[Review] ‘The Nun’ is a Calmly, Consistently Creepy Slice of Gothic Horror

It’s safe to say that the producers of 2013’s The Conjuring have continued to find new and interesting ways to expand upon their franchise. From the first (pretty excellent) chapter to the rock-solid traditional sequel to spin-offs (Annabelle) and prequels to said spin-offs (Annabelle: Creation) — and more on the way — it looks like James Wan and company have quietly built their own little “shared universe” of horror, and have been doing some really solid business with this game plan. It’s pleasantly ironic (at least to me, because I am old) that each of these films have found lots of younger fans despite being fairly low-key, old-fashioned, slow-burn style horror movies. Say what you will about this series, but it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than basic slasher stuff or yet another predictable zombie attack — and it’s Wan’s obvious affection for old-school classic horror cinema that helps keep things interesting. (Go check out his second feature again! Dead Silence is due for reappraisal!)

The latest chapter in this supernatural saga is called The Nun. It’s a grim, gloomy, understated horror tale that. truth be told, probably would have bored me back when I was a wee little 15-year-old horror geek. But as a grown-up who has grown to appreciate things like mood, atmosphere, and good acting I don’t mind saying that The Nun simply hit me in the right spot this morning. Sure, it’s a very basic (even familiar) story about two representatives of the church who travel to a distant location — in the case a Romanian convent — to check up on a reported suicide, only to be set upon by something very evil — but it’s also just calmly, consistently creepy. And let’s just be honest here; it’s nice to see a horror movie populated solely by adults once in a while. Nothing against teens and kids within the horror realm, obviously, but a flick about three grown-ups and some haunted nuns also struck me as a nice change of pace. At least as far as multiplexes are concerned.

Director Corin Hardy (The Hallow, and I don’t mean The Gallows) and cinematographer Maxime Alexandre are clearly intent on evoking the doom, gloom, and eerie atmosphere of a lovely old Hammer Horror production, and screenwriter Gary Dauberman seems to be actively challenging modern horror fans to settle down and enjoy a slightly more sedate piece of Gothic horror. From the early 1950s production design and costumes to the ominous locations tucked deep inside the haunted convent there’s an obvious attempt at delivering something slightly more mature than what we normally see in studio-released horror films. It certainly doesn’t hurt that both leads are pretty great. Taissa Farmiga, as Sister Irene, the newbie nun who suspects foul play, and Demian Bichir, as the weary but noble Father Burke, strike an unlikely chemistry as they dig into the mysteries of the convent’s history. And Jonas Bloquet provides some essential charm and comic relief as a French-Canadian ally who proves to be quite helpful indeed when it comes to curses and possessions and such.

Though it’s most assuredly a horror film, The Nun is perhaps better approached as a period piece mystery with some decidedly occult leanings. Hardy may lean a bit too heavily on simple jump scares and dream sequences for my liking (and I might have thrown a few extra characters into the mix, if only to bolster the mystery angle and provide for a few more murders!) but there’s still quite a bit to appreciate here. It’s hard to say if this particular chapter in the Conjure-verse will scare up huge crowds at the box office but it’s one that should prove to be a pleasant surprise to intrepid horror fans who eventually discover it on their own TVs.

Review – Blood Fest (2018)

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For many horror movies, the fabled brass ring is to scare your audience. So each year, tons of entries strain in their seats, hands extended, trying to do just that. Some of them manage to expand on proven concepts, while others try to push the genre to new directions. Ultimately, many of them fail. In fact, so few come close to the prize that the industry is over-saturated with jump scares and psychological thrillers that forget to target the very core of what could cement their longevity: make the experience entertaining. As fans, there is a lot to wade through to simply be entertained. So much in fact that even those most die-hard among us often come away jaded and disappointed.

Blood Fest, the 2018 horror-comedy send-up from director Owen Egerton isn’t about to try and reinvent the wheel, but it also isn’t in the business of spraying a fart in your face at the fragrance counter. Quite simply, it sets out to entertain.

Blood-Fest-pig-chainsawsYears after the murder of his mother, Dax (Robbie Kay), celebrates their once mutual love of horror films in everything that he does. From his bedroom-shrine to the horrific, to his job at the local video store. Dax’s father (Tate Donovan), a psychiatrist, bitter over the contribution that he feels those same movies played in the death of his wife denies his son entrance to the horror con to beat all conventions, Blood Fest. Taking a page from his best friend and secret love interest Sam (Seychelle Gabriel), Dax raises the proverbial finger to “the man”, ignoring his father’s rules and pleading with friend Ashley (Barbara Dunkelman) to get him into the convention. It’s not long after entering through the gates that Dax learns the con is nothing more than a ruse to lure fans into their own gory bloodbath as celebrated director and promoter Anthony Walsh (played by Egerton himself) is hell-bent on shooting the horror film to end all horror films with the convention goers becoming the movie’s very real victims. Only the truly devoted fans have a chance of escaping by adhering to the tropes, stereotypes and rules associated with horror films.

