Verónica (Netflix Review)

Carla Campra, Ángela Fabián, and Sandra Escacena in Verónica (2017)

15 – 105mins – 2017


 

GAME NIGHT FRIGHT

Based (albeit sketchily) upon a real-life case from Madrid in 1991, this haunting new horror from [REC] co-director Paco Plaza takes full advantage of its “true crime” roots by beginning and concluding with title cards establishing the unique police case which investigated this occult-dabbling nightmare. Purportedly this was the first ever case in Spanish history to be officially attributed to “paranormal phenomena”.

… Keep Scuttling!

The Haunting of Whaley House (DVD Review)

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18 – 89mins – 2012


 

BEHIND THE VEIL

“What a stupid way to spend a Saturday night!”

Exemplary of my desire to go daaaaark in my film choices in the run-up to Halloween, the other night I choose to watch this bargain basement five-year-old haunted house horror from independent schlock masters The Asylum (Sharknado, Transmorphers, Atlantic Rim – need I say more?!) over well-received recent Jessica Chastain political thriller Miss Sloane. Either I was possessed or simply glutton for punishment!

… Keep Scuttling!

The Bye Bye Man (Film Review)

15 – 96mins – 2017


 

VISION MESS

Purportedly based on the real-life anomalous phenomena detailed in the chapter “The Bridge to Body Island” from Fortean Times contributor Robert Damon Schneck’s book The President’s Vampire, this supernatural horror adapted by Jonathan Penner is an admirable attempt to conjure up a modern-day bogeyman in the same vein as Freddie Kreuger and Candyman. Sadly, director Stacy Title’s film was crucified upon its theatrical roll-out in January, so it seems quite likely that the legacy of The Bye Bye Man will die out sooner than anticipated.

… Keep Scuttling!

Incarnate (Film Review)

15 – 91mins – 2016


 

PARASITIC PURGE

Inception meets The Exorcist in this barmy WWE Studios and Blumhouse co-produced paranormal Aaron Eckhart vehicle, which sees the usually trim and hunky London Has Fallen star grizzled-chopped, lank-haired and wheelchair-bound as Dr. Seth Ember, the sole survivor of a road accident which sets him on a mission to track down “Maggie,” the driver of the car which robbed him of the use of his legs, his wife and young son.

… Keep Scuttling!

SiREN (Film Review)

15 – 82mins – 2016


 

BEAUTY IS THE BEAST

Spun off from “Amateur Night,” my particular favourite strand of horror anthology V/H/S (2012), Gregg Bishop’s SiREN tells a far from original story (despite deviating from the scant source material), but what it does it carries out with a surprising amount of verve and panache.

… Keep Scuttling!

Don’t Knock Twice (DVD Review)

15 – 93mins – 2017


 

GINGER HACKS

“Knock once to raise her from her bed, twice to raise her from the dead…”

Former Battlestar Galactia bombshell Katee Sackhoff headlines this Welsh indie chiller which splices urban legends with tangible domestic disquiet to conjure a relatable, thought-provoking and eerie atmosphere. Sackhoff plays Jess, a successful sculptor but a less-than-successful mother to her care-raised teenage daughter, Chloe (Lucy Boynton). When Chloe inadvertently awakens a witch while performing a prank on a long-avoided local residence, she returns to her mother’s custardy in the hope a change of scenery will stymie the supernatural curse.

… Keep Scuttling!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Cinema Review)

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12A – 127mins – 2016 – 3D


IN THE LOOP

Ballerina, Storks, Trolls, Sing, and Moana. Four colourful, predominantly tuneful CG ‘toons which the marketing bods at Cineworld thought were perfectly suited to trail ahead of Tim Burton’s latest dark surrealist fantasy. Now, I appreciate that Miss Peregrine’s features children – even in its curiosity-piquing but less-than-punchy title – but this does not automatically a children’s film make!

… Keep Scuttling!

The X-Files: I Want to Believe (DVD Review)

15 – 100mins – 2008


 

BILLY’S GOT TALENT

Growing up in a household without Sky television, my only exposure to Chris Carter’s phenomenally successful supernatural serial was when BBC One belatedly started showing it pre-Match of the Day on a Saturday night. A few choice episodes stand out from this truncated terrestrial transmission, but I’d never go so far as to call myself an avid X-phile.

This might go some way to explain why it has taken me the best part of EIGHT years to catch up with this second theatrical release, which came a decade after 1998’s Fight the Future, six years after the show’s largely Duchovny-less ninth season and six years before January’s “event” mini-series revival (which I plan to binge-watch on blu-ray come its June home video release).

Years after they have left the FBI, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is a fugitive from the organisation, while Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is a doctor at a Catholic hospital. Despite protestations that they “can’t look into the darkness again,” the old team are lured back into paranormal investigation when Father Joe (Billy Connolly), a former priest with a dangerous past, claims to be having psychic visions which could lead to the safe rescue of a kidnapped agent – and the apprehension of some twisted backstreet surgeons. But does Father Joe really have a super-human talent for tapping into the voice of God, or is he elaborating a fiction to atone for his diabolical sins?

Beyond its horrendous tagline of a subtitle, the main issue I had with I Want to Believe is its scale. It’s a competent enough drama (if lacking the prepossessing kick of the show’s extra-terrestrial edge), but it feels small, reserved and as unhurried as the film’s near-persistent softly falling snow. Carter and co-writer Frank Spotnitz give over a lot of time to moping, sighing and consternation from their philosophical characters. As evidenced:

“I’m lying here cursing God for all his cruelties.”

Even the strangeness of a Frankenstein-alluding climax can’t disguise this sequel’s calmer, more meditative tone, making it feel more like a water-treading mid-season double-bill than a cinema-worthy game-changer – and even less like a spectacular finale to a long-running franchise (which it effectively was until season 10).

In this regard it also serves a double fault of largely eschewing the mytharc of Mulder’s missing sister (which formed the backbone of the series when a monster of the week didn’t show up), while simultaneously assuming a fan’s level of franchise knowledge (Skinner’s cameo, references to previous case files, Mulder and Scully’s sleeping arrangement). Yet it fails as both a worthy wrap-up and a purposeful stand alone adventure, existing solely to eek a few more dollars from the parched pockets of a thirsty fanbase – now that’s a talent!

CR@B Verdict: 2 stars