Unfriended (2015) – Levan Gabriadze

Unfriended_Poster

A successful horror movie is a very fragile thing. So much can go wrong that will spoil the effect. One of the best pieces of advice I could give a horror filmmaker (from the perspective of an asshole critic with no experience whatsoever) would be to keep the narrative simple. As a member of the audience, getting bogged down with a complex or convoluted plot distracts me from the feeling of fear. If I have to stop to remember who that character is or wonder why they’re doing something, it takes me out of the moment. And that simplicity is the main strength of Levan Gabriadaze’s 2015 offering Unfriended.

The film is no masterpiece, but it certainly achieves what it sets out to do. Just think I Know What You Did Last Summer meets Blair Witch, but on a computer. Unfriended is part of a modern sub-genre of the Found Footage movement. The whole thing takes place on the computer screen over a series of Skype video chats, emails, Facebook messages and YouTube videos. The point of view is that of our main character Blaire. We’re seeing her screen out of her own eyes. So we see what she sees, types, reads, etc.

Unfriended_blender

Throughout the film, Blaire chats with her friends in a group video chat but they soon realize that there is an unwanted visitor online with them. They can’t seem to get rid of this person and unexplainable things start to happen like messages from a dead friend’s Facebook account. And things just escalate from there. As the film unfolds, we see this group of friends unravel as strange events take place and deceptions and betrayals are exposed.

And that’s it. That’s the whole movie. It’s admittedly gimmicky, but it sticks to a very simple formula that gets the job done. I actually thought the acting was pretty spot on. Most of which is just a group of teens reacting to various frightening things they’re seeing over each other’s webcams. The dialogue seemed pretty realistic to me, but there are a few cringe-inducing moments where it becomes painfully clear that the writer is not a 16 year-old girl.

Unfriended_chat

I’m not sure if the Unfriended is meant to be a commercial for Skype or Google products, or if it’s supposed to be a morality tale about cyber-bullying. And while it’s not the scariest film I’ve ever seen, it was fun to watch and it held my attention for 82 minutes, which is not an easy thing to do these days. Maybe it was the constant switching of windows, opening of new tabs, sending of messages, switching of Spotify songs, etc. – so reminiscent of how we actually spend time on computers – that helped this film progress despite simple plot.

Is it scary: 3 – There are some spooky scenes and there’s a growing feeling of suspense throughout but nothing that will keep you up at night.

Originality: 5 – This one is tough. It’s a spin-off of Found Footage and we’ve even seen this kind of thing before (Open Windows). Still, I think we’ll see more of this format based on this film’s execution.

Blood: 2 – Almost no blood. There are just a handful of violent scenes and only one or two even actually show anything explicit.

Believability: 8 – Overall, I thought the writing and acting were on point. I felt like the film was happening right on my computer screen.

Setting/Cinematography: 5 – Again, this one was tough to score. There really was not much setting to speak of and the cinematography was intentionally limited to webcam footage. I think a solid 5 is fair. Like taking a college course Pass/Fail.

Final Score: 23/50

unfriended_blair_scream

Contracted (2013) – Eric England

contracted-poster

It’s always nice to see a new spin on a familiar genre. Eric England’s 2013 entry Contracted, gives us just that. It’s a great body-horror film with a twist. While it certainly achieves its goal of gross-out film making, Contracted does still fall a bit flat in terms of the plot and character development.

I’m not 100% sure of what the film is trying to say either. Is it a commentary on the vapid culture of the millennial generation? Is it a study of a complex character? Or simply a condom PSA? I know there’s something he’s trying to get across, it’s just hard to pin down exactly what that is.

Some of my loyal readers may remember my last review of this director didn’t go so well. Mr. England actually read the negative review and commented on the blog. It was…uncomfortable for everyone involved. Fortunately, I found this film to be better than that in almost every way so hopefully, if he reads this, he won’t come to my house and beat me to death with a shovel. Granted, this film is not a masterpiece, but it’s a big step in the right direction

Contracted_Doctor

Contracted is about a troubled 20-something, Samantha (played by Najarra Townsend), dealing with the struggle of life, relationships and transitioning from the end of adolescence into adulthood. While drinking heavily at a party in an effort to forget about said struggles, she gets taken advantage of by a mysterious stranger. The next morning it becomes very clear that she has caught what she believes to be an STD. Over the next few days it turns out to be more than your average case of the clap. And it becomes pretty clear that she’s going to need more than just a shot of penicillin.

