• The Uninvited (2009)

    The Uninvited is a remake of South Korean psychological horror drama A Tale of Two Sisters that is my favourite movie of all time. If you haven't watched that movie yet, do yourself a favour and treat yourself with the atmospheric, emotional, gloomy, mysterious and twisted original masterpiece. As for The Uninvited, the Hollywood remake only remade a few key elements of the original film and changed numerous parts of the story as well as one major twist. If compared to the original movie, The Uninvited doesn't come close to its brilliance but if you see it as a stand-alone film, you will enjoy this movie quite a lot.

    Shot in beautiful British Columbia, The Uninvited tells the story of mentally unstable Anna who had lost her terminally ill mother in a terrible fire ten months ago. After a suicide attempt, she had spent some time in a psychological institution and is now discharged. She returns home but realizes that her father is strangely passive and focuses on writing his next novel to escape reality. Anna however spends some quality time with her older adventurous sister and slowly starts appreciating life again. The two sisters though don't get along with their father's new girlfriend who once was their mother's nurse. Since the nurse starts acting suspiciously, the sisters try to find out more about her and realize that she changed her name for mysterious reasons and seems to hide a shady past. As if that weren't enough, they soon find hints that their mother didn't die by accident but might have been killed by the selfish nurse. When an important witness of the tragedy dies under mysterious circumstances, the two sisters realize that their father's girlfriend has found out about their investigations. They plan on avenging their dead mother before the nurse incapacitates them.

    The movie convinces on numerous levels. The locations in British Columbia look splendid and especially the family mansion and its immediate surroundings are absolutely gorgeous. The twisted story is very detailed and comes around with one major jaw-dropping twist that will certainly stay on your mind. The acting performances are overall solid and especially lead actress Emily Browning convinces as tormented, fragile and confused teenage girl. The movie was directed with precision and care by two expert directors who deserve more recognition than they have got. The soundtrack underlines the uneasy atmosphere perfectly throughout the movie.

    In the end, The Uninvited is a gripping psychological drama that doesn't overstay its welcome and convinces with great acting performances, precise directing, stunning locations, detailed plot and intense soundtrack. Make sure to watch the groundbreaking original film A Tale of Two Sisters before enjoying the very good but not excellent remake. If you really like the story, make sure to check out the haunting Korean folk tale The Story of Janghwa and Hongryeon that inspired both movies.

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  • Color Out of Space (2019)

    Based upon a famous story by American horror author H. P. Lovecraft, Color Out of Space is the first full length movie directed by South African filmmaker Richard Stanley since mystery thriller Dust Devil twenty-seven years earlier. This is supposed to be the first movie in a trilogy of films based upon Lovecraft's writings. This experimental horror film has already gained an underground cult following and there are numerous reasons why any horror movie enthusiast should watch this outstanding movie.

    First of all, the mysterious plot takes its time to unleash its creepy vibes and gets increasingly intense leading to a memorable finale. The film doesn't need lazy jump scares or gore elements but convinces with gloomy atmosphere and witty storytelling alone.

    Secondly, the visual special effects are absolutely outstanding and are truly otherworldly which suits the science-fiction horror theme of the story. This might actually be one of the most visually appealing horror movies ever made.

    Thirdly, the settings are perfectly chosen from the remote camp in the forest over the seemingly beautiful stable and farm to the gorgeous architecture of the family home.

    Fourthly, the acting performances are second to none. Nicolas Cage convinces as caring family father who slowly but surely goes insane. Joely Richardson plays his physically sick but mentally ambitious wife. Brendan Meyer delivers the goods as neglected son who hangs around with a strange hermit and starts consuming drugs. Madeleine Arthur is the charismatic family daughter who is interested in the occult. Julian Hilliard plays the youngest son who is withdrawn and only interacts with the family dog. Even the side characters are very convincing but the five lead actors and actresses have particularly outstanding chemistry.

    Fifthly, the plot itself needs to be pointed out. It tells the story of a meteor that crashes in the family's front yard and gradually modifies the animals, landscapes and even the family members in abominable and mysterious ways. Telling you anything else would spoil the outstanding movie that might be best enjoyed if you're not even familiar with Lovecraft's original story yet. The movie might however inspire you to read the fascinating story afterwards.

    In conclusion, horror movie enthusiasts should definitely watch Color Out of Space that can be considered one of the very best horror films in recent memory. It's refreshingly different from other contemporary horror movies that rely on shaky cameras, jump scares and lots of gore. This horror movie is old-fashioned without being boring, limited or predictable at all. It recalls classic horror movies like The Shining and deserves more than its underground cult status. The upcoming two Lovecraft adaptations by Richard Stanley can't come soon enough. On a closing side note, you should listen to the song Color Out of Space by Japanese heavy metal veterans Ningen-Isu who managed to adapt the fascinating story into a gloomy masterpiece of about six and a half minutes.

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  • Fantasy Island (2020)

    Fantasy Island is a movie based upon a popular television show of the same title of the seventies about a magical island resort. The movie tells the story of five young adults who have won a contest to come to a magical island resort to make their wildest dreams come true. Two quirky half brothers dream of throwing a big party and having sexual intercourse with hot girls and guys, respectively. A lonesome woman regrets not accepting when her former boyfriend proposed to her five years ago and wants to change the past. A young man dreams of becoming a soldier and wishes he could save his father who was killed in action in Venezuela. A young woman wants to take revenge on a school bully who had terrorized her for years. All their dreams become true but soon take a sinister twist they didn't anticipate. The five protagonists soon realize that they have something in common. They must find out what that is in order to leave the island alive.

