Archive for January, 2014

The Short Films of DreamSeekers Productions: A Goblin’s Tale (2011)

Posted in The Short Films of Dream Seekers with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

A Goblin’s Tale was a 2011 offering from Dreamseekers Productions, again directed by Peter Dukes. Even though the short isn’t a direct horror film and slots itself more in the fantasy genre it still incorporates a creepy tone that’s enough to unsettle the viewer. With a minimal setting consisting of a dimly lit living room, A Goblin’s Tale is the story of a young girl (played by Tiffany Giardina) who’s world becomes turned upside down when a menacing goblin named Vix (played by Laura Kearsey) emerges from the pages of her  dusty fairytale book into reality. The short isn’t as straightforward as that as Dukes incorporates an intelligent, post-modern twist that most certainly challenges expectations, making the film very worth-while.

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Kearsey is eerie as the devilish little goblin and gives a standout performance. Her depiction of Vix is slightly reminiscent of Dobby the Elf from the Harry Potter series (2001-2011) and Rumpelstiltskin from ABC’s Once Upon a Time (2011-) among others. For a low-budget short the creature make up is done exceptionally well, producing a strong mythical air to the film. It’s an example of what Dreamseekers do best, using their resources as best as they can to create some fascinating and intriguing visual  stories. Tiffany Giardina’s role as the confused young woman compliments and contrasts Kearsey’s Goblin, being a two-hander both actresses carry the film and keep the viewer engaged for its brief ten minute duration. A Goblin’s Tale has a strong structure and delivers perfectly what any short film intends to do.

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With some clever effects and mesmerizing cinematography in place, particularly the shots of the fairytale book pages. The images that are included illustrate a mystical and folklore-esque context which establishes what A Goblin’s Tale ultimately sets out to do. There is a stunning score that runs throughout that forms a magical feel to the piece and comes across as very atmospheric. A Goblin’s Tale remains appealing to fans of horror while also being a film that has something for everyone and holds suitability for younger audiences.

A Goblin’s Tale is yet another example of the quality and broad work created by this independent film company.

Dreamseekers Productions Official Website.

The Film is available to view here:

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

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American Mary’s Tristan Risk is “Love Sick”.

Posted in Press Release with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

The Horror world has just received some very exciting casting news. Tristan Risk who played the quirky yet unusual supporting character of Beatress in Jen and Sylvia Soska’s American Mary has signed on to play the lead role of Rebecca in Todd E. Freeman’s latest feature film, Love Sick.

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In recent months Freeman has worked incredibly hard on the script for his follow up film to 2012’s Cronenberg-esque, surgical shocker Cell Count. As well as that, he’s also teased audiences with an insight into what to expect from Love Sick through creating an entry for The ABC’s Of Death 2, titled M is for Marriage. Sadly, the three minute short which combined high emotion with a gory edge won’t be featured in the upcoming anthology however will be included in the spin-off installment The ABC’s Of Death 1.5 which is more than well-deserved considering it was one of the more innovative and strongest entries in the competition.

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From the official website: http://www.lovesickfilm.com:

“Love Sick” is the story of Rebecca and Marcus who “have been together for 10 years and after much deliberation have decided to part ways. After separating and being with others, they quickly realize how hard it is to disconnect from one another. The pain, lies, and betrayal all begin to manifest physically within the both of them as well as infect the others who have become involved with intimately. They love each other so much that it hurts… some more than others.”

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Going by Risk’s highly memorable performance in the successful American Mary, she has proved to be a strong character actress by making Beatress into a very endearing and hopefully iconic character. This was demonstrated by her flawless comic timing to her incredible chemistry with Katharine Isabelle. There is no doubt that she will be able to carry the leading role exceptionally well. She explains what drew her to the part of Rebecca and Love Sick as a whole. Deeming the project as more than just the run-of-the-mill horror, Risk suggests that Freeman has yet again scratched the genre’s surface even deeper, drawing on raw emotion which is in place to provoke the viewer in one way or another rather than just supplying endless blood and gore for the sake of it. Risk is perfectly suited to what is set to be a stylish, powerful and dark genre film, Freeman could not have picked a better leading lady.

