A Quiet Place – Spoiler-Free Review

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A Quiet Place is one of the best horror films I’ve seen in a theater. It’s not often to find a good one not released direct to DVD when it comes to new horror. I won’t spoil the movie for you by giving details, but rather point out what this movie did right, and why it’s more than worth your time.

They didn’t spoil the pacing or tension by explaining things. There is no backstory, no details about what, why, or how. It doesn’t need to explain itself. There are a few newspapers strewn around that show something happened, but even those have a purpose; they aren’t thrown in only to give explanation. The information is as ambiguous as it should be.

The movie isn’t full of extra garbage that’s not important to the story. No excessive gore, no unneeded sex scenes. The story is what it is, and all it needs to be.

Creatures. Too many movies show too much of the creature. And too soon. This movie only reveals glimpses and quick, mostly shadowed shots. They saved revealing the creature until the end, just as a good creature flick should do. And although I’m a fan of practical effects over digital, they were actually pretty awesome.

The ending, while quite abrupt, is well-executed. There isn’t a sunrise where everyone walks away and things are fine. They don’t go into any boring and expected solution where everything is explained and tied up neatly. It ends where it should end.

All in all, a great new horror movie that will more than likely be added to my collection.

I highly recommend seeing it!

 

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Judging Hellraiser: Judgment

As a long-time fan of the Hellraiser franchise, I had to watch this one. But I was hesitant to do so after the saturation of not-so-great Hellraiser movies. I’m not saying they’re complete garbage—some of them have their own charm—but the first two resonate with me in a way none of the others can.

If you haven’t read Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart I strongly encourage you to!

I won’t say that Judgment was the worst of the franchise. But I think it doesn’t belong there.

First off, any Hellraiser without Doug Bradley as Pinhead just doesn’t work for me. When the same actor has played a character for so long, it’s a hell of a thing to try and get the same effect with another actor. No matter their skill, it just isn’t the same. Another actor playing Pinhead is like someone other than Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine. No matter how badass they are at the role, the original character has been the same actor for way too long for it to really work.

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I will say this, Paul Taylor didn’t do a bad job as Pinhead. He had kind of a Doug Bradley look and his voice and tone weren’t a deterrent to his performance. I was less disappointed with him than I thought I’d be. But like I said, I can’t see Pinhead as anyone but Doug Bradley.

There are some great things about this movie. And some not so great things as well.

The trailer for it looked promising, though I didn’t trust it. My mistrust was justified. The entire trailer is made up of snippets from the first 15 minutes of the film, which really, was the only truly enjoyable part of the experience. It then goes into a long, slow, boring story about some detectives investigating a serial killer. That’s the first place this movie went wrong. Too much talk, not enough… anything else.

If you manage to stay awake through the dialogue that doesn’t carry any real weight to the story, you’ll get to see some scenes that are worthwhile.

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The man with the cut-up face and dark glasses was a great character! He was probably the best part of the entire movie. At first I wasn’t sure if he was human or a cenobite, and to be honest I’m still not completely sure. No spoilers, but I’m leaning more towards one of those conclusions than the other.

The entire idea of that character and his role in the story was the only thing that made Hellraiser: Judgment worth watching. If the story revolved around him it probably would have been a better movie. They focused too much on the less interesting aspects of the story (as well as trying to make it a Hellraiser movie by throwing bits and pieces of its history in without any true meaning). I won’t spoil it for you, but there were some really great ideas that were wasted.

I think if they removed the cenobites, took the name Hellraiser out of the title completely, and got rid of the boring dialogue, it could have been a great film. On its own, it had potential. Hellraiser: Judgment’s biggest downfall is that they slapped the franchise onto a movie that could have done well on its own. Excuse the pun, but that brought judgment down hard on a movie that might not have been looked at so harshly otherwise.

If you’re a die-hard fan of Hellraiser, you’re probably not going to like how it ends. I certainly did not. There’s only one positive side to its ending: they can’t do it again…

But don’t let my bad review stop you from enjoying this film. I enjoyed some of it (it really did have some good scenes), but it was a watch-once and never bother with it again deal for me. My best advice, see it for yourself and pass your own judgment.

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How I Found Horror

I’ve been doing some horror movie articles and reviews on my blog, and while I don’t do them as often as I’d like to (too many other projects to work on) I want to continue the process, and attempt to regulate it so that there’s some consistency to when I post them. That got me thinking about why I write them, how I discovered horror movies in the first place, and where and when I was exposed to some of my favorites.

Before setting a plan to post these articles I wanted to go back to the beginning, remember where it started, and how my obsession with horror grew. I wanted to know how and why I became a horror writer.

Exploring the past is difficult. Memories are faded, distorted, untrustworthy. But some clear pictures can be retrieved.

The first horror movie I ever saw was The Amityville Horror on TV when I was no older than 8 or so. There was one scene in particular that frightened me—the part when there are eyes staring in the window from outside in the darkness. I’ll always remember that first feeling of dread seeing that scene as a child. After that I saw The Exorcist. From then on, I was hooked.

Every time my parents took me to the grocery store they’d let me rent a movie (This was back when supermarkets still had video rental sections). I’d go for whatever had a cool picture or a horrible title. I had no idea which movies were good and which weren’t. I’d only seen the two, so I was dosed with random movies on a weekly basis. Some of the first movies I can remember renting were Dead Alive, The Ice Cream Man, The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Psycho Cop, Night of the Comet, Night of the Living Dead, The Fly, The Fly 2, The Gate, and many more.

None of those movies frightened me. I laughed through most of Evil Dead.

The only movie that scared me other than that one scene in The Amityville Horror was Fire in the Sky. I know it’s not technically a horror movie, but nothing before or since has ever actually scared me in a horror movie. When I saw that as a kid I slept with the lights and TV on for almost two weeks. Monsters, demons, killers; none of that bothered me. But fucking aliens scared the hell out of me.

My love of horror led me to discover a book I’m sure most are familiar with. ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ by Alvin Schwartz. The artwork on the cover was what drew me to it. I read all three of those books with great enjoyment. And I even read them to my own kid as bedtime stories (Horror runs in my family—4 generations now). That led me to reading more horror, which ultimately brought me to the realization that I wanted to write things I hoped would be terrifying.

Feel free to comment. I’d love to hear what horror movies have scared you the most!