Home Sweet Home: GHOST HOUSE (2017) Review

A young American couple travels to Thailand where they learn of artifacts called “ghost houses”. These houses are said to hold spirits of those who have passed. When two other tourists show them a ghost house grave yard, Julie is tricked into disturbing one of the houses. Soon afterwards, Julie is being haunted by the angry spirit who inhabited the house and is now after her soul.

This recent supernatural horror film is a fresh of breath air in the sense that it’s not about a troubled family in a haunted house. Instead it’s a cultural supernatural horror film. While the film still falls under certain horror tropes it’s still a much better story to be told. I’ve always found that supernatural horror films that take place in other cultures and tell stories of myths about them are the most interesting. Even if some don’t exactly turn out good in the end, it at least takes them in a different direction. Ghost House uses the Thailand culture to its advantage in how it shows the country, the people in it, and their way of life. And the overall setting and filming of the city is excellent. As far as the overall story goes, it’s pretty engaging. The couple at the center of it isn’t exactly likable, but you don’t hate them. They’re flawed. But once Julie becomes haunted by the spirit, her fiancé Jim is now willing to do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means bringing this burden onto someone else. The ghost haunting Julie is pretty terrifying and used in some creepy ways. Along with this the film has some creepy sequences in general and has just as much creepy imagery. It’s only when the final act comes around that the film loses steam. In what should have been a great and intense final act, it’s way too rushed, comical, and ends up throwing in a ridiculous curveball of a plot-point that make the stakes of the film seem less high. It then ends from a cheesy penultimate scene, to one that’s been used in every other ghost film. Our two leads do a decent enough job, even if their chemistry isn’t the greatest. Scout Taylor-Compton turns in a good performance as Julie. She shows Julie’s fun and adventurous side early in the film with realism, and during her hauntings, she shows the confusion and fear of the character nearly flawless. I say nearly because there are moments where it seems she is over-reaching a bit too much. James Landry Hebert’s performance as Jim is a little hit-or-miss. There are times where his performance is a little cringe worthy, but then there are times when it’s just fine. These good moments mostly occur when he expresses his determination to save Julie and the fear of her worsening condition.

Ghost House is far from a perfect horror film, but it’s a nice break from the usual ghost story we’ve been getting recently. The final act and ending is lackluster, but everything prior is engaging and creepy with Bangkok being a great cultural setting.

–Cody Landman

Bloody Pages: DEATH NOTE (2017) Review

When a young teen discovers a notebook called the Death Note, he learns from an evil spirit that it can cause the death on whomever the owner writes in it. The writer has to be very specific though. They must include the full name, and how they want them to die. The more detailed, the better. If they don’t give a cause of death, the spirit chooses. He initially takes the opportunity to use in his personal life. But he then teams up with a classmate and they decide to use this power for good, ridding the world of criminals. But a cop take on the case to find out the cause, believing these mysterious deaths are murderous. The two friends then grapple between right, wrong, and obsession as the cop is on their trail.

Prior to this Netflix film, I’d never actually watched the animated series. I’ve definitely heard of it, and it caught my interest. The trailer for the movie caught my attention with not only the interesting story, but also the way the film looked overall, grim and haunting. The does deliver the interesting concept and brings forth an interesting story, but ultimately it did come out to be average. The idea here is great, but it just seemed to keep rehashing much of the stuff it already covered, and along the way it becomes muddled with confusing plot points that makes everything established already seem completely written off. This is what I found the most frustrating. They’ve established the rules of the Death Note, but then they add all of these conveniences later on to satisfy where they want the plot to go. I was also disappointed that it didn’t go further into a darker and more horror-like territory than they did. The horror aspect only occurs within the first 45 minutes or so. From there it goes into this vigilante/fantasy/suspense film with random teen drama thrown in. This is where the film loses its momentum. Others may dig this aspect of the teens taking on this power, but what I wanted was to see them gradually growing dark with each person they choose to kill, maybe even some innocents. The vigilante aspect just really didn’t do much for me. The cop tracing them would have made more sense if random people began to die instead of criminals no one cares about.

On a technical aspect, the look of the film delivered in its dark and grim feel. This was the only horror aspect that seemed to stay present. The soundtrack was great as well, even if it didn’t seem to fit well with the scenes at times, or it seemed too on the nose. Nat Wolff is pretty great as the lead character, Light. He plays the character with realism in the beginning, and he does a good job of transitioning into his obsession with power, and then showing the balance between this obsession and wanting to stop. Willem Dafoe plays the evil spirit Ryuk brilliantly, but we all know Dafoe nails the villainous roles, so that was a given. Lakeith Stanfield and Margaret Qualley are the two weak links in the film. Stanfield as the cop on the two teens’ trail turns in a performance that makes it looks he is either trying too hard or not trying hard enough. Qualley plays Light’s partner and love interest. Of any part in the film this is the one should could have had the most fun with as a manipulative and the most unhinged of them all. Instead she just comes off too wooden and casual for a role that required so much.

