Crazy Camping: KILLING GROUND (2017) Review

A young couple goes on a camping trip in the woods where they make a startling discovery. Meanwhile, a family that is also camping encounter two psychotic men who set their sights on the family for their hunting game.

I like to think that I’m very un-phased by most disturbing things in horror. But there are the few occasional horror films that come along that really push certain boundaries. Sometimes it’s not even disturbing, but more so I think it’s a film of poor taste. Killing Ground fits into that category. The thing with movies like these is that it’s so hard to call it a good movie and praise it because of how horrible in content it is. Killing Ground would be like if The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left, and Wolf Creek had a big, messed up three-way. In some ways it doesn’t reach the brutality or grittiness of those films, but in some ways it comes off as more realistically brutal, which in some cases makes it almost worse. There are things that happen that definitely aren’t for the faint of heart. What Killing Ground succeeds at is that it doesn’t need gore or in your face violence to be disturbing. Of course I won’t get into detail on this, but this feels more taboo than any of the films I listed. It doesn’t cross Cannibal Holocaust or A Serbian Film threshold, but more so fits into it’s own territory. The screwed up games these two “hunters” play with the character is demented and their lack of humanity is even worse.

What really makes this film more on the unbearable side is that all of our protagonists are extremely likable. The main couple is cute in the most un-annoying way, the parents are really caring and not nagging and overbearing, the teenage daughter is a good kid and not bitchy or annoying, and then you have a toddler in the mix. When thrown in danger the characters aren’t stupid either. In this respect, the script is really well-written in that we have these solid and likable characters, and then you have these two horrible antagonists that just make you sick. These are backed by the strong performances by the cast. The general plot isn’t particularly new, but it’s definitely new in the choices it chooses to make. When all is said and done, the film is commendable in how far it chooses to go and the strength of the characters and actors, and overall the movie is well-done. It’s not a bad movie at all, but I can’t call it good because at times it does feel in poor taste and it seems to only want to horrify you with those lengths it takes and not serve much else. If you are by chance into these movies and willing to stick it out, totally go for it. But it’s definitely not one I recommend to all horror fans.

-Cody Landman

Unlucky Seven: WISH UPON (2017) Review

Years after Clare (Joey King) witnesses her mother committing suicide, she is struggling not only with this memory, but also with a lot of bullying and ridicule by her peers for her lifestyle. Clare’s dad (Ryan Philippe) go dumpster diving and has become a hoarder. When he finds mysterious box, he gives it to Clare whom discovers it’s a wish box. Thinking nothing of it, she makes a wish and it comes true. But she discovers that for every wish she makes, there comes a sacrifice.

Wish Upon is hands-down one of the most teeny-bopper horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because the movie is entertaining for the most part. But if anything it’s a more darker version of an episode that would have been on Nickelodeon’s old T.V. series Are You Afraid of the Dark. There aren’t very many scares here except for maybe one scene where it cuts between two characters and has the audience guess who is going to die in that moment. Though the answer is fairly obvious. The story itself is very by-the-numbers, and not exactly anything special. The thing is, it does try to do something a little different by showing aspects of addiction, but the point in which they chose to explore this is rather late in the film and feels random. However, the film’s biggest problems don’t come from the fact that it’s unoriginal and formulaic, but more so from the fact that it’s horribly put together and much of it feel underdeveloped.

