In world where the Paranormal Activity films never existed, The Mirror might be considered a somewhat entertaining, if plodding, found footage film.
However, we live in a world where the Paranormal Activity films have bludgeoned audiences with the same formula since 2009, and, not counting cute accents, this English entry adds absolutely nothing you have not seen dozens of times since.
After a grisly discovery in the hill surrounding Boston, two young friends find themselves drifting apart from one another. Years later this incident has scarred both boys. Tommy has stayed close to Southie, his life one long, drunken stumble from one day to the next. Sean moved across the country and hid behind a badge in order to indulge his corruption and vices. When Sean murders his wife and former friend’s sister he stages it to look like a suicide. Now Tommy must travel across the country to find out the truth and exact his revenge.
Imagine, if you will Brian DePalma snorting a package of Pixie Stix mixed with high grade amphetamines, visiting a trampoline park for a few hours, then bumping his head on a hard surface, incurring a massive concussion minutes before stepping behind the camera. Go ahead and take a moment, I'm not going anywhere. Got it? Great. Now you have an inkling of what you're in store for when you pop in Nacho Vilgalondo's new thriller Open Windows.
If you would have told me that Kevin Smith (he of Clerks and Smodcast fame) would reinvent himself as one of the better genre film directors after a series of missteps I would have laughed in your face. Yet he has followed up the effective thriller Red State with the shockingly moving full on body horror film Tusk. It's a bizarre movie that admittedly owes a debt to the success of The Human Centipede. Yet Smith reaches for something more than shock for shock's sake, and while the film stumbles with some tonal third act miscues, it's an overall recommend.
Somewhere out there lives a person who will one day have the bright idea to program a double bill of Beberian Sound Studio and The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears. When that day comes I want to meet that person, so I can punch them as hard as I possibly can dead square in the face. Bruno Forzani and Helene Cattet follow up their debut Amer with a film that manages aural and visual brilliance, but also bombard the film with a non-linear storytelling technique that makes for a garbled, nonsensical mess of a film.
I've been writing for a bit that creative types need to find new, innovative ways for found footage films to still work. The tried-and-true method of running around a cryptic woods or haunted house has been played out in the wake of the unending deluge of Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity clones. Luckily recent films like The Den and the upcoming Affliction have taken advantage of streaming video and mobile technologies to craft terse, exciting tales of horror. However, films like Alien Abduction make me sit back and consider eating my words.
Death Valley would probably not make the short list of places one might imagine to be the ideal setting to repair a fractured relationship. Between daytime temperatures that threaten to turn your insides into a hot pocket that give way to freezing cold nights that leave you a human meatcicle, the setting doesn’t lend itself to introspection and open dialogue. Yet that’s the situation that Mitchell (Josh Duhamel) and Carter (Dan Fogler) find themselves in when the latter’s truck breaks down in the middle of the desert, leaving the pair stranded without food or water.
By almost all measures, The Collection isn’t a movie that should exist. A sequel to the lightly regarded The Collector, a film cobbled together of an unused Saw script. The original hit at the tail end of horror’s extreme torture phase, and it came and went without much fanfare. Yet director Marcus Dunstan and his co-writer Patrick Melton returned for a second go-round. What’s more surprising than the fact the The Collection, now out on DVD/Blu-Ray/VOD exists at all is that it’s a pretty damn entertaining film.
Midway through Ciaran Foy's “hoodie horror” film I had to pause the film in order to catch my breath and stretch my legs. Citadel had the rare effect of unnerving me to my core. You would think that watching hundreds of genre movies a year and knowing a bit about how the sausage gets made would inure me from such occurrences but there I was, remote in one hand while the other wiped off the cold sweat that had broken out .
Cheap Thrills makes for the edgy, black comedy that leaves you in stitches throughout but at the same time makes you feel like an utter bastard for enjoying yourself. For his first feature film EL Katz taps into the very real economic fears that weigh heavily on the mind of audiences that live from paycheck to paycheck and sweat bullets wondering if the direct deposit will go through before the utility bill clears. It's a movie for anyone that has ever exited their apartment via the fire escape the first few days of the month in order to avoid a pissed off landlord in the hallways.
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