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Netflixian Horror: Review of ‘The Frankenstein Theory’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This is a review of “The Frankenstein Theory” from 2013, starring Kris Lemche, Joe Egender, Timothy V. Murphy, Eric Zuckerman, and Heather Stevens. Written by Vlady Pildysh and Andrew Weiner. Directed by Andrew Weiner.

From IMDB.com: From the makers of The Last Exorcism comes a boldly original vision of horror. What if the most chilling novel of all time was actually based on a true account of a horrific experiment gone awry? When he is suspended from his university job for his outlandish ideas, Professor John Venkenheim leads a documentary film crew to the rim of the Arctic Circle in a desperate effort to vindicate his academic reputation. His theory: Mary Shelley’s ghastly story, “Frankenstein,” is, in fact, a work of non-fiction disguised as fantasy. In the vast, frozen wilderness, Venkenheim and his team search for the legendary monster, a creature mired in mystery and drenched in blood. What they find is an unspeakable truth more terrifying than any fiction…a nightmare from which there is no waking.

The Frankenstein Theory Cover

My Review: The biggest thing that I enjoyed about this movie was the concept. It’s another “mock-umentary” style, because many horror movies (at least lower budgeted/independent ones, in particular) are, but it works. “Frankenstein” being a favorite of mine in classic literature, the idea of this movie that it’s based on real events is a lot of fun to me. So, I liked what they did with it.

Overall, the make-up of the characters, the basic writing and dialog are all decent. The acting is also fine. There is a reasonable escalation of the suspense when they hit the wilderness, and I did particularly like the character of Karl. And their understated use of The Monster was very good, I felt.

Beyond that, however, I struggled with the other characters. While they had no glaring flaws off hand, they didn’t have anything else that made me really attach to any of them and thus when we moved towards the end, I didn’t care all that much about what happens to them and that’s a big problem in this type of movie.

The last fifteen minutes, which was the climatic sequence, just felt too rushed and lost its suspense for me. Yet aside from not caring about the characters, I saw no distinguishable flaws to point out. And others may attach more to the characters than I did, so others might enjoy this more.

I probably would’ve given this a 2 but for the Frankenstein angle, which gets it a 3.

3 Smiley: Not Too Terrible

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Netflixian Horror: Review of ‘Creature’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This is a review of “Creature” from 2011, starring Mechad Brooks, Serinda Swan, Amanda Fuller, Dillon Casey, Lauren Schneider, Aaron Hill, Daniel Bernhardt, and Sid Haig. Written by Fred Andrews and Tracy Morse. Directed by Fred Andrews.

From IMDB.com: In the back country of Louisiana, a group of friends unearth a terrible secret that unleashes a monster from the depths of the swamp.

Creature Cover

My Review: For some reason, this doesn’t apply to me with alien movies, but when it comes to creature features where the monster is from our own lore (like Sasquatch, or in this movie, “Lock-jaw”), I don’t like to see much of the creature. When I do, I’m usually disappointed by the goofiness of it. And it’s rare when I’m good with a movie that does it, but I was okay on this one. And we see quite a bit of this beast.

There was quite the crazy factor and “ick” factor here, but not enough to put you too far off the movie. (Unless it’s something you particularly dislike in your movies.)

And one of the things I really liked is that our “hero” of the day made sense. So many horror movies have their heroes and heroines turn into ninjas and weapon-masters when trouble arises, but with no background to explain how. This one, however, had a Navy Seal, a young man who had only recently resigned his commission. So he had the background to be so kick-ass, and was still in great shape to be able to do it.

Further, this ultimately felt like a romance. Our hero had to save his girl, and in the scenes with her, he became very tender. Brooks flowed between those two roles very well.

It’s a fairly standard creature feature in many ways, right down to the group of young people stuck in the woods, but the back-story to it made it stand out a little. And once you suspend your disbelief over the concept, the writing was fairly decent and the acting was good as well. Certainly compared to some others of its genre.

4 Smileys: Surprisingly Good

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Netflixian Horror: Review of ‘Entity’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This review is about “Entity” from 2012, starring Dervla Kirwan, Charlotte Riley, Branko Tomovic, Rupert Hill, Oliver Jackson & Michael David Worden. [Top Billed] Written and Directed by Steve Stone.

From IMDB.com: In 1998, thirty four unidentified bodies were found in shallow graves in a remote Siberian forest. After subsequent investigations, no official explanation by the Russian authorities was ever offered about the circumstances of the deaths. The case was closed. In 2010, a small English TV crew from the show ‘Darkest Secrets’ set out for the Siberian forest. ‘Darkest Secrets’ focuses on revisiting the sites of unsolved crimes and they employ the gifts of a psychic whose extraordinary powers may help shed new light on cold cases. The last communication to their production office in London stated that they were approaching the Siberian region where the bodies were found. Nothing was heard from them again. ‘Entity’ is the story of what happened to them. The forest was only the beginning…

Entity Cover

My Review: This movie started out interesting in that it was a mix of the “mock-umentary” style and your regular movie filming, like we were seeing it from the inside and the outside at the same time. Mock-umentary is pretty common for horror movies, like writing a book in First Person or epistle fashion. (And no, ‘Blair Witch Project’ did not birth the idea.)

