The Objective, 2008 wartime supernatural horror

poster, DVD cover - The Objective, 2008 supernatural horror filmCountry: U.S.; filmed in Morocco
Horror themes: War, evil
Director: Daniel Myrick
Verdict: 60/100… Solid supernatural horror

I had eagerly anticipated The Objective for a couple of reasons. First, The Objective reminds me of Red Sands – another creepy supernatural horror film with a wartime setting in the Middle East. Also, The Objective was written and directed by Daniel Myrick, who made his debut in 1999 with the scary-as-hell breakthrough supernatural horror film The Blair Witch Project.

The Objective: Official movie trailer (YouTube)

Plot synopsis of The Objective
In Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, a Special Forces team meets CIA Agent Benjamin Keynes, who explains their mission to find a very important Afghan cleric by the name of Mohammad Aban. Led by team leader Wally Hamer, the team finds a local guide in a village in southern Afghanistan where the cleric is from. The team sets out for the mountainous area where intelligence reports indicate the cleric is hiding.

As the soldiers travel deeper into the desert mountains, they begin to have strange encounters – first with armed gunmen, who simply disappear after they are shot, and later with other seemingly supernatural forces. The further they go, the more dangerous the mission becomes; eventually, the team realizes they are not looking for someone, but something

horror movie still from The Objective, 2008 supernatural horror film Ben Keynes (Jonas Ball) is a CIA operative based in the Middle East who is keeping his eyes peeled for a potential crisis a few weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Keynes is checking some readings from a spy satellite when he discovers what appears to be a massive cache of radioactive material in the mountains of Afghanistan. Worried that Al Qaeda guerrillas are constructing a nuclear weapon, Keynes arranges to join a reconnaissance mission headed to Afghanistan, using the cover story that he’s trying to ferret out an international terrorist leader. Keynes and the soldiers head into the mountains with a local, Abdul (Chems-Eddine Zinoune), serving as both translator and guide. Abdul warns Keynes and the soldiers that their intended destination is considered sacred ground by Afghans, and that they’re risking their lives by trespassing. Keynes pays him little mind, but he and the soldiers soon discover that Abdul’s warnings were well founded, and that a supernatural force lurks in the mountains more dangerous than any band of terrorists.

The film’s title is apparently in reference to such high-level government missions, typically arranged by high-ranking officials and carried out by elite special forces. In this case, the ground operation is led by Benjamin Keens of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

— More to come… gotta go for now – it’s Christmas morning, after all! 🙂 —

More than one person has noted that the narrator’s voice sounds a bit like David Duchovny.

Aside: Movie setpieces

What is a setpiece in film production? Long ago, I assumed I knew what a setpiece was, in general – but eventually I read something about a horror setpiece that did not make sense to me which prompted me to look it up. I finally, belatedly learned that a setpiece has nothing to do with the physical items on a movie set.

In the universe of film production, a setpiece is a scene (or a series of scenes) which required detailed logistical planning and a significant expenditure of funds in order to carry out and pull off successfully.

The term setpiece is often used more broadly to describe any important dramatic, suspenseful, or frightful high point in a story, especially when a dramatic payoff, resolution, or transition is made possible through it. So, the term setpiece is often used to describe any scenes that are so essential to a film that the movie would not have been possible or made any sense had that setpiece been omitted. In standard Hollywood popcorn flicks, screenplays are often constructed around a succession of such setpieces.

Setpieces can be meticulously planned using storyboards, screen tests, and rehearsals; for the sake of comparison, the director and actors may be more improvisational in smaller or more artful productions. In the big films, every onscreen event requires the combined efforts of an array of departments working as a team: set builders, physical effects, special visual effects, and so on.

In the production of standard Hollywood movies, different sets of people will work on the various setpieces individually since the more complex setpieces can take weeks or months to prepare. A well-known example: the car chase in The Matrix Reloaded took months to prepare and cost $30 million – including $5 million to build the interstate/freeway set.
(Source: Wikipedia entry for setpiece)

One thing’s for sure: Whatever else Daniel Myrick may do, the words Blair Witch Project will forever remain attached to his name – which is not a bad thing.

Resources: The Objective, 2008 supernatural war horror film

Movie reviews of The Objective, 2008

  • Film Review: The Objective (2008) – Horror News
  • Life After That Very Profitable Fake Witch – New York Times
  • Discussion: The last horror movie you saw?
  • The Objective, 2008 horror movie – Tumblr links
  • Removed content
    A group of Special Ops reservists on a mission in the harsh and hostile terrain of Afghanistan find themselves lost in a Middle Eastern “Bermuda Triangle” of ancient evil.