I’m sure there are people who don’t mind Death Note for what it is, and what it is, is fine, but it suffers from a loss of momentum part way through, a poorly written last half, and not as much horror or darkness as it could have gotten. Adam Wingard does great with the direction, and the look of the film is great, along with Wolff and Dafoe. If anything this film was just a missed opportunity.

–Cody Landman

World Premiere: IRRATIONAL FEAR Teaser Trailer

We are proud to bring you the teaser trailer for the third horror feature from Slasher Studios & our first collaboration with L.A. Horror. IRRATIONAL FEAR centers around six therapy patients brought together at a secluded cabin to confront their strangest fears. Little do they know, these fears will certainly be the death for some of them. Who will make it out alive? Look for IRRATIONAL FEAR on DVD & limited edition Blu-Ray this November!

Want some killer Irrational Fear rewards? Every dollar raised through our Indiegogo will go straight into post-production to make this as KILLER as possible. Become a backer today and score some limited edition rewards. Check it out here.

FREE U.S. Shipping – Limited Edition DON’T GO TO THE REUNION Blu-Ray

Ready to have a killer fall? For a limited time only we are offering FREE U.S./Canada shipping on our Don’t Go to the Reunion limited edition blu-rays. Only 200 of these have been printed (with only a small handful left) and each one is hand numbered for a special collector’s touch. Featuring exclusive extras not available anywhere else, don’t miss your last chance to down our first slasher feature in glorious HD. Make it a killer bundle and add on a Dismembering Christmas DVD for just $10, simply use the drop down menu below.

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)

Don’t Go to the Reunion

Deadly Dolly: ANNABELLE: CREATION (2017) Review

Set 12 years prior to the first Annabelle film, this prequel of a prequel tells the story of the Mullins’ (Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto) who open their home to a small girl’s school after the death of the daughter Annabelle. Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) moves into the house with the girls. While residing there, friends Janice (Talitha Bateman) and Linda (Lulu Wilson) come across the infamous doll and realize a darkness is also residing in the Mullins’ household.

I was one of the many people who didn’t like the first Annabelle film at all. So when this prequel to the prequel was announced, needless to say my expectations were low. Yet when David F. Sandberg, who directed the excellent 2016 horror film Lights Out was directing this film, I was trying to be a little hopeful. Sandberg’s delivered once again. Annabelle: Creation is one hell of a horror film that scares and delivers and engaging and well-written story. We are given some very likable leads in Sister Charlotte as the adult who actually cares about the children and isn’t quick to dismiss claims of the paranormal, but trying remain logical at the same time. Sigman’s performance as Charlotte is solid and endearing and really makes us care for the character. Lulu Wilson made her outstanding breakthrough performance in last year’s Ouija: Origin of Evil and returns here with another solid performance. While she doesn’t have as great of lengths to reach unlike her performance in Ouija, she still really sells it as the young girl worried about her best friend’s well-being and willing to put herself in danger in order to save her. Wilson has great on-screen charm with her “cute kid” moments, and she also has terrific scenes and chemistry with newcomer Talitha Bateman as Janice. Where Wilson had her breakthrough in Ouija, Bateman has her great breakthrough here. Like Wilson, Bateman also provides a really charming performance and provides a lot of likability to the character. But it is during her “creepy kid” scenes that she knocks it out of the park.

When she gets into that mode, it’s genuinely scary. It’s not your usual creepy child performance, but it’s more like she’s trying to play a psychotic character, and Bateman does this extremely well. There are other actresses who star as the other girls who provide pretty serviceable performance and get a decent amount of screen time. As far as LaPaglia and Otto, they don’t get too much to do other than be the mysterious couple, but in the opening act they do a great job of being the caring parents who love their daughter, but they do a great job of showing their grief and their fear in the latter part of the film. Annabelle: Creation does an excellent job of building up our setting and characters to where we become familiar with the characters and care for them, and building up the house and land we become trapped with them in. This most especially is strongest when it comes to the friendship of the two girls and Sister Charlotte’s bond with them all. This is extremely important when the terror sets in, because when it does, you really fear for these characters. And let me tell you, the terror is top-notch here. The intensity is perfectly built up to where my heart was pounding for much of the film. An example of this is how Annabelle the doll is used. I was so unaffected by this in the first film and in some instances even in The Conjuring. But here, Sandberg sets up his scenes involving the dolls so well that when the doll is used and how it’s captured is extremely chilling. One scene in particular is a character being attacked off-screen as the camera focuses and pans in on the doll’s face, this scene gave me chills from head-to-toe. There are other examples where the doll was very well-used as well. In terms of jump scares, sure there are a couple of typical ones, but all of the good ones are perfectly executed and well-times to make them extremely effective. Finally, it seems that Sandberg learned from his audience from Lights Out that less is more. And much of that is right here. Many believed the demon was shown too much in Lights Out. I wasn’t too bothered by this, but I can agree with that statement. But here, the demon, and much of a lot of scary moments are shown very little, and still manage to terrify you.

