• Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

    Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is an entertaining but shallow horror movie aimed at teenage audiences in the key of It. Based upon the novels by Alvin Schwartz, the movie revolves around anthologic horror stories that make your worst nightmares come true. The teenagers who mistakenly kickstarted the curse by discovering an old book in an abandoned mansion must find out more about its writer in order to make the horrors stop.

    On the positive side, the different creatures seen throughout the film are intriguing, diversified and creative which makes for an entertaining experience. The back story around a psychologically and physically assaulted girl that keeps the whole movie together is actually interesting and even moving to a certain degree. The appropriate settings blend in very well and bring the late sixties in the United States of America to life in an authentic manner. The characters are easy to empathize with and especially lead actress Zoe Colletti underlines her reputation as one of the greatest young actresses to be around these days.

    On the negative side, the film isn't really scary as the atmosphere never goes beyond mildly gloomy. This might be appropriate for young teenagers but older teenagers or adults could quickly get bored. The style of this movie is closely inspired by It and fails to develop its own idnetity. The film's ending isn't satisfactory as several questions remain unanswered which could hint at a possible sequel. The movie however doesn't have the depth to become a franchise.

    In the end, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is an entertaining horror movie to be watched at your local cinema with your friends if you like the genre and are between twelve and sixteen years old. The movie certainly doesn't reinvent the genre and fails to develop its own identity. The movie is good enough to be watched once but fails to leave a deeper impression.

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  • Ready or Not (2019)

    Ready or Not tries to be a mixture of a comedy and a horror movie and fails at both. The movie is never atmospheric, intense or scary enough to be a great horror movie. The film is never clever, surprising or vibrant enough to be an entertaining comedy movie. Even by poor b-movie standards, the story of this film is completely ridiculous in a way that it's almost insulting.

    If you were wondering why this film still deserves four points, the movie isn't entirely bad. The settings look great and especially the mansion where the sinister hide and seek game takes place is really gorgeous, including hidden hallways and elegant gardens. The movie features a few intense action scenes that make you root for the desperate lead character. The film has a fast pace and doesn't overstay its welcome with plodding storytelling. Lead actress Samara Weaving does her best with a poor script and has enough charisma to be the only great actress in this film.

    Ready or Not should be ignored since it's neither a gripping horror film nor a clever comedy. It's a shallow action film with a few gore elements. Movies like You're Next are similar in style but executed much better. The overtly positive reviews for Ready or Not show that expectations for horror movies have significantly decreased in an era of prequels, remakes, sequels and overall rehashed ideas. Refer to European or Asian cinema to find some creative horror movies these days.

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  • Cube (1997)

    Cube is a mysterious science-fiction horror movie made with a meager budget of three hundred fifty thousand dollars that would turn out grossing nine million dollars and lead to two less interesting sequels. The claustrophobic movie revolves around six completely different strangers who wake up in a gigantic cube without knowing how or why they got there. Since they have no access to food or water or any way to communicate with the outside world, they need to find their way through the numerous chambers of the gigantic cube in order to find a way out. The different chambers are however rigged with deadly traps and tension, stress and fear soon arise between the six strangers.

    There are numerous elements that made this low-budget movie a beloved cult film. First of all, the mysterious setting and its origins are truly intriguing. It's unclear who created the gigantic cube and to what purpose which invites viewers to look for clues and come to their own conclusions. Secondly, the story is filled with twists and turns and it remains unpredictable who is going to survive and how until the very last Scene that also leaves room for interpretation. Thirdly, the traps in the cube are deadly, diversified and unpredictable but the greatest dangers are the individuals themselves. This leads to the fourth and strongest element which are the seven characters introduced in the movie. We only briefly meet a nameless old man but the clever prison escapist, the paranoid free clinic doctor, the mathematics student with a difficult past, the socially awkward office worker, the seemingly autistic young man who has trouble communicating but incredible mathematical skills and the divorced police officer with anger management issues are the six characters bound by fate. The relationships between the different characters are fascinating to watch and evolve until the very end.

    In the end, Cube works very well despite a low budget thanks to a creative story with numerous stunning ideas and intriguing characters. The sequels don't reproduce this level of quality because the stories are more predictable and the characters more exchangeable. Even though this movie mixes thriller, mystery and horror elements, it can also been as a stunningly realistic social science study.