    The Objective must have been a difficult film to categorize. I saw it listed as science fiction horror, survival horror, supernatural drama, etc.

    Forces in the front lines of the war on terror find themselves battling an unseen foe more deadly than a bomb in this supernatural film.

    Post started on Monday, June 13, 2011

    The Mothman Prophecies, 2002 supernatural horror film

    Country: U.S.
    Directed by: Mark Pellington [ Mark Pellington horror ]
    Verdict: 75/100… Creepy as hell, especially the phone calls

    Movie trailer for The Mothman Prophecies, 2002 (YouTube)

    Plot summary: The Mothman Prophecies

    When John Klein (Richard Gere), a Washington Post journalist, and his wife Mary (Deborah Messing) finally find the house of their dreams, they just can’t believe their luck. On the way back from the bargain, Mary nearly runs over strange figure in the road, jerks the wheel, and skids into the sidewalk. She hits her head badly, lsong consciousness – and dies in the hospital a little later. John is completely devastated and soon finds some sketches his wife made just after the accident occurred, which depict a frightening winged creature. Two years later, John all of a sudden finds that he has inexplicably driven himself to Point Pleasant, West Virginia – traveling 400 miles in less than two hours. In the small town of Point Pleasant, local cop Connie Mills (Laura Linney) struggles with multiple sightings of a mothlike creature taller than a man being reported, while John believes that an explanation for his wife’s fate can be found. The deeper John digs, the clearer the mothman’s purpose arises – only to leave his life in immediate danger, as it seems.

    Scene from The Mothman Prophecies, 2002 (6:55 – YouTube)

    The Mothman Prophecies is based on a true story – or so it claims. Chasing the Frog is a great place to look for the truth contained in those works of fiction claiming to be based on a true stories; there’s an interesting page about The Mothman Prophecies.

    Interview with Mark Pellington, director of The Mothman Prophecies (excerpt):

    The Mothman Prophecies is one of the better supernatural thrillers of the new millennium. Based on a supposedly non-fiction book by John A. Keel, the Richard Hatem’s screenplay details the strange events that befall journalist John Klein (Richard Gere) after the untimely death of his wife in an automobile accident. In some inexplicable fashion, Klein finds himself two years later in the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, where there has been a rash of sightings of an elusive, frightening figure, sketches of which bear a startling similarity to drawings made by Klein’s wife just before she died in the hospital. The film was directed by Mark Pellington (Arlington Road), who appeared after a 2002 screening of the film in Hollywood and made the following comments on the subject of translating the story to the screen…

    Resources: The Mothman Prophecies, 2002 horror

    Resources relating to The Mothman Prophecies

    YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film

    Madness-inducing wilderness, WTF moments, disturbing visuals

    cover - YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film - lost in wildernessWhat if there existed a virtually unknown wilderness trail that caused hikers to gradually become more and more insane as greater distances were traversed, and the madness wasn’t noticeable to those affected? What if weird music started coming from the trees, from the grass, the ground – or are those surreal melodies coming from the sky? What if hikers in your group started behaving more and more violently, the maps stopped making sense, and compasses, watches, phones, iPods, and other devices all ceased to function properly? What if ingesting strong hallucinogenic substances found growing in the woods along the way started to sound like a responsible move, a wise idea under the circumstances? That’s a taste of what a weekend of hiking and camping might be like along the YellowBrickRoad. Maybe the trailhead sign and visitor register were taken down for good reasons…

    Horror themes: Evil wilderness, local legend, missing people, hallucination, hallucinogenic drugs, human scarecrow, murder, lost, remoteness, self-injury, madness/insanity…

    Verdict: 52/100… From an overall quality perspective, YellowBrickRoad is about average; it gets 52 points on the Supernatural Horror index. Although I felt the overall quality was average, the events and plot of the film itself were anything but average; as others have mentioned, there is a strong WTF aspect to YellowBrickRoad.

    poster for YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film - lost in wildernessAlthough the movie contained some decidedly disturbing visuals, I did not experience a genuine case of the creeps afterward (probably because there was no identifiable antagonist, apart from the wilderness itself), as has happened in the past with the horror movies that succeeded in scaring me the most. (I can still remember feeling uncomfortable and being jittery as I walked my dog late at night after seeing The Ring for the first time.) Unfortunately, the ending of YellowBrickRoad simply failed to deliver the goods – at least in the eyes of this nature-loving but jaded supernatural horror fan. It was a bit of a let-down.