When the film starts and we’re supposed to see the life Clare has, I found myself thinking her life isn’t THAT terrible. For example, the bitchy blonde girl who bullies her (while pretty bitchy) isn’t portrayed as horrible as she could have been. Hell at one point Clare gets in the bully’s face and they actually fight each other! This was in the first 20 minutes! I’ve been waiting for a bullied girl to strike back at a bully in film for a long time (as opposed to run away or start crying). Clare’s is shown to be ballsy and can handle herself. But that’s just an example. Yes, her dad embarrasses her in public by being seen digging in dumpsters and her house is pretty nasty. The worst thing about her life is the fact that her mom died. Other than that her life isn’t that terrible. She has two great friends who would do anything for her. Her relationship with them is more developed than between her and her dad. Apart from being underdeveloped, everything just seems so rushed in how it moves from one thing to another to where elements and characters feel like they have no purpose other than filler. Even scenes that should be focused on more (especially in the final act) are barely touched upon but then forgotten later. An example here being a character who cuts their wrists in front of Clare, she screams (at night), cut to the character being put in an ambulance (in daytime), and then cut to Clare and a friend talking about the box (not acknowledging said character), and said character appears later acting as if nothing happened (when really they would have been in a psychiatric hospital). And don’t get me started of how quickly Ryan Philippe’s grows a beard between scenes. Plain and simple, this movie just has poor pacing, editing, and just not well put together. One thing I also need to mention is the cringe-worthy dialogue by the teenagers. I can’t imagine any teen talks like this and in lingo I’ve never heard of in my life (unless I’m just getting that old?). I do have to say though that I LOVED the ending.

It ended basically how I was hoping. Bleak, shocking, and depressing. Once it happens, it lingers just enough to make sure you feel the bleakness and then it ends. You could say that the way it was done was maybe TOO bleak and dark, but compared to how it could have ended, I embraced this with open arms. However, as much as the suddenness of it was awesome, a little build-up to it would have been nice. Though I was building it up in the back of my mind. In terms of the death scenes, they’re very quick shots and bordering off-screen (one character seemingly looks beheaded by a chainsaw, but it looks like they just get hit in the head), but the scenes themselves are pretty great and very Final Destination-like in nature. The cast actually does a great job. Most especially Joey King. She carries the movie really well and during some of the hefty and dramatic scenes (especially the ones showing her addiction) and nails it. Ryan Philippe does what he can with the role, and he honestly deserved much better material to work with. Shannon Purser and Sydney Park play Clare’s best friends and they’re great in their respective roles. You fall in love with them immediately and it’s really thanks to the actresses really bringing the characters’ personalities to life, you almost think that this is how the actresses really are.

I can’t say I recommend this movie, but it’s entertaining and worth watching on Netflix one day under the “Teen Screams” section or spending a dollar for it at Redbox. But if you don’t happen to see it in your life, you won’t be missing much. It’s a super average movie, with a super average story that has solid acting, but suffers from brutal script issues and even more brutal pacing and editing that you can’t exactly miss.

–Cody Landman

Slasher Studios Horror Podcast: The Making of IRRATIONAL FEAR

On a brand new Slasher Studios Horror Podcast, our hosts Kevin Sommerfield & Andrew Beirl had a chance to chat with the cast of the upcoming Slasher Studios horror feature IRRATIONAL FEAR. Big thank you to cast members Charles Chudabala, Cati Glidewell, Jenn Nangle, & Kaleb Shorey for calling in. Want to know the gory details behind the latest film from Slasher Studios? Click on the link below to listen to an archive. IRRATIONAL FEAR will be available on DVD & limited edition Blu-Ray this November with a special limited edition VHS planned for early next year.

Actor Spotlight: Helen Mirren (TEACHING MRS. TINGLE)

Dame Helen Mirren is one of the most prestigious actresses alive. Most film viewers will remember her for her award worthy roles in The Queen, Calendar Girls, Hitchcock, and many others. And for those who prefer blockbuster/mainstream films, many will remember her for Red 1 and 2, and most recently Fate of the Furious and Collateral Beauty. But for me personally, and many will call me crazy for this, I will personally remember Helen Mirren for her role as Eve Tingle in 1999’s teen thriller Teaching Mrs. Tingle.

