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

Dead Space: Downfall, 2008 animated horror

movie poster - Dead Space: Downfall, 2008 animated horror movie

Dead Space: Downfall is the animated prequel to the Electronic Arts (EA) survival horror video game of the same name. Dead Space has become quite a franchise, now including games, movies, and books.

Synopsis of Dead Space: Downfall
The USG Ishimura, a miner spaceship, is transporting a strange artifact called the Red Marker. In the Aegis VII colony, where the Red Marker was found, there are some suicides and murders and the people are slowly going mad. The people are being infected by something. Barrow, the foreman, finds the body of his wife having committed suicide. Barrow decides to escape the colony’s madness and, taking his wife’s body, goes on board the Ishimura. But something happens to Barrow’s wife on board the Ishimura.

My comments about Dead Space: Downfall
To a broad audience I would not recommend this animated sci-fi horror affair: most adults don’t want to spend their time watching animation, much less animated blood spatter, fantastically and rapidly mutating creatures, and so on. To a strictly horror audience I likewise would not recommend this flick. Actually, just don’t watch Dead Space: Downfall unless you are a fan of the video game it’s based on or a big-time animation aficionado. The animation is average, the plot is standard fare; nothing really stands out. There’s not much depth.

If you’ve seen Dead Space: Downfall and enjoyed it to any extent, but you remain unaware of or unwilling to experiment with anime (animation from Japan), then you are really missing out. Frankly, I believe all movie lovers who appreciate and enjoy animation (it’s a smallish slice of the adult population) owe it to themselves to become familiar with some of the best anime.

That old image of anime being only for young geeks is not only passe but patently false.

The truth is, if you enjoy animation but you’re still unfamiliar with anime, then you have a whole world of entertainment just waiting to be discovered! I did not test the waters of anime until after age 40 – and then I fell head-over-heels for anime, virtually immersing myself into it for a couple of years. I found quite a few anime titles that adults can enjoy without feeling they’re watching kid stuff. At a minimum any sci-fi fan should see Ghost in the Shell. Boy, did I get sidetracked…

Even though I did not praise Dead Space: Downfall, I am about to watch the sequel, Dead Space: Aftermath. I’m a fan of horror, sci-fi, and animation, and I’m a bit curious to see if this is a rare case of a superior follow-up. We shall see.

movie screenshot - Dead Space: Downfall, 2008 animated horror movie


Review of Dead Space: Downfall

Resident Evil: Apocalypse, 2004 horror movie


2002’s popular video-game-derived hit Resident Evil didn’t inspire confidence in a sequel, but Resident Evil: Apocalypse defies odds and surpasses expectations. It’s a bigger, better, action-packed zombie thriller, and this time Milla Jovovich (as the first film’s no-nonsense heroine) is joined by more characters from the popular Capcom video games, including Jill Valentine (played by British hottie Sienna Guillory) and Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr, from 1999’s The Mummy). They’re armed and ready for a high-caliber encounter with devil dogs, mutant “Lickers,” lurching zombies, and the leather-clad monster known only as Nemesis, unleashed by the nefarious Umbrella Corporation responsible for creating the cannibalistic undead horde. Having gained valuable experience as a respected second-unit director on high-profile films like Gladiator and The Bourne Identity, director Alexander Witt elevates this junky material to the level of slick, schlocky entertainment. – Jeff Shannon