From the setup to the first few kills and beyond, Egerton is playing this one for all the fun that he can and it shows. Equal parts Cabin in the Woods and Waxwork, Blood Fest doesn’t have any intentions of straight-facing this one, getting goofy silly, and even overly sentimental in all the right places. We have some strong comedic performances from our leads as many will recognize Dax’s best friend Krill (Jacob Batalon) from the most recent Spiderman franchise and even Zachary Levi drops in for some memorable moments half way in (yes, he’s top-billed, but be assured this is nothing more than a cameo in all actuality).

The ending, albeit a little groan-worthy in its big reveal doesn’t taint the big fun and laughs here…not to mention some nice practical f/x and just enough meta to leave fans grinning. RECOMMENDED.

The post Review – Blood Fest (2018) appeared first on HorrorFix – Horror Movie News Reviews and More!.

[Review] Shane Black’s ‘The Predator’ Leans Hard into Its “R” Rating for a Fun But Clunky Time

On the whole, the Predator franchise has an up and down history. The original is beloved (and famous now for featuring two US governors among the cast) while the sequel has interesting ideas but problematic racial elements. Depending on your canonical preferences the AvP films are either silly fun or offensive cash grabs. Finally, 2010’s Predators attempts to reboot the whole affair, but didn’t quite work.

Which brings us to Shane Black’s attempt to give the galaxy’s most dangerous hunter a new lease on life with The Predator. The new film disavows all but the original two films to tell the story of a team of misfits who band together to tackle not just one Predator, but a new suped-up hybrid (and his Predator dogs). Oh – and there’s a Mary Sue child who is on the spectrum and Olivia Munn thrown in for good measure.

If you follow the trades, the news of reshoots, botched marketing campaigns and a recent edit to remove a convicted sexual offender friend of Black’s might sound the alarm of a troubled production. Hopeful fans need not worry too much: the final cut of the film doesn’t reflect a project in peril so much as a very traditional “by the books” Hollywood blockbuster, which in 2018 may be its own cause for alarm.

Ardent Black fans will undoubtedly find plenty to like about the new film. The Predator opens in Mexico with a botched mission that leaves skilled military sniper McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) the sole survivor and in possession of the Predator helmet and glove. The crash site is quickly swept under the rug by government scientist Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) and McKenna is set up to take the fall to ensure he remains quiet about what he saw. When his son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) activates the helmet McKenna covertly mailed home, however, it initiates a chain of events that brings Traeger, the Predator and a newly introduced bounty hunter Predator down on McKenna’s sleepy town.

Shane and co-writer Fred Dekker keep things moving along at a speedy clip, offsetting the deluge of expository dialogue with regular action sequences. Their other contribution is a boatload of supporting comedy characters in the form of McKenna’s makeshift team, which includes crass comedian Coyle (Keegan Michael-Key), Tourette’s afflicted Baxley (Thomas Jane), pilot Lynch (Alfie Allen), creepy/cute Nettles (Augusta Aguilera) and suicidal leader Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes).

These men become the mouthpiece for Black’s trademark crude and witty dialogue, which vacillates somewhere between “your mother” jokes and using the R-word to describe McKenna’s son. It’s unclear if Black and Dekker (heh heh) were aiming for 80s action movie nostalgia with their underwhelming dialogue and rah-rah machismo, but the vast majority of The Predator, unfortunately, lands uncomfortably close to dude-bro territory.

Thankfully the action makes up a lot of the shortcomings. The opening sequence is adequate, but things really get cooking when the Predator unexpectedly awakens at Traeger’s top secret Project Stargazer base. The ensuing death and destruction is glorious to behold as Black leans hardcore into his R rating and paints the white facility walls red. Later in the film, a battle at the local schoolyard finds creative ways to continually raise the stakes. By the time the action moves to a rock quarry and into the woods for the extended final battle, however, exhaustion and ennui have begun to set in. Even the wanton destruction of an entire army of red shirts can’t help to keep the film’s energy from flagging as action sequence begets action sequence endlessly.

Sadly the action alone can’t save the film. Black and Dekker pack the 2hr+ film with far too many conflicts. When the film unites the humans against the new super Predator, it works. When the focus shifts to the petty in-fighting between McKenna and Traeger or the narrative cuts back to Yvonne Strahovski’s Emily (playing McKenna’s estranged wife in a thankless role), The Predator feels clunky and ill-paced. Throw in Black’s near misogynistic use of female characters, including a completely unnecessary scene involving a naked Munn, and there’s a lot to criticize.