    On a more positive note, I would say that supernatural horror fans who are looking for something different, unique, and disturbing (in parts, anyway) should consider checking this movie out: It’s not bad for a low-budget indie horror flick. YellowBrickRoad scores points because of the way it lets its hair down, what with its atypical plot and some interesting horror themes I was not expecting. (Although I described it as low-budget, it did not have the feel of a B-movie or underfunded project; it seemed professionally done.)

    Written and directed by: Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton

    Plot summary of YellowBrickRoad

    movie still - YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, lost in wildernessOne morning in New England, 1940, the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire – 572 people – walked together up a winding mountain trail and into the wilderness. They left behind their clothes, their money, and everything else; even their dogs were tied to posts and left to starve. No one knows what caused the villagers to vacate. Much later, a search party dispatched by the U.S. Army finally discovered the remains of nearly 300 of Friar’s evacuees, YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film - tripping, hallucinating in wilderness many having frozen to death. Other townsfolk were cruelly and mysteriously slaughtered. The bodies of dozens and dozens or remaining citizens are still unaccounted for. Over the years, a quiet cover-up operation managed to weave the story of Friar into the stuff of legends and backwoods fairy tales. The town has slowly repopulated, but the vast wilderness remains largely unexplored; its northernmost stretches were declared off limits to hunters, loggers, and hikers. In 2008, the coordinates for the “YELLOWBRICKROAD” YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film - lost in wilderness trailhead were declassified. The first official expedition into the very same mysterious wilderness will attempt to reach the end of the trail and solve the mystery of the lost citizens of Friar. The husband-wife pair of investigator/ researchers Teddy and Melissa Barnes (Michael Laurino and Anessa Ramsey) coordinates a team effort which includes Forestry Service representative Cy (Sam Elmore), intern Jill (Tara Giordano), behavioral psych professor Walter (Alex Draper) and brother-sister map/ topo experts Daryl (Clark Freeman) and Erin (Cassidy Freeman) to investigate the legendary Friar, New Hampshire occurrences.

    Original trailer: YELLOWBRICKROAD 2010 supernatural horror movie (YouTube video)

    YellowBrickRoad The Movie Promo (YouTube video)

    Resources: YellowBrickRoad supernatural horror movie

    movie still -YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, Walter in wilderness

    Photo gallery: More images from YellowBrickRoad, 2010 horror movie

    NOTE: As usual, these images are randomly pulled from themed image folders each time this web page is loaded. If you click your browser’s refresh button, you are likely to see different images from the movie than the movie stills currently shown below. Give it a try. (The image folders for this movie currently contain between two and twelve images each.)

    movie still -YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, campfire in wildernessAround the campfire, before things get too bad

    movie still -YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, camping in wildernessCamping, hiking fun – before terrible things start to happen

    movie still - YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, nice views in wildernessFantastic but mysterious wilderness

    movie still - YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, cutting his handCutting his hand for fun

    movie still from YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, Daryl in wildernessDaryl

    movie still -YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, Erin in wildernessErin

    movie still from YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, lost in wildernessWilderness, fields

    movie still -YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, redhead Jill wildernessJill

    movie still - YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, Melissa in wildernessMelissa

    movie still - YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, lost in wildernessWilderness

    movie still -YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film,horrofic discovery of fresh scarecrowHorrific discovery: from hiker to scarecrow in minutes

    still from YellowBrickRoad, the 2010 supernatural horror film - leader Teddy in wildernessTeddy, the group leader

    movie still -YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film - lost in wildernessTrees

    movie still -YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film - the only vehicleThe only vehicle available, but not for long

    movie still -YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film, nice views in wildernessThe nice views and beautiful scenery is largely unappreciated by this group, perhaps due to frequent, terrifying experiences

    movie still - YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film - Walter in wildernessWalter

    movie still - YellowBrickRoad, 2010 supernatural horror film - near the end of movieTowards the end of YellowBrickRoad movie

    Removed or unfinished content
    Yeah, sometimes I trail off, even when I’m writing.
    YellowBrickRoad would have been rated higher if the film had not gotten off to such a slow start… not that every horror occurrence needs to be described – it’s often more appealing if no attempt is made to explain the event(s); however, this time I wanted more background information than viewers were given. I really enjoyed the natural scenery – the vistas, the skyward shots, the trees, and the fields in YellowBrickRoad. The hallucination segment was entertaining.

    Horror movies tend to rank lower.
    The IMDb rating of 44 is pretty average for a horror movie, as are the relatively low scores on Rotten Tomatoes. IMHO, a rating of 44 might indicate a sub-par or poor comedy or drama, but for a title in the horror genre, a 44 might indicate a movie quality closer to average.