I’ve explained why I love body-horror before. It’s easy for us to identify with characters and feel like these things could be happening to us. By ‘these things’ I mean, bleeding from strange places, discolored skin and eyes, sores, fingernails and hair falling out. Its very upsetting and disturbing to see people literally rotting from the inside. England’s film handles the decomposition of young Samantha very well with just the right amount of blood, guts, and maggots.

That leads me to the biggest problem I had with this film. People don’t seem to react properly to Samantha’s varying states of decay. Particularly her doctor. She goes and sees a doctor twice and he remains uninterested even though she’s literally falling apart in front of him. Later our heroine develops a huge open bloody sore on her mouth and proceeds to make out with not one, but TWO people. Though it’s totally nonsensical, it adds to the gross-out factor – which I found to be the film’s strong suit – so I’ve allowed myself to suspend disbelief.

Contracted_eye

In terms of scares, Contracted follows a familiar body-horror recipe. The horror comes from watching this girl disintegrate in front of us. She seems unable (or unwilling) to get the help she needs. We can put ourselves in her shoes in that respect so the fear is transmitted to the audience in that way.

The acting is okay – not great. And I had some trouble really identifying with, or even really liking the characters, which is probably the biggest shortcoming of the film. All that being said, I really liked it. There’s a cool punchline at the end that I wasn’t expecting, so kudos on that. I usually see these things coming a mile away. Though I wonder if it detracts from the overall message of the film (whatever that may be).

At any rate, the moral might just be ‘Always wear a condom, and keep an eye on your drinks at parties’. I think that’s a moral we can all get behind.

Is it scary: 6 – Solid body horror experiment. Definitely upsetting and haunting to watch a beautiful girl rotting on the screen.

Originality: 5 – It’s a clever twist on a story we’ve seen a thousand times before.

Blood: 7 – This film is soaked in blood. Delicious decaying blood.

Believability: 2 – As I mentioned before, I had a hard time following the reactions of other characters to Samanta’s illness. Most people didn’t react realistically at all.

Setting/Cinematography: 5 – The setting was mostly out in bright sunny southern California which isn’t ideal for horror, but the cinematography was executed perfectly. They way it was shot to expose each new symptom was great.

Final Score: 25/50

Verdict- Not a perfect film, but definitely entertaining and worth a viewing if you like watching people decompose, that is.

Contracted_Eye2

The Descent (2005) – Neil Marshall

The Descent_Poster

How many times has this happened to you? You say to a friend, “Oh you have to go to this restaurant and try such and such” or “That was the best –whatever- I’ve ever seen.” Then they go and try the thing that you’ve been raving about and they can’t keep themselves from yawning in your fat stupid face. If they had just tried it on their own, they may have liked it a lot more than they did. It’s all about expectations. Here’s a tip for you online daters out there. Don’t put a picture of you in a tux on your profile. Use a picture of you in a beater and old sweatpants rolled up to your knees with your feet in a half-deflated baby pool while drinking a PBR. When you show up for the date in jeans, you’ll look like a goddamn prince.

Here’s where Neil Marshall’s 2005 The Descent comes in. Everyone seems to love this movie. It’s solid, but I don’t think it belongs anywhere near any ‘Top however-many Horror Movies’ lists. And, I’ll grant you, this could be an expectation vs. perception thing. I’ve now watched this thing 3 times, and I’ve really tried to see what everyone else is seeing, but to me it feels bland and even a little gimmicky. This is not to say I don’t like it, because I do, but I think it falls far short of something that should be considered a ‘great’ horror flick.

Image

The movie is about a group of badass bitches who go on an extreme spelunking adventure. They had planned to go to a fairly safe cave but the head badass chick decides to take them into an uncharted cave so they can arm wrestle and tear phone books in half with their vaginas. Of course, when they get down there, the tunnel collapses, so they’re stuck. They have to keep tunneling through to find another way out. These subterranean amazons soon find out they are not alone and some sort of underground sub-humanoid creatures already live in the cave. Think the Morlocks from The Time Machine or the mole people or something like that. They’re blind and they hunt by sonar like bats. These fuckers are pale, pasty, slimy, and somehow incredibly nimble. They can climb up walls and hang from the ceiling like bats.

