Horror Movie Cleanse: Darkness Falls

The following is in response to the film Darkness Falls, written by Joe Harris and starring Chaney KleyEmma Caulfield Ford, and Antony Burrows.

darkness falls

Tagline: “Every Legend Has Its Dark Side.”

Darkness Falls is the story of Kyle. In the town of Darkness Falls there is a legend that a woman, known as the tooth fairy, was once burned all over her body and half of her face. From that day on she wore a porcelain mask. When two kids from the town went missing, she was blamed and subsequently killed. As a spirit, she roams the town killing children who have just lost their last tooth. What I find interesting about this tale is how similar it is to Mary Shaw‘s story in Dead Silence. In Dead Silence the killer was also wrongly accused by a town and killed. Both spirits, Mary Shaw and the tooth fairy, take revenge on their respective towns by murdering the townsfolk.

Similar to the spirit character Diana in Lights Out, the tooth fairy in this film can not go into the light. Young Kyle is able to avert death by keeping flashlights in hands reach at all times. Twelve years later, Kyle is summoned back to Darkness Falls when his old school crush Caitlin calls him up; her little brother is claiming to be running from the tooth fairy as well and does not sleep during the night. When the town’s power goes out, Kyle must save Caitlin and her little brother Michael before the tooth fairy swoops in with her porcelain mask and kills them all.

Redemption

At it’s core, this is a story of redemptionKyle’s redemption. Even when he goes back to the town after twelve years, everyone still thinks that he’s crazy. When the town’s power goes out and the tooth fairy finally shows her face to the townspeople, they are forced to believe Kyle. Everyone cruel to him and those that didn’t believe him, don’t make it out alive in the end. Kyle has lost his family and the last twelve years of his life to the tooth fairy. The ultimate redemption for his character comes when he is able to take out the monster that has caused his life so much grief and gets his life back. Kyle also gets the girl and therefore a family in the end. For these reasons I give Darkness Falls four out of five stars.

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Horror Movie Cleanse: Dead Silence

The following is in response to the film Dead Silence, written by James Wan and starring Ryan KwantenAmber Valletta, and Donnie Wahlberg.

dead silence

Tagline: “You scream. You die.”

Dead Silence is the story of Jamie Ashen. Following the arrival of an unusual package at their front door that contained a wooden doll, Jamie’s wife Lisa is found dead in their home. He returns back to his home town to bury his wife—a town that has a saying that sounds like a warning about not screaming if you see the face of Mary Shaw, a deceased ventriloquist. Jamie is estranged from his wealthy father, who’d recently had a stroke and is now remarried to a young woman named Ella. At least that is what Ella would have everyone believe.

The story goes that at the local theater Mary Shaw was heckled by a young man during her ventriloquist act. When the boy went missing the following day, the townsfolk suspected Mary as the culprit. Mary was killed and buried with her dolls; all one hundred of them. Of course, the missing boy showed back up a day later without a scratch on him. Mary’s spirit lived on so that she might exact revenge on those that wrongly accused and killed her. The ventriloquist created the perfect doll for her to possess, Ella. That’s right, Jamie’s new stepmother is actually a sentient doll.

A Town Full Of Dummies

Though Dead Silence isn’t my favorite film that features a dummy (stay tuned for my review of Annabelle Creation), I did enjoy the extent of Mary’s rage and the lengths that she went through to get revenge. In her quest for revenge, Mary Shaw doesn’t just stop at the people that killed her. No, her anger runs a lot deeper than that. She punishes everyone in the town and kills them all, turning the place into a ghost town of boarded up windows and giving the local coroner a lot of work to do. Destroying the town in this film is reminiscent of some of my favorite Stephen King novels like the Tommyknockers, Salem’s Lot, and Needful Things just to name a few. Mary Shaw even goes after the children of those that punished her, so that Jamie ultimately has to pay for his father’s wrongdoings. For these reasons I give Dead Silence three out of five stars.

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Horror Movie Cleanse: Pet

The following is in response to the film Pet, written by Jeremy Slater and starring Dominic MonaghanKsenia Solo, and Jennette McCurdy.

Pet

Love in a cage.

Pet is the story of Seth, a lonely man that works at an animal shelter, and the object of his affection Holly, an old schoolmate of Seth’s. When Seth runs into Holly on the bus, he can’t get her out of his mind. He stalks her on Facebook and then at the diner where she works. His attempts to woo her are fruitless. Everything changes when he picks up her diary that she dropped at the bar and discovers that there is more to her than meets the eye. He finds out by reading her diary that she is a killer and he becomes determined to fix her.