The Predator will undoubtedly appeal to fans of the original films, as well as purveyors of Shane Black’s oeuvre. As for whether this new film has the capacity to re-launch the franchise (which the tacked on coda clearly aims to do)? Unclear. The troubled reports from set and inevitable “bad to meh” reviews certainly won’t help recruit new audiences. But hey: at least we got Predator dogs!

The Killer Nun – Italy, 1978

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The Killer Nun – original title: Suor Omicidi (“Sister Homicide”) – is a 1978 Italian nunsploitation/horror feature film directed by Giulio Berruti from a screenplay co-written with Alberto Tarallo. It is also known as Killer Nun and Deadly Habits.

The film’s excellent soundtrack score is by Alessandro Alessandroni (Lady Frankenstein; The Strangler of Vienna).

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Anita Ekberg stars as Sister Gertrude, who is recovering from neurosurgery, although her Mother Superior (Alida Valli) dismisses Sister Gertrude’s fears about rushed recovery. Unfortunately, soon enough, it becomes clear that Sister Gertrude’s fears were legitimate, as the hapless nun spirals into psychosis and addiction to morphine and heroin at the geriatric hospital where she works…

As well as initiating a lesbian affair with Sister Matthieu (Paola Morra), Sister Gertrude expels concerned Dr Patrick Roland (Joe Dallesandro) from the hospital, and a reign of terror is initiated, in which Sister Gertrude inflicts humiliating calisthenics on one group of elderly inmates, stomps on an elderly woman’s dentures, reads gory hagiographic details of the lives of tortured saints to her hapless charges and is judged to have thrown an elderly man engaged in sex with a nurse out of a window.

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As if this weren’t enough, Sister Gertrude goes into a nearby town, picks up a man at a bar, and has impersonal heterosexual sex as well. Finally, the Mother Superior is convinced that she must do something about the aberrant behaviour of Sister Gertrude… but is she really the perpetrator of murder, or is someone trying to frame her?

The film was originally banned in Britain in 1983 as part of the so-called ‘video nasties‘ moral clampdown, the general air of sleaziness and in particular “pins in the face scene” probably attracting the attention of the authorities.

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Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

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Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“An agonizing scene where a crippled patient climbs up a flight of stairs only to make it to the top and have Sister Gertrude waiting is a slightly disappointing final kill, and would have been better suited in the middle of the film. The twist ending, however, makes up for it even though if you’re paying attention you will have already seen it coming. All in all Killer Nun isn’t the mother superior of nunsploitation flicks but it is a solid release and sleazy enough,,,” Basement Screams

“Giulio Berruti is a far cry from a good director and the pacing, acting, mise-en-scene, tone and visual creativity all suffer as a result. Fortunately he does have an eye for subversive meanings, particularly his insinuations that the drug experience and the religious experience are closer than the clergy could comfortably admit.” Film Walrus Reviews

“Killer Nun certainly stands out as a rare giallo/nunsploitation hybrid and manages to deliver an attention-getting bit of sexy sleaze or violence every five minutes or so, including a nasty bit involving a scalpel that landed this on the video nasties list back in the ’80s and a squirm-inducing rainy sex scene that most likely killed the libidos of anyone expecting the usual hot ‘n’ nasty softcore nun action they probably expected.” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

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Buy: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

“Ultimately this film is a hybrid of sorts as it mixes elements form the nunsploitation and giallo genres.The Killer Nun is an interesting curiosity that fails to capture the depravity that is prominent in the best nunsplolitation films. In the end just like Sister Gertrude this film isn’t quite sure of its identity.” Michael den Boer, 10k Bullets

‘A creditable attempt in the the thriller vein with pathological highlights in which Berruti shows another side of himself.’ Spaghetti Nightmares

Spaghetti Nightmares

Buy: Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com

Killer Nun is blasphemous sleaze all the way, and as a bonus, it’s f*cking beautiful. It’s not quite the blend of the giallo and nunsploitation you’d think you could get, but it’s a great watch just the same. It makes an enjoyable slight break from the norm during a woman of the cloth themed movie night, while still checking all the boxes.” Video Religion

Cast and characters:

  • Anita Ekberg … Sister Gertrude
  • Joe Dallesandro … Dr. Patrick Roland
  • Alida Valli … Mother Superior
  • Lou Castel … Peter
  • Paola Morra … Sister Mathieu
  • Massimo Serato … Dr. Poirret
  • Daniele Dublino … Director
  • Laura Nucci … Baroness
  • Alice Gherardi … Janet
  • Lee De Barriault
  • Ileana Fraia
  • Antonietta Patriarca
  • Sofia Lusy
  • Nerina Montagnani … Josephine

Image credits:  Video Religion

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Buy soundtrack CD: Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com

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Buy: Amazon.co.uk

Killer-Nun-Blue-Underground-Blu-ray-Amazon.com

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TIFF 2018: THE PREDATOR Review – A Disappointing Return for The Universe’s Greatest Hunter

Starring Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Janes

Written by Fred Dekker, Shane Black

Directed by Shane Black


***Spoilers Ahead***

It’s no secret that John McTiernan’s Predator is one of the greatest movies of the 80’s. A brilliant display of machismo action, gratuitous violence, interesting characters, and a memorable villain all add up to a film that has rightfully earned its place in movie history as a “must-see” title for all cinema lovers. It seems such a shame that every sequel has failed to figure out the formula that made the first film so successful, a trend that now continues with Shane Black’s The Predator.