So while these blind ninjas are popping out and eating these ladies, the only way to survive is to become even more badass than they were before. They have to descend (get it?) into a primal state to try and defeat these creatures. Of course, not everyone is ok with this and there’s a little hostility between the group as well. Once you’re about half an hour into this thing, you know who’s going to live and who’s going to die.

Image

Overall, I just didn’t find it to be that scary. There is a fairly ubiquitous claustrophobic feeling, but for me, that didn’t translate beyond the screen except for 1 or 2 key scenes. I think if they had played that up a bit, they could have made this movie a lot scarier. The rest of the scares come from monsters, people, bats, etc. popping on to the screen and making you jump. Granted, I think Marshall has handled the jump-scare as well as anyone, but to me it just wasn’t enough.

I think this movie had a lot of potential, but there were a few main things that ruined it for me. First of all, I had a lot of trouble telling most of the characters apart. There are 6 of them (I think) down there. It’s super dark and everything is lit strangely and they use these quick shots and a shaky camera effects the whole time. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who is who. There are 2 main characters and the others are just there to be part of the buffet.

The other big thing was the cinematography. For the first few scenes, before they get into the cave, the cinematography was amazing; (including the opening credits overhead driving-through-a-long-winding-mountain-road-through-trees shot they stole from The Shining) but once we’re down in the deep dark cave, I had a lot of trouble telling exactly what was going on. I get that they want to use those quick cuts and shaky camera nonsense to add to the feeling of chaos and terror, but come on, the audience cannot even tell who is getting eaten.

That’s all. The movie is alright. Not the best thing in the world, but you should check it out; you’ll like it. Boom. Expectations managed. You’re welcome.

  1. Is it scary: 4– It relied on the jump scare thing too much. I think they could have handled the creatures better too and built up the creepiness more. I applaud the claustrophobia angle but they failed on execution.
  2. Originality: 4 – This felt pretty generic. Not sure if I saw anything truly novel here.
  3. Blood: 6– Props here. It was fairly bloody. At one point, homegirl is swimming in what seems to be a lake of blood that is not really explained. Whatever.
  4. Believability: 8– Definitely solid here. The characters felt pretty genuine. They did do a good job of making me think they were scared.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 6– The setting is great. Dark, cramped, hopeless and oppressive. I had some issues with the lighting and the cinematography. Let me see what’s happening. You shouldn’t sacrifice that for the sake of fancy camera tricks.   

Final Score: 28/50                                                                                              

Image

House at the End of the Street (2012) – Mark Tonderai

Ok, you’re a movie producer. It’s the end of the summer. Your studio’s profits were a little low this quarter and your boss is pissed. What can you do? Capitalize on the cache of a hot young actress who just did The Hunger Games. Oh wait, she doesn’t feel like acting? She just wants to stand there? Don’t worry, just squeeze her into a series of tight tank tops and tell her to barely move and stare expressionless into the camera. Can she read? Good. Just tell her read off cue cards while people act around her. No don’t worry about the script, or the plot, the guy who delivers the water jugs to my building has 2 and a half semesters of film school under his belt. He’ll come up with something. We’ll just make the title something that really has nothing to do with the plot and give a cool acronym that has even less to do with the plot (HATES). Perfect. Late summer blockbuster. Boom. And you can make next month’s lease payment on your Lexus.

Alright, I’m being a little harsh, but Mark Tonderai’s 2012  House at the End of the Street just reeked of all the things I hate about big-budget studio horror. It wasn’t that bad, but there was nothing novel or really interesting about it either. It relied pretty heavily on the jump-scare (and the dreaded fake jump-scare that’s really the cat or your friend standing behind you) and a handful of other played out horror techniques. And I will admit, I didn’t quite guess the little twist at the end, but I was close.

