Category Archives: Movie Review

Movie Review: Krampus

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The Krampus legend was the subject of yet another movie, this time, however, it was a bit different, this time the legendary Christmas beast was the center of a horror comedy. At first I found it a bit odd to have such a fearsome creature as the subject of a horror/dark comedy, but I gave Krampus a shot anyway.

About the Film

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Krampus was directed by Michael Daugherty- the genius behind the horror anthology Trick ‘r Treat. The film features a very funny, talented cast; Adam Scott (Step Brothers), Toni Collette (Tammy), David Koechner (Anchorman), Allison Tolman (Fargo), Conchata Ferrell (True Romance), Emjay Anthony (Insurgent), Stefania LaVie Owen (The Lovely Bones) and Krista Stadler (Mobbing).

Synopsis: A young boy named Max (who still believes in Santa Claus) has a terrible time at the annual family dinner that causes him to make a hasty wish. When Max destroys his letter to Santa in a fit of rage, someone comes ti visit, and it’s not Santa- it’s Krampus.

Review

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I have very mixed emotions with this one; I liked it, but I didn’t, does that make sense? I have never been so on the fence about a film before, there is no black or white for Krampus. There were so many elements that I loved about the film, but there were a lot that I feel could have been left out or further elaborated on to make the film so much better.

I am not going to trash the film because I did like it, but I will be honest and say that it did fall short of what I would consider a horror movie. The comedy elements were phenomenal; I laughed pretty much the entire time. The dialogue was not the only element that made Krampus so funny, his helpers enhanced the comedy experience for sure. Without spoiling too much for you, there are some evil gingerbread men, an evil teddy, dark elves, a Jack-in-the-Box with Predator’s mouth and others.

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I think I have mainly myself to blame for my disappointment. Having seen Michael Dougherty at the helm, I was hoping for Trick ‘r Treat but ended up with a horrorish verison of Step Brothers (which isn’t as bad as it sounds). That was the other problem I had (again, not the fault of the film, strictly on me), I love Adam Scott, there is no denying that he is hilarious and insanely talented, but I couldn’t stop picturing him as Derek from Step Brothers. I will try to desensitize myself to it and watch it again to see if that helps.

The appearance of the Krampus was AMAZING! I loved that they didn’t go with the traditional look (demon with little to no human qualities). He looked more like a twisted version of Santa Claus- the way he should look.

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If you’re looking for a fun movie to see with friends, Krampus is a great choice; just don’t go into it hoping to get Trick ‘r Treat. You will get a great comedy (with a dash of horror). The best way to describe it – a dysfunctional family comedy…..for horror fans. Grab your buds and give it a shot, it may not scare the hell out of you, but you will laugh.

Trailer

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Unfriended: A New Reason To Watch What You Post

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2015 has brought us quite a few new horror films, but Unfriended is a horror film for a new generation. Combining bullying and the social media frenzy with some immature, mean teens, the film is the ultimate new age horror. 

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Unfriended was written by Nelson Greaves (Sleepy Hollow TV series) and stars Heather Sossaman (Desecrated), Matthew Bohrer (Weed Shop: The Musical), Courtney Halverson (The Hammer), Shelley Henning (Ouija), Moses Storm (The 4 to 9ers), Will Peltz (Paranoia), Renee Olstead (Still Standing) and Jacob Wysocki (Pitch Perfect). 

Shelley Henning, Blaire, was phenomenal. She is a genuine actress; her emotions were believable which made the film feel more authentic and more terrifying. You want to feel bad for her, but you know she’s not innocent. 

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Shelley Henning as Blaire

Anyone that loves 80’s slasher films can appreciate a good jump scare; Unfriended is full of them. There is no visible killer and it’s a bunch of teenagers on Skype, so how else are you going to make the film terrifying? Loud bangs, lights going on and off, camera malfunctions, you get the gist. Every jump scare incorporated in the film only add to the already frightening story line. I appreciated the effort that was made to creating the scares. It may not get some of you horror veterans, but if you want to introduce a younger fan to horror and scare the pants off of them at the same time, Unfriended will get the job done.  

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There isn’t much character background given, but throughout the film, their darkest secrets are brought to light. By mid-film, you will find yourself almost rooting for their demise. Typically in a horror movie, there is at least one innocent soul, but everyone is guilty in Unfriended, everyone has a secret.

