Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge has nice callbacks but lacks in everything else.

When horror guru Rad Chad Buckley’s funeral turns into an elaborate series of death traps centered around his favorite films, the guests must band together and use the rules of horror to survive the bloody game.

Honestly there isn’t a whole lot to say about Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge, the first Scare Package was nothing more than a bad anthology horror movie that was way too meta for it’s own good. While this one drops the meta elements it adds a lot of callbacks to other horror films which is perfectly fine. The problem is it really takes away from the story being told, to be absolutely fair the story being told isn’t particularly interesting either it’s just a giant parody of the Saw movies. Which again is perfectly fine but hasn’t that been done quite a few times already? Its not even done particularly well outside of the practical effects and the kills that are quite entertaining, it’s very clear that the people behind this movie have a deep love for the horror genre, mainly due to a ton of references being shown. The problem is just putting a bunch of callbacks to the original movie and other horror movies doesn’t make a good movie. The writing is very bare bones, the acting is bland and the direction is very messy especially towards the end. I’m sure fans of the first movie might like this one.

Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge is available on Shudder.

3/10 D-

Prey For The Devil a cliched exorcism movie with nothing new to offer.

The Roman Catholic Church combats a global rise in demonic possessions by reopening schools to train priests to perform exorcisms. Although nuns are forbidden to perform this ritual, a professor recognizes Sister Ann’s gifts and agrees to train her. Thrust onto the spiritual frontline, she soon finds herself in a battle for the soul of a young girl who’s possessed by the same demon that tormented her own mother years earlier.

2022 has been a fantastic year for horror films there’s so many titles that I can go on about (I’ll save that for the best horror films of the year list) but one movie that next to nobody talks about is Prey For The Devil and for very good reasons. Prey For The Devil is a by the numbers terrible exorcism movie is identical to a lot of those other exorcism movies that a lot of big studios were sending out like there’s no tomorrow in the late 2010s. And much like those ones this one is also really bad, the only major positives are Jacqueline Byers and a few scenes that are actually filmed decently well. Jacqueline Byers does the best she can with such an empty script that ultimately amounts to absolutely nothing, the writing is what seriously bogs this down. There’s absolutely no suspense and the atmosphere is just nonexistent which is mainly due to just how predictable the writing is, if you have seen a single exorcism movie in your life you have already seen Prey For The Devil. There’s also a scene where the movie is really trying to borrow a scene from The Conjuring, it doesn’t work here mainly due to atmosphere not being there at all and the other characters having no development. What else is there to say? It’s a terrible exorcism movie that is so forgettable that you will forget you watched it as soon as the credits roll.

Prey For The Devil is available on all VOD platforms.

3/10 D-

Shudder Christmas Horror Film Reviews: The Apology and Christmas Bloody Christmas.

Twenty years after the disappearance of her daughter, recovering alcoholic Darlene Hagen is preparing to host her family’s Christmas celebration with her best friend Gretchen. Late Christmas Eve, Darlene’s estranged ex-brother-in-law, Jack, arrives unannounced, bearing nostalgic gifts and a heavy secret.

I’ll tell you one thing The Apology isn’t your typical campy Christmas horror film that’s for sure, the movie starts out pretty tame with the overall setup but actually becomes a bit disturbing when the movie gets to the plot. What mainly keeps this movie moving is Anna Gunn’s performance, she does such a great job and actually gives a pretty raw performance. The movie is very bleak and that really reflects with the atmosphere, once the movie starts to tell you exactly what’s going on here it could actually be a bit disturbing mainly due to how it’s played out. It never shows any of the disturbing actions instead it tells it through the two main characters Darlene Hagen and Jack Kingsley, with that said the script does fall apart during the final act. It does get a bit too over the top which really doesn’t quite match with what the rest of the movie was going for, however that isn’t enough to completely stop it from being an overall decent watch.

The Apology is available on Shudder.