To this day, Teaching Mrs. Tingle remains Kevin Williamson’s only directorial film. This film has many flaws (especially the convenience of the extremely unrealistic ending). But as Williamson has shown with the Scream films, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and even Cursed, no matter the quality of the movie (good or bad), his scripts are extremely fun. And that’s what Teaching Mrs. Tingle is. It’s a fun, late 90s teen thriller. But back to Mirren. At the start of the film Mirren plays Mrs. Tingle as this very bitchy and catty teacher. Seriously, she’s horrible, but Mirren plays her in a way where you love to hate her. She is most vicious towards the protagonist played by Katie Holmes (the good and brainy girl), but we have really no idea why just yet. But she’s pretty nasty towards everyone she teaches, maybe not so much the prissy snob Trudie in the movie. But it’s not even her students, it’s the whole faculty as well, minus the gym teacher whom she is doing the dirty with. As I said, Mirren plays this horrible and bitchy teacher in a very unique way. You know she’s evil and you wanna punch her in the face but yet you still can’t help but love the bitchiness. Later, when Holmes’ character, her best friend, and another classmate confront Mrs. Tingle about wrongfully accusing Holmes of cheating, things go out of hand they inadvertently nearly kill their teacher. So what do they do? They tie her to her bed and hold her captive and blackmail her in order to get her to cooperate with their demands.

But little do they know, Mrs. Tingle is one tricky bitch. Prior to this we only saw her as a bitch, and now we see much more of Mrs. Tingle’s personality. At this point in the film Mirren switches gears to wear she not only screws with the three friends’ minds, but even the audience. She keep her bitchiness slightly toned down, but even worse than the bitchiness is how she’s able to get into the mind. Think of her as playing Hannibal Lecter-type tricks. Mirren actually brings a great amount of creepy to the role and how much power she has despite being tied up. There’s a scene where she reveals some of her background to one of the characters, and not only she, but us an audience seem unsure whether we are to believe this. And this is because Mirren expertly manages to almost make us sympathize with her in this scene, but we also feel like this is what she wants. There’s so much ambiguity in Mirren’s performance in this scene that it’s one of, if not the best moment of hers in the film. And it’s one of many scenes where she plays mind games like this. On top of this, Mirren sure can play creepy and scary by just mere facial expressions. She can stare daggers into you through the screen, it’s that affecting. It’s in the final act where Mirren finally gets to have fun and really show how crazy and deranged Tingle can be as she is threating Holmes’ character with a crossbow and full on attacks on (throwing her against walls, hitting and strangling her). The thing with this performance is that it’s one that quite honestly could have been make a joke out of. The average actress would have gone completely over-the-top and hokey. Mirren knocked it out of the park and made it her own. She gave Mrs. Tingle more character, depth, and personality than was really needed. The ambiguity and feeling of unease she brings to this role is incredible, and even if hate the movie, you have to love this performance.

In some ways I would say this role was a female equivalency to Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter. Now granted this was the first Helen Mirren film/role I’d ever seen and it made me a fan of hers, so that’s one reason why it’s my most memorable for her. The other reason is that this role is such a rarity for Mirren compared to the other films she’s done. And for the reasons mentioned above, she took a role that could have been so simple and hokey, and made it something so much more. I would go so far as to say that it was a much better performance than the movie deserved. Mirren definitely has more superior roles under her belt, but this one will always stay with me and will remain my favorite performance of hers.

–Cody Landman

Celebrate a DISMEMBERING CHRISTMAS in July on DVD & VHS

Celebrate Christmas in July with Dismembering Christmas on DVD & limited edition VHS! Who says you can’t celebrate holiday horror all year round? If you love holiday horror, Slasher Studios’ Dismembering Christmas is the movie for you. A tribute to the glory days of holiday horror. Featuring all practical effects in our second slasher feature, it’s the perfect way to run some ice cold blood into these hot summer months!

