Category Archives: Suspense-Horror

Locke (Suspense-Drama)

Locke“Working through the aftermath of a mistake is sometimes harder than the final consequence”

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) enters a sedan and begins to drive into the night, and initiates multiple calls using his car phone. The first to his family to let them know he will not be home that night. Next a call to his boss letting him know he will not make the concrete pour the following morning for a multi-million sterling pound construction project he was spearheading. This is obviously followed up by a call to Ivan’s right hand man giving him the directive of preparation to take his place. Before any of these calls he received an incoming correspondence from a frantic woman asking when he will be arriving, in reference to a complication at the hospital.

Using no real props or setting, a gripping story unfolds through dialogue bridged between incoming and outgoing phone calls inside a car. Each situation had a separate layer, conjuring an inimitable tone that migrated to the central dilemma of his absence. Most would assume this would be a slow paced experience, yet every Bluetooth car chime brought a compounding level of suspense and emotions dependent upon the voice at the other end.

The ability to capture this type of response is attributed to a stellar presentation given by the solo performer, Tom Hardy. All audiences will have an easy time empathizing with his state, due to his courage onscreen as well as a compelling backstory supplemental to his firm plan. Although the imaginary discussion with the protagonist of his inner turmoil was a bit overemphasized, the impeccably orchestrated battle to mend his wounds was nothing short of a thrill ride.

Absentia (Suspense-Horror)

absnet“There are always rational scenarios to any unfortunate mystery, as well as supernatural tales for those unwilling to let go”

Tricia is an expecting single mother whose husband went missing several years ago.  In the process of obtaining her husbands death certificate and moving out of her apartment, Tricia’s troubled sister Callie offers to stay and help as well as provide companionship.  As the stress and guilt builds, Tricia begins seeing frightening apparitions of her husband, which begin as dreams but then venture out into her reality.

This mindfully crafted indie horror film goes against the grain by delivering a film that actually provides insight to possible logical explanation, instead of leaving a supernatural viewpoint as the only option.  These possibilities not only provided the viewers with a choice, but also gave credibility to the characters promoting them as more than just another idiotic horror film victim.

The elements used to provoke terror can also be seen as fairly unconventional.  The bombardment of chilling projections at unexpected moments instead of using the predictable Hollywood formula of high pitched eerie music, false alarm, pop out, brought a new level of suspense that was suffocating.  This technique was absolutely terrifying since the audience is left with no fair warning of the next scare.

Half way through the film the subject matter and tone changes dramatically, which some will find amusing while others slightly annoyed.  Nevertheless, the unrelenting fear inducing elements keeps a consistent pace which will make most heart beating humans skin crawl.

Jug Face (Horror-Drama)

Jugf“The sacrifice of one to uphold the health of a society is easy to accept, until you are the one on the chopping block”

From the opening credits a story is delivered through child-like drawings displaying the essence of the communities belief system. It then transitions to present day with Ada who is part of a backwoods population who live very simple lives, grounded by a foundation of ideals controlled by a magical pit. Once she finds out she is pregnant the day her family signs a marriage contract with another family, she feels alone and nervous about bringing her family shame. She seeks comfort from a feeble minded friend, Dawai, who also inherits the gift of being the spirit of the pits hands; shaping a clay jug of the next sacrifice. On her way out she secretly opens the oven, only to reveal a jug with a face eerily similar to her own.

This low budget mystical creature-feature uses a very basic system to deliver an ever-looming terror. The tone was established by mixing elements of harsh religious traditions and a boondocks culture. The ruthless sacrifices were a bit hard to stomach using a rusty instrument to slit the throat of the martyr letting them bleed out into the pit which dripped down a tree stump before your eyes.

It is difficult not to parallel many passages of the Biblical Old Testament when comparing names, teachings, and the overall ideologies of this tale. Comparisons can also be made with many Native American beliefs and Japanese folklore of forest spirits of the deceased trapped because of their transgressions. The plot itself was very predictable leaving the variability lying solely on when the creature was to take its next victim, and if or when Ada was going to give herself up for the greater good of her people.

Enemy (Thriller-Suspense)

enemy“You are your own worst enemy, especially when tarantulas and an enigmatic envelope are involved”

Adam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a timid history professor stuck in a very stagnant time in his life.  When he discovers his exact double Anthony while watching a movie, he becomes obsessed with meeting him.  Adam finally obtains Anthonys’ contact information and convinces Anthony to get together with him, but unknowingly unlocked a revolving trap door.

The majority of the events were shot through what appears to be a cloudy yellow filter, creating a signature style that sets a nightmarish tone and an innate sense of anxiety.  On the same note the use of spiders may have many who suffer from arachnophobia crawling out of their skin, nevertheless this personification paired brilliantly with the themes of the film.