    One Dark Night, 1982 supernatural horror movie

    horror movie - One Dark Night, 1982Horror themes: Mausoelums, spending the night in a scary place, teen pranks, corpses, telekinesis, ESP
    Verdict: 6.5/10… One of the better supernatural horror movies from the early 80s

    As I write this, I have just popped in my freshly acquired DVD of One Dark Night, released back in 1982. On one hand, I am excited and expecting a real treat in genuinely atmospheric, creepy horror; but on the other hand, I’m wondering whether a movie that’s rated PG can really be scary. We’re talking PG here – not even PG-13.

    Soon after I started researching One Dark Night, I got some reassurance from (see References section below) :

    Never has a PG-rated, low-budget horror film successfully created a sense of impending doom and terror as One Dark Night did. . . Don’t let the PG rating fool you, either – this movie is scarier and more effective than the plentiful R-rated gore fests released around the same time.

    horror movie - One Dark Night, 1982Nice. Also, I was soon reminded that at the time this movie was rated, there was no such thing as PG-13.I decided to perform a search for horror movies that carry a PG rating to see if anything truly terrifying were listed. Perhaps this will be the subject a future blog post, but for now I will name a few decent supernatural horror movies that are rated either PG or PG-13:
    horror movie - One Dark Night, 1982

    1. The Legend of Hell House, 1973
    2. Solstice, 2008
    3. Storm of the Century, 1999 IMDb (Rating: 72)
    4. The Sight
    5. When a Stranger Calls (2006 remake)
    6. White Noise 2
    7. Watcher in the Woods (1980)
    8. Salem’s Lot
    9. Something Wicked This Way Comes

    One Dark Night on

    DVD cover

    A short review on the DVD cover reads: “…spooky horror outing aimed at teen audiences…” This is another concern, albeit a minor one. Can this movie really be scary? Of course, being a very well-seasoned horror fan, there is not much that really scares me anymore; but relatively speaking, how scary can One Dark Night be? Back to the DVD cover:

    World-famous psychic Raymar is found dead – along with several victims of his bizarre experiments. On the same day his body is interred in a mausoleum, high-schooler Julie Wells (Meg Tilly) agrees to spend the night there all alone–as part of a hazing to join the clique, The Sisters (Robin Evans, Elizabeth Daily, Leslie Speights). Later that night, the Sisters secretly return to torment Julie in an attempt to scare her out of her mind. But the girls are not alone. Raymar’s experiments continue even after death–on his own body and on the dozen resident corpses in various stages of decay. Soon they’re exhumed and looking for fresh bodies.

    One Dark Night haunts audiences’ psyches with its claustrophobic setting, moody cinematography, foreboding score, and ultra-realistic makeup effects.

    Brief plot summary: One Dark Night

    A strange man named Karl Rhamarevich dies shortly after discovering a way to become even more powerful in death through telekinesis. On the night of his burial in a mausoleum crypt, Julie Wells (Meg Tilly) is to spend the night there as part of an initiation rite, supervised by two other girls. The mausolem becomes a scene of horror as Raymar returns to life and deploys his powerful and horrifying telekinetic abilities, forcing long-closed crypts to break open, sending coffins sliding out on Raymar’s command. The coffins splinter open, releasing decaying bodies – which soon begin to menace those girls trapped inside. Will they survive the horrific night in the mausoleum? (Source: IMDb)

    Watching One Dark Night

    The first minute of One Dark Night – while the opening credits are rolling – has all the makings of a wonderful creepfest! It’s a dark and stormy night, with lots of lightning and thunder, accompanied with eerie background music which consists mostly of a very low note on a synthesizer.

    After the opening, we are at a major crime scene where we see a pile of dead women with their eyes still open, and dead psychic Raymar whose body apparently still contains some pent-up energy.

    Soon we meet the main cast, the group of teens, which conforms closely to one of the standard horror movie recipes: a good girl, a funny one, the slut, and the jock boyfriend. We also have the persistent reporter.

    Oh, what memories! Near the beginning of the movie, the teens are at a video arcade, and some of the video games I used to spend so much money on were shown close-up. Two notable games shown are, I believe, Defender and Tempest. Retro-gaming.

    The second half of One Dark Night takes place in a mausoleum, which ranks in my book as one of the creepiest settings for a movie. There are not many horror movies featuring mausoleums, at least that I can think of right off the bat.