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PLOT:
It was supposed to be a holiday vacation they would never forget, not a holiday vacation they would never survive. When Mark and his friends go up to his fathers new vacation home for Christmas vacation, they were ready for a fun time. Out in the middle of nowhere, the house is cheerfully decorated for Christmas. But an unknown visitor is there, and one by one they are murdered. Its Christmas and not a creature is stirring except the killer in the house…

DVD EXTRAS:
Audio commentary with Actor/Director Austin Bosley
Audio commentary with Writer/Producer Kevin Sommerfield
Bloopers
Fly on the Set: Making Of Dismembering Christmas
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer

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Dismembering Christmas DVD





Dismembering Christmas VHS Options




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Limited Edition DON’T GO TO THE REUNION Blu-Ray Set To Sell Out

Here’s your LAST chance to own our very first slasher feature in HD! Our Don’t Go to the Reunion limited edition blu-rays are now shipping and they are going fast! We started with a limited, hand numbered run of just 200 blurays and now we are down to a mere handful of copies. Each bluray has been hand numbered to make sure each collector gets their own unique slasher piece. This is the first (and only) time Don’t Go to the Reunion has ever been released in HD and we have a bunch of brand new extras packed on this special edition.

Three options to purchase:
Blu-Ray standalone, with 11×17 limited edition Dismembering Christmas poster, or with poster & Dismembering Christmas DVD. Region free & shipping worldwide, order your limited edition, hand numbered bluray today.

Brand new special features include:
* All three Slasher Studios short films (Teddy, Popularity Killer, and Blood Brothers) in HD for the very first time.
* Filmmakers commentary
* Exclusive cast & crew interviews on the making of Don’t Go to the Reunion
* Don’t Go to the Reunion Video Review
* Don’t Go to the Reunion promo video
* Don’t Go to the Reunion trailer
* Don’t Go to the Reunion teaser trailer
* Dismembering Christmas trailer
* Theatrical World Premiere Interview With Director Steve Goltz & Writer Kevin Sommerfield
* Slasher Studios Horror Podcast audio feature (A Look Back at Don’t Go to the Reunion)
and MUCH MORE!


Don’t Go to the Reunion




Terror Down Below: 47 METERS DOWN (2017) Review

After being dumped by her boyfriend claiming she’s too “boring”, Lisa (Mandy Moore) invites her sister Kate (Claire Holt) along with her, hoping to prove to him that she can be fun. The two are then invited to go cage diving with some very large sharks. Upon descent, their cage drops to the ocean floor. Eventually the sisters find they’re not safe inside the cage as their oxygen runs low, and they aren’t safe outside because of the sharks. It’s a race against time as the sisters fight to survive.

After the success of The Shallows, 47 Meters Down was pulled from it’s straight to DVD and digital release (it was very close to its release date), and the new plan was to release it in theaters. I’m really happy about this move, because this is one shark movie that deserves to be seen in a theatrical setting. At the same time however, while the sharks are a huge threat, even more so, the ocean itself is a threat. The film is so well-done and suspenseful with how it’s directed and filmed. It also uses the setting to its advantage. The film succeeds at making us feel trapped with these characters in this small space, and we feel our breaths growing as short as theirs because of how much we’re holding it. This occurs as the intensity builds. The intensity in question all starts and can be felt right when we see the girls climbing into the cage. Most of the film is completely underwater and it brilliantly makes us feel like we are there. The way cinematography captures the surroundings and as well as what could be hiding in the dark waters is nerve-wracking and really makes you hold your breath. This is only worse when the shark scenes come about. The sharks are used the perfect amount without using the same tropes and tricks over and over. This only further causes you to be on edge, and it contains some extremely well-done jump scares. In terms of characters, they feel pretty genuine, smart, and relatable. Lisa is the more reserved character and the first to really panic, but she also has a solid character arc watching her having to get over her fears and panic in order to survive. Kate is the more adventurous and brave one trying to be there for her sister. But what’s interesting is how at certain points, their roles seem to flip and they equally need to help each other. Some of the actions they commit may not be the smartest from an outer perspective, but situation-wise, these decisions come off as necessary because of the dire circumstances. Mandy Moore does really well with her performance and really sells her character’s fear and gradual changes. Of the two though Claire Holt turns in the strongest as we see her balancing bravery and fear along with her strength and concern for Moore’s character. The pair however are very believable as sisters and have strong chemistry to really help you care for and root for them.

