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Review

Posted on July 5, 2017

Don’t Hang Up: Teens and Social Media

Gwen

2016  |  R  |  83 min  |  Directors: Damien Macé & Alexis Wajsbrot  |  Writer: Joe Johnson  |  UK

Grade:  A-

Don’t Hang Up scares some sense into social media obsessed teens.

Synopsis: A few millennial pranksters take crank calls to the next level while trying to achieve internet stardom. They soon find out the hard way that there are very real life repercussions for their actions.

Don’t Hang Up is a really good film. I was super excited to see a horror film that is rated “R” as that in itself has become as likely as finding a unicorn.  This film evokes many of the better elements of Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) as well as I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) combining pranks, poor choices, and a few selfish kids. Remember the opening scene in Scream when Casey Becker gets a prank phone call? Well, imagine that on crack and you have Don’t Hang Up.

Most thrilling about this film is the commentary on social media use. Don’t Hang Up tells a tale of a handful of teenage boys who video themselves making pretty vicious prank phone calls for the purpose of getting “likes” online.  When bad things happen, we could superficially assume that their horror-trope indiscretion was exploiting others for personal gain.  However, this film is actually much more complex than that. Social media and technology greatly enhance the cat-and-mouse component within this film.

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Posted on July 7, 2016

Road Trip: Lizzie Borden House Tour

Gwen

Grade: A+

Review: A Superb Tour for the History Buff, Horror Fan, or the Adventurous!

I go to Massachusetts regularly and I kept meaning to get to the Lizzie Borden house but it just never happened. On this date, the stars aligned as my biannual Seabird & Whale Tales Trip with the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA) was cancelled and I had all the time in the world to run down to Fall River today. So I packed up my stuff and headed out. What followed was that I was excited, entertained, and educated by our excellent tour guide, Danielle (who is definitely “one of us” judging by her acute sense of humor, her Robert Englund tattoo, and her knowledge of the CON circuit).

Let me begin by saying that my tour guide was stellar and really made the experience special. Her wealth of knowledge and personal interjections were both informative and often hysterical. The tour guide never tells you with any certainty what happened in the house, they are careful to stick to the facts and let you come up with your own judgment. The inside of the home is fashioned with period pieces (which was a living replica of my grandmother’s house…down to the caned chairs and abundant doilies). The furniture is not original (thank goodness, as that would be gross) but there are sprinklings of original woodwork and belongings throughout. Read more

Posted on May 26, 2016

The Break-In (2016) Review

Dawn

NR   |   72 min   |  Justin Doescher  |   (USA)   |   2016

I watch a lot of horror films, including as many independent productions as I can. I forget many of them shortly after finishing them. I never make it through many others. But sometimes I find one that really surprises me—and those are the ones I tend to write about.

The Break-In, written and directed by Justin Doescher (who also stars), was such a surprising film: it pulled me in, made me want to keep watching—and then came at me with an ending I did not see coming and that I’ve been thinking about ever since. The Break-In is definitely low-budget, but if you’re mulling over whether or not to watch this film or spend the big bucks for the latest high-profile theatrical release, The Darkness, stay home and rent The Break-In.

As a testament to how interesting I think this film is, there are two parts to this review. Read the first part before you watch the film, and hopefully it’ll make you want to watch. The second half, below the big “Spoiler Alert,” are my thoughts on the film in light of its ending. You should come back and read that part after you’ve watched the film. Read more

Posted on December 30, 2015

The Lurking (2015) Review

Elizabeth

82 min   |  2015   |   (USA)   |   Rob Michels (Hole in the Wall)

With an opening that immediately creates an observational vibe, The Lurking is a fun throwback to 1980s horror, capturing all the qualities that made the era such a popular one in American horror. The story begins with two roadie slackers, referred to in the credits as Wasteoid 1 and Wasteoid 2, who have taken to the woods “to trip balls.” Unbeknownst to them, a serial killer is wreaking havoc in those same woods and it isn’t long before he has the two drug-addled men within his sights.

We soon discover that the perspective from which we are watching events unfold is not the point of view of an impartial observer: we’re looking through the eyes of the killer. By having the camera consistently adopt the point of view of the killer, the audience becomes an active participant in the murders and the end result is more intimate than one would expect.

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Posted on November 24, 2015

#Horror Review (2015)

Dawn

101 mins   | Tara Subkoff |   (USA)   |   2015

Grade: B

Synopsis: Six twelve-year-old friends gather for a sleepover at the fabulous Connecticut home of Sofia (Bridget McGarry), whose mother, Alex, is played by Chloë Sevigny. The girls alternately create various scenarios so they can upload pictures and verbally abuse each other. One of the girls, Cat (Haley Murphy), crosses the line, telling the one girl who’s not unhealthily thin, Georgie (Emma Adler) that she should kill herself. She’s kicked out of the house and soon the other girls realize they are being stalked online and then in deadly reality.

1. hashtag horror georgie by cow

#Horror is the writing and directorial debut of Tara Subkoff, actress and fashion designer. She has talked quite explicitly about her interest, in this project, in marrying the horror film to social commentary. Mentioning some of her favorite horror films and directors (Wes Craven, The Exorcist, Halloween, The Shining), she describes horror’s important work of “social commentary,” its way of “talking about politics.” Subkoff’s interest in social commentary pervades #Horror, which directly speaks to our obsession with electronic devices and social media. According to Subkoff, cultural narcissism is reaching boiling point: “we’re just obsessed with ourselves and promoting ourselves,” she said, in an interview on Quiet Earth.[i] Subkoff also takes aim at cyberbullying, as the girls in #Horror pass up no opportunity to ridicule and abuse each other in person and on social media.

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