6/10 C+

It’s Christmas Eve and fiery record store owner Tori Tooms just wants to get drunk and party, until the robotic Santa Claus at a nearby toy store goes haywire and makes her night more than a little complicated. Santa embarks on a rampant killing spree through the neon-drenched snowscape, ultimately forcing Tori into a blood-splattered battle for survival.

Christmas Bloody Christmas is another killer Santa movie only that this time around it has this Terminator type feel to it, honestly there just isn’t a whole lot to comment on here. The gore combined with the kills are pretty neat, the killer Santa is pretty fun even if he has absolutely no personality to him other then being a killing machine. The characters are what’s mainly holding this movie back, they are very uninteresting and have no way of development. The acting is fine enough with the exception of Riley Dandy who does a pretty decent job with what she’s given, although the plot is very nonexistent the movie is still quite a lot of fun. It’s a very heavily flawed movie that wouldn’t be my first recommendation when I think “killer Santa” movies but if you are looking for a new one I guess check this one out.

Christmas Bloody Christmas is available on Shudder.

5/10 C

Bones and all is a beautifully haunting love story.

Maren, a young woman, learns how to survive on the margins of society.

Luca Guadagnino is one of the best and most interesting directors working today, A Bigger Splash and I Am Love were really great, Call Me By Your Name was incredibly raw and Suspiria (2018) was an example of how incredible a modern remake can really be plus it was my favorite film of the 2010s. Bones And All is a very different film that Guadagnino’s previous films, it’s a cannibal love story that takes a lot of horror, romance and drama elements, blends them all together and creates something completely unique. First off right from the beginning the film has this very old low budget atmosphere to it that makes the film much more haunting but beautiful at the same time. There’s a huge sense of beauty within the filmmaking, it’s sort of similar to the atmosphere Suspiria had only that Bones And All goes for a more realistic approach. Taylor Russell gives one of the best performances of the year hands down, there’s so much passion, emotion and realism to her performance that truly gives the viewer goosebumps. There’s so much to her performance that adds to her character Maren, her interactions with the other characters is really striking, how she slowly finds out about her family is really investing and her mannerisms are just absolutely perfect. Timothée Chalamet gives his most interesting performance yet, it’s far different than anything he’s done before and I’ll even go far as to say this is one of his best. He’s fantastic here and his chemistry with Taylor Russell is incredibly natural and quite beautiful as well. Lastly there’s Mark Rylance as Sully and he’s quite possibly one of the most creepiest characters I’ve seen In a film this year, every single time the guy appears on screen he makes the viewer’s skin crawl. He’s very intimidating but also quite fantastic as well there’s truly a “low budget horror film villain” type feel to his character but that honestly matches the film quite well. The music is incredibly well done and really compliments the film’s themes and settings flawlessly, despite the film taking place in many different areas there’s this sense of abandonment. Sure there might be a lot of people around but the atmosphere still captures the feeling that you are alone with the film and Maren, the many shots in the film that show a lot of natural dirt roads, hills, forests, lakes ect are truly beautiful and only add to the film’s beauty. Overall Bones And All is one of the best films of the year, it’s a beautifully haunting film that will definitely stick with you especially with Taylor Russell’s unforgettable performance.

Bones and All is currently in theaters.

10/10 A+

Bed Rest is a forgettable Rosemary’s Baby clone.

After struggling to start a family, Julie Rivers becomes pregnant and moves into a new home with her husband. She’s ordered to mandatory bed rest, and begins seeing ghostly happenings throughout the house.