The film follows Quinn McKenna (Holbrook), a military sniper who has a run-in with a predator after its ship crashes near his mission. After he manages to be the sole survivor of the encounter, he is held by a secret group of the US government who know of the existence of the predator encounters over the years and will do anything to keep it quiet. Meanwhile, Dr. Bracket (Munn) is called in to offer her scientific expertise when the predator research team believes that the Yautja they’ve captured is a hybrid of human and predator DNA. Oh, and it turns out that the predator that attacked McKenna and his team was actually on the run from another predator, a super-sized version that is on a hunt of his own.

If what I’ve written seems convoluted, just you wait until you see the film and get a load of the rest that it has to offer. There’s way too much going on here that simply is not needed and it feels like the majority of it is done to pad an already overly long runtime. While everyone embraces their role with glee, and their dialogue is full of charmingly witty banter, the characters feel forgettable, are easily dismissed, and often engage in behavior that makes no sense. For example, Munn is a scientist who also happens to be trained in weapons and has no concern about, quite literally, jumping on the back of a predator when the situation calls for it. The problem is that none of this fits in with her extremely limited character development.

Additionally, the decision to give Jacob Tremblay’s character, Rory, Asperger’s is questionable at best, ill-advised at worst. It makes sense in the grand scheme of the story, but what they try to do with it feels almost offensively ignorant. The human/predator hybrid theory that was brought up earlier is a thread that is carried throughout the film, and it turns out that the super predator is after Rory because, get this, all the trophies that predators collect are not just for show, but they also harvest spinal fluid samples for their genetic engineering program, and Asperger’s is “the next step in human evolution”. No, I’m not joking. This is an actual part of the story. That being said, Tremblay has the greatest line in the film when he says something along the lines of “That’s reverse psychology. I can do that too. Don’t go fuck yourself.” Pure gold, kid. Pure goddamn gold.

An homage that The Predator makes to McTiernan’s original is through the music, which essentially lifts Alan Silvestri’s score. However, there’s also additional music that feels tonally and thematically different, resulting in this strange feeling that two different composers worked on the film but failed to work together.

But look, it’s not all bad. There’s a delightful amount of gore, and the winks and nods to the original film are plentiful, if not a bit on-the-nose. Still, these aren’t enough for us to overlook just how jagged and abrupt the story moves from one segment to the next. The opening jumps awkwardly from one character’s introduction to another and the ending seems to want to do everything in its power to get things over and done with as quickly as possible. Even many of the deaths are done almost dismissively, such as Sterling K. Brown’s demise, which was so quick and nonchalant that I thought I must have been mistaken in thinking he died.

Shane Black directs the film competently enough but there’s so much more that could’ve happened. To that point, there’s also so much less that should’ve been done.

The post TIFF 2018: THE PREDATOR Review – A Disappointing Return for The Universe’s Greatest Hunter appeared first on Dread Central.

Review: THE NUN [Heather’s Take]

When you’re a filmmaker playing in the James Wan-iverse sandbox, expectations are going to be high amongst fans, and for the most part, I feel like director Corin Hardy rises to the occasion with The Nun, his lovingly crafted tribute to Hammer Horror that dives into the backstory of Valak (Bonnie Aarons), the demonic force introduced in The Conjuring 2. While The Nun has some issues with tone and pacing, especially in the first half of the film, once the story settles in for the finale, that’s when Hardy’s love for the genre shines through, with this newest piece of The Conjuring cinematic puzzle coming together to deliver a solidly entertaining finale that finally taps into just what makes Valak so terrifying on screen.

The Nun transports us to an abbey in Romania back in 1952, where we watch as two nuns are being tormented by a somewhat unseen presence, and one of them ends up taking her own life instead of sticking around to contend with the evil force that’s stalking her. The news of the tragedy makes its way to the Vatican, where the higher-ups in the Catholic Church task Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) with investigating the horrific death of the young nun. As the duo set out for their enquiry, they meet a local by the name of Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) who helps them in their travels up to the remote locale, but it’s evident rather quickly that there’s something very off about the Abbey of St. Carta, and both Sister Irene and her holy companion are going to need to rely on their faith to survive Valak’s demonic shenanigans.