The initial objectification of women being used as the main catalyst, paralleled well with the connotation of the visceral male and the primal faults that cloud their judgements.  The dynamics involving relational control, depicted through various instances, was a very interesting component that lead the viewer to rethink their initial assumptions.

Be aware this is the type of film with a storyline that appears to be straightforward to start, but then you eventually finds yourself retracing your steps when everything becomes arbitrary.  The masterful and delicate use of hidden cues unmask a logical explanation, rewarding the conscious viewer with solace within their interpretations instead of a web of uncertainty.

The Last Circus (Foreign-Horror-Romance)

circus“A seductive woman can make clowns out of men, some become vengeful and the remaining deranged”

A young boy’s clown father is captured during the Spanish Civil War and imprisoned to work as a stone miner.  Once the boy finds him, he is told one last message before his fathers’ gruesome death, he will never be a funny clown because of his troubles but a sad clown.  This imbedded into his soul, he sets out for a career following his fathers’ clown-shoed footsteps, and along the way falls for a distressed trapeze artist.  This passion transforms into insanity and an evil clown emerges.

The opening scene most likely used a good portion of the budget for the film and was truly an exhilarating and unique experience.  Take circus performers, give them weapons, and throw them into an explosive high-raged battle in their full circus attire.  You actually have to bring yourself back to reality and remind yourself what you are watching, and if you don’t you will gradually get frustrated by how absurd the film is.

You will encounter sub-par acting and dialogue, a fair amount of suspense, and outrageous scenes that feed your curiosity.  The over-the-top violence and gruesome images, though distasteful, were the most intriguing aspects of this film.  The distinct ambiance of the shots with dark and diluted colors was attributive to the horror theme.  In essence it is a story of clown meets girl, clown falls for girl, girl wants two different clowns, girl is confused in which clown she wants more, girl wants neither clown, girl gives up.  It would be honest to say that the first and third acts were executed perfectly, but they lost it somewhere in the middle.

The Purge (Thriller-Suspense-Horror)

Purge“The writer either has dementia or the script was split between numerous idiots without any collaboration whatsoever”

Ethan Hawke is a sales rep for the number one home security system in the nation, which is perfect because once a year every crime is legal for 12 hours.

So when it is the night of the purge Ethan’s son hears a man screaming for help, and what is his first instinct?  Oh, he’s probably running from someone I am going to risk my families life and let him in, logical, so that’s what he does.

Once this intruder is let in the family gets stocked up with firearms, and randomly the daughters boyfriend comes out of nowhere and thinks its a bright idea to kill the overprotective father in front of the whole family.  Luckily this plot point didn’t take off, it was only a 3 minute confusing distraction that was meant to make you jump, the boyfriend inevitably gets shot and killed by the father.

With that out of the picture, now there is a gang of masked people looking for this man who ran into the house.   Luckily the number one security sales person will have a great security system, so they wont make it onto the property right?  He must have a moat filled with piranhas, 10 lions as guard dogs, an electric fence that could cook a turkey, or at minimum a barbed wire fence like in the third world countries? None of the above? Seriously?  The kid from home alone was better prepared.

So the gang strolls onto his lawn and demands to give them the intruder loose in the house or they will break in and kill the family.  This is believable since they obviously got past the grass lawn and white picket fence already.  To help the family find the man quicker, the gang immediately shuts the power off…wait, what?

Luckily the boy finds the intruder with his remote controlled car, perfect, they can hand him over and everything will be dandy.  Wrong.  The boy instead shows the intruder his secret hiding spot, and a few minutes later the sister gets taken hostage by the intruder when she tries hiding there, that’s strike two kid with your bright ideas.

I turned this atrocity off, but surely the gang breaks in and the family makes countless mistakes ending with a predictable conclusion.

You’re Next (Thriller-Suspense-Horror)

next“Home invasion with a primal, yet sadistically playful, sentiment”

I have seen over one hundred horror films, but in this day in age only half-assed remakes of decade old classics have been making it to the big screen.  You’re Next, which was on my radar a year before its release, was a well thought out indie film that brought my nail biting habit to a new level.  The camera effects paired with the score conjured up a unique ambiance of suspense.

Though you will not recognize any of the cast, the acting is relatively believable for this type of flick.  Those who can’t act are killed off early, usually in an unorthodox fashion.  The victims actually react logically to their situation and think through there options rationally, which is rare in this genre of film.  This has little effect on the outcome since the textbook sociopaths moves are so calculating that nothing is left to chance. The weapons of choice that are both disturbing and effective and perfect suited to silently stalk their prey.

You will encounter many unsettling scenes, eerie revelations, many laughs, and a twist or two that actually caught me by surprise.