come from makes the movie even more horrifying and mysterious. Despite the obvious lack of longer dialogues, viewers empathize with the diversified characters and their common goal to save their family by any means necessary. The acting performances are expressive since the actresses and actors rarely have the occasion to speak. The action sequences are brief and intense. The film has a few minor jump scares but otherwise focuses on its menacing atmosphere. The movie ends on a high note, perfectly balanced between emotional and intellectual elements, with one major problem resolved but many questions left unanswered that offer the audience some food for thought and make the movie unforgettable.

    There are only two minor elements to criticize about the movie. First of all, it's hard to believe that a mother would willingly give birth to a child under the grisly circumstances described above, hence risking the lives of the entire family. Having sexual intercourse in an environment where every sound leads to certain death seems out of character for parents who are otherwise very careful, intellectual and organized. Not aborting the fetus seems like an unlikely decision in a world where earnest survival is more important than moral values. Secondly, the movie ended on a high note and certainly doesn't need a sequel. The impact of many great films has been harmed in the past by building a franchise around them when greed took over creativity. I'm not interested in watching a sequel for such a unique film and wished the creative forces behind this movie would reconsider that option and instead focus on another fresh idea.

    In the end, if you like creative horror, science-fiction and survival movies, you can't get around watching A Quiet Place. It has outstanding acting performances, an ominous atmosphere and a unique concept. It's refreshing to have a movie that focuses on sounds rather than dialogues. People who have the tendency to talk all the time without saying anything at all should watch this film as well as Don't Breathe and take them as lessons that sometimes a gesture can mean more than a thousand words. Enjoy the silence!

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  • Jeepers Creepers (2017)

    Being a fan of the first two installments, I had been looking forward to this third film for years but the release had been delayed multiple times and once it got released it received overtly negative reviews. The film wasn't played in any movie theater near me and once it got released it cost thirty bucks which was way too much in my opinion. I had to wait until very recently to pick the film up for ten bucks and didn't have any expectations anymore at that point.

    As it turns out, Jeepers Creepers 3 is much better than its reputation. It isn't as atmospheric, creepy and intense as the first film but it's clearly better than the odd second installment in my opinion. A lot of people criticized that the film follows too many characters. I actually think this is a strength that keeps the movie diversified, entertaining and even surprising from start to finish. The different characters also have enough depth to convince. We follow cool black Sheriff Dan Tashtego and a group of citizens who want to see the titular monster dead because they have lost family members and friends to it twenty-three years earlier. Other parts of the movie focus on sharpshooter Sergeant Davis Tubbs who sees his police officers decimated by the mysterious creatures. We encounter mentally unstable farmer Gaylen Brandon who has lost her son to the creature. We meet her solitary granddaughter from a broken family who tries to defy the monster's attacks with the help of a young gentleman who has a love interest in her. The movie also shows what happens to the rude brother of the granddaughter's best friend and his three mates who go on a fateful biking trip. Despite all these story lines, the movie never loses focus or momentum as everything revolves around the titular monster and its gruesome actions. One could actually say the monster is the lead character here.

    Another element I liked is the importance of the monster's vehicle in this film. It is filled with traps that prevent victims from escaping and others to get inside the vehicle. The vehicle almost seems to be an otherworldly entity which adds a fresh mysterious touch to the franchise.

    The film is set between the first and the second installment which some people criticized. However, the movie connects all three movies and their characters very well. It gives some more background information on the creature without revealing too much which would be fatal for such a horror franchise.

    The movie oozes with atmosphere since numerous scenes are set in the disgusting vehicle and because the titular monster gets a lot of screen time and is seen flying, investigating, killing, running and smelling in order to get as many victims as possible. Even though most parts of the movie take place during the day, the film manages to evoke a creepy atmosphere.

    Despite an abysmal budget, the movie is filmed with care. The special effects look solid and never too artificial. The camera work is calm and not shaky. The sound effects blend in very well. The soundtrack is appropriately chosen for this type of movie. The actresses and actors deliver overall realistic performances.

    However, the film also has its flaws. First of all, the film fails to surprise and is missing some intriguing twists and turns. The story could have been more imaginative. The conclusion is rather underwhelming and indicates that there might or might not be a sequel at a certain time which is frustrating after a waiting time of a decade and a half between the second and the third installment.

    Secondly, the movie has a creepy atmosphere but is missing some truly horrifying scares that made especially the first part so intense. This third entry focuses on character development but fails to elaborate upon its horror elements. One could rather describe this film as drama with supernatural elements.

    Thirdly, the movie obviously hasn't met everybody's expectations and one could have expected something more spectacular after such a long waiting time. The film feels as if it were mostly just trying to cash in on the commercial success of the first two features instead of bringing anything new to the franchise. Don't get me wrong, Jeepers Creepers 3 is still an enjoyable movie in my book, but the delivery is too safe to leave a deeper impression after all.

    In the end, fans of the franchise should ignore the overtly negative reviews and give this film a fair try without any unrealistic expectations. I'm glad the movie finally saw the light of day and was positively surprised by it. I can't wait to watch the three films in a row in the near future.

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  • Phantasm (1979)

    Phantasm is a cult horror movie every genre fan should be familiar with. Despite its excellent reputation, this movie and franchise are still somewhat underestimated if compared to the Halloween franchise for example. If compared to other horror movies of yore, Phantasm has aged surprisingly well and still sends shivers down your spine nearly four decades after its initial release.

    One key element for the film's success is its twisted, mysterious and creative story that isn't always easy to follow because it isn't obvious what's dream, imagination and reality. The movie revolves around mysterious events happening around Morningside Cemetery in an American small town. After the mysterious death of a young man and the awkward behaviour of the grim undertaker known as the Tall Man, curious teenager Mike and his older brother Jody who have recently lost their parents in a tragic accident start investigating the strange morgue. They soon realize that they are opposed to villains with malevolent intentions and supernatural abilities and must risk their lives in order to save their town.

    Another element that makes Phantasm stand out is that the low budget production relies on amateur actors and actresses who really behave like boys and girls next door without any pretense. Some of the dialogues might lack wit but one can easily identify with the grounded characters and root for them. It's obvious that everyone involved in this project poured their hearts and souls into this film.

    The movie comes along with a creepy, ominous and psychedelic atmosphere that goes beyond some efficient jump scares. The mysterious antagonist is particularly memorable and quite scary because his true intentions remain mysterious. Angus Scrimm's acting performance is intense and inspired by iconic early American horror actors such as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price. The creepy settings including the dark cemetery and the mysterious morgue look very intriguing. The otherworldly sequence in the final third drifts into the realm of science-fiction and adds yet another twist to the tale. The few special effects might look slightly dated today but look surprisingly well for such a low budget production. The scenes with the mysterious finger are still very efficient by today's standards. These effects aren't overused but rather employed with care in small but efficient doses. The ominous soundtrack blends in perfectly and is one of the best horror movie scores ever written.

    With a length of one and a half hours, Phantasm doesn't overstay its welcome and is entertaining from start to finish. If you care for horror cinema with a mysterious touch, Phantasm is a must-see as it represents one of the very best examples of this genre. The remastered edition looks sharp but hasn't lost the amateurish charm of the original film. Enjoy this creepy trip down memory lane and give this movie the credit it deserves. I prefer this movie over the popular Friday the 13th, Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises anytime.

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