47 Meters Down is a hard-core heart-pounding thriller that really does have you gasping for breath. This is more than a shark film, it is a hardcore survival film where the stakes are off the charts. Thanks to brilliant direction and cinematography, you are trapped with these two characters and really feel the terror and tension rising.


–Cody Landman

Picking Favorites: Top 5 Male Performances in Horror

The horror genre in my opinion is so underrated in terms of recognition for performances and in some cases the films in general. The Oscars always seem to turn the other cheek towards them, with the exception of a few iconic ones (Misery, Silences of the Lambs, etc.). Besides dramas, I honestly think horror offers the more stronger performances of other genres. The actors and actresses have to convey so much emotion and sometimes really get into the psyche of the characters they play and channel the hell out of them. This isn’t the case for every horror movie of course, but a person can’t deny that there’s a lot of effort to be put into these performances. This is my personal list of my five favorite male and female performances in horror. Some of them are the obvious and iconic performances, and some are performances that definitely deserve to become iconic and ranked with them.

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs
Right from the moment we see Anthony Hopkins appear on-screen, you immediately feel a sense of terror and his villainy. The way he stands there anticipating Clarice’s arrival and his greeting. It’s something that shouldn’t be threatening, but the physical way Hopkins portrays Lecter is chilling, and when we get to his dialogue and emotionless expression and the ease of how he speaks, that adds even more to the performance. What really sells Hopkins performance for me every time are his eyes. They burn holes into the viewer and you can see the evil in them. That is a trait that most actors who play villains can’t accomplish. Especially one in which he doesn’t completely act psychotic. He can be sitting there looking at Clarice and the viewer, calm as can be, and you do see the evil in those eyes looking back at you.


2) Kevin Spacey as John Doe in Seven

For such a small amount of screentime, Kevin Spacey leaves one hell of a mark on the film and viewer. Towards the end of the movie when the killer known as John Doe appears and we see Spacey covered in blood, calm as can be, that alone instantly sends you the chills. The rest of the film as Spacey acting as calm as can be, speaking his lines with no emotion and the lines themselves are creep enough. When the field scene comes and Spacey gives his monologue to Brad Pitt leading to the reveal of the box, Spacey is horrifying. This is a role I feel most actors couldn’t accomplish the way Spacey does it. The emotionless, empty, uncomfortably calm performance as this serial killer, along with the reveal in the climax leaves you feeling shaken and disturbed. Without Kevin Spacey’s performance as John Doe, I really don’t think the film’s ending would have had the same impact.


3) John Goodman as Howard in 10 Cloverfield Lane

One of the more recent performances I feel deserves to go down in horror history is John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane. What’s so brilliant about Goodman’s performance here is just how uncomfortable he can make the viewer as well as the characters in the film. There are so many instances where his character Howard can come off as reasonably normal and collected, but in an instant he can change into this monster. Even in scenes where you aren’t even sure of what Howard is going to do next. You think he’s going to completely go crazy, or if he may just shrug it off. But even in silence and without moving, Goodman has a way of bringing in how deranged his character is. In one scene where he lunges at Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character and has her trapped against the wall, you can feel just as intimidated and freaked as she is. This performance is one that I really feel Goodman deserved a chance at the Oscar for because of how into character Goodman gets and leaves you guessing of where his character is going to go as well as scaring you and making you so uncomfortable.

4) Daniel Kaluuya as Chris in Get Out
The most recent performance (and a non-villain one) I think should be recognized in horror history as one where we have the most relatable leading male in a long time. Kaluuya plays Chris as this very down-to-earth and super likable guy. He’s meeting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time and you can tell how nervous he is. This is displayed really relatable as well. But when shit hits the fan during this visit, Kaluuya perfectly shows how uncomfortable Chris is with everything and shows his paranoia. But at the same time, he’s capturing Chris at how he’s trying to keep his cool and not completely lose his head, but also knows he needs to get the hell out of there. Apart from this we see the tortured side of his character when aspects of his past is brought up and Kaluuya just lets out all the emotions his character has been building up. This is such an authentic performance in so many ways, and one that you don’t see too often in horror. We see so many characters that we laugh at and say “oh that’s so me!” but with Kaluuya’s portrayal of Chris, you think, this is a real person acting and thinking like a real person. That is just how much his performance is one worth remembering.

5) Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho
What sets this actor and character apart from the others is that, while the others have more subtle performances that make them incredible, this one is off-the-wall, in your face excellent. Sure, Bale has a few subtly moments in his performance, but when he shows Bateman in full psycho mode, you are immediately freaked out by this guy. And it’s not angry psycho, as most know, but a guy who thinks killing people is just your average routine. And you can see how much he gets a kick out of and has fun with is murders. Bale does all of this so perfectly and disappears into character so well that, like the others, you’re not seeing them as actors, you’re seeing him as Patrick Bateman.

–Cody Landman

Picking Favorites: Top 5 Female Performances in Horror

The horror genre in my opinion is so underrated in terms of recognition for performances and in some cases the films in general. The Oscars always seem to turn the other cheek towards them, with the exception of a few iconic ones (Misery, Silences of the Lambs, etc.). Besides dramas, I honestly think horror offers the more stronger performances of other genres. The actors and actresses have to convey so much emotion and sometimes really get into the psyche of the characters they play and channel the hell out of them. This isn’t the case for every horror movie of course, but a person can’t deny that there’s a lot of effort to be put into these performances. This is my personal list of my five favorite male and female performances in horror. Some of them are the obvious and iconic performances, and some are performances that definitely deserve to become iconic and ranked with them.

1) Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther in Orphan
With child performances, they can be hit or miss. The performances can be way too “cute” or they can be downright annoying. But with Fuhrman’s performance, it’s mind-blowing how a child turn in such an adult and deranged performance. This another actress who can make you feel unease with subtlety in her performance, and most of it is subtle. With just a look, or how close and in your face she gets in this movie, it’s enough to bring the chills. And when she finally goes full on psycho, you are just in shock of how this little girl is bringing out this psychotic little bitch. Like where the hell does it come from? Fuhrman’s performance is honestly, for me, what makes Orphan such a great movie.

2) Rebecca De Mornay as Mother in Mother’s Day (2010)
Here is yet another performance that, like Goodman’s character in 10CL, is one in which you have no idea what to feel around this character initially. De Mornay first appears as this woman who seems friendly enough, but just has some fucked up kids. And she makes you feel a bit more comfortable despite the chaos that just happened. But her performances takes a gradual turn as you see just how deranged she actually is. She goes full on psycho at the end, and she’s fantastic there, but she’s at her best when she’s punishing or killing these characters for breaking her roles. And the way De Mornay acts like these punishments are justified and reasonable with so much calm and ease is excellent. She makes you fear her calm side more than her full on crazy side.

3) Leah Pipes as Jessica in Sorority Row
This performance is much more different than most because it’s not the villain, nor is it a hero. Leah Pipes plays the queen bee bitch character Jessica so profoundly that she deserves to be in this list. Pipes perfectly balances this line between where you know you’re supposed to hate her character, but yet you fricken love her. Much of Jessica’s character involves many wise-cracks or using her bitch-face. And my god, Pipes nails this. Her comedic timing is so on-point and she perfectly uses bitch face to her advantage. She tackles this character so well, makes you laugh, and often time cheer because of how bad ass she can be that (if you’re like me) you are rooting for her the whole time as opposed to the main lead. And what Pipes brings here is that you know you’re supposed to hate her, and she does make you do that, but she also brings to the table elements where you just can’t help but love the hell out of her. Most actress with this performance would either go one way or the other. But Pipes was a special actress to capture both sides.