Utilizing an unused area of the animal shelter, Seth abducts Holly and locks her up in a cage. As it turns out, Holly got her thirst for killing after murdering her best friend Claire. Holly’s boyfriend was cheating on her with Claire and Holly was not going to stand for it. Since then she murdered homeless men and sleazy guys that followed her home from bars. The one thing that I did not like from this film is that Holly does not go after the cause of all of her problems—her boyfriend Eric. For this reason I give Pet four out of four stars.

Heroes and Villains

What I found most interesting about this film is that you don’t know who the hero and the villain is. On one hand, Seth did stalk and then kidnap Holly, but on the other hand Holly is a killer. There is no better scene to illustrate this point than when Nate, one of Seth’s co-workers at the animal shelter, finds Holly in her cage. Though he is trying to save her, she trips him up and urges Seth to kill him. Is she doing this because she knows that Nate wasn’t going to be able to help her escape and she’s just acting to stay in Seth’s good side or is she missing the act of killing so much that she wants to be a part of Nate’s death in one way or another?

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Horror Movie Cleanse: Creep 1 & 2

The following is in response to the films Creep and Creep 2, both of which is written by  Patrick Brice and Mark DuplassMark Duplass stars in both films, where Patrick Brice is in the first film and Desiree Akhavan is in the sequel.

Creep

This movie is just plain Creepy.

Creep is the story of a videographer named Aaron who is down on his luck and in need of money. Desperate, Aaron answers a craigslist advertisement of all things to get a job. The job is to film Josef, a stranger, under the pretext that the video will one day be shown to Josef’s son. Josef says that he has a brain tumor that will eventually kill him and he wants his son to get to know him through the video. Aside from Josef jumping out from behind various objects to scare Aaron, everything goes according to plan. Everything changes when it gets dark and Josef isn’t ready for Aaron to leave.

Aaron is able to make it back home, but things are just getting started. He begins to receive gifts and tapes from Josef and discovers that he knows exactly where he lives. In a video, Josef apologizes for his strange behavior and Aaron agrees to meet him at the park. While Aaron is sitting on a park bench, Josef decides to jump scare him one last time. It is the last time, because this time he has an ax and he uses it to split open Aaron’s skull. As it turns out, Josef (though that must be an assumed name) is a serial killer and has amassed a collection of VHS tapes of his victim’s deaths.

Creep The Sequel

The serial killer from the first film is back, this time using the name of his favorite victim Aaron. The victim that he plays his mind tricks on in this movie is a woman, Sara. Sara is an adventurous artist, who has an unpopular web series in which she answers odd personal ads. The previous people she has worked with are odd but harmless, that end up normal after some human interaction. When Aaron tells her he is a serial killer, she keeps her composure and lets it play out; anything for the views. To compare Creep 2 to its predecessor, Sara is a different victim. In the sequel when Aaron tries to jump scare her, Sara doesn’t bat an eye. Though he was very confident in the first film, Aaron seems more pathetic in the sequel—faking a suicide and professing that he was a virgin. For these interesting changes from one film to the other, I give Creep and Creep 2 a collective rating of four out of five stars.

 

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Horror Movie Cleanse: The Devil’s Candy

The following is in response to The Devil’s Candy, written by Sean Byrne and starring Ethan EmbryShiri Appleby, and Pruitt Taylor Vince.

The Devil's Candy

Tagline: “He will slither into your soul.”

The Devil’s Candy is the story of Jesse Hellman, who is a pot-smoking, headbanging, painter. For Jesse, wife Astrid, and daughter Zooey, the city life is starting to get to them. When they find a house with a perfect detached building for Jesse to make his art, they jump on the opportunity to move to the countryside. They move in, Zooey prepares to go to a new school, and everything seems to be going well with their new lives. There’s only one problem—the adult son of the previous owners isn’t ready to say goodbye to the property just yet.

This man, Ray Smilie, is audibly haunted by the murmuring voice of the devil, portrayed as a deep rhythmic humming of what I can only describe as Latin. The demonic voice tells Ray that he must kill children because they are his favorite type of candy, presumably referring to their souls. Jesse is also haunted and seems to be compelled by the young spirits of Ray’s victims to find their missing bodies. When Ray comes for Zooey, Jesse has to save his family and uncover the group of buried suitcases that contain the bodies of Ray’s victims.