While I enjoyed The Nun as a whole, that’s not to say that the film doesn’t have its fair share of issues that nearly trip Hardy’s directorial efforts. As mentioned, the first part of The Nun feels a bit clunky at times, where it struggles to find its tone and establish a good storytelling pace, as it tends to overstuff its narrative with a backstory that nearly bogs down the whole affair (a priest who has experienced an exorcism gone wrong? You don’t say!). The Nun’s biggest cinematic sin is the fact that the character of Valak is grossly underutilized, with Aarons only really getting a chance to go wild in the film’s final 20 minutes or so. In a film where you’re supposed to be exploring this pre-established villain that fans have already embraced, it seems like a shame to not really lean into that character and celebrate it to its fullest.

That being said, The Nun does feature some truly inspired moments of gothic horror, particularly a harrowing sequence involving Farmiga’s character being whipped around violently during an attack by Valak, and while I may have uttered the words “Demon Knight” a few times during the movie’s conclusion, I must admit that I applaud The Nun for just full on embracing its Hammer Horror-esque tendencies during the film’s final showdown between good and evil. The Nun also acts as a fantastic platform for Farmiga to shine upon, as she’s really great in this, and I very much enjoyed her performance as a young woman of faith who struggles with visions that have plagued her for some time, and how such miracles could possibly fit into God’s plan for her life. Also, Bloquet’s character, Frenchie, feels like he could have been plucked right off the set of Son of Frankenstein, and that was something else I truly admired about this project.

It’s true that The Nun may have its share of foibles, and never quite achieves the cinematic greatness I was hoping for, but it’s still a good effort from Hardy, who wears his affection for classic horror prominently on his sleeve. His love letter to a bygone era of genre storytelling is a gorgeously gothic feast for the eyes that is best served on a big screen.

Movie Score: 3/5

The post Review: THE NUN [Heather’s Take] appeared first on Daily Dead.

The Nun – USA, 2018: updated with more clips and 13 reviews

‘Witness the darkest chapter in The Conjuring universe’

The Nun is a 2018 American supernatural horror feature film directed by Corin Hardy (The Hallow) from a screenplay by James Wan (The ConjuringSaw) and Gary Dauberman (IT; Wolves at the Door; Swamp Monkey; et al). The movie stars Taissa Farmiga, Demian Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Charlotte Hope and Ingrid Bisu.

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret.

Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorised audiences in The Conjuring 2, as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned…

As with the Annabelle movies, The Nun is an offshoot from The Conjuring franchise as part of a new universe of supernatural-themed scare movies. It is rated ‘R’ by the MPAA for “terror, violence, and disturbing/bloody images.”

Reviews:

The Nun enjoys a lively sound design, showing more skill with eerie noises than visual aggressiveness, finding crude CGI ruining the potential for gory encounters. The central appeal of Valak and her cold stare remains, but Hardy doesn’t do enough with the monster, while Dauberman’s writing gets bogged down in Christian mythology…” Brain Orndorf, Blu-ray.com

” …while it’s not a particularly scary film, it’s still a tense narrative that further binds James Wan’s cinematic universe together. Even better, Corin Hardy’s direction slickly presents it all with a confident flare of someone who truly loves horror films, and it shows in every frame.” Mike Reyes, CinemaBlend

“Even with a few stumbles and played-out tropes, The Nun provides audiences with another solid entry in a franchise that just will not quit […] Backed by outstanding performances, striking cinematography, and an interesting tie-in to the other films, there is plenty here for horror fans.” Katherine Szabo, Cryptic Rock

” …there’s a great setting and great performances, but there are a handful of scenes that really help this movie stand out for me, including a segment at a local graveyard that is one of the highlights of the film. It shows that the movie has enough tricks up its sleeve and doesn’t need to overuse Valak to make you uneasy, focusing more on character and the creep factor than on gore.” Jonathan James, Daily Dead

“Unlike the other movies in the franchise, it’s not portentous and obsessed with convincing the audience that the events we’re watching actually happened – The Nun is camply funny and it’s clearly meant to be. Fun one-liners and the frequent appearances of Valak at the end of various long corridors (definitely this demon’s MO) feel like cheeky winks and stop The Nun from feeling purely like a crass cash in.” Rose Fletcher, Den of Geek! UK

“It’s certainly not scary, and the family dynamic that made the characters in the earlier films somewhat empathetic is missing here. Burke and Irene are paper thin, Frenchie is on hand for some tonally jarring comic relief, and we see far too much of The Nun — early and often — to allow her to be a truly frightening presence.” Don Kaye, Den of Geek! USA

The Nun is a good-looking film (barring the odd dodgy lighting effects) with some strong design elements including a graveyard full of the least-reassuring crucifixes we’ve ever seen. But you’ll wait in vain for Hardy to take advantage of all he’s got and deliver some genuine scares.” Hugh Armitage, Digital Spy

