The Skeptic, 2009 supernatural horror movie

Country: U.S.
Horror themes: Haunted house, ghost, inheritance, dead relative, skepticism, paranormal “science”
Director: Tennyson Bardwell

Brief synopsis of The Skeptic
An attorney inherits the home of his dead aunt, but his rational, skeptical mind is confronted by the unmistakable fact that the house is haunted.

Synopsis of The Skeptic
Following the mysterious death of his aunt, power lawyer Bryan Becket (Tim Daly) moves into the elderly woman’s purportedly haunted Victorian mansion. A die hard skeptic, he dismisses one eerie incident after another, until the haunting turns so personal and vicious, Becket’s cool, unemotional veneer begins to unravel. Whispers in the night, things he sees in the darkness, clues of a horrible secret, turn our rationalist into a terrified and reluctant seeker. A seeker of a truth so unspeakable it could destroy him. And the mystery, always just out of reach down the darkened hall, is not fully revealed until the film’s final moments. And even then, it leaves a tantalizing question.
(Source: The Skeptic – IFC Films)

The Skeptic, (2009) — Movie trailer (YouTube)

My thoughts about The Skeptic
Not bad. I enjoyed The Skeptic even though in some ways it lingered on the edge of psychological horror and actual ghost horror. The Skeptic provided a few creepy moments, especially surrounding the mysterious closet.

Resources: The Skeptic, 2009 ghost/haunted house movie

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I waited too long between watching the movie and finishing this post.

…however, it was not creepy on the level of horror films like The Grudge or The Ring

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pandorum, 2009 sci-fi thriller action film

Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror filmCountry: Germany, Britain
Director: Christian Alvart
Horror themes: Space, loneliness, mutation, creatures, survival, dark, madness, murder
Verdict: 80/100… A fantastic, gripping film

Synopsis of Pandorum (Overture Films)
Two crew members are stranded on a spacecraft and quickly – and horrifically – realize they are not alone. Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. It’s pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the ship. They can’t remember anything: Who are they? What is their mission? With Lt. Payton staying behind to guide him via radio transmitter, Cpl. Bower ventures deep into the ship and begins to uncover a terrifying reality. Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror filmSlowly the spacecraft’s shocking, deadly secrets are revealed…and the astronauts find their own survival is more important than they could ever have imagined.

Observations about Pandorum
Several things about Pandorum stood out to me. First of all, Pandorum is a far better movie than some of the variables seem to indicate; for example, according to one set of figures, Pandorum took in around $20 million USD on a budget of $33 million USD – making it a loser. (According to a more recent source, the budget was $40 million USD and the horror film has taken in around $23 million USD.) Pandorum deserves to have been a blockbuster. Second, Ben Foster is even more versatile than I thought. The moment I saw him appear on the screen in Pandorum I thought of how different he appeared as the wanna-be vampire in 30 Days and 30 Nights (one of the best vampire movies, IMHO). Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror film Third, Antje Traue – the lovely girl who plays Nadia – is an incredibly attractive blue-eyed brunette: one of my favorite aesthetic combinations for the fairer sex!

Resources: Pandorum, 2009 sci-fi horror film

Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror film

Pandorum movie reviews

Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror film

Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror film

This post was started on Monday, June 20, 2011

Damned by Dawn, 2009 Australian supernatural horror

Country: Australia
Director, writer: Brett Anstey
Horror themes: (filed under Curse horror) banshee, screaming woman, ancient curses and traditions, walking dead/undead, resurrection, corpses, survival
Verdict: 5/10… Average, but with some scary scenes. [Damned by Dawn –]

Damned By Dawn: Official horror movie trailer (YouTube)

Plot summary of Damned by Dawn

Spoken of only in fearful whispers, a supernatural force holds a chilling grip over a remote, primitive farming community where Claire (Renee Wilner) arrives to visit her ailing grandmother. On her deathbed, the old woman warns Claire about the cost of interfering with a powerful spirit coming to claim her soul, and when the rest of the family fails to heed these ancient traditions, the dead are called up from their graves for a bloody night of retribution that leaves carnage and monstrous mayhem in its wake! A riveting rollercoaster of terror in the tradition of The Evil Dead and Drag Me to Hell, this acclaimed new vision of horror reveals that there truly are things in the night much more frightening than death!

Thoughts on Damned by Dawn

I decided to watch this horror flick when I saw Damned by Dawn compared to The Evil Dead, despite the fact that the IMDb rating is a 39. I give it 5/10 because I found the first third or perhaps half of the film to contain some pretty creepy imagery. Like so many other horror movies, I felt that the attempt to show some of the supernatural elements via CGI detracted from the film a bit. Perhaps an invisible force would have been more frightening than a flying skull, for instance.