The movie starts off showing a young girl sort of sleepwalking and then freaking out and killing her parents. Flash forward to Jennifer Lawrence in the first of many tight outfits, soulfully singing and playing the guitar (and don’t think they won’t shove that down your throat. Alright, you can fucking sing-post some clips on your goddamn myspace page-we’re here to watch a horror movie, not a musical). Don’t worry, her vast musical talents will be awkwardly crammed into the storyline too so that it almost feels authentic. Lawrence and her mother are moving into a house out in the sticks somewhere. They meet the neighbors and find out that the girl who killed her parents lived in a house on their street. The brother who is complicated, sexy, and sensitive lives in the house by himself. He’s a loner and the community doesn’t like/trust him. Then we find out that the sister has been missing for years-possibly living in the woods somewhere.

Pretty early on, we find out that the dude is actually keeping the sister in the basement. She’s completely insane and dangerous but he protects her and feeds her and tries to keep her safe (and everyone else safe) by locking her in the basement. Lawrence and the dude strike up a nice little romance and they’re so perfect and they have these deep philosophical conversations. But Lawrence has to compete at the battle of the bands (what? is this an episode of Saved by the Bell?) so dude decides he’ll probably get at least a BJ if he comes and watches her. Sister escapes, blah blah blah. Everything gets crazy. I don’t want to give away too much so I’ll stop there. Like I said, there’s a twist and you know its coming but you might not guess it exactly.

The movie isn’t terrible. In fact it’s just a compilation of things that everyone loves about horror movies. It’s like the “NOW That’s What I Call Music, Volume 239” of horror. As far as I can tell, it didn’t really bring anything new to the table; it just recycled successful pieces of other movies. The score was plain. The camera work was bland- no cool angles or creative cuts or anything. Just standard issue, “here it is” kind of cinematography. I will say it was paced well. The intensity builds slowly over the course of the movie-in a good way. But the ending was whack. Really just not plausible. I felt like the writers don’t respect us as an audience. Maybe that’s a little over the top.

Overall, it wasn’t great. Let’s put it this way, If you cut 15 or 20 minutes from this movie, and changed the music up a bit, it could be an hour-long Levis or Fruit of the Loom commercial featuring Jennifer Lawrence’s boobs.

  1. Is it scary: 3- There were some suspenseful moments towards the end, but it would take a defibrillator hooked up to a car battery to save this one.
  2. Originality: 2- Watch 10 scary movies from the past 15 years. Take your favorite part from each one. Piece together a nonsensical plot around those stolen bits.
  3. Blood: 3- It had an appropriate amount of blood for what it was. Nothing to write home about.
  4. Believability: 3-Nope. The plot was more hole than plot. It would be like eating Swiss cheese and being hungrier right after than right before.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 4- Again, this was just bland, nothing fancy. The setting was OK, I guess It seemed generic like everything else.

Final Score: 15/50

The Posession (2012) – Ole Bornedal

Image

Based on a true story. For some reason, all these demon possession films say they are based on a true story. I’m not here to weigh in on the spiritual or religious implications of real-life demonic possession, but I do know that “Based on a true story” is essentially false advertising.  Every time. When you see those words on a movie poster, you might as well read: “Bullshit”.

Ole Bornedal’s 2012 The Possession, is touted as based on a true story. I read a little about the back story and it was actually a pretty interesting one too. I’ll get into it a little later. Overall, the movie was OK, but it was just sort of bland. Vanilla. Also, Sam Raimi was credited as a producer. We all know how much Sam loves his demon possession: (The Evil Dead, Drag me to Hell).Now, If I’ve learned anything from watching Entourage, they just throw those producer credits around like Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans and they don’t mean much, but I was hoping for a little Evil Dead flare to this one. Spoiler alert: There wasn’t any.

Like so many modern horror movies, The Possession had a cool idea/storyline but it was poorly executed. Or rather, it was the cinematic equivalent to not following through with that homerun swing. This one sailed into the outfield but it was an easy out for the center fielder. It was dark, it was spooky, atmospheric, whatever, but overall, there was just something missing. I will say the movie did have a cool new take on the possession story. This time instead of a Catholic priest, there was a Jewish rabbi- who, by the way, was most badass characters in the movie.