    This movie convinces in numerous departments. The story has multiple twists and turns that will make your head spin. The individual fantasies of the four groups of protagonists are diversified and entertaining. The locations are absolutely stunning and deserve the title Fantasy Island for sure. The movie mixes intense action sequences, gloomy fantasy elements and mild horror moments in a balanced way. The film has steady pace and entertains from start to finish. The film includes some interesting side characters such as the mysterious host of the island and a man who lives and hides on the island and seems to have his own agenda.

    On the other side, some of the characters are rather shallow, especially the two half brothers who seem to be rather dim-witted and only think about booze and sex. The film's horror elements aren't really spooky and the movie overall rather qualifies as quirky adventure flick. The story ends up having so many forced twists and turns that the viewers will end up being all confused in the final twenty minutes.

    Still, Fantasy Island is thoroughly diversified, entertaining and fast-paced. It's not the most creative, memorable and profound film but it never attempts to be that way and delivers the goods in the action, adventure and fantasy departments. Many people who rated this movie down obviously had wrong expectations right from the start. This movie isn't among Blumhouse greatest productions such as Happy Death Day, Insidious and The Gift but it's certainly better than Paranormal Activity, Truth or Dare and Unfriended. Fantasy Island is good for what it is.

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  • Countdown (2019)

    Countdown is an entertaining horror movie that is best enjoyed with some friends around Halloween. The film revolves around a cell phone application that predicts when a person is going to die. The story follows a young nurse who realizes she only has three days to live after downloading the application. She doesn't take the application seriously until one of her patients who had also downloaded it dies under mysterious circumstances. The young nurse starts investigating in order to bring the grisly series of deaths to an end.

    The movie convinces with some interesting plot elements on the pulse of time in form of the omnipresent impact of cell phones and its applications on our lives and a few sinister cases of sexual harassment in times of the Me Too movement. The film convinces with solid pace and entertains from start to finish without any unnecessary lengths. This flick has a few efficient jump scares in the middle section and convinces with an eventful finale.

    The film obviously also has some flaws most contemporary Hollywood movies suffer from. The story is shallow and simplistic. The characters are rather exchangeable and lack development and depth. The first third of the movie kicks off too smoothly and isn't truly scary. The film's predictable conclusion might be eventful but is ultimately everything but surprising. The film's final scene before the credits leaves room for a potential sequel in an extremely lazy way.

    You won't get profound cinema while watching Countdown but that couldn't have been expected anyway. What you will get however is a contemporary, entertaining and gripping horror movie. It's certainly better than Escape Room, Ready or Not and Truth or Dare. On the other side, it can't compete with more profound genre entries such as Mandy, The Wailing or Us. In the end, Countdown fulfills its expectations solidly but won't leave a deeper impression.

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  • It: Chapter Two (2019)

    It: Chapter Two tells the story of what happened to the members of The Losers' Club as they confront evil clown Pennywise to kill it for good twenty-seven years after the events of the first movie. In my humble opinion, this second movie shouldn't have been made in the first place. The first part had an intriguing atmosphere, stunning characters and diversified plot that ended on a bittersweet note. Some stories don't need a conclusion as some unanswered question might actually spark the audience's creative imagination. In order to cash in on the first film, the producers decided to opt for a sequel nonetheless.

    The main issue is that this sequel doesn't have the magic of the first movie. The coming-of-age vibe of the teenagers with their beliefs, bonds, fears, hopes and motivations was second to none. What we get here are seven rather depressing adults in their mid-life crises who haven't become the wonderful people they could have been.

    Another problem is that the movie constantly dwells on the past, has a ploddingly repetitive script and re-tells parts of the first film over and over again. There are numerous horror movies with considerable lengths that never get boring with classics like The Shining or recent masterpieces such as The Wailing. However, this film here overstays its welcome with lengthy storytelling, tiring flashbacks and endless dialogues. This movie should have been about one hour shorter than it actually is for a more dynamic, entertaining and relevant structure.

    Not everything is bad about this movie as you might have guessed by looking at my rather positive rating. The special effects are as great as they can get. The smalltown settings are perfectly chosen. The light techniques and camera work are precise, captivating and atmopsheric. The film includes a good balance of humorous and serious parts. The adult actresses and actors are doing a wonderful job and one has to point out a charming but melancholic Jessica Chastain in particular as well as James McAvoy who underlines his reputation as one of the most diversified, talented and unique contemporary actors as usual.

    The movie's saving grace however are the gripping final thirty minutes. The duel between The Loser's Club and Pennywise is fascinating to watch and feels like a reward after a stuttering start. The action scenes are intense, the characters develop depth and the special effects are spectacular. Make sure to enjoy such cinematography on the big screen while you still can.

    In the end, It: Chapter Two is quite a mixed bag. The film is technically well done but simply overstays its welcome. Personally, I didn't need a sequel at all but can objectively admit that this film has slightly more strengths than flaws.

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