When the trailer first debuted, I heard a lot of mixed feelings, but after watching the film not once, but twice for myself, I can honestly say that for a “teen thriller”, the film is incredible. If this type of film is the future of the genre, I’m OK with that. Unfriended is original, thrilling, suspenseful and visually awesome. Whether you have been watching horror movies for decades, months or days, you will appreciate this one. I am 26-years-old and have been a horror nerd since I was about 7 and my niece (who watched the film with me in theaters) is 14-years-old and becoming a horror nerd, we both loved it. As previously mentioned, if you are looking for a film to introduce a horror nerd in training to the genre, Unfriended is perfect.

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I love a good paranormal horror movie, and when you throw technology into the mix, it is even better. Unfriended is not just a ghost story, but I feel it is also kind of a cautionary tale. Teens partied, one got out of her mind drunk, her friends posted the video to the internet, girl got bullied, girl killed herself. Underneath the fake horror is a real horror story, cyber bullying; sure, nobody gets this kind of punishment, but kids do die over this very same stuff. Unfriended is like a boogeyman story for the tech generation. 

All in all, Unfriended is a quality “new age” horror film that I would watch again. I am going to have to recommend this one to you guys; give it a watch and let me know what you think.

Unfriended is currently available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD in the US, and is currently available on Digital HD in the UK and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray September 7th.

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Get social with Unfriended on Facebook and twitter (@UnfriendedMovie).

The Horrors of AutoCorrect: A Unique Horror Short

11203106_1747398212153959_5802331297398825047_nWe’ve all had a moment or two when our cellphone have put our foot in our mouth for us, but don’t feel bad, even large, scary killers have issues with auto correct. Nothing ruins the moment quite like “I’m going to ducking kill you“. The Horrors of AutoCorrect is a unique short written and directed by Alex Divincenzo that places a man attempting to frighten and ultimately kill a young girl, but his phone ruins his pre-murder scare tactic.  

The Horrors of AutoCorrect stars Nick Principe (Laid To Rest) and Jaquelyn Fabian (American Poltergeist). It is refreshing to see a piece of work that allows Principe to show that he can be way more than just a big man behind a mask. This short showcases his more comedic side while still having him do what he does best. 

The Horrors of AutoCorrect is like a short form of Scary Movie. It is campy without being over-the-top ridiculous. There is also a hint of a more modern Scream. The text message banter and the unique choice of weapon only make this short even more incredible. Be sure to watch all the way to the end, the hilarity continues after the beginning of the credits.

Synopsis:

Jenny’s quiet evening at home watching a scary movie is interrupted by a stalker who can’t quite master the art of text messaging.

Enjoy the show!

Creepshow meets Chillerama In ‘Scream Machine’ Horror Anthology

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Horror anthologies were made popular with Creepshow and modernized and twisted with Chillerama, now, from the twisted minds that brought us films such as Death By VHS, Nightmare Alley and Junk Food Horror Fest, there is Scream Machine. Writer/Producer/Director Walter Ruether III teams up with filmmaker Paul C. Hemmes to bring 5 new chilling tales of madness. 

Scream Machine is kicked off with a great introduction from Troma FilmsLloyd Kaufman. After Kaufman’s introduction, we are introduced to two new horror hosts for the rest of the show, Dr. Fry (Walter Ruether III) and his assistant Dr. “Head”ley Graves (Paul C. Hemmes). Dr. Fry and Dr. Graves are the only two survivors after an Ebola plague has wiped all of humanity out and the only remaining form of entertainment is Scream Machine. The stories of this anthology include Sledgehammer, Cannibal Pen Pals, April Fool’s Party, Septic Shock and Deadly Indie Drive-In. I am going to review them individually in the order in which they appear in the anthology.


Sledgehammer

This story was a lot like a short film from Troma. The acting and effects were a bit corny and over-the-top which gave it a real 80’s B movie feel. I found Sledgehammer kind of humorous and not just for the dirty jokes, the death scenes were quite entertaining and there is a scene with a dog at the end that will for sure get a little bit of a chuckle from you. 