This is another case of this movie’s release being far more interesting than the movie itself. Bed Rest was originally going to be released in July of this year, no new information came out about it so it was delayed to next year also in July. Then for whatever reason that I can’t seem to find they decided to just let Tubi release it this year which it came out on Wednesday. So the movie itself? Well it’s just another Rosemary’s Baby type of movie and not a very good one, every possible cliche you can think of is here and the movie never really bothers to try something different or interesting. The acting is truly dull, Melissa Barrera is really trying her best but the script is incredibly lacking when it comes to trying to connect the audience with her character. At times there’s a few emotional bits that work fine enough but they aren’t something you haven’t seen before, by the time the movie reaches it’s third act you probably already have a good idea where this is going. If you have seen Rosemary’s Baby you have already seen Bed Rest, outside of a few scenes and Barrera trying her best there is very little to offer here.

Bed Rest is available on Tubi.

3/10 D-

The Menu is a delicious and clever satire.

A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.

When going into The Menu I expected it to be great given the praise the film got at the Toronto Film Festival, what I wasn’t expecting was for it to be a truly fantastic film. What mainly pushes the film to extra levels is the performances the standouts being Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes and Hong Chau, Anya Taylor-Joy continues to show that she is one of the most interesting actresses currently working today and gives yet another strong performance that she really dives deep into. Ralph Fiennes and Hong Chu are both incredibly intimidating but at the same time strangely hilarious, Fiennes really gives this performance where immediately when you see him on screen he gives the viewer an uneasy feeling. It also helps that Fiennes and Chu work incredibly well together and their character’s personalities just blend so well together that it creates a haunting image. While The Menu may seem like another film that critiques the rich, it’s actually a bit more than that, it critiques food influencer culture which admittedly I have next to no knowledge of, but the film critiques it and says never hold someone you never met on a pedestal. It says this in pretty haunting ways that completely build the film including some kills that are actually pretty shocking and quite effective, atmosphere is truly thrilling and definitely one of those atmospheres that has the abandonment type feel, the film takes place on a island where it’s completely abandoned besides the characters involved. Combine that with some truly effective suspense that quickly gets under the viewer’s skin, some cleverly written dialogue and some incredible performances and you have yourself one hell of a film. Overall The Menu is truly fantastic and one of the best films of the year, make sure to seek this one out!

The Menu is available in theaters.

10/10 A+

A Wounded Fawn is a bizarre ride shot in 16mm

A serial killer brings an unsuspecting new victim on a weekend getaway to add another body to his ever-growing count. She’s buying into his faux charms, and he’s eagerly lusting for blood.

A Wounded Fawn is definitely a weird one that truly goes bananas very quickly, the film is shot on 16mm and it looks really wonderful. It gives the film it’s own atmosphere and a haunting one at that, it definitely has the eerie feeling that a lot of very low budget horror films from back in the 70s or 80s had. Sarah Lind and Josh Ruben are both solid in their roles, they each bring something different to the film and the interactions between one another make the film all the more atmospheric. The practical effects combined with the makeup are truly incredible, they have a lot of the charm The Evil Dead had and it really works here, there’s a lot of gruesome imagery that is very creative and once again builds to the film’s atmosphere. Everything in this movie just stacks on top of each other and then goes complete haywire during the final acting, it really rewards the viewer with something truly special. Even though the writing can be a bit on the weak side at times particularly in the beginning, that isn’t enough to stop this movie from being a wild ride from beginning to end. Go into this one knowing as little as possible.

A Wounded Fawn is available on Shudder.

8/10 B+

Troll is a forgettable Godzilla clone.

When an ancient troll is awakened in a Norwegian mountain, a ragtag group of heroes must come together to try and stop it from wreaking deadly havoc.

I’m actually a bit surprised Troll is from Roar Uthaug director of Tomb Raider, The Wave and Cold Prey all movies which I actually really like (Tomb Raider being a genuinely fantastic video game adaption movie). Troll is basically if someone looked at Godzilla and said “hey you know what this movie is missing? A giant troll instead of Godzilla.” The Troll’s design is actually pretty neat and there are some great shots of the scenery here, but unfortunately a lot of the movie is very basic monster stuff that really doesn’t do anything new for the genre. I’m well aware that a lot of these monster movies tend to be the same thing, but at least with some of the other ones they have a high entertainment value to them, Troll unfortunately doesn’t have that, there’s a bit too much focus on the human characters who are just not that interesting. Which is mainly due to the writing being way too dull, the characters just don’t have a whole lot of personality to them despite the movie trying as hard as it can to make them interesting. There really isn’t much else to say about Troll, it’s a below average monster movie that fails to standout among a crowded subgenre.