 

Music and Art

This film says a lot about the devil as a muse of music and art. In the film, there is heavy metal music with demon related lyrics of which the Hellman’s head-bang to. Also, when Ray hears the voice of the devil, he is seen playing an electric guitar to drown out the noise. After moving into the new house, Jesse’s art turns dark; he paints an upside down cross and a collage in which Zooey is being burned alive. To be fair, satanic things have been the subject of art for centuries, such as the works of Dürer and Musi. Though The Devil’s Candy wasn’t my favorite horror movie this month, I did enjoy these artful aspects and give the film a three out of five stars.

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Horror Movie Cleanse: Train to Busan

The following is in response to the film Train to Busan, written by Sang-ho Yeon and starring Yoo GongYu-mi Jung, and Dong-seok Ma.

Train to Busan

Busanhaeng (Original Title)

Train to Busan is a Korean movie from 2016. We follow the life of divorced fund manager Seok-woo in Seoul, South Korea. Seok-woo is taking his daughter Soo-an to see her mother on her birthday. They board the train to Busan and everything seems to be normal, until a stowaway starts going berserk—she has contracted a highly contagious disease that essentially turns her into a zombie with a healthy hunger for human flesh. The disease starts to spread among the passengers; a group of passengers are able to make it to the front of the train where they quarantine themselves.

When the train makes a stop in a large city on its way to Busan, the passengers think that they have left the mayhem behind them. When they enter the station they are met by a army of zombies; literally, the Korean military had been posted at the station when the outbreak spread through them, turning them all into zombies. A small portion of the original group makes it back onto the train, only Seok-woo is separated from his daughter. They are able to move through the train cars and reunite with the others when they discover that the zombies cannot see in the dark. Good thing there are a lot of tunnels from Seoul to Busan.

Three Tragedies

There are several themes that come up in this movie, the biggest being the idea of selfishness. Soo-an barks at her father for being selfish when he refuses to help others, professing that this is why her mother left him. Though it takes him getting separated from his daughter, Seok-woo figures out that it doesn’t pay to be selfish. I a world where the dead wander the earth searching for flesh, it pays to have friends. The fate of those remaining on the train is sealed by the selfishness of a wealthy business owner. This man, Yon-suk, is why three strong characters die.

As I mentioned preciously, a small group is separated on the train. Of the group that have to make it through the infected train cars is Sang-hwa, a muscular father-to-be, Yong-guk, a young baseball player, and our hero of the story Seok-woo. When the group makes it to the front of the train, Yon-suk convinces the people in the train car that the other group are infected. This forces them to have to break their way in, resulting in Sang-hwa’s death. The train has to stop because of debris on the track. Yon-suk draws zombies into the train car that Yong-guk and is girlfriend are in, causing their deaths. Lastly, Yon-suk becomes infected, threatening Seok-woo and Soo-an. In order to save his daughter, Seok-woo gets himself infected, throwing Yon-suk and himself from the moving train. For these reasons I give Train to Busan five out of five stars.

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Horror Movie Cleanse: Clown

The following is in response to the film Clown, written by Jon Watts and starring Andy PowersLaura Allen, and Peter Stormare.

Clown

Tagline: “They’re as terrifying as you think.”

Clowns have always been creepy to me even when I was a child. I believe that the average adult, even if they found clowns entertaining when they were children, would probably agree with me that these types of entertainers are way more freaky then funny. This film takes those creepy vibes that we get from clowns and puts it to the extreme. Clown is the story of a realtor and family man named Kent. At the beginning of the film, it is his son Jack’s birthday and the hired clown is not going to be able to make it to the party. Kent saves the day when he puts on a clown suit that he just so happens to find in a chest in a house that he is trying to sell on the market. Everything turns south when Kent discovers that no matter what he does he cannot remove the clown costume.

Not sure what to do about this, Kent runs off into the woods where he runs into a group of young campers. Unable to control an urge to gorge on child flesh, he bites the finger off of one of the kids. As his urges grow more powerful, we see less of Kent and more of a monster. He is unable to control himself, leading him to eat a few kids in the neighborhood and to even go after his own son.

 

A Film’s Mythology

Like I said before, clowns are creepy, but this film takes it a step further. You see, the clown costume that Kent puts on is actually demon skin. The myth behind this idea is that a demon in the cold mountains of the Scandinavian region in Europe ate five children every year, one for every month of the winter season. Here in lies what you have to do in order to remove the costume—consume five children. That, or you can simply chop off the costume wearer’s head. I thought that the history behind the clown costume made the plot of this movie more concrete and for this reason I give Clown four out of five stars.

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