Cannibal Pen Pals

“The Dahmer Obsession”

This was the most disturbing of the 5 stories. Cannibal Pen Pals takes place in 1993 and chronicles the obsession one man has for notorious cannibalistic serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer and what could be interpreted as a pen pal love affair with him during his incarceration. If you are offended by rape, necrophelia, foul language and sexual situations, you may want to skip this segment. It is twisted and perverted. What makes this tale so much more disturbing is the fact that things like this do happen. Despite its intense graphic and disturbed nature, Cannibal Pen Pals was in my top 2 favorites from this anthology.  


April Fool’s Party

This was my least favorite segment. I wouldn’t really classify this as horror but more of a drug-fueled, more twisted version of Weekend At Bernie’s. I didn’t hate it, but in my opinion, it didn’t quite fit with the rest of the anthology.


Septic Shock

This was my favorite story. The best way to describe it is psychological thriller meets the corny gore of the 80’s. The setting was very dark, adding to the overall spooky feel of the segment. I gave Septic Shock bonus points for the random tortoise crawling around munching on celery for a bit of comedic relief. Bravo. 


Deadly Indie Drive-In

There was a bit of a nod to 80’s slasher films in Deadly Indie Drive-In. This segment is also a revenge tale of sorts. The feel of the story combined with the dark lighting with moments of acid trip-like colors, I got a bit of a Rob Zombie vibe from it.


If you are into extremely messed up stories accompanied by foul language, necrophilia, murder, gore, revenge, drug use and loads of darkness, Scream Machine is the anthology for you. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Scream Machine. It is unique and twisted, the way a horror anthology should be. 

Review: Contamination- A Convention Story

424283_165263613592014_696506072_nConventions of all genres are filling our nation giving horror, sci-fi and pop culture fans alike a platform to mingle with one another and meet their favorite genre celebrities. Most of us only get to see what goes on in front of us, but thanks to State Of Mind Productions and the Contamination convention in St. Louis, fans now have the opportunity to see behind the scenes and fell the true essence of a convention. 

I was recently granted the opportunity to watch and review Contamination- A Convention Story. What is Contamination? Contamination is a convention held in St. Louis that blends together horror, sci-fi, pop culture and stars from the adult entertainment world into one event. I am normally not a huge fan of documentaries, but this one is worth the watch.

I have personally been to a few conventions and have had the opportunity to meet some of my horror heroes, and they have been some of the best experiences of my adult life. The only problem with meeting some of these celebrity guests? You’re not really sure if they are really that into it, but Contamination- A Convention Story gives an in-depth look into not only the conventions, but the guests, and they are all genuinely fantastic human beings.

You get to hear from some of the biggest names on the convention circuit such as Kane Hodder (Hatchet), Tony Todd (Candyman), Bill Johnson (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) and many more. It is great to hear how they truly feel about conventions and the fans they encounter.  

If you are looking for an informative, genuinely amazing documentary on a convention and the feel of what it is like to attend one, I would highly recommend picking up Contamination– A Convention Story. It is not ridiculously long like many other documentaries, but it is packed with interviews, fan insights and much more.  

Trailer:

For more information on this fantastic documentary, visit the official site, ContaminationTheMovie.com and like the Contamination- A Convention Story Facebook page.

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If you are interested in learning more about the actual Contamination convention where horror, sci-fi, pop culture and adult entertainment collide, visit the official site, con-tamination.com and like the Contamination convention Facebook page. Don’t forget your gas mask!

The Other Side: The most unique zombie flick to hit the screen. (Movie Review)

other2With the popularity of The Walking Dead, zombie shows and films have been growing in popularity faster than zombies multiply. The only problem with that, they are all trying to be The Walking Dead and they are all very similar in content. The Other Side thankfully has changed this mundane pattern. Based off of a short film by the same name, this is the first feature length film from Orchard Place Productions.

Written and co-directed by Chris Niespodzianski, The Other Side stars Chad Conley (Mason), Danielle Lozeau (Werewolf Rising), Chuck Hendershot(It Came from Yesterday), Jack Davis (Bray Road), Robert Liscio (Confessional) and Christine Starkey. Most of the actors and extras in this film as well as the crew are from the Pittsburgh, PA area where the film was shot,and what better place to shoot a zombie flick than the zombie capital of the world? All of the music featured in the film is also from local Pittsburgh bands and artists, and it all sounds awesome.

