Mini Horror Reviews
Movie Titles: A-F
Alien Raiders (2008) ****
Alien Raiders has a squad of tooled up scientists (!) playing hunt-the-alien in a US store. It’s none too original and wildly predictable but nicely paced and not too long. I just wish they’d given more screen time to Bonita Friedericy (Charlotte) and less to Carlos Bernard (Ritter).
Altitude (2010) ****
When five young people charter a small plane the combination of a drunken arsehole, mechanical failure and a freak storm make this a seriously bad flight - even without the flying monster. Altitude is nicely done with some good performances, moments of high tension and interesting changes of direction. Unfortunately in the last couple of minutes the story veers away from a dramatically satisfying resolution to a disappointing happy ending.
Amusement (2008) **
Amusement is a portmanteau of uninspired slasher tales which ultimately come together as a psycho killer story with fairly obvious twists. It's well enough made to be watchable, just not very interesting.
Arachnid (2001) ***
Arachnid is nonsense, but surprisingly well made enjoyable nonsense. And you can't not like a film about a giant alien spider.
Blackout (2008) ****
Blackout is an excellent, taut little character-based thriller that starts slow but builds to a very nasty climax.
Bloody Mary (2006) **
Bloody Mary is a supernatural slasher set in a psychiatric hospital. It's technically competent but let down by a poor script and cartoon characterisation. Despite plenty of blood and gratuitous nudity it ends up simply being boring.
The Calling (2000) **
The Calling follows the well-worn path of a woman who realises that her son is in fact the anti-Christ. Amongst the cliches there are some nice scenes and a decent ending, unfortunately most of the film is framed as a flashback with expository narration that destroys any tension.
Case 39 (2009) ****
Case 39 didn't go anywhere new but I really enjoyed the ride. I'll have to watch out for Christian Alvart as a director - Pandorum also had a great atmosphere, although in that case the script was an unsalvageable mess.
Chain Letter (2010) *
Chain Letter is a third rate teen slasher dressed up with trappings of technophobia and surveillance paranoia. It's the unlovable bastard child of the Saw and J-Horror genres. Attempts to look relevant fail to disguise a senseless, tedious story that lacks any wit, tension or interest.
Dead and Deader (2006) **
A special ops team is killed by a zombie virus but one of them - although dead - retains his mental powers. Dead and Deader is marketed as a zomcom but isn’t actually very funny, it’s closer to the tongue in cheek approach of Independence Day. The result is watchable but mediocre at best and feels like the pilot for a TV series.
Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005) *
Day of the Dead 2: Contagium is a dull SF zombie story set in a psychiatric hospital full of embarrassing caricatures. It has a dreadful script with the sort of acting I’d expect from a low budget amateur production. Trying to sell it by linking it to the Romero trilogy is an insult to the Master.
Devil's Playground (2010) ***
Devil's Playground is a humourless and badly acted cross between Resident Evil and Eastenders. It stars, appropriately, Craig Fairbrass and Danny Dyer. Despite all that I rather enjoyed it. If you fancy some freerunning zombie action mixed with macho violence and posturing then give it a go.
The Disappeared (2009) ****
The Disappeared is an excellent contemporary urban chiller. Very creepy and also depressing, both enhanced by Kevorkian's claustrophobic, oppressive direction.
Drag Me To Hell (2009) **
Drag Me To Hell by Sam Raimi is pretty poor. I did like the explicit reference to one of story's obvious sources (and one of my favourite films) in the final scene.
Fear Island (2009) ***
Fear Island is a superior albeit predictable slasher movie. Shame about the naff title.
Fido (2006) **
Fido is a zomcom set in a post-uprising 1950s style America where zombies have been tamed and domesticated. To keep up with the neighbours young Timmy’s family buy a new zombie (an unrecognisable Billy Connolly) but his control collar gets broken... The satire is amusing in places but laughs are too thin on the ground.
Frostbite (2006) ***
Frostbite (aka Frostbitten) is a bizarre vampire movie from Sweden. Combine 30 Days of Night with a teen slasher, add a side order of mad scientist and the most original staking ever… An interesting but unsuccessful curiosity