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  • Brightburn (2019)

    Someone I used to know was once invited to a family supper. He had attended, enjoyed and been looking forward to such occasions numerous times in the past but that particular supper was a whole different thing. A distant family member, who had been described as a shady person with dangerous tendencies who had been considered the family's black sheep and hadn't been in touch with the family for many years, was unexpectedly there as well. Everybody acted like nothing had ever happened but the person I knew just couldn't do that and was accused of spoiling everybody's fun that night. That family supper was a huge blow to his already struggling relationship with that family. I believe this person shouldn't look back in regret and can be proud of his integrity even though that event had regrettable negative short-term consequences and is an anecdote of a challenging time. Why do I mention that anecdote? This is to prove that family ties can blur and erase the truth. This is exactly what Brightburn is about.

    The movie tells the story of a young couple who desperately wants to have children but it just doesn't work out. One night, an unidentified flying object lands in the forest behind the couple's farm. Inside the capsule, they find a baby boy and raise him as their own child. Twelve years later, a mysterious force from the unidentified flying object hidden under the barn awakes the dark side of the son who starts acting erratically. The parents refuse to accept the truth and believe their son is sleepwalking when he is about to find the capsule that once brought him to Earth or blame the brutal death of their chickens on a wolf when they were actually killed by their son. The son's actions get worse every single day when he breaks into the house of a potential love interest and even breaks her hand when she calls him a pervert in front of other students. The parents slowly start accepting that something is wrong with their adopted son but the mounting pressure pushes the teenager to use supernatural force to commit more and more outrageous crimes to protect his mysterious identity. When the parents finally decide to take action, it's already too late to stop an irreversible series of tragedies.

    Brightburn convinces with a constantly growing intensity leading to a rather unusual ending. The story offers food for thought and makes us question our blind dedication to our families. The film features some quite grisly scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

    On the other side, the plot is obviously very ridiculous. Even if we accept that this is a science-fiction horror movie, the lead characters make so many questionable and at times obviously illogical choices that it's hard to empathize with them at all. The film is also rarely scary and can rather be described as a science-fiction thriller than a genuine horror movie. Another flaw is that the film never offers any explanation regarding the lead antagonist's origins. There is perhaps room for a sequel or even a prequel to offer more insights into the story.

    In the end, Brightburn is a movie that will please to those who are looking for a superhero movie with a sinister twist. The film is entertaining from start to finish and gets more intense as it progresses. The story is however forgettable. On a closing note, family values are obviously as important to me as to the next guy. However, family ties should never blur or erase the truth. If a woman writes on a dating portal that family is her life, I already know she isn't my kind because I want to date a woman and not an entire family and I know this sentiment is shared by several friends of mine.

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  • Overlord (2018)

    When I initially watched Overlord, I was expecting an average horror movie with a few shallow historical references. What I've got however is an atmospheric, gripping and mysterious horror film with appropriate references to the horrors of the Second World War. The story is obviously inspired by experiments Nazi Germany actually conducted on human beings. The story revolves around a group of young American soldiers who are sent behind enemy lines in preparation of the Invasion of Normandy. After their plane is shot down, they must hide in a village where they befriend some French farmers. However, they aren't only willing to escape, hide and survive but also try to destroy a German radio tower located in an old church on a wooden hill. However, the soldiers find something abominable in the basement of said church and are determined to wipe it out without leaving any trace behind.

    The movie convinces on several levels. First of all, the characters have a lot of depth and interest for a horror movie. The American soldiers have different strategies to fight the enemy which makes them quite diversified. It's also easy to sympathize with the French farmers including the resilient love interest of a SS Hauptsturmführer, her joyful little brother and her creepy disfigured aunt who has been abused during an experiment conducted by the invaders.

    The film oozes with atmosphere. We are thrown into the story as the plane of the American soldiers gets shot down and they soon need to fight for survival in the ocean, on the beaches and in the nearby forests. The French village where they decide to hide is a place where fear, hatred and terror reigns. The church tower is dark, eerie and seems to be an endless maze of horrors.

    This flick mixes historical events with fictitious elements. The brutal opening sequence foreshadows the actual Invasion of Normandy. The suffering the French villagers go through also seems realistic. Even the idea that the Germans conducted experiments on human beings isn't pulled out of thin air. On the other side, the true nature of those experiments is the fictitious part that should equally please to cinephiles enjoying action and horror movies.

    In the end, Overlord cleverly mixes action elements inspired by historical events with fictitious horror elements. This dynamic mixture entertains from start to finish thanks to tense atmosphere, strong characters and intriguing locations. The movie manages to portray the horrors of war while also adding an appropriate fictitious touch to it. Many movies have tried to combine war films with horror films and failed but Overlord is one of the most balanced attempts at this gripping mixture. Horror movies usually receive poor critical acclaim but this movie has overall been received rather favourable ratings which actually point out how great this film actually is. Give it a try and you might end up being as positively surprised as I was.

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