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HORROR

The Houses October Built 2 (2017)

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Genre : Horror
Country : USA
Director: Bobby Roe

Cast:
Brandy Schaefer
Zack Andrews
Mikey Roe
Bobby Roe
Jeff Larson

Summary

Recovering from the trauma of being kidnapped last Halloween by the Blue Skeleton – a group who take “extreme haunt” to another level – five friends decide they must face their fears in order to move on. Heading back out on the road to visit more haunted house attractions, signs of the Blue Skeleton start appearing again and a new terror begins.

 

A Real Fixer Upper

 

 

 

2014 was a big year for independent horror. Modern classics such as The Babadook and It Follows were hits both critically and commercially. Meanwhile lo-fi movies such as A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Creep became instant cult classics. And thanks to the prevalence of streaming access to these kind of independent movies is easier than ever. One of the most popular being The Houses October Built. While not perfect it was a fun found footage film with a lot of potential for the future. Unfortunately with The Houses October Built 2 it doesn’t quite work out.

Perhaps the biggest problem is how little it deviates from the original. By the end of the first film the Blue Skeleton come off as a cool, mysterious villainous collective. A group that terrorizes people under the assumption of just being a haunted house once a year. It’s an interesting concept that director-writer Bobby Roe could have ran with in a lot of different ways. Instead we get more of the same. Like the first film we follow these 30-somethings go from haunt to haunt before going to one run by the nefarious Blue Skeleton. It’s virtually the same plot of the first film with the only difference being that Brandy from the first film is reluctant to do it again.

Of course when it comes to repetition horror can be one of the more forgiving genres. In fact, franchises like Friday the 13th have devoted followings partly thanks to sticking to a dependable formula. The key to it working is having a good amount of scares throughout the movie. Sadly this isn’t the case with The Houses October Built 2. Aside from the occasional hint here and there about the Blue Skeleton following our main cast it takes a surprisingly long time for any actual horror to get going. Instead the first hour feels more like a documentary than a horror movie. Just following our main cast as they go to different attractions. By the time the terror does start it is too little too late. A shame because what we do see is pretty good. A mix of practical and special effects it all looks great. It’s just happens so fast and so late into the film that it feels underwhelming. That all said The Houses October Built 2 isn’t a complete loss.

 

 

The one positive thing carried over from the first film is the cast. Led by Brandy Schaefer the cast work amazingly well with each other. Able to pull off both comedy and more dramatic moments they have the kind of chemistry that you can only get from being real life friends. I also think that Bobby Roe has improved as a director since the first movie. Thanks to the use of drones and different cameras he is able to avoid the typical monotony that plagues lesser found footage movies. He also does a better job at pacing the movie never letting scenes drag for too long. While it doesn’t redeem the movie completely it does make The Houses October Built 2 easier to digest.

I can’t say I disliked The Houses October Built 2. In fact, I found myself having a fun time catching up with this crew of friends and seeing different Halloween events around the country. If the intent were to make a travelogue or a documentary it would have been perfect. But as a horror movie it doesn’t work out. An overall lack of scares and predictability really hampers the entire film. I look forward to seeing more from director-writer Bobby Roe but it might be time to close shop on The Houses October Built series.

 

Rating 4/10
Links : IMDB

The Houses October Built 2 is available on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 2nd, 2018

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HORROR

Prey | 20th Century Studios | Hulu

The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled female warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.

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Genre:

Action, Drama, Horror

Release Date:

20222 (Hulu)

Director:

Dan Trachtenberg

Cast:

Amber Midthunder, Dane DiLiegro, Stefany Mathias

Plot Summary:

The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled female warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.

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HORROR

Choose or Die – A Miss For Netflix

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Netflix’s home page suggestions can always be hit or miss, and unfortunately its latest release ‘Choose or Die’ falls into the category of the latter. Captivated by Asa Butterfield on the poster, I was curious to see what this film had to offer and begrudgingly it didn’t have a lot.

We follow Kayla, a broke student who has a lot to deal with in terms of her family situation and being the sole provider for herself and her mum. She then stumbles upon a retro video game from the 80s which forces her to choose and ultimately leads to various chain reactions of horrific events involving people close to her.

Lola Evans as Kayla and Asa Butterfield as Isaac

The premise of the film sounds interesting, however, I think it swings and misses quite early into the film’s first act. Eddie Marsan sets the tone and trail of interest for Choose or Die as we are introduced to this sadistic game and the chain of events it will inevitably pursue. 

Choose or Die doesn’t make it easy to empathise with its characters, finding any connection to Kayla or Isaac was difficult. This ‘are they aren’t they’ subplot lingers throughout the film’s narrative but adds nothing to the overarching story. The supporting characters, such as Thea and Laura, are much more interesting and genuinely have you intrigued as to what decisions they will make.

What stood out to me was the violent and gore-like scenes of 80s horrors, with some pretty good stomach churning special effects make-up. Those intense scenes, one involving a rat, had me genuinely glued to the screen, anticipating what may happen next. Choose or Die’s strongest component are the early moral decisions Kayla has to make and ultimately demonstrate Meakin’s passion for the horror genre.

Ioanna Kimbook as Grace in Choose or Die, seen here in the diner in one of the more grotesque decisive moments for Kayla

The way in which this film is shot, felt very “student-esque” with its lackluster camera movements and setting. The set design lacked little depth, except for Isaac’s room which is full of detail, therefore making the world feel small and less three dimensional. An element which pulled me out of this cinematic experience, was the fact that this was evidently filmed in the United Kingdom, and the cast contained predominantly a lot of British actors doing an American accent so I wasn’t fully immersed into this world. 

Meakins clearly uses his passion for the horror genre to influence this film’s dark tone, from it’s leading characters’ moral compass as well as the gorey visuals that inevitably come with those decisions. The whole world feels cold and derelict, be it the place in which Kayla cleans or the housing estate of which she lives in, this is an unwelcoming world that no-one wants to comfort you in. 

Choose or Die isn’t a film that will stick out as one that defined 2022, however I’m sure someone will take something away from this film, be it’s reference to 80s gaming or the violent and graphic elements that the director is clearly passionate about. 

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HORROR

Off Season – To Premiere Exclusively on Shudder

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Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural, announced that OFFSEASON will be available exclusively to stream on the platform starting on Friday, June 10, 2022. As a Shudder exclusive, the platform will be the only subscription service that will carry the film in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Upon receiving a mysterious letter that her mother’s gravesite has been vandalized, in OFFSEASON, Marie (Donahue) quickly returns to the isolated offshore island where her late mother is buried. When she arrives, she discovers that the island is closing for the offseason with the bridges raised until Spring, leaving her stranded. One strange interaction with the local townspeople after another, Marie soon realizes that something is not quite right in this small town. She must unveil the mystery behind her mother’s troubled past in order to make it out alive.

Check out the film’s trailer below and read our review HERE as it debuted during SXSW 2021

Written and directed by Mickey Keating (Psychopaths), OFFSEASON stars Jocelin Donahue (Doctor Sleep), Joe Swanberg (The Rental, “Easy”), Richard Brake (3 From HellMandy), Melora Walters (The Pale Door, “Pen15”) and Jeremy Gardner (After MidnightThe Mind’s Eye).

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