I am over the zombie scenarios being set in the city. I am so happy to see that there is finally a new zombie film that takes place in the middle of nowhere. All locations featured in the film can be found around Pittsburgh and Claysville, Pennsylvania. The entire film took place in the woods and countryside. 

The Other Side is a film that Romero would be proud of. The slow buildup is reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead. All of the events leading up to the real action were believable and exactly what I would expect to see happen right before the zombie apocalypse. The script was well written and the cast was phenomenal. 

The film boldly boasts practical effects, and they are fantastic. The zombies are not at all over done, the makeup is basic, much like those in a Romero film. They also run as apposed to a lumbering walking pace. I love this concept, zombies have always been more terrifying to me when they look and move more like those that are still alive. 

The audio and video quality is amazing. A lot of indie films tend to be grainy and the audio can be a bit scratchy, but not in this case. 

What makes The Other Side so unique is the absolutely insane plot twist at the end. During the film, you will feel as though you are watching a normal zombie film. The whole film is fantastic, but the last five minutes will absolutely blow your mind. The Other Side is everything a zombie film should be and much more.

I highly recommend this film to any fan of zombie films that are over the Hollywood zombie scene and looking for something that will actually make you think. I would love to see a sequel.

You can purchase a copy of The Other Side at TeamOrchard.com. You Can also see the film if you are planning to attend this year’s HorrorHound Weekend in Cincinnati (for screening times, check with HorrorHoundWeekend.com). Be sure to like The Other Side Facebook Page for stills, announcements and just to show the cast and crew some love.

Synopsis:

It’s just another routine day in Elkwood, PA… or is it? People are missing, and lives will be changed forever once the haunting truth is revealed.

Trailer:

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Short Film Review: Call Girl

callgirlCall Girl had it’s world premier at HorrorHound Weekend Cincinnati in March of 2014, and is now available free to watch online via Vimeo. This amazing short was written by Eric Havens and marked the directorial debut of the immensely talented Jill Gevargizian.

Call Girl is a 5 1/2 long short film starring Laurence R. Harvey (The Human Centipede 2&3) and Tristan Risk (American Mary). The best way to describe this film is exploitation at its finest. Nothing is what it seems in this thrilling tale of voyeurism gone wrong or right depending on how you look at it. 

Call Girl is a new breed of short film that packs even more punch than most feature length films. This is by far one of the best shorts ever created. If you have yet to see it, I highly suggest you get on it. Check it out here — Call Girl -short film –. 

To show your love and support for Call Girl and the cast and crew, like the official Call Girl -short film Facebook Page and follow the short’s twitter, @CALLGIRLfilm. Also be sure to check out SixxTape.com for more of Jill Gevargizian’s upcoming work.

 

Movie Review: Tusk (2014)

tusk-giveawayFunny man Kevin Smith is known for his “bro” comedy movies filled with fart jokes and comic book references, but he proved with Red State that he can write serious films too. Tusk combines his knack for comedy with the more serious side of Smith. Adding a talent like Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers), Michael Parks (Red State) and Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) to Smith’s writing genius made this film a true contender for best horror film of 2014.

Tusk opens like most of Kevin Smith’s other films with some raunchy banter between two guy friends. This time instead of the Quick Stop we get a podcast called Not-See Party (not to be confused with Nazi Party) ran by Wallace Bryton (Long) and Teddy Craft (Osment). The podcast is much like Smith’s very own “Smodcast“. The dialogue between Wallace and Teddy is insanely funny and a lot like the conversations between Dante and Randal in the Clerks films.

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Justin Long in Tusk podcast scene

Smith is known for the cameos in his films. This one was chalk full of those. The first cameo by Harley Morenstein (Epic Meal Time) who plays a border patrol officer in the airport. I laughed the entire time he was on the screen. The dialogue between him and Justin Long was by far some of the funniest lines in any comedy. The next cameo was by Smith’s own wife, Jennifer Schwalbach (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) as a waitress. To go along with the Clerks theme, Harley Quinn Smith (Kevin Smith’s daughter) and Lily-Rose Melody Depp (Johnny Depp’s daughter) both appeared as clerks at a Canadian version of the Quick Stop, Eh-2-Zed. Both girls were amazing, they were funny and sweet, but can give some real attitude.

Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Melody Depp
Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Melody Depp

Lily-Rose was not the only Depp to make an appearance, her father, Johnny Depp, had a cameo where he was almost unrecognizable as Guy Lapointe. He has a fairly large role towards the end of the film.

Johnny Depp as Guy Lapointe
Johnny Depp as Guy Lapointe

The story switches from lighthearted to dark and demented seamlessly in the blink of an eye. Michael Parks goes from a kindhearted old man with a witty sense of humor to a depraved psycho, and it really was frightening how good he was at playing the villain. The way he spoke the words were not all that made his character dark, the look in his eyes was that of a true mad man which help lend more authenticity to the role of Howard Howe.

Michael Parks as Howard Howe
Michael Parks as Howard Howe

Justin Long was the perfect choice for Wallace. This character was a bit of a scumbag (he cheats on his girlfriend and exploits people for a living) with a very humorous personality. He was almost the guy you love to hate until everything flipped for him. I also thought it was a bit ironic that his character’s name was Wallace which is dangerously close to walrus, well played Mr. Smith, well played.

Justin Long
Justin Long

One thing that I really enjoyed about Tusk was that no matter how dark the scenes became, there was always a comedic relief. The horror and comedy blended together phenomenally without becoming insanely campy. I almost felt bad for laughing through the whole thing because there were such horrible things happening to the title character.

The character of Howard Howe is sympathetic psychopath. He has only been burnt by humanity and found happiness only with a walrus (Mr. Tusk). So was he born a crazy, Dr. Frankenstein type or was he driven there by the coldness of others and the grief of losing the only friend he ever knew?

Not only was this a tale of shock and horror, but I feel it was also a bit of a karma tale. The cheating boyfriend that exploits the misfortune of others for a living gets kidnapped and basically tortured, and a psychopath is betrayed by the one creature that he shared a connection with.

The special effects for this film were outstanding. My biggest concern was about the “walrus suit” and how it was actually going to look. It was amazing, there was a bit of camp to it, but the overall appearance of it was shocking. The best way I can describe it is Frankenstein meets National Geographic. There weren’t really any over the top gory scenes, but the bloody scenes that were in the film were executed very well.

The ending was actually quite sweet. It is not the ending that I saw coming, but it fit the entire story of the film perfectly. It brought the whole film full circle.

Walrus diagrams
Walrus diagrams

I recommend Tusk to fans of Kevin’s other work all the way down to the most hardcore horror junkies. There is something for everyone in this film. Kevin Smith’s best film since Clerks.

Trailer:

Movie Review: Asylum of the Dead (2014)

asylumAsylum of the Dead was directed by Michael Rooker and stars Haylie Duff (Napoleon Dynamite), Beverley Mitchell (7th Heaven) and Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead). 

Synopsis:

For decades, Pennhurst psychiatric hospital has been haunted by turbulent supernatural forces. When a television crew embarks on a mission to capture this paranormal activity, they discover something completely unexpected. As restless souls from their past torment the crew members, they fear for their lives as one by one they are gruesomely murdered. In a surprising revelation, they discover something more terrifying than ghosts is responsible.

The first thing that drew me to this film was that it was directed by Michael Rooker, but what really persuaded me to purchase the film was that it is set around one the most notoriously haunted buildings in America, Pennhurst psychiatric hospital. Just the lore that surrounds that building and it’s past is enough to create one frightening film.

From the beginning of the film, it kind of pokes fun at the television phenomenon that is known as the ghost hunting show. Every network has one nowadays it seems. I feel that it gave a bit of a comedic element. One complaint that I have is that the audio is a bit hard to hear unless you have it cranked up. It is shot in almost a “found footage” style making the audio less refined and more difficult to hear. In a way it kind of adds to the film though giving it that raw feel of really walking around Pennhurst with a group of “ghost hunters”.

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Haylie Duff in Asylum of the Dead

What threw me off was seeing Beverly Mitchell’s name at the top of the cover. I remember her as sweet as apple pie, preacher’s daughter Lucy Camden from the 90’s family drama 7th Heaven. I was pleasantly surprised by her performance. She certainly has shed that squeaky clean image in Asylum of the Dead. I see a bright future for her in horror.

