I Can See You (9/10)

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Doug, Richards, and Kimble are three scruffy young men trying to start a new ad agency in NYC. Doug’s girlfriend, Sonia, has scored them a gig with her employer, big-time cleaning product manufacturer Clara Clean, whose products may or may not be involved in ecological damage and de-forestation. Suffering from a lack of clarity in both their artistic vision and their stock photos, the three men decide that camping in the woods to get back to nature is just the ticket, so they head out of town, Sonia in tow, to the countryside where Richards grew up. Once there, Richards attempts to take some photos of nature’s grandeur, but the photos are marred by mysterious wisps of smoke, which seem to be invisible to the naked eye. That night, some old friends of Richards are invited to the camp for a barbecue, and he hooks up with his old flame, Summer Day. The next day, Doug and Summer disappear after a swim, which leads Richards to fear the worst. When Doug shows up that night without Summer and with a bad case of the crazies, things really go bonkers.

So, this movie is about as good as mini-micro-budget filmmaking can get, which, turns out, is pretty goddamn good. This thing starts out weird, and gets to be positively batshit crazy by the end. Nevertheless, it is consistently compelling, and features some genuinely creepy and jarring visuals and editing. The acting is better than one might expect at this price-point (including a great performance from indie guru and producer Larry Fessenden in a small but pivotal role), and the lack of production value really only adds to the lo-fi nuthouse vibe. The whole thing is reminiscent of something you might find in the “weird part of YouTube”, but holds up surprisingly well as a feature-length film. I really don’t want to say anything more about it, so just go watch it.

An American Ghost Story [aka Revenant] (6/10)

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An under-employed writer (in other words, a writer), girlfriend in tow, moves into a house where a man slaughtered his family and then killed himself. The author hopes to meet the house-ghosts and write a book about it.

The ghosts show up, are very friendly, tell him everything he needs, he writes the book and makes millions of dollars, and marries his reasonably attractive girlfriend. The End.

Haha, not really! Actually, the ghosts rearrange the furniture and attack the reasonably attractive girlfriend with the kitchen cabinets, so she moves out, leaving our sad writer all alone in the ghost-house. After that, he starts wandering around the house, talking to disembodied voices of kids, and playing with stuffed animals.

So, this is a very simple, super-low-budget, single-location movie without a lot of action or special effects, at least until the end. It does establish a good story and spooky atmosphere, and pays off pretty well at the end with some simple, but well-done, practical effects. And, for once, it’s not found footage, which is a nice plus. No boobage, reasonably attractive or otherwise. Overall, pretty slow for most of the run, but not a bad watch.

Infernal (7/10)

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A couple have a kid who is weird and can’t stop brushing her hair. Is she autistic, or the devil? Spoiler alert: It’s that second thing.

So this is basically a found-footage hipster version of The Omen. While not the most original idea, or even slightly original, it does a pretty good job of being creepy and actually works, for the most part. They really needed to cut back on the cricket sounds in the background though, really freakin’ annoying. No boobs but still worth a look.

The Girl in the Photographs (8/10)

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Colleen works at a grocery store in Spearfish, South Dakota. Someone is leaving creepy photographs of dead, multilated young women around her workplace where she will find them. The cops can’t connect them to any crime, and don’t think they are real. Meanwhile, in LA, a scuzzbag photographer learns about the photographs and is pissed that someone came up with the idea before him. He decides to base the ad campaign he’s been hired to shoot on the idea of crime scene photos. He flies out to Spearfish with some bimbos in tow to do the shoot. Once there, he meets up with Colleen and decides she needs to be his new star. All the while, a couple of freaky-deak serial killers continue to practice their “art”.

First off, this movie is notable for being the final project of the late, great Wes Craven, who executive produced. And it’s a good one. While not particularly scary, we have lots of great characters and performances, particularly Claudia Lee as the lovely Colleen, the focus of everyone’s obsessions, and Kal Penn as the hilariously obnoxious and pretentious photographer. Nice levels of horror, drama, and comedy mix to make a very entertaining movie. Also features two extremely perky boobs. Highly recommended.

The Thing (7/10)

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I avoided this when it first came out since I thought it was just another opportunistic remake of a classic movie (the irony being, of course, that 1982’s The Thing was also a remake of a classic movie, but we’ll ponder that another time). Two things made me decide to go back and check it out: It’s more of a prequel than a remake (despite having the same title), and it was written by Eric Heisserer, who wrote 2016’s “Arrival”, which looks to be quite good.

So, this does indeed explore the events preceding “The Thing” (1982), covering the finding of an alien spaceship and the accidental release of the alien survivor. While certainly not as good as the 1982 movie, it is a solid action/horror with some very creepy effects, which were an odd blend of practical and CGI. Definitely well-made and worth a watch, it captures at least some of the claustrophobia and creepiness of the 1982 “The Thing”.

Hush (5/10)

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I had high hopes for this, given that it was made by the guy that did Oculus, which was great. So, basically, this deaf chick lives by herself somewhere isolated and is stalked by some doofus with a crossbow. Decent setup, but it’s made really frustrating by the all-too-common problem of really bad decision-making. Even the stalker dude remarks on the chick’s bad judgement, which was kind of funny. Anyways, if you’re gonna do some kind of “strong woman saves herself from the baddie” thing, maybe not make your heroine a total dipshit? Also, this movie would have been about 20 minutes long if either of them had bothered to get an actual gun. Lots of people heaped praise on this, but I just don’t see it. “Don’t Breathe” is a much better example of this type of “home invasion with disabilities” sub-genre. Also, no boobs, which would have totally elevated the material.