4) Neve Campbell as Sidney in the Scream series
It would be unfair to critique Campbell based on just the first film alone. To get a full grasp on Sidney and how Campbell portrays her, you have to look at the series as a whole. In the first film we see Campbell portray Sidney as this pretty tortured girl who had seen her mother murdered. Not only this but also the pressure she feels from Billy. Campbell captures this really well, but there’s more to Sidney than just a tortured character. She has some realism to her character, she’s not Mary Sue nice like Laurie Strode, but she’s a good person who is not afraid to be a bitch when she has to (insert Sidney punching Gale). Even in the moments where we do see Campbell kicking the killer’s ass, you still her conveying the emotional turmoil that Sidney is feeling. This is just the first film. For the rest of the film, we still see the emotional damage that Sidney has, and once again Campbell shows this well, but doesn’t overdo it to where we get annoyed. Campbell shows Sidney’s struggle to try find normalcy in her life but also how she’s haunted and not sure who to trust. When you look at the whole series, you see Neve Campbell showing Sidney’s rise to strength and overcoming all of this emotional barriers she faces and by the forth film she comes character who is willing to chase down her demons instead of running.

5) Rachel McAdams as Lisa in Red Eye
This is one performance I feel is as under-looked as the film itself. McAdams shows Lisa as this workaholic who tries to keep her cool under dire circumstances, but you can also see in her performance how much stress she feels. When Lisa finds herself in the biggest dire circumstance where not only her life, but the life of several others are on the line, this is when McAdams shows her chops big time. The fear and helplessness McAdams shows is pretty heartbreaking and you are waiting for her to reach that moment for her to rise. There are moments sprinkled out where you see Lisa’s cunning and bravery rising in McAdams’ performance, but also her fears are keeping her back. It’s in the final act when McAdams shows Lisa’s courage and anger kick in and we are rooting for her the whole time during the cat and mouse game she plays with Cillian Murphy’s character, and finally when they are in a face to face battle. By the end you are pumped for her character after her ordeal. But then in the very last scene, you know that Lisa has had enough after her ordeal and throwing her calm and collected self out the window by delivering the most epic final line in a movie ever to a couple of characters who totally had it coming. Like Campbell’s portrayal of Sidney, McAdams shows Lisa’s journey into finding strength in herself and overcoming her fears.

–Cody Landman

Picking Favorites: Top 5 Favorite Twist Endings

SPOILER ALERT!!! DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED FOR THE FOLLOWING FILMS: SAW, CRY_WOLF, THE SKELETON KEY, THE UNINVITED, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

More often than not, most twist endings these days are pretty predictable or they are carbon copies of other twists. Hell some twists aren’t even twists a lot of the time, but that can also be subjective. However, there are still plenty of twist endings in horror films that can leave you jaw-dropped or immediately want to go pack and pick up on clues you may have missed. And then there are some twists that may be predictable but they’re still enjoyable twists nonetheless. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

1) Saw
Never before have I been so shocked at a film’s ending. And never before have I seen a movie with an audiences who went crazy when it happened, not to mention literally at the very end. The whole time we are thinking the character Zepp is the villain known as Jigsaw. And we have reason to believe this. But what we don’t have reason to believe is that the dead man in the middle of the floor between our two leads is the real Jigsaw and has been listening to and often controlling them the whole time. I can still recall how I felt when the iconic music begins to play as Adam starts the tape and you see John Kramer/Jigsaw rising up and we see Adam’s shocked and horrified expression as he then gets locked in his dark prison to rot. The scene itself is so well done is so many aspect that amplifies the shock of it.

2) Cry_Wolf
This is a film that I find extremely underrated (but that’s another story). Throughout the film we see these young friends playing a prank on the school that a killer is on campus. But coincidentally, the killer they’ve created is brought to life and preying on the group. This is another film that I found myself completely caught off-guard (to an extent). We are given a first twist revealing that the killer wasn’t real, it was all a prank played on the main character Owen, but also a few pranks made on each other within the group. However, this prank results in the death of one of the characters and the main guy is held responsible. We think this is the end of the movie, but we get another twist, and we find out this whole thing was a plot set up by one of the other characters to ensure the death of the deceased character. The main guy figures this out, but the true villain of the story says they’ll get away with it because no one will believe him (he has a track record of lying and troublemaking), leaving the lead screwed. The initial twist is a little predictable, and while it’s still interesting, it wouldn’t have been much of a satisfying conclusion. However, the final twist, I did not have a clue about, it blew my mind. As a result, this make the first twist more enjoyable than it would have been on its own.