Risk says, “After watching the proof of concept piece (M is for Marriage) and reading the feature script, I became really excited.  I love a good slasher horror but Love Sick is different:  It has the ability to haunt you well after you’ve seen it.  It leaves you questioning your own relationships, makes you wonder how well you know those closest to you, and what horrors lay just beneath the surface.” [Tristan Risk- Actress].

“I saw her mind blowing performance in American Mary and thought immediately that I wanted to work with her on Love Sick,” says Writer / Director Todd Freeman.  “While talking with her about the script and the character of Rebecca, it became even more obvious that it was a perfect marriage of actor to material.  I saw the character of Rebecca on the (Skype) screen for the first time and, quite honestly, it was electric.  I can’t wait for people to see her dissolve into this role.  It’s a goopy mess of a movie and Tristan is front and center for the entire run time.  Genre fans have a lot to look forward to.” [Todd E. Freeman- Writer/Director].

According to the official website, production is set to begin this Spring with more casting information on the way. Love Sick is one film that will be eagerly anticipated by Hayley’s Horror Reviews. I am also extremely privileged to be asked to share this news and provide coverage on this site.

Check out the initial Press Release Here.

Click Here for my review and the video link for M is For Marriage.

Best Wishes to Todd and all his team at Polluted Pictures on a successful film.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Women in Horror Month Special: Hayley’s Horror Reviews & Scared Sheepless: Our Top 5 Horror Movies

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , on January 27, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

As February marks the celebration of female contributors to the horror genre, Caitlyn and I present a video of us discussing the horror films that have proved most influential on us, demonstrating why we’re huge fans of horror today. We shot this piece last November at the Abertoir Horror Festival as an extra realizing that we hadn’t actually addressed this topic previously. This is part one and will countdown number 5-3 of some of the best genre films ever created. Part Two will be on it’s way next month. We did encounter some sound issues due to the filming location and were on a tight schedule to get this shot so it’s not polished but the general idea comes across. We are also planning a podcast to mark the Women in Horror Month Event so keep your ears open for that! Thank You to all our followers for your support and hope you enjoy this pre-festival, extra feature from us.

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Tweet: #hcWiHorror to @hayleyr1989 & @caitlynmdowns

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

Caitlyn Downs

http://scaredsheepless.com/

Visit For More Info on Women in Horror Recognition Month: https://www.facebook.com/WomenInHorrorMonth/info

“Pigs Blood at the Prom”: Thoughts on the Carrie (2013) Remake.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Originally I had debated for a while whether to watch the most recent re-imagination of Carrie. Naturally, I have been a huge fan of Stephen King’s 1974 classic novel and Brian DePalma’s iconic horror film from 1976. However, in the age of remakes where new ideas seem to be at a minimum from the Hollywood studios, no classic horror movie is safe of a brand new adaptation. Not to judge a book completely by its cover or in this case a film, Carrie deserved a chance.

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One of the more appealing aspects of this re-telling in comparison to most was the choice of casting. Julianne Moore as Carrie’s fanatical religious mother Margaret was a strong choice and Chloe Grace Mortez as the titular character was not disappointing. Mortez has proved to be a talented young actress over these past few years and was more than competent to take on the role, she is also no stranger to the horror genre or horror remakes at that. Her performance is different from Sissy Spacek’s version which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it demonstrated her ability to make Carrie her own. Bringing in innocence, naivety and vulnerability in a more subtle way, Mortez is very expressive and draws the audience in to empathize with her. Julianne Moore’s performance is chilling and emotive, slightly less campy than Piper Laurie’s take on the role in DePalma’s version, she manages to explore a more conflicted and humanized Margaret White.

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Prior to watching the film I did have concerns, mainly would it be plausible for Margaret to keep Carrie sheltered in the modern age with technology easily available? Would an audience be convinced of Carrie’s lack of awareness, especially being exposed to more streetwise peers at her school? Would it be able to cover any new ground? Also, its worth bearing in mind that this isn’t the first remake we’ve seen of the telekinetic teen; a TV movie was made in 2002 starring Angela Bettis and Katharine Isabelle. A third Carrie movie (four if you count The Rage:Carrie 2 (1998))…Seriously?!