Image

So the story starts out when a girl, Emily buys an ornate old wooden box from a yard sale. Her parents are in the process of getting a divorce and there’s some tension around the two households. The box is mysteriously sealed and hard to get open. One night the Emily figures out the trick and opens the box. Inside are some creepy items like a tooth and what seems to be a disheveled lock of human hair. Also a large moth flies out even though the box doesn’t seem to have been opened for many years. The next day, the Emily starts hearing weird voices and acting strangely at school. She stabs her dad in the hand with a fork. The family and the school officials blame this behavior on the divorce and nobody notices that something really bad is happening. Then one night the dad goes to check on her in her room and hundreds of those moths are swarming around her in her bed.

Shit gets worse and worse and people start blaming the dad for making this girl act like this. The daughter gets hospitalized after she freaks out and tries to kill the mom. Dad does some research and figures out that the box has some Jewish markings on it and that they are meant to keep a demon trapped within. Then he recruits the Chuck Norris of all Rabbis to come help him save his daughter. There’s a fairly anti-climactic climax and some predictable twists at the end. All pretty standard stuff.

Apparently, this story was based on a true event where somebody sold a cursed box containing a demon on eBay. Why anyone would do this, I have no idea. Everyone’s the worst. If you ever get your hands on a demon box, do the world a favor and dig a 100 foot hole in your back yard and bury it. Because if you don’t, the demon will get out and it will fuck up everything. That’s what they do.

Image

Now I don’t want to make it sound like the movie was bad- it wasn’t, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been. I’m not even really sure why. It had a lot of the elements that we look for in a horror movie. But maybe it just had too many of them. There were some cool things but they were just a little used, I think. Clichéd. Scary little girl in a night gown leaning forward so her black hair covers her face. Girl opening her mouth and looking into the mirror and something crawls out of her throat. This was like a cross between The Grudge and The Exorcist that had been edited for TV. There were a couple of cool scary moments but not enough to really save this one I think.

Also, there is one, and only one black person in this movie. She’s on the screen for a total of 90 seconds before she gets tossed around a room like a rag doll and then thrown from an upstairs window to her death. Is this still a thing? Are we just killing black characters for no reason? Come on people Barrack is president. Let’s cool it with the not-so-subtle-cinematic racism.

  1. Is it scary: 5- Kindof cool, dark and creepy atmosphere but the suspenseful scenes fell a little flat for me.
  2. Originality: 5- I like the twist that it was a rabbi instead of a priest, but the cursed box from a yard sale, it just seems too Gremlins for me.
  3. Blood: 2- I mean, it was PG-13, but there was basically no blood. One awesome scene that I won’t spoil-best part of the movie.
  4. Believability: 7-There were some logical inconsistencies and a couple of loose ends with the plot that didn’t get answered, but overall, it felt pretty believable to me.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 7- I think the best thing about this movie was that it always looked scary. Even when the plot was lacking, the way everything was lit made it dark and spooky all the way through. Its always night or cloudy and rainy outside. This is really day 1 stuff, but not everybody does it right.

Final Score: 26/50

Image

Gutterballs (2008) – Ryan Nicholson

Ready for a little cooking lesson? Get a big mixing bowl and start with 3 parts Jersey Shore. Pour in a generous helping of Kingpin and a dose of I Spit on your Grave. Then sprinkle a dash of Jerry Springer and some Jim Belushi-caliber comedy for good measure. What do you get? Well, you’re going to get stabbed, and probably Hepatitis, but you might also get Ryan Nicholson’s 2008 slasher/cult favorite Gutterballs. The movie is incredibly gory and fucked up. Nicholson is trying to be over the top and to disturb you. And if you have a soul, he’s succeeded.

Gutterballs is disgusting in a lot of ways and sometimes it’s just downright hard to watch. Also, I know it gets a lot of love in some circles so some of you might not agree with my review. I get what Nicholson was going for but it’s just a little too over the top for me. I know some people just watch these movies for the shock value/guts/boobs/etc. and that’s fine, but that kind of film not scary and (in my mind) it’s distinctly on a lower tier than something like The Shining or The ThingThe plot of this movie doesn’t really make a lot of sense. It’s just loosely pulled together so there’s a framework around the murders so it’s not just a snuff film.