” …in jettisoning the focus on family of the previous films, it gives us characters whose interactions with each other feel less than detailed, and who are more archetypal than real. But it’s good clean fun nevertheless, and the set pieces expertly supply the tension-and-release satisfactions of the genre.” Harry Windsor, The Hollywood Reporter

” …The Nun stumbles by not delivering any real terror or investment in its characters, instead resting on its strong visuals and atmosphere and, strangely, humor. Fans of The Conjuring franchise itching for more lore to pore over will get what they came for, but if you were hoping that this would be the scariest film in the franchise… keep praying.” Tom Jorgensen, IGN

” …once you strip away the boo moments, once you sort the living from the dead, the only ‘outside reality’ to which The Nunrefers is the (fraudulent) world of the Warrens, and the only place for which Vakal seems destined – perhaps after another sequel outing or several – is the Warrens’ room of curious cabinets where all these stories are ultimately contained. The Nun is effective as visceral, in-the-moment horror, but there is little of substance beneath the wimple.” Anton Bitel, Projected Figures

The Nun works neither as a stand alone horror film, nor as an extension of the Conjuring universe (such a weird thought). It’s a boring, uneventful, downright ludicrous attempt to capitalize on less than four minutes of screen time in an infinitely better film. It isn’t the first time a film attempting to capitalize on success will have failed, I guess I just expected better.” J Hurtado, Screen Anarchy

“In the absence of much plot or character complexity in the script by Gary Dauberman (Itand the Annabelle films), Hardy revels in the opportunity to tell the story as a series of eerie set pieces. Until a computer-enhanced finale somewhat deflates things, he wrings chills from carefully crafted cinematography and production design, imaginative staging and creepy locations (some in Transylvania itself) that add to the authenticity.” Michael Gingold, Time Out New York

“Farmiga and Bichir are as reliable as ever in their whisper-slight roles, yet it’s the charming Paquet who threatens to run away with the film, tackling his character as a sort of hipster Bruce Campbell amidst all the straight-faced gloom-and-doom. Indeed, The Nun’s most interesting touches come when the film’s craftsmen try to bring some anachronistic life to the identikit Gothic environs…” Andrew Barker, Variety

“Scares are often on the generic side (pitch-black doorway, hand reaches out), and while some wild effects work enjoys the zanier side of Hell’s mouth opening up to spit venom across Earth’s surface, it’s missing the masterfully torturous tone that Wan’s universe otherwise aims for. Again, though, that’s not totally a bad thing!” Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

Production companies:

Atomic Monster/New Line Cinema/Safran Company

More nasty nuns on HORRORPEDIA

Image credits: Warner Bros. Pictures

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The Nun – action figure doll

The Bad Nun – UK, 2018

The post The Nun – USA, 2018: updated with more clips and 13 reviews appeared first on HORRORPEDIA.

BRAM STOKER’S SHADOWBUILDER Review – Michael Rooker vs The Apocalypse

Starring Michael Rooker, Leslie Hope, Kevin Zegers, Tony Todd

Directed by Jamie Dixon

Distributed by MVD Rewind


Shadowbuilder (1998) begins with Michael Rooker, a pistol-carrying priest, in the middle of amassing a pretty high body count. It’s not hard to like a film willing to start there, though there is the risk that the movie’s going to peak early. Rooker never does end up using the guns again, which is certainly a bummer, because you could definitely build a movie around a stone-faced priest destroying everything he surveys.

All that aside, the story is perfectly fine. A shadow demon is let loose by a cabal of wayward priests in order to destroy all of reality. A lofty, goal, sure, but one that can’t be accomplished unless the titular Shadowbuilder can find twelve-year-old Chris Hatcher (Kevin Zegers) and ritualistically kill him during an eclipse that’s happening in a few days.

Quite a premise, I’d say. Michael Stokes’s screenplay is remarkably solid, with consistent pacing and a mostly believable plot. Tonally, the film is all over the place. At various times it’s deadly serious, comical, and surreal. None of these elements really mesh well in this flick, and often we feel like we’re suddenly in a different movie, but no matter, really. The uneven tone is actually part of the film’s charm. It’s my favorite kind of crazy: unpredictable, weird, and in a universe unto itself.

Plus, Shadowbuilder is quite a joy to look at. For a low-budget movie released in 1998, the CGI isn’t half bad most of the time. There’s some cheesy stuff that definitely might take you out of the movie for a few seconds, but not a whole lot. The effects artists must have really put in the overtime on this one. Director Jamie Dixon is, to this day, a very in-demand visual effects supervisor, so it’s no surprise that the visuals are top-notch. This also goes a long way in explaining how Shadowbuilder can look so good while the quality of the acting is all over the place. Most likely, it just wasn’t Dixon’s priority.

