The Good Neighbor (8/10)

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A couple of teenage douchebags decide to conduct an “experiment” on their cranky old neighbor (perfectly portrayed by James Caan) by outfitting his house with surveillance cameras and electronic gizmos designed to make him believe he is being haunted. Unfortunately, he’s already haunted by his past, and things absolutely do not go as planned.

This is definitely a “the less you know, the better” type of movie, so I’m not going to give any more detail on the plot. Suffice it to say, this is more of a multi-layered drama than a horror movie, and it is very successful in what it sets out to achieve. Highly recommended. And James Caan is freakin’ excellent.

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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.

Solo (7/10)

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New-school take on an old-school formula. A teenage girl who has suffered some sort of trauma involving water takes a job as a counselor at a lakeside kids’ camp, presumably as a way to face her inner demons or some such. As a new counselor, she is required to do a “solo” – two nights camping on her own on an island away from the others. But is she really alone?

So this is another entry in the “survival horror” genre, as the girl faces off against a threat on the island. Ultimately, the success or failure of a movie of this sort boils down to two things: Is the threat credible and interesting, and does the protagonist make reasonable choices to combat or avoid the threat? Yes, and yes. It’s also very lean, moving the story along with little exposition, while still establishing the characters well enough that you can understand their motivations and have at least some concern about their survival. Overall, not the most original story, but very watchable and well made, and with at least a couple of interesting new ideas. No boobs though.