The Belko Experiment 

Written by James Gunn (Guardians Of The Galaxy), this social experiment is just one of a hundred films where society get to hunt each other or cower in fear. Lord Of The Flies up to The Hunger Games uses this excuse to make movies where the audience just want to escape to a fantasy set up and wonder how they’d fair if the had to fight to survive. 

With a cast of “I’ve seen her/him before, but can’t remember where” who get dispatched in an order which you may not guess from their level of fame, this brutal tale of a government office block which gets sealed up and given orders over a tannoy system is just fun. Grisly, blood red fun. 

The voice crackles over the tannoy ‘you have an hour to have 30 of you dead by any means necessary or we will kill 60 of you’. 

Factions are formed and we see who can take the pressure when push comes to shove or meat cleaver comes to face. There are some micro frames of gore which imprint on your eyes and are made all the more effective. 

It’s gruesome but so far fetched that you chuckle along willingly as more orders are given out. 

As unoriginal as it is, I always enjoy these movies and recommend this one in particular. 

Under The Shadow 

A mother and daughter in Tehran are pestered by a djinn which is kind of like a genie in eastern folklore but often gets characterised as a demon. 

Either way, the mother of her young girl is left believing the things her daughter says are happening. 

It’s always refreshing to see a foreign country’s version of the supernatural because you’re not used to the ‘beats’ which you’ve seen time and time again in Hollywood horror. 

The film caught me off guard a couple of times and I’m grateful for that after becoming immune to the standard techniques.
Low key often works the best. 

Blair Witch (2016)

Director: Adam Wingard

Running Time: 88 mins. 

Cast: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernadez, some woods, a torch, a bull horn. 

Those of us who connected with The Blair Witch Project in 1999 did so on a psychological level resulting in the heebie-jeebies of a high level, especially in the witches cottage at the climax. 


Blair Witch 2: Book Of Shadows 2000 was frankly abysmal. 


Luckily Blair Witch 2016 follows Heather’s brother as he follows his sisters trail into Burkittsville’s woods. The way is shown by an online freak who claims to have been the one to discover the original tapes. So far so good. 

It’s all good on paper but from here on in I was let down. 

Apparently the director used a bull horn to get the correct jumpy responses from the cast. This is a good illustration of the failure of the jump scares. A loud noise after silence makes you jump but it isn’t ‘scary’. So you’ll get no points from me for that.

Especially when the noise is just loud running water, fire, supposed digital video glitching or any other mundane goings on. 


To say this group of people are in a wood, they seem to be able to disappear quickly and reappear an inch from camera without a single twig snap. 


The climax offers a well designed creepy cottage return though and the witch herself is fleetingly menacing and yet ultimately not. 


There’s not enough here for me to return to this film but I enjoyed the ride all the same out of a live fit the original. It’s no Book Of Shadows but it’s not as good as The Conjouring 2. 

C Whitehouse 2016

 

Don’t Breathe (2016) 

Director: Fed Alverez  

Running Time: 87 minutes. 

Cast: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto. 


I actually went to see this film because I thought Sam Raimi directed it but in fact he only produced. He did however get Jane Levy from the Evil Dead remake in it and it was directed by the director of Evil Dead also. Jane plays one of three burglars, along with Dylan Minnette, most recently from Goosebumps and Daniel Zovatto, who break into a blind mans house for one last score. But sadly for them, the tenant is a blind war veteran. They see it as an easy grab but they didn’t account for this guy, played by Avatar’s Stephen Lang, being basically a blind Rambo with a secret. Slightly reminiscent of 10 Cloverfield Lane due to the small enclosed innards of the one address and had me wondering ‘is this a reverse Home Alone?’. 

It’s a roller coaster ride of tension with the blind man is like a replacement for the usual Horror monster. It eventually settles into a routine of one thing after another In quick succession which started to take me out of the reality of the situation. There were too many man sized crawl spaces in the walls and the ‘Cujo’ ripoff was something I would’ve left out. Even with these trips though it’s still a taut thriller which never lets up and does have a shock scene which will have girls crossing their legs just like the original Evil Dead did. Personally I wouldn’t class it as a horror at all but there are a couple of jump scares to start things off. More of a DVD film than a cinema trip out. 

