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

    Watch Zomblies online, free, legal: Excellent 2010 zombie horror short film

    poster - Zomblies, 2010 UK zombie horror short filmCountry: U.K.
    Director: David M. Reynolds
    Horror themes: Post-apocalpse, zombies, undead, gore, firearms, war, first-person cam
    Tagline: THEY ARE FAST NOW
    Verdict: 7/10… Great zombie horror short film; it’s actually hard to believe it’s low-budget, visually speaking — kudos to Dave Reynolds and the rest of Realm, as well as the entire crew and the 200+ volunteers that made this short film happen. Zomblies is a must-see for all fans of zombie horror; it is free to watch anytime online (see the streaming video below; just press PLAY)!

    Official trailer, Zomblies, 2010 U.K. zombie horror short (watch entire film below)

    This killer short horror film has been made available to the masses via YouTube, as I discovered during the writeup process a couple of days after watching the film. There’s no need to feel guilty downloading and/or watching this flick online, free of charge!

    Zomblies plot synopsis

    In a post-apocalyptic version of the present or the near-future, the zombie hunting unit of a private militia runs into major trouble and sends a distress call to headquarters – located on the safe side of “The Wall” which protects what’s left of humanity on the island nation. It’s up to the Rangers – a heavily armed unit containing both vets and rookies – to make it back to the Wall, cross back over The Wall into relative safety, as well as uncover the truth about a terrifying virus which – after killing the infected – also reanimates the dead, creating a quick, dangerous, carnivorous zombie.

    Watch Zomblies online free here

    Be sure to use the full-screen option to maximize your experience

    This short film is apparently the first from writer/ director/ actor/ visual effects specialist David M. Reynolds, who has successfully created this exciting, edge-of-seat zombie horror. Kudos, man. This is low-budget successfully masquerading as Hollywood. The visual effects are outstanding.

    The zombie-hunting unit includes:

    • Jack, The Chief
    • Bear, The Tracker
    • Nickel, The Marksman
    • Walker, The Big Guns
    • Drew, The Science
    • Bull, The Comms

    Although the official budget was around five thousand pounds U.K., this is rather misleading as Zomblies was clearly a 200-member-strong team effort from which no one will profit financially, directly, per an interview with Dave Reynolds at Zombie Command.

    Thanks to Realm, the actors, the crew, and all the volunteers who made this possible – and thanks for giving us this video at no cost, online, and allowing others to embed it.

    Resources: Zomblies, 2010 U.K. zombie horror short

    Straight into Darkness, 2003 war horror

    Directed by Jeff Burr

    horror movie - straight into darkness, 2003, jeff burr

    Monday, March 16, 2009
    The first thing that must be said, what with this being a supernatural horror movie blog, is that Straight into Darkness is first and foremost a war movie that also includes horror and supernatural overtones. Honestly, I vacillated for months on this movie, bouncing between wanting and not wanting to see it. I finally acquired Straight into Darkness when I saw in a sale bin at the Brentwood, TN Blockbuster Video – one of my greatest sources for $3.50 horror DVDs – which made the decision an easy one. I bought it for $3.50, the effective equivalent of buying it from for fifty cents. (As I write, it sells for about $2 – big savings achieved!)

    Reviews of Straight into Darkness are mixed. The movie does not seem to be very well-understood – a common complaint of those proffering bad reviews. It appears the more thoughtful reviewers liked it more consistently than those who did not sound as intelligent, so it could, in a sense, be considered a brainy affair.

    Won’t you join me in despising the fellow with the bright, bleached-white teeth? I feel certain you will, especially during the first third of the movie.

    DVD Cover – Straight into Darkness

    A Film by Jeff Burr
    When two young American GIs desert their platoon in the final days of World War II, they will find themselves struggling against all odds to stay alive. Their strange and violent journey will bring them together with a band of orphans who are expertly trained killing machines in an attempt to defeat a Nazi battalion. With the perfect combination of horror and action, Straight Into Darkness is a haunting and powerful war film that is unforgettable.

    Review quotes on the DVD cover:

    • Strikingly original and eerily compelling (LA Times)
    • A sleeper hit. . .a gritty, hard-hitting war tale with disturbing supernatural overtones. (San Francisco Chronicle)
    • A horrifying descent into violence and madness. . .with hair-raising action scenes. (

    My Thoughts on Straight into Darkness

    horror movie - straight into darkness, 2003, jeff burr

    Were one to blend a high-quality war movie and Children of the Corn with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Straight into Darkness might be the result.

    This tale of two AWOL Yank soldiers running for their lives in Nazi-occupied France is by turns exciting and creepy. Two Allied prisoners — Privates Losey (Ryan Francis) and Deming (Scott MacDonald) — are under arrest after being caught in AWOL status, but manage to escape the MPs escorting them when their jeep is blown up by a mine. Thus begins a sick and twisted journey into hell.
    horror movie - straight into darkness, 2003, jeff burr
    Deming is quickly revealed as a bloodthirsty creep/jackass and Losey as a thoughtful man of conscience: on the run, Deming has the only gun, forcing Losey to do his will. Losey has memory bursts of home life, as well as what appear to be psychic viewings of past events – all of which erupt on the screen in high-saturation color, in contrast to the desaturated look of much of the film.

    As Losey (Ryan Francis) and Deming (Scott MacDonald) battle each other’s problems, they come across various disturbances in the balance of humanity, such as the cannibal priest and an eerie section of the forest where dozens of men apparently hung themselves, dangling like meatbag (thanks, Bender) ornaments.

    The climax of Straight into Darkness begins when they come across a seemingly abandoned building — a bizarre fortress of amputees and freaks, orphans led by Deacon (veteran David Warner) who have been trained to protect themselves from the war-torn outside world.
    horror movie - straight into darkness, 2003, jeff burr
    This surreal and twisted film could be thought of as half art-house and half exploitation (because of the children, a la those of the Corn) with a healthy dose of the supernatural, which puts the war film on some horror movie lists. Some have compared it to Tod Browning’s Freaks. After two decades of toiling in the slasher film sequel factory, Jeff Burr has finally been able to express his dark, ingenious vision – a definite and significant step up for Burr from the mediocre hacker seconds and thirds like Puppetmaster 4 and 5, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Pumpkinhead 2, and so the list goes. Are we sure this is the same Jeff Burr? Great job.

    Movie Reviews – Straight into Darkness

    Rotten Tomatoes Reviews Straight into Darkness (50 critic/50 user)
    Dread Central Reviews Straight into Darkness (2.5 of 5)
    Variety Reviews Straight into Darkness
    Movie Shark Deblore Reviews Straight into Darkness (excellent)
    Leonid Mamchenkov Reviews Straight into Darkness

    References and Resources

    Amazon.comStraight into Darkness
    IMDBStraight into Darkness (52)

    Info, Credits

    Running time: 95 min.
    Language: English, German dialogue

    There are no subtitles on my DVD, which stinks. I turn on the subtitles even for movies in English — it’s a habit that helps me catch more of what’s going on.

    Camera (FotoKem color), Viorel Sergovici; editor, Lawrence Maddox; music, Michael Convertino; production designer, Calin Papura; art director, Adrian Cancer; costume designers, Tora Dragomir, Gabriela Ricsan; sound, Viorel Ghiocel; stunt coordinator, Bogdan Uritescu; assistant director, Lewis Cojocar; second unit director, Will Huston; second unit camera, Radu Aldea; casting, Perry Bullington, Robert MacDonald. Reviewed at the Egyptian Theater, Los Angeles, May 20, 2004.