NOTE: More content coming: images, reviews, thoughts…

Resources: Damned by Dawn

The Reeds, 2009 U.K. horror film

Country: U.K.
Directed by:
Verdict: 7/10… Very good, somewhat original supernatural horror movie
Horror themes: Troublesome teens, ghosts, murder, injury, boating accident, fire, corpses, drowning, doom of repetition, survival, remoteness, lunatic with a gun…

Here we have another After Dark Horrorfest offering, a designation that does not alone portend a high quality horror movie, necessarily. Although not every flick hits a home run, many of the After Dark Horrorfest titles turn out to be quite good – and sometimes excellent – horror films that accomplish exactly what I wish them to: they creep me out.

Brief plot summary of The Reeds

A weekend boating party turns into a nightmare for a group of young Londoners when they stumble upon a terrifying secret hidden in the reeds.

Movie trailer: The Reeds, 2009 (1:56, YouTube)

Verdict: The Reeds (2009)

I thought The Reeds was an excellent, unique, unpredictable, and even creepy supernatural horror film; I’ll give it a 69.

Based on numerous online reviews and comments about The Reeds, many viewers consider this movie to be average at best; however, I count The Reeds as being in the top third or so of the 8 Films to Die For bunch. For this supernatural horror junkie, The Reeds gets credit for featuring proper horror: supernatural horror. (I’ve always felt that the most frightening movies of all time can be categorized as either supernatural horror or psychological horror films.)

Movie trailer: The Reeds: After Dark Horrorfest (1:52, YouTube)

I was pleasantly surprised at how riveted I found myself to be throughout The Reeds; based on its lackluster IMDb rating of 48, my expectations were low. (IMDb happens to be my most frequently used movie resource; perhaps one of these days I will join other screen junkies and get an IMDbPro account.)

Thoughts about The Reeds

This is one of those movies where to divulge even the mere basics of the story might be revealing too much. Of course, if you’ve read many of my posts, you know I can hardly refrain from dropping occasional (OK, frequent) spoilers – but not to the point of revealing everything, much less a unique and shocking plot twist. Even I would not do that.

2010 After Dark Horrorfest: The Reeds (2009) Official Trailer

I was mislead (in a good way) during the first quarter of The Reeds; I had been thinking this film would go in the direction of so many other horror movies wherein the protagonists are harassed, then terrorized, then God-knows-what, by groups of children or teens. Initially, the strangest events experienced by the group of boating Londoners involved a few potential troublemakers running around amongst the reeds: Probably a group of local, rural teens with nothing else to do on weekends but build a campfire and party down.

Other fans of supernatural horror will be quite pleased to hear that The Reeds is NOT one of those all-too-common thrillers masquerading as horror. The Reeds is real supernatural horror.

Creepy horror vs. typical horror

Is it just me, or are there other devotees out there like me who strongly prefer supernatural fright to the basic psycho killer anxiety? I cannot tell you how many times I’ve experienced disappointment at those movies that give the appearance of including creepy supernatural antagonists or weirdnesses – and then there turns out to be no supernatural creepiness whatsoever.

A great example of my hopes and expectations for a scary supernatural plot being dashed was the 2006 French film Them (French title: Ils), which received strong reviews and critical acclaim all around… and really it is a good film, but… This laid-back couple in their remote farmhouse heard noises downstairs. In the end, it was nothing but a pack of troublesome tweens. Granted, the consequences were awful, and I’m not saying Them was a bad movie… it wasn’t. It’s just that I thought it was going to be a supernatural horror film, and I was wrong.

Them (Ils), 2006 – IMDb (Rating: 66)

If there were any real fans of this supernatural horror blog, they would know based on other accounts that I do not use the descriptive term creepy very often – that I reserve the word creepy to describe only a handful of horror films. Well, IMHO, The Reeds does succeed at being creepy – at times, at least. I am not saying The Reeds is the creepiest or most atmospheric horror movie ever, but those terms can be honestly applied to this film.

Gore level: 35/100

The only gore I can recall during The Reeds was the horrible injury resulting from a freak accident that happened to one of the group (the guy who was being such a jerk during the card game). I consider the realistic portrayal of that injury to be a definite plus; tossing in extra gore does not represent real horror to this fan. The frequent addition of gore to horror movies just for gore’s sake is almost always an unsuccessful attempt to increase the scares.

Resources: The Reeds, 2009 U.K. horror