Haylie Duff’s performance was fantastic. She has really come a long way from the Napoleon Dynamite days. Her role could have gone one of two ways, great or horribly corny. She was far from corny, giving a believable performance. I look forward to seeing more from Duff in the horror genre.

The menacing character of “Dr. Death” was played by horror and film veteran, Michael Rooker. He brought elements of two of his most well known characters, Merle Dixon (The Walking Dead) and Henry (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer). The witty dialogue that Dr. Death has with his victims is very reminiscent of lines we may have heard from Merle, but he was also quite cold and calculated like Henry. Rooker was genius, and no one can play a villain you love to hate, but end up kind of liking in the end quite like he can.  

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Michael Rooker as Dr. Death in Asylum of the Dead

The ghostly sound effects were a little hokey, but I don’t feel that it took away from the film. To make up for the corny sound effects, the visual effects were really quite impressive for a straight to DVD film. I wouldn’t call Asylum of the Dead a splatter fest, but there were some pretty unique death scenes that called for some pretty unique effects and they were executed beautifully. 

Not to give too much away, about midway through, there is a joke about the popular 90’s film The Sixth Sense. The ending to this film has a few similarities to the ending of that film. I’m not sure how to classify this film. It is a film about a haunting, but there are also elements of a slasher film. The best way I can describe this film is a cross of Friday the 13th and The Sixth Sense. Asylum of the Dead is appealing to fans of both the slasher and haunting sub-genres of horror. 

The critics gave this film an average of about 3.5 stars. I disagree with them, I am going to give Asylum of the Dead a 6.5. The film was well written and offered an amazing cast, but it was a bit short and I feel they could have extended the film a bit more and incorporated a bit more. I do recommend this film to fans of indie style horror films and anyone looking for a horror film that hasn’t been done before. It is unlike any other haunting movie out there right now. The ending is quite a shocking plot twist, and I did not see it coming at all. This film does not have the same stereotypical, happy ending that many films like this have. I absolutely loved it.

I could not find an official trailer for Asylum of the Dead, so below is a short clip from the film.

Movie Review: Compound Fracture (2013)

compound-posterWritten by Tyler Mane and his wife, Renae Geerlings, Compound Fracture is everything that the Paranormal Activity movies wish they were and then some. The cast alone was enough to peak my interest before even seeing a trailer. Compound Fracture stars Tyler Mane, Muse Watson, Derek Mears, Renae Geerlings, Leslie Easterbrook and Alex Saxon. There was even a cameo by Jason X writer, Todd Farmer.

Compound Fracture is very intense and fast paced right out of the gate. The opening scene combines a freaky paranormal experience in the woods followed by a wet your pants kind of flashback/dream sequence. Through out the entire film, the lighting is dim and spooky adding to the use of several “jump scares” and creepy paranormal occurrences. If you are easily startled by the surprise style scares, this may not be the film for you, but I for one loved it.

A film like this could very quickly become stale and lose the audience if there aren’t enough plot twists. I usually figure paranormal themed films out quickly and can usually guess the ending, but not this time. Brilliant writing coupled with a great cast made for plot twists I did not see coming. When you think you have this film figured out, it takes a sharp left turn and will leave you guessing. There were a lot of misleading flashback sequences that kept throwing me off, but that added to the experience and overall quality of the film for me. An added bonus, once the family secrets begin to be revealed, you will never think your family is dysfunctional ever again.

Derek Mears was the personification of sinister. His performance as William may be his best yet. He did not have a lot of dialogue, but slight head tilts and cold, menacing stares made him one of the creepiest characters I have seen in a while. Tyler Mane was pretty intense himself. His portrayal of Michael (not the boogie man Michael, a new one) was perfect. It was nice to see him play a role where he spoke and was actually the brooding hero type instead of Mr. McStabby (love him as both though).

The ending was very Twilight Zone. As if the twists and craziness through out the film wasn’t enough, the ending will leave you speechless.

Compound Fracture is now available on DVD and VOD!

Trailer:

Subscribe to the Mane Entertainment YouTube for more Compound Fracture videos and previews of Tyler’s new film PENANCE LANE.