By Christopher K House
Insidious Chapter 3 marks the directorial debut of series veteran Leigh Whanell. The film is a prequel to the insidious franchise, offering a look at Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and her decision to use her gift, long dormant to help people in need. We get a brief history of Elise's past, her husband, her gift, what brought her to become a recluse in her home. It's all explained and told very well. Elise gets a visit from Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) who recently lost her mother due to a fatal illness. Reluctantly, Elise agrees to help Quinn contact her mother. During her trance, Elise is confronted by the female specter that has been haunting her and, haunts her into the rest of the Insidious series. Shaken and scared, Elise swears off her power, leaving Quinn with more questions than answers. Elise warns Quinn not to try to contact her mother because, all the dead can hear her when she is trying to make contact.
Indeed, Quinn attempted contact on her own and has become the target of an unknown demon known as the breathing man. Quinn's father Sean (Dermot Mulroney) tries to help Quinn deal with the loss of her mother but, it is becoming clear, Quinn is being pursued by a demon who can't be stopped.
Sean contacts a group of television "paranormal Investigators" Specks (Whanell in his returning role) and Tucker (Angus Sampson, also returning). The duo set up cameras and other equipment in hope of capturing the demon on footage. They do so but, it is clear they are in over their head. The film has a lot of very good jump scares. PG-13 rated horror films often worry me. Somehow, the film works very well and, really pushes the rating and can be really scary.
With a production dream team that includes James Wan, Oren Peli and Jason Blum, the talent is there and, really delivers.
Unable to help, Elise is coaxed back into active duty and agrees to help the possessed Quinn break free of the grips of the demon. Still pursued by her own personal demon, Elise battles the other side to find Quinn and rescue her from the breathing man who hold total control over Quinn and numerous other young women. One problem I had was the demon was fascinating but, never fleshed out as a character. I would have loved to learn his back story, instead he was an unknown demon and, for unknown reasons collected the souls of women.
The film works very well, the characters are so well written, the film is a joy to watch. The end makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and hope to see more of Elise, Specks and Tucker. I know I look forward to their next romp in the paranormal.
Insidious Chapter 3 rated PG-13
Directed by Leigh Whannell
Written by Leigh Whannell
Director Gil Kenan and producer Sam Raimi try hard to recapture the magic that the original Poltergeist manifested way back in 1982. Sadly, it fails to deliver anything close. The film centers on the Bowen family, a cash strapped struggling clan looking to set up roots in a new home. After purchasing a foreclosed home for a bargain price, they move in and the fun begins right away. Eric Bowen (Sam Rockwell) is the father and center of the family. His performance is the clear winner for the film, his quirkiness kept the film from being a complete bore. The youngest daughter, Madison (Kennedi Clements) is the Carol Anne of the film. She begins to talk to her "imaginary" friends, sadly Clements just doesn't have the charm that Heather O'Rourke had in the original. Of course the iconic TV scene is there, the line "They're here" is there but, we just don't feel the emotional kick that was in the original. That's one of the problems with remakes, they copy verbatim classic lines that just can't be reproduced with any positive results.
After settling in, the Bowen parents are invited to a dinner party and leave oldest daughter Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) in charge babysitting. Brother, Griffin (Kyle Calett) Goes through his battle with the infamous clown doll and, is attacked by the tree, as in the original. Again, it isn't new or original, it just makes you roll your eyes. Madison is then abducted by the specters, in the closet that is apparently a gateway to purgatory. Things move along quickly as the family contacts a paranormal investigation group at a local college. No where near as cool as Ghostbusters but, it's the same idea.
The team investigate the house and, decide to bring in a rock star caliber investigator Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris) who, is a very pale comparison to the late Zelda Rubenstein's Tangina. Burke is a television celebrity whose appearance is just so generic and corny. The climactic battle scene at the end is original and does differ from the original and, really isn't horrible. If only the film as a whole had more original ideas it would have favored better. Remakes don't have to copy scenes, there is room to tell the same story with originality. Writer David Lindsay-Abaire tried to take Steven Spielberg's story and tell it with his own flair. Sadly, his flair for writing is geared towards animated features for DreamWorks Animation. Poltergeist isn't original, it isn't fun, it isn't scary, it just isn't any good. Stick with the original, it tells it's story the right way. This remake just wasn't needed.
By Christopher K. House
Rednecks and zombies aren't new to cinema. They actually have quite a history together. Dead Kansas, from writer and director Aaron K. Carter offers something new and fresh for horror fans. Emma (Erin Miracle and Alexandria Lightford) and her father, Glenn (Aaron Guerrero) are surviving together after a zombie apocalypse ravishes the world. "Rottens" as they are referred to here are loose and hungry for the living. Suppplies are scarce, food, water, fuel are all in great need. A gang of miscreants led by Jebediah (Michael Camp) devise a plan to kidnap Emma from her father and use her to trade for supplies.