    This brings the question to mind: Who in hell would want to decay above ground in a mausoleum? Maybe these are fundamentalists who believe their bodies will be resurrected when the trumpets sound; or perhaps there are uber-wealthy people who believe themselves too good to rot in the ground like everyone else. Why on earth someone would insist on taking up space above the ground after they die is beyond me. As for me, please use no chemicals and bury me au natural in a simple pine box – or better yet, just cremate me. In all honestly, I want my body to return to the earth and be a part of everything else ASAP. I digress.

    The creepiness begins when the girls drop off our homely heroine at the mausoleum, basically forcing her to spend the night there as an initiation rite into their little club of cool. (I cannot help but wonder if it would be considered cheating, to take in a couple of strong sleeping pills? That would be me!) She enters the mausoleum, with all its large drawers, with some trepidation, clutching her red sleeping bag. At first, the building is well-lit. Curious, she explores a bit, reading some of the plaques.

    Julie finds a place to settle down and sits on her sleeping bag, leaning against a wall with no corpse drawers; however, she gets bored quickly and goes exploring.

    People, this girl is far braver than I. Would I spend the night in a mausoleum? The only scenario that might include my bunking in such close quarters with corpses would necessarily include the transfer of a large sum of money into my bank account. Plus, I would smuggle in and quickly consume two or more Ambien (or something stronger).

    The Sisters of Cool are in the car arguing about the hazing situation when it is revealed that Sisters leader Carol (the blond bitchy one) gave Julie a pill earlier, which Carol says was Demerol. Good enough!

    The movie flips between Julie at the mausoleum, the Sisters of Cool, jock Steve (who is genuinely concerned for Julie’s safety, and is not happy with the Sisters and their pranks), and Raymar’s own sister, who is staying up late doing some research into her brother’s experiments – listening to his tapes and such.

    The Sisters of Cool head back to the mausoleum with the intention of scaring poor Julie to death; after all, they – especially the blond ice bitch – have no intention of actually letting Julie into their pathetic little club, no matter what. They have a sheet and a rubber mask with which to do some frightening, which they do; they sneak into the mausoleum, find Julie asleep (passed out, more like), and start terrorizing her. But the Sisters do not have the last laugh. . .

    Steve finally finds out from the abandoned Sister that Julie is indeed at the mausoleum, so he goes to the rescue.

    At this point some truly horrifying things happen to the girls in the mausoleum. For example, a casket slowly slides out of its mausoleum drawer all by itself and then the casket opens to reveal the moist, rotting body of an older man. The eyes of the corpse open, and the girls find it in them at this point to run to another part of the building, where the same thing happens with other caskets and bodies, in varying states of mortification and putrefaction. It is damn scary to see the corpses being dragged by an unseen force – a force supplied by dead Raymar – into the faces of the terrified girls.

    Suddenly, I vaguely remembered seeing One Dark Night when I was around 20, and that this movie did a decent job of giving me the creeps back then. (It probably wouldn’t now; this would require something stronger, like Grave Encounters (2011), The Reeds (2009), The Grudge (2005), or perhaps some new supernatural horror from Asia.)

    One Dark Night: Morsels of wisdom

    Made in the fall of 1982 for a mere $1 million and taking less than a month to film, One Dark Night became a surprise international hit upon its theatrical release.

    One Dark Night was nominated for Best Horror Film of 1983 by the Academy of Science Fiction.

    IMHO, the most attractive girl in One Dark Night is the young Meg Tilly; however, those who tend to favor blondes will almost surely vote for Elizabeth Daily.

    Thoughts about One Dark Night

    This is a wonderfully creepy horror movie, and it manages to deliver real scares without excessive gore, sex, any skin at all, very little gutter language, etc. In fact, One Dark Night relies only upon effective storytelling, a creepy atmosphere, supernatural occurrences, and some good corpse special effects (especially for the early 80s) to deliver chills. In other words, there is no cheating or relying on phony props – and this is a huge plus. So many horror movies of today utterly fail to scare on their own merits and rely on nudity, gore, or taboo-breaking to gain some level of viewer approval, and that is truly unfortunate.

    In fact, one of the primary missions of my new supernatural horror movie website is to cull the truly scary gems from all those movies that rely on any of the aforementioned crutches to deliver “scares.”

    I highly recommend One Dark Night to all but the most jaded horror fans. This movie should be suitable for most audiences, given its age, its rating, and its being relatively free of potentially offensive language, imagery, and even teen behavior – all of which are benign by modern standards. The creep factor, however, is not benign; it’s fairly effective, especially for its time. Enjoy!

    Resources: One Dark Night, 1982

    Orinigally written Saturday, March 21, 2009