Michael Rooker is convincing and a joy to watch. Severe and unsmiling, he’s definitely the most engaging actor and, low-budget or not, he goes all in and acts the hell out of the part. The rest of the performers have various degrees of talent. Young Kevin Zegers tries his best as the would-be demonic sacrifice, but his heart didn’t seem to be in it. Tony Todd, of Candyman fame, is goddamn awesome as a one-eyed dreadlocked semi-homeless guy who has an unhealthy obsession with lights and light bulbs. He seems to relish playing this quite over-the-top character and approaches the weirdo role with enthusiasm. But, along with Michael Rooker, he’s one of the few engaging actors in this flick. The rest of the performances are mostly serviceable. They get the job done, though it’s nothing very memorable.

I haven’t read the short story that the film is based on, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that Shadowbuilder is quite a bit removed from the source material. This was obviously a decision made by money people since 1998 was only five years removed from Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula film, which also used Bram Stoker’s name in the title. There’s instant name recognition there and to a certain extent a built-in audience. Hey, whatever works. I certainly wouldn’t begrudge a low budget indie flick making a couple of bucks with this kind of marketing gimmick.

Shadowbuilder is quite a solid apocalyptic horror flick. It’s a lot of fun, though I’m not sure if it’s compelling enough to put it in my rewatch pile, at least not for a while. It was a fun and done kind of thing.

As a bit of an aside, Shadowbuilder features the best nude graveyard dancing scene since Return of the Living Dead. So keep an eye out for that.

Shadowbuilder is the tenth Blu-ray in the MVD Rewind Collection from MVD Visual. They have been lovingly restoring films like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and The Return of Swamp Thing, and packing each release with special features. This is definitely a boutique collection worth keeping an eye on if you’re a fan of schlock cinema.

Special Features:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature
  • Original 2.0 Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  • Audio Commentary from Director Jamie Dixon
  • NEW ‘Making of Shadowbuilder’ featurette (HD, 33:22) (featuring director Jamie Dixon, writer Michael Stokes and stars Andrew Jackson (The Shadowbuilder) and Tony Todd (Covey)
  • NEW ‘Shadowbuilder: Visual Effects’ featurette (HD, 13:26)
  • NEW ‘Shadowbuilder: Kevin Zegers’ featurette (HD, 5:00)
  • Reversible 2-Sided Artwork
  • Spanish Subtitles
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

The post BRAM STOKER’S SHADOWBUILDER Review – Michael Rooker vs The Apocalypse appeared first on Dread Central.

Review – Summer of 84 (2018)

summerof84

There is a lot to like with Summer of 84. The film, which focuses on a group of persistently horny pre-teens as they investigate the possibility of their next door neighbor being a serial killer, takes place, well, like the title says, in the summer of 84. The characters are familiar here, and the ability of the filmmaker to keep the movie’s retro tone should be applauded.

The plot, which isn’t all together a novel one, keeps it simple for all the best reasons. Davey (Graham Verchere) is a smart kid. The kind of kid that leads his group sometimes without even knowing it. He has an intuition well beyond his years that his peers probably find a little difficult to understand. With a unique intelligence and an interest in the macabre, Davey might even be an outsider out of necessity, seeing well beyond the trimmed edges of the suburban lawns and shrub lines of his neighbors and into a darker reality of secrets and murder that even the most “safest” of neighborhoods harbor. It is this “vision” that starts a dangerous path where the line between adolescent fantasy and the disturbing truth behind the facade of middle class America and its darkest desires meet and eventually clash.

summerof84_gangSummer of ’84 actually showcases some real solid filmmaking. The characters here represent stereotypes that were present in most of childhood groups of this age. We have Davey, we have Curtis, the group brains, Tommy, the good lookin kid from the wrong side of the tracks, and dale, the chubby comic relief. In fact, where Summer excels is in its characters; bringing us a gang of kids that so easily bring us back to our own childhood. We feel for these kids, we empathize with them and ultimately we fear for them when its obvious their lives are on the line.

If Summer has one flaw it is more in its timing that in its actual execution. With films like “It” so fresh in moviegoers memories, Summer comes across, at times, as a watered down version of those movies that it seeks to pay homage to. The comradery is of course reminiscent of its 80s counterparts like The Goonies, but unfortunately the comparison is what might leave some audiences looking for a little more and with Summer grounded its own reality as it is, it, unfortunately, might disappoint a few people. It plays like an 80s movie if that movie were based off of real events and for those looking for typical 80s fare, it might play things a little too safe.

My one criticism actually falls directly along those lines. With a commitment to telling a story both plausible and possible, Summer of 84 misses some opportunities that could have played the film more towards a cult hit with a wider audience. With its characters, its solid story and good dose of humor, for as good as Summer is, it could have been great. RECOMMENDED.

The post Review – Summer of 84 (2018) appeared first on HorrorFix – Horror Movie News Reviews and More!.