C Whitehouse 2016

The Purge: Election Year (2016) 

Director: James DeMonaco

Running time: 1 hr 46mins 

Cast: Frank Griilo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Myketti Williamson, Joseph Soria, Terry Serpico. 

Frank Grillo stars yet again as Leo who is now head of security for a senator played by Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell. It just so happens that this is the first year that nobody is exempt from the purge so security is heightened. For those who didn’t know, the purge is an annual day where killing is legalised for twelve hours so that society can let off steam. It sounded ludicrous for the first film but I’ve grown accepting of it. Naturally things go bad and Frank and the senator end up on the streets. Come on, that’s not a spoiler, it would be rubbish if that didn’t happen. Also making an appearance is Bubba from Forest Gump, Myketti Williamson who runs a store and gets dragged into the conflicts. This time we have a baddie who is fashioned on some sort of nazi thug and to be honest she doesn’t get enough screen time. Outside of the protecting the senator thread we get further glimpses of the gangs on the streets and there tactics on the streets. The whole political angle wasn’t exactly where I wanted things to go for film three but I’ll take it. It’s true that this is the weakest one to date but I still feel it keeps its head above water. There’s blood and fighting and a cult of sorts so what more do you need for a good purge? 


C Whitehouse 2016

Film Review Of : The Conjouring 2: The Enfield Case (2016) 


Director : James Wan 

Running time: 2 hours 14 mins 

Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe, Frances O’Connor, Lauren Esposito, Simon McBurney, Simon Delaney, Franke Potente, 
As a part time paranormal investigator, I had much more of an interest in this Enfield Case as it’s possibly the uk’s best known case. The recent tv three parter with Timothy Spall as intrepid investigator Maurice Grosse reignited people’s fascination with the case of a poltergeist energy which attached itself to one young girl and spoke through her on tape, even though a girls throat is incapable of making such deep tones. It’s a classic piece of evidence. 

To see James Wan deliver this tale had great possibilities for me. But being a horror film lover I also suffer from being too knowing about the music cues and other well trodden clues which ruin most scary movies for me. The first Conjouring was enjoyable to me but I never jumped or really felt uneasy in my seat while most of the audience had a great roller coaster ride. 

So to have The Conjouring 2 give me shivers in a few parts made me love this movie. Sure enough there are some failings such as the Crooked man which seems more Guillermo del toro than J.Wan. but with so many different types of scare tactics, there’s always something coming along which is likely to hit the spot and tap into your fears. The Warrens are back (which to be honest, I didn’t know had any hand in the case) plus the Marilyn Manson looking dude resembling the demon from Insidious albeit dressed as a nun this time. The use of shadow is exemplary and there are at least a couple of scares which I was left gleeful over. There child actors appear wooden a little until you see what the actual children were like in life- odd, out of it, and practically disturbed by events. All the cast do a good job but special merit must go to Simon McBurney as Maurice Grosse in a role which he nails as this unique man. 

There is probably half the movie which you could class as pure Hollywood polish just added to entertain but I was impressed at the details of the case which were implemented especially the neighbours over the road and the police who witnessed activity first hand. 

This is the best ghost story horror I’ve seen in many a year and I’ve watched everyone which I can get my hand on. 

I see this as a classic. 

C Whitehouse (Whitehouse Investigations) 2016 

Film Review: THE WITCH (2016) 

Director: Robert Eggers (Hansel and Gretel-2007)

Cast: Thomasin- Anya Taylor-Joy,  William- Ralph Ineson, Katherine – Kate Dickie,          Caleb – Harvey Scrimshaw 

A devout Christian family move out if the safe confines of the village in a time of witch craft and black magic. Katherine and William are the parents of Thomasin, Caleb, Mercy, Jonas and newborn Samuel. As Thomasin plays peek a boo with Samuel, the baby is snatched. As the family fall apart under their own religious beliefs, they have to wonder if a curse has taken hold of their family and if they’ll ever see it through the next few weeks.

The film says it’s based on folklore and actual old age accounts of witchcraft and other writings. The language used is true to those accounts and the feel of God fearing societies long past gives it a sense of films like The Village and A Field In England. While not full on horror in its usual popcorn form, this oddity keeps you on your toes by being off kilter and with a creepy string score the sense of impending doom is ever present. The film is fresh if not groundbreaking and has new areas to show you instead of mindless gore and hidden cheap jumps.
If you fancy something new about olden times, check this out.

Christ Whitehouse.