As far as it’s connection to the Conjuring universe, it does connect to the first film, and in a way I was very pleased with. And it also has a couple of teases to the other upcoming “Conjuring universe” film The Nun. It’s worth noting that there is a small mid-credit nod, as well as a post credit tease. Now I’m sure some will say I’m over-praising this movie, and may not like it as much as me, but I thought Annabelle: Creation is that rare horror film that succeeds in telling a story with engaging characters, and one that is actually really scary. All of this without cheap jump scares, but instead uses a perfect build-up in tension and well-orchestrated and timed scares. Only 3 other movies have effectively scared me on a physical level, 2 of which were mentioned in this review. Annabelle: Creation just became 4th on that list.

–Cody Landham

Sink or Swim?: LAKE BODON (2017) Review

The film begins with a telling of the events that happened at the real Lake Bodom in1960. A group of friends went on a camping trip and three of the four friends were brutally murdered by an unknown person. There was one survivor. Much speculation came about as to who did it, and the killer remains at large. Teenager Atte (Santeri Helinheimo Mantyla) has an obsession with the murders and has his own “theory”. So he, along with his rebel friend Elias (Mikael Gabriel), and classmates Ida (Nelly Hirst-Gee) who is still affected by a photo scandal at school, and Ida’s best friend Nora (Mimosa Willamo) to go join him for a camping trip. Where do they go? Lake Bodom of course. Atte believes that by setting themselves up to appear like the original victims, the killer will show up. Naturally things go really bad.

I actually had some high hopes for this horror film from Finland. It’s been too long since we had a good old-fashioned slasher, and the concept sounded really intriguing. And during the first act I was really enjoying it, even if things were moving a bit too quick. I should have taken that as some kind of sign. Halfway through the movie it takes a massive detour. From what should have been a fun slasher film it diverts into a revenge film. At first I thought this was just a small twist in the story, but it focused on this aspect way too much. And in all honesty, it just made it come off as some weird teen drama that didn’t make much sense. Granted it didn’t help that the translations in the subtitled version I saw were horrible. But even then, they spent way too much time on this. But then, we get another diversion, it suddenly goes into territory of becoming Wolf Creek in the woods. So it does go back to horror, but this last act just feels lifeless, and I really blame the middle section prior to this. So by the time this happens I just lost any care about the characters and what was happening. There was simply no build up or suspense to this act to redeem it either. Despite the problems with the script, I absolutely loved the cinematography, everything was filmed so beautifully. I admit some might think it looks too glossy, but honestly, I’ve never had an issue with that. The acting by small cast wasn’t good or bad, it definitely could have been amped a bit, but it was serviceable for the most part.

I really wanted to like this film, and it was so promising in the first act, but once the mid-point twist/diversion happens, it kind of runs the rest of the film right into the ground, even when it goes back to the horror, it feels too little too late. This is disappointing because, had the whole revenge/middle point been cut and focused more on the initial story, this could have been a really fun and great slasher. I still recommend it, but don’t go in expecting a full blown slasher.

–Cody Landman

Forgettable Found Footage: THE GRACEFIELD INCIDENT (2017) Review

After a husband loses his and the wife loses their baby in the same car crash, time goes by and the couple, along with a group of friends, go to stay in a cabin for one of the friends’ birthday. That night, a large object flies overhead and crashes. When the men go to investigate, they find a strange rock and decide to keep it. What they don’t know is that something is now following them, and it’s not friendly.

This alien invasion/found footage horror film doesn’t serve anything new to the genre. It’s not even effective entertainment. It’s actually a really boring and uninteresting movie altogether. Though I gotta say that the husband placing a camera into his fake eye is a nice touch, even if it doesn’t improve the movie any better. Besides the eye camera, everything the characters film is through their iPhones. Had it just been the eye recording everything, it could have been a bit more original in the found footage aspect. The characters themselves are just as boring and uninteresting as the story. The movie is a mere hour and 20 minutes and it goes by so fricken slow. I don’t complain if a horror movie isn’t scary, but there isn’t even a smidge of tension to be found, and it definitely doesn’t seem like there was an effort. The aliens themselves even look ridiculous, not laughable per se, but severely mediocre.

In some ways I can’t even call this a horror film due to the end result. The whole movie plays out as a “lesson learned” movie where everything turns out okay in the end since the main character has learned their lesson. I have never seen a horror movie end in a more cheerful note, happy music playing and all. Quite frankly, it made me disgusted. That’s not to say every horror movie should have everyone die or have an unhappy ending, but to end in a way where the whole thing might as well have just been a dream and everything is all good in the hood is an entirely different matter. In terms of acting, there isn’t anything to brag about. I’ve definitely seen much worse, but the acting feels just as mediocre as everything else about the movie. If you want to see an actually pretty good and suspenseful horror movie, check out Phoenix Forgotten when it comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray. It’s not fantastic, but it offers a lot more than this one does.

–Cody Landman

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.