Ok so the movie starts out with the likeliest of scenarios. A group of bros with popped collars and sunglasses, who look and act like they just crushed it at the gym for like 3 hours and then snorted up like a bunch of speed, are doing a little after-hours bowling. Inexplicably, the janitor at the bowling alley, whom these guys relentlessly harass, lets them come in and bowl while he’s doing his late-night cleaning. There are some skanks in the next lane and the bros are harassing them as well. Then another squad of bros come in and they come to defend the girls. A fight breaks out and Steve, the alpha-dog bro, has some kind of roid-rage and screams and threatens everyone. Janitor grabs a shotgun, breaks up the fight and kicks everyone out. While the girls are leaving, Steve and his friends get one of the girls, Sarah, alone and there’s a graphic and drawn-out rape scene. It’s really pretty horrible. It almost makes you want to turn off the movie except now you want to see these guys get what’s coming to them.

For some reason, everyone is back at the bowling alley the next night. Everyone. Steve, Sarah, the whole crew. And it seems like the events of the previous night are largely forgotten, though there’s some lingering hostility. So as they’re bowling, the players go off one by one to get beers or to go to the bathroom or whatever and a masked killer starts dispatching them in some of the most gruesome ways imaginable. And it’s not just Steve and his raping friends. It’s like everyone. It comes full circle at the end and there’s a big reveal when the killer’s mask is removed. Blah blah blah. That’s not the point. I literally didn’t care about the ending. I just wanted the movie to be over.

Now, the movie is not supposed to be taken seriously or even to really make sense. the point was to see how much they could really get away with. There’s one scene that really tugs at your heartstrings, though. Two young lovers have a romantic moment spoiled by this killer. Well, by romantic moment I mean a drunken 69 on the grimy bathroom floor of a bowling alley. While Romeo and Juliette are chowing down on each other’s fun parts, the killer comes in and shoves their faces even further into each other so they choke, suffocate and die. The flame of young love, extinguished before it’s time. Really a sad and touching moment…

Anyway, that’s not even the most horrific scene in the movie, but you get the picture. The movie is shockingly low-budget. The script is horrible and the acting is as atrocious as the murder scenes. I read somewhere that they say “fuck” over 500 times in the movie. They literally say it in like every other sentence.

I will say that Gutterballs doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. And it certainly accomplishes what it set out to do. If you know your stuff, you might recognize the poster is an obvious homage to the 1980 cult classic Maniac. When you take that into consideration, you can see this movie more for what it is and understand what it is meant to be.

It’s not a good movie by any stretch, but it’s not really supposed to be. Nicholson has just created a good old-fashioned splatter horror movie. And though it’s not really my favorite style, I still commend him for that.

1.     Is it scary: 2- It’s too campy and over the top to be scary. The lame humor and bizarre murders don’t let you get sucked in to the atmosphere.
2.     Originality: 4- Though there’s nothing really original about the plot, I will award a couple of extra point for creativity. Nicholson has come up with some murders that I haven’t seen before. That’s got to be worth something.
3.     Blood: 8- This thing is fucking disgusting. Imagine what your kitchen would look like if Jackson Pollock and Edward Scissorhands tried to make lasagna for an entire pro football team
4.     Believability: 3. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but if I just got raped, I wouldn’t go back to the same bowling alley with the same guys the next night. The plot is just ludicrous and nonsensical.
5.     Setting/Cinematography: 2 – Wait, bowling alleys aren’t scary. Also this thing looks like it was shot on a cell phone camera. Like a flip phone, not an iPhone.

Final Score: 19/50                

                                                                              

Darkness Falls (2003) – Jonathan Liebesman


Image

Ok, Imagine you’re lying in bed fast asleep. You hear a rustling outside your window. The window slowly slides open. Then a creaking footstep on your bedroom floor. You get the sense that someone is standing over you. Staring down at you. You open your eyes but it’s pitch black. You can’t see anything. But there’s someone there; you can hear them breathing. You get a glimpse of long gray fingers reaching towards you. Creeping, sneaking in to take something from you- a part of your body- while you sleep and then disappear into the night. Scared? No because it’s the fucking tooth fairy. The tooth fairy is not scary. It’s too bad nobody told Jonathan Liebesman that before he directed Darkness Falls, his 2003 horror movie about a killer tooth fairy.