Troll is available on Netflix

5/10 C

The Friendship Game is a horrendous teen horror movie.

Teens in a small town come across an object with mysterious cosmic powers and a baffling sort of consciousness. Over the course of a night, the object tests their loyalties and unravels the mystery about their missing friend.

The Friendship Game is basically if somebody said “hey remember that movie Truth Or Dare (2018) that was terrible and almost everyone forgot about? What if we somehow made an even worse version of that?” That’s what you get here and if that was the intention well then they succeeded because The Friendship Game is a incoherent mess that is so bafflingly bad, the mix of teen melodrama with the horror elements is painfully dull and puts the movie at a complete stop pacing wise. By far the worst part of the movie is the editing, it’s not so much of how bad it really is it’s that scenes are edited out of order leading to the story making very little sense at all and looking like a broken down vehicle. The characters are the most cliched teen horror characters you could come up with, Peyton List and the rest of the cast are not given enough to work with leading to all the performances being painfully wooden. By far one of the worst movies of the year.

The Friendship Game is available on all VOD platforms.

Disgrace To Cinema F

Terrifier 2 is a gory entertaining ride.

Resurrected by a sinister entity, Art the Clown returns to Miles County to terrorize a teenage girl and her younger brother on Halloween night.

Terrifier 2 is definitely a film I did not expect to love as much as I did, Terrifier 2 is a sequel to the 2018 film Terrifier which I actually thought wasn’t too bad, it definitely wasn’t a film that I would consider to be one of my favorites but it did live up to the expectations. Art The Clown became a newish horror villain thanks to the short film Terrifier (2011) and All Hallows Eve (2013). Terrifier 2 takes everything that wasn’t exactly great about the first movie and completely does a backflip and I mean that in the best possible way. There is so much to Terrifier 2 despite just being a killer clown movie, but let’s start with the basics, for starters the atmosphere of the film which it’s this low budget (has a budget of $250,000) truly works here, often times it would be a bit distracting and take away from a movie. But in this case Terrifier 2 knows what it wants to be and it does that quite perfectly, the cast is truly a huge plus for this movie. As they always seem like they are having the time of their lives on set and who could really blame them? David Howard Thornton returns as Art the Clown and he does a tremendous job, he truly makes Art into a very expressive and villain who can go from being hilarious to downright nasty with a blink of an eye, it truly works in the film’s favor. Especially when it’s going for being a very very dark comedy, Lauren LaVera is the other major standout from the cast mainly due to how well she plays Sienna and just how much fun Sienna is as a character. At first she may seem like your ordinary older sister type character but she quickly becomes quite interesting and so much fun, we get to learn more about her character and slowly but surely learn about her father as well which also gives Sienna character development. LaVera’s performance is truly fantastic and really delivers one of the most fun performances of the year. The gore combined with the kills are nasty but truly incredible, a lot of it has the spirit of the classic splatter film combined with a dreamlike slasher film that opens many doors to creative and haunting kills. A lot of the gore really shows how nasty Art the Clown is as a villain, he truly doesn’t mess around at all and gets quite brutal very quickly. The final battle scene is truly fantastic stuff as well, it’s very well filmed, the music is booming and it’s such a satisfying ending to a incredibly entertaining film. What makes Terrifier 2 so great is that it’s wildly entertaining and just keeps stacking up, as I said before it captures the spirit of the classic splatter film extremely well and really nails that down in the best possible way. Terrifier 3 has been confirmed and I truly can’t wait to see what that has in store.

Terrifier is available on Screambox.

10/10 A+