I thought that this one was pretty decent. It held its creepy atmosphere throughout with the use of a lot of auditory effects while minimizing the visual ones. It felt kind of like an episode of “Ghost Hunters” gone horribly wrong for the hunters, but it worked for the topic. And the fact that it was set in Russia but with English-speaking characters (mostly) was also an nice touch because it meant that they were hearing and seeing things that they didn’t understand even the language of.

Kirwan portrayed the psychic role well in not overdoing it. There were no strange hand gestures and overly dramatic reactions. It was quiet and intrinsic, like she was indeed seeing and hearing things outside this realm, so to speak, but just trying to understand them. And it exhausted and frightened her, but with no hysterics. I appreciated that.

Over all, while there was violence and gore, it was pretty understated compared to most of your horror movies these days. Again, it added to a general atmosphere of creepiness rather than just splashing blood on your screen and hoping you jump. The ending was both surprising and not, while ending on the same understated horrific note that the movie carried itself on.

4 Smileys: Surprisingly Good

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Netflixian Horror: Review of ‘Shakma’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This is a review of “Shakma” from 1990, starring Christopher Atkins, Amanda Wyss and Ari Meyers.. Written by Roger Engle. Directed by Hugh Parks and Tom Logan.

From IMDB.com: A wild animal attacks people trapped in a large tower.

Shakma Cover

My Review: This movie was 1990 with a vengeance. The hair, the clothes, the music, the technology… It was just so ’90s.

Beyond that, however, I did like the D&D/LARP game premise. Even though a computer and smart phone user of 2014 like myself couldn’t watch their computers and giant walkie-talkies without wincing and giggling.

They had to ascend the building floors by finding the right clues and get little helps, trying to reach the top floor to save the princess, while an enemy lurked among the rooms. There was a teacher involved in the fun, which was cool. Being a geek, I liked that.

However, aside from that… The writing was bad. The acting was bad, most especially our lead actor. His finale sequence was just amazingly, remarkably over-acted. It was filled with your classic ’90s horror movie cliché bad choices.

The effects to portray the killer baboon were as good as they could be for the time and budget, I imagine, but the jumps between what I think was a stuffed animal acting violent and the well-trained baboon following instructions were just hysterical.

The geek in me gives it a boost but I can’t give it much more of a rating. It was so bad that there were funny parts, but mostly, it was just kind of cringe-worthy.

2 Smileys: Not Too Terrible

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Netflixian Horror: Review of ‘Jug Face’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This is a review of “Jug Face” from 2013, starring Lauren Ashley Carter. Written and directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle.

From IMDB.com: Jug Face tells the story of a pregnant teen trying to escape a backwoods community when she discovers that she may be sacrificed to a creature in a pit.

Jug Face Cover

My Review: Every now and then, I watch a movie and wonder, “Why did I just watch that?” Despite the great wealth of bad horror I enjoy watching, this doesn’t happen often. This movie managed to do it, though.

I was drawn in mainly because of the ‘creature’ in the pit angle, so I expected an actual creature feature/monster movie, but we never see anything. Whatever is in the pit does kill people and tear them to actual pieces, but it could be any sort of homicidal thing. If this had been the only problem, it wouldn’t have been a problem, however. I’ve watched plenty of horror that didn’t have creatures in it, but this felt misleading.

The “ick” factor on this one is high. We have backwards backwoods community of people who live rough and don’t look like they bathe too often; forced marriage; incest; a mother who visually checks her daughter’s menstrual flow and internal workings to see if she’s still a virgin; emotional and physical abuse; bodies being torn to pieces and blood and offal strewn about; ritual sacrifice…

And yet! This is not even what bothered me most about the movie.

There felt like there was no point at all. The movie is billed as a girl trying to escape, but the escape attempt takes up all of ten or fifteen minutes. The girl in question is not really any more likeable or relatable than any other character, and even her contrition at the end doesn’t make up for the rest of it.

In fact, only one character is at all sympathetic and makes you give a damn. And the movie doesn’t seem to have a point. By the end, nothing changes but the body count. In movies, even if there’s symbolism in the full circle concept, you still want to see that something has changed; that the plot had a reason. This one just didn’t feel like it had anything of that.

Maybe there was allegory, but it was buried under the weight of its own drama, gore factor, and how gross can we make this community…

1 Smiley: Awful

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Netflixian Horror: A Review of ‘Grabbers’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This is a review of “Grabbers” from 2012, starring Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley. Written by Kevin Lehane. Directed by Jon Wright.

From IMDB.com: When an island off the coast of Ireland is invaded by bloodsucking aliens, the heroes discover that getting drunk is the only way to survive.

Grabbers Cover

My Review: I will admit that after reading the description, I had expected more slapstick humor and goofy creature happenings. That didn’t happen so much, but it still worked. It was of course still humorous and it had many amusing moments, including some scenes with baby monsters that makes one giggle, but it wasn’t so over the top.

Nolan and O’Shea were not quite the mostly uniquely drawn characters–in their own words, “an alcoholic and a workaholic,” but the actors made them very endearing and you’re really rooting for them. Bradley is absolutely adorable as Garda Nolan and very funny towards the latter sequences, while Coyle’s Garda O’Shea grows more charming to the audience as we get to know him. They play their roles with subtlety.

But that’s not to say that the rest of the cast of characters is full of slouches. They paint an entertaining picture of their little Irish village as they “face off” against the “grabbers,” even the name of which makes for a nicely underplayed string of humor.

4 Smileys: Surprisingly Good

 

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