I’ll even grant that the premise might have had potential. There was an interesting prologue sort of back story to set the plot up that could have worked. But it’s hard to really execute a truly scary movie around the premise of “killer tooth fairy.” Hard, not impossible, but the deck is already stacked against you. I actually like the idea of taking something that’s not scary-something we all know from our childhood-and giving it a horror twist. If you handle it correctly, it can make the film all the more terrifying because it resonates with us and we can all relate to a time when we believed in that sort of thing. But in this case the devil’s in the execution, not in the concept. And this one didn’t really get it done for me.

The premise is that there was a sweet old woman in this town 150 years ago who would give children a coin when they brought her their teeth that they lost. One day she is burned in a fire and as a result her skin becomes extremely sensitive to light. She becomes a recluse. Then one day some kids went missing and the town blamed the old woman. They execute her but then they find the kids were safe and sound all along, after the lady is already dead. Then whenever the towns’ child loses a tooth, her ghost flies in-traditional tooth fairy style-and trades a coin for the tooth-but there’s a catch: If the kid wakes up and peeks at her face, she takes him away and eats him or something. Flash forward and you meet our main character, Kyle, as a kid. He knows he’s not supposed to peek, but he does anyway and she tries to kill him. He ends up escaping into a well-lit room.

Image

Everyone knows that when you are afflicted with a skin condition in life, your ghost still has that affliction. So she can’t stand to be in any sort of bright light, but once she’s after you she doesn’t stop till you’re dead. So if you’re in the light you’re safe. Flash forward again. Kyle has apparently spent the last 12 years never being in the dark. He has tons of flashlights and big bright windows in his apartment. He gets a call from his middle school crush-who was there on the night of his tooth-fairy run-in. Her little brother is acting crazy and wont sleep and won’t let them turn out the lights. Kyle comes to visit and tries to help the little kid so he can finally bang the sister like he should have done 12 years ago. (He had just lost his last baby tooth and there was some blood in his mouth. He kisses the girl and then he flexes his pimp muscles and he leans in to go for it again but she’s like “No. The first time shouldn’t taste like blood” or something horrible and awesome like that. One of the most accidentally hilarious things ever)

Anyway, like I said, the movie seems to be trying; there are some creepy aspects, but I think they missed the mark. There are a couple of jump-scares (cheap, but I’ll take what I can get with this one). And the gnarly-snarly-breathing-screaming sort of noise that the tooth fairy makes when she’s stalking you is actually pretty creepy. But overall, there’s nothing too great here. The acting is mediocre so it doesn’t even have that to draw you in and make you sympathetic to the plot. The little boy is not quite cast right. He’s like a cross between the kid from The Ring (creepy as fuck) and the kid from Jerry Mcguire (cute as fuck with his little spiked up hair). I actually like the kid, but I feel like he’s the wrong choice for the movie.

Image

Ok, overall, I didn’t hate the movie. I guess I liked most of the characters, but I didn’t really care about them. They just weren’t developed enough. I just thought everything was a little bland, undercooked. The movie felt pretty formulaic and by the end, I was just ready for it to be over. Not the worst thing in the world, but far from the best.

1. Is it scary: 3- A couple of cheap jumps and a few suspense scenes, but overall, gimmicky and pretty dry.
2. Originality: 5- I guess I need to give some points here for trying to make the tooth fairy into a slasher. But the plot was pretty basic. You could basically see the next 2 moves coming.
3. Blood: 2- It was PG-13, so there wasn’t much blood. I actually have a theory that lots of PG-13 movies are scarier because they don’t have gore to fall back on-this one was an exception)
4. Believability: 4. I had trouble following many of the choices these characters made. Without being too specific, I think lots of people could have survived if they had paid attention to what was happening around them.
5. Setting/Cinematography: 5- Everything was dark and creepy. Dark old mental hospital is always a great horror setting. There were a few cool shots but it still wasn’t enough to fix this one. It would be like trying to raise the Titanic with dental floss. (I apologize for that horrible pun- I couldn’t help myself)

Final Score: 19/50  

Image