THE NUN Review – The Most Atmospheric & Relentless Chapter in THE CONJURING Franchise (So Far)

Starring Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons

Written by James Wan, Gary Dauberman

Directed by Corin Hardy


Speaking in similes horror fans will understand, The Nun is to The Conjuring franchise what Rise of the Lycans is to the Underworld franchise. Though the 5th and 3rd entries in their series respectively, each film is a prequel that, chronologically, serves as the impetus for harrowing action set decades later. And just as Rise of the Lycans ditched its futuristic/noir aesthetic in favor of the perpetual gloom of hardcore Gothic offerings, The Nun goes from 1970’s era retro to Old World throwback, reminding this reviewer of Hammer Horror’s heydays. While Annabelle: Creation also served as a prequel set decades before The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 (as well as the first Anabelle movie), The Nun is the most unique chapter of the franchise—and also the most relentless. American audiences, especially, will be taken far from their comfort zones, thrust into a land of ancient forests and crumbling fortresses; lost in a labyrinth of corridors with only candles and lanterns available to illuminate the haunted convent’s darkest corners.

Corin Hardy was a superb choice to direct this unique installment of The Conjuring franchise. The filmmaker first hit the radars of indie horror fans following the release of The Hallow in 2015. Set in modern Ireland, that film also harkened back to the Hammer Horror heydays, featuring a suburban couple moving into a small rural community teeming with ancient terrors and horrifying secrets. It was a reminder of how addicted many city-folks have become to the rationality of modern life, where everything and anything can be confirmed or debunked in an instant by visiting Wikipedia or Snopes. Cut off from the miracle of fiber-optic information transmission (not to mention galaxies of lights that illuminate even moonless nights), rationality goes out the window, and even the most fact-minded individuals might find themselves pondering the possibilities of supernatural intrusions.

Similarly, The Nun takes us out of our element. Sure, we first met Valak back in The Conjuring 2, released in 2016, but these confrontations were set in a world we recognize and understand; it’s familiar, even those of us who weren’t born yet in the 1970s or 1980s. It wasn’t much different than life today in terms of houses, apartments, cars, televisions, and electricity. Not so in this latest installment of The Conjuring franchise. And even though Annabelle: Creation was also set in the 1950s, the aesthetic and imagery were so steeped in Americana, it kept US audiences grounded in familiar territory. Excluding bookends from the first two Conjuring movies that frame the action, The Nun is Eastern European and gothic to the core! Be prepared for a journey that will leave you feeling exceptionally isolated, far from the comfort of modern (or even easily recognizable) 21st Century trappings.

As Father Burke and Sister Irene, Demián Bichir and Taissa Farmiga are the Batman and Robin of The Nun. And while their relationship may seem more comparable to Father Thomas and Father Marcus (played by Alfonso Herrera and Ben Daniels) from Jeremy Slater’s The Exorcist TV series, they never clash. Their relationship isn’t one of contradictions; there’s no overt or symbolic battle between faith and doubt. Rather, Bichir and Farmiga have a symbiotic relationship without a trace of suspicion or competition. Still, each brings a unique skillset to the table, and it’s by working together (trusting each other and inspiring each other) that they are at their strongest. And while it would be easy to add some sexual tension to the relationship between hot priest and a nubile young novice, the characters remain true to themselves: Bound by faith and completely committed to their mission.

Bonnie Aaron’s contribution to the film’s success can’t be overstated; she returned to reprise the role of Valak she made iconic in The Conjuring 2, and a replacement actress simply couldn’t have towed the line. Her unique facial features drenched in demonic greasepaint are what makes Valak immediately arresting—and terrifying. She doesn’t have to speak a word or wield a weapon in order to convey extreme dread. It’s also somewhat empowering to see a truly iconic female horror villain emerging at a time when the toxic masculinity of Hollywood is being thwarted and remedied at every turn. Whether The Conjuring franchise continues for years or decades, Valak is a character who’s here to stay, occupying the highest echelons of horror heavyweights. In terms of the enduring fear she inspires, Valak gives Annabelle a run for her money!

If you’re new to The Conjuring franchise, you can go into The Nun blind and still have a complete, self-contained experience. And it’ll likely inspire you to delve into the rest of The Conjuring universe with both feet. Those well-versed in The Conjuring’s core mythologies will appreciate how it expands the established universe. Yes, the film poses some questions that remain unanswered, but connecting the threads is an absolute joy for dedicated (and obsessed) genre fans. And we can hope for more movies featuring Valak (perhaps being perused again by Father Burke and Sister Irene), but everyone knows that will depend on the film’s box office gross. This reviewer certainly hopes for more!

The post THE NUN Review – The Most Atmospheric & Relentless Chapter in THE CONJURING Franchise (So Far) appeared first on Dread Central.