3) The Skeleton Key
When this film’s climax approached, I had a vivid idea of what going to happen. I knew the house wasn’t haunted and that the elderly woman Violet (played by Gena Rowlands) was the true villain and was trying to take over Caroline (Kate Hudson), whom has been staying with her to care for her husband. And that the realtor Luke (Peter Sarsgaard) was in on the plot. But the two final shockers I didn’t expect at all. It’s revealed that Violet and Luke aren’t who they seem to be. It turns out their bodies are possessed by the slaves in the story Violet told earlier to Caroline. The couple have been using Hoodoo to transfer their souls into younger bodies in order to have everlasting life (starting with the two children of the family they worked for). Caroline believes she has the ability to defeat this evil and for a moment we think she has. But when she awakes the next morning after being knocked out, it’s revealed the transfer was complete. Caroline is now in the body of Violet, and the slave woman now inhabits Caroline. It’s also revealed that Violet’s husband Ben’s body has been the vessel for Luke’s soul the whole time and Ben was never actual ill from a stroke. It ends with the slave couple (now in Caroline and Luke’s bodies) basking in their glory as the real Caroline and Luke are hauled away in their elderly bodies (obviously to meet death much sooner than they may have anticipated, cause you know, they’re old now). This is a very bleak and dark ending, but the twists involved are so damn good and it leaves you thinking back on all the clues that were right there, and one that you pay closer attention to when you re-watch it.

4) The Uninvited
This film’s twist ending I admit can be really predicted. I didn’t particularly expect it, but despite its predictability I think it’s a great twist to an already pretty dark and engaging story. The lead character Anna comes to realize that her sister Alex has been dead the whole time since she arrived home after being in a mental hospital (and has been in her head the whole time). To add to the twist, Alex (and the girls’ mom) died due to Anna’s actions (accidentally) after trying to kill her father and his mistress. All of this was blocked out of her mind. And the mistress the two sisters are suspecting of killing their mother is actually a decent woman and this whole thing was made up in Anna’s mind due to her hatred of the woman, mixed of course with the fact that Anna is crazy as hell. By the time Anna realizes this, she has already killed the mistress (believing Alex killed her). This is quite a bit too and seems pretty complex, but I still found it a mind-blowing, and also pretty heartbreaking twist. Especially seeing the close bond she has with her sister (the chemistry between Emily Browning and Arielle Kebbel was fantastic) only to find out she died. To make this reveal sequence even better, the performances by Browning, Kebbel, and their father (played by David Strathairn) make it even more affecting.

5) Happy Birthday to Me
This cult classic has hands down the best twist ending of its time. I saw this about 5 years ago or so for the first time after hearing a friend of mine talking a lot about it. Our lead character spends much of the movie believing she has been committing the murders of her classmates. By the end of the movie she’s accepted this. When her father arrives home he sees the dining table surrounded by the dead bodies of the classmates. He then sees in horror as his daughter comes out, now completely crazy. After she kills her father, the REAL lead girl awake from the table. She sees her doppelganger/twin in front of her. She realizes she’s not crazy but still not sure what is happening. Add another twist by revealing this psycho killer is not her twin as the killer pulls off their (rather quite perfect) mask of the main girl and it’s revealed that it’s one of her friends who has faked their death and is seeking revenge (they’re not twins but half-sisters and blaming the main girl for her problems). The films itself isn’t exactly one of my favorite horror movies (it is quite good though), but here again, a twist(s) I sure as hell didn’t see coming, and they are one right after another, just never leaving you time to let your mind catch up. So by the end of the movie you’re thinking “what the f**k?!”

–Cody Landman