The plot is unique enough to grab your attention and, the acting may be a bit stiff at first but, it will captivate you. The film is set up in "acts', giving it a chapter story feel. After a tornado, Glenn is injured and needs medical attention. The duo go to a camp of carnival misfits holed up surviving the chaos. This is where the film shines, led by Squeak (Ben Woolf, American Horror Story) in a way to big top hat that fits his character to a tee, the father daughter duo seek a doctor. Advised by Giant (Irwin Keyes) there isn't a doctor there but, there is one nearby. Emma sets out with Skinny (Joe McQueen, Confessions Of A Superhero) wielding a trusty pitchfork to find the doctor to save her dad's life.
At the doctor's house, they find Rusty (Kevin C. Beardsley) the caretaker who is a mash up of Colonel Sanders and Ogre from Revenge Of The Nerds. Rusty introduces them to Doctor Emerson (Darryl Dick). Of course, nothing goes as planned and the raiders crash the party. The film doesn't take itself seriously, this is what really works in it's favor. The humor is witty and, the actors nail the dry delivery. We never really do get to see one of the "rottens" instead, they are seen through a POV from their perspective. A unique approach for a zombie film, for sure.
The film's casting was surprisingly stunning, For an independent film, the eclectic variety of actors worked remarkably well for the film. I would have loved to have seen more of the "shambles" camp of circus misfits, they were by far the most fascinating group in the film. Hopefully , if there is a sequel they can be expanded upon. Sadly, Ben Woolf (Squeak) passed away recently, I would have loved to see him return, he was a greatly untapped talent in the film industry. Dead Kansas is a fun romp in the backwoods of horror, it is streaming now for rent on Amazon instant Video for $1.99 and, it is by far worth the price of admission.
Watch it HERE on Amazon Instant Video
By Christopher K House
Jurassic World is the eagerly anticipated next installment to the "Jurassic Park" franchise which started in 1993. Isla Nublar is now a fully functional park, just as John Hammond envisioned, with no expense spared. The beginning of the film echoes the original with two young children, Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) preparing for a trip to the park and, to visit their aunt, park director Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). We are introduced to Owen (Chris Pratt) one of the animal handlers who has a connection to a pack of Raptors. Training them but, not quite to the point of being tame. The film starts out with spectacular vision as we see the various dinosaurs with stunning CGI. Some purists will dismiss the CGI but, I assure you it is VERY well implemented here. The park is facing financial difficulty and, needs a new attraction. Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) from the original Jurassic Park is in charge of the research department who has developed a hybrid dinosaur in hopes to rejuvenate attendance.
The hybrid dinosaur of course, merits unexpected results. Vincent D'Onifrio is Hoskins, one of INGEN's military minds who wants to use the predatory dinosaurs in place of soldiers on the field of war. When the hybrid breaks free of her pen (honestly, we expected that right?) utter chaos ensues in the park. The children, like the original film are lost and, it is up to Owen and Claire to find them. That was my one problem with the plot, it was too similar to the original. The children were very much clones of Tim and Lex from the original film. Owen was almost a clone of Sam Neil's Dr. Grant. The character originality was slim. Even the park's new owner Simon Masrani (Irffan Kahn) reminds us of the late John Hammond.
The film almost feels like a Spielberg tome, with the action and suspense ripped straight from Spielberg's portfolio. The music by Michael Giacchino is a fine replacement for the legendary John Williams, who is busy with another huge film (Star Wars Episode VII). I did not see the film it it's 3D version but, it is supposed to be very well implemented. Alas, I can not comment on that.
Some would argue the trailers gave much of the film away, fret not. This is not the case by a long shot. There are plenty of twists and surprises in the film the trailers don't even hint at. Especially the "hero" at the end of the film. Director Colin Trevorrow' s first big budget film is a rip roaring crowd pleaser that is sure to have you on your feet. If you are unsure about this film, don't be. This is a pure summer popcorn movie that is fun from start to end.
by Stephen Milek
A film fan from an early age, Chris is a true cinephile. Starting with his first big screen experience, Star Wars to the current indie films, it's obvious he is obsessed with film. Chris has been writing about film and television since the early days of the internet. Chris is also a member of OFTA, the Online Film and Television Critic's Association.
A lover of all movies. Steve will watch anything from classic silent films to modern horror films. Obsessed with the Oscars and Film festivals. Steve prides himself on watching every movie on the AFI 100 Greatest Movies and every Oscar winner.