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The film manages to blend in both the traditional side of the story with Carrie’s heavy-handed religious upbringing while setting it in the present where cyberbullying is rife in the modern day high school. It sort of works, however the film fails on the fact that it merely touches on notions such as the cyberbullying as well as attempts to capture a more complex relationship between Carrie and her mother where they display genuine care for each other. It appears that Director Kimberly Peirce had some interesting ideas however wasn’t brave enough to develop them further. She disregards the more compelling aspects in order to stick to the traditional story horror enthusiasts know extremely well. It does come as a shame as there is potential present but it is pushed aside in favor of re-creating the same scenes and dialogue that has been seen and done before.  Rather than following the novel more closely as initially marketed it just comes across as an all out update of the 76′ film. When it comes to the pivotal prom sequence there really is no comparison. As previously stated Mortez is very expressive and relishes in the empowered Carrie; in these scenes however the CGI becomes over the top and takes away the sheer shock and terror that DePalma incorporated in his film. It looks very computerized rather than having genuine effects. A highlight however was the death of Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) which comes across as incredibly brutal but satisfying in terms of seeing her despicable character get her just desserts.

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Hand on heart it’s not the worst remake in the world. It does play things too safe which makes it uninteresting, we’ve seen this movie before so why not try something a little different. Personally, it doesn’t hold a candle to the 1976 film but it is watchable. Many of the supporting cast came across as caricatures of the original characters and the soundtrack is pretty forgettable, reminding us of the shallowness of modern music. The 1976 version’s score did bring in an atmosphere which is unfortunately lacking here. Apart from Moore and Mortez, Gabriella Wilde gives a decent performance as Sue Snell, the popular girl who attempts to help Carrie. Without giving away too much her character is explored a bit more however comes into the film too late, it is interesting that it was touched upon as previous versions have neglected it. In terms of appearance Carrie and Sue are made to look incredibly similar, both attractive with long blonde hair, it is unknown whether this was intentional in order to suggest that underneath it all the two characters are more similar than it seems but was an intriguing decision. Finally, the iconic end scene where Carrie’s hand emerges from the grave has a strange twist which lacks impact. There is however a running theme of maternal instincts that makes it differ slightly alongside the focus on the fear of the outsider and teen bullying. Essentially with this you know exactly what you’re going to get!

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The best way to sum up Carrie (2013) is that it has something there but goes down the route of being a pointless remake. It’s one I wouldn’t highly recommend but its worth a viewing if there isn’t anything else on.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

“It’s No Scream!” A DVD Review : You’re Next (2013)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS**

You’re Next (2011) is one of the most disappointing, hyped-up films to emerge in recent years. For those of you who follow my Facebook page you will already be aware how much this film particularly aggravated me. Prior to viewing I had heard a mixed-bag of reactions from various sources however as I do with most films went in indifferent. You’re Next has gained a great deal of attention since its premiere at Fright Fest back in August 2013 however I was only able to finally sit down and watch it today following its UK DVD and Blu-Ray release. I suppose all in all it’s a marmite film, some of you will get a kick out of it while others (like myself) will be reeling for something more.

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Before we begin, I must establish that I’m a huge fan of slasher films, particularly from the 70’s, 80’s and late 90’s. Slashers were the sub-genre that primarily made me the horror geek I am today. It all started with a slick, game-changer of a film, directed by one of the masters of Horror Wes Craven, Scream (1996). I originally caught the film in a late night slot on channel 4 during my pre-teens. What began as a personal endurance test turned into a life-long obsession with cinema’s darkest genre. Scream was self-referential, critiquing the horror movies that came before it. Soon, I had familiarized myself with Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees and the rest is history. Scream did something that the horror films since have struggled to achieve so when Adam Wingard’s You’re Next splattered itself onto festival screens with strong comparisons made it seemed more than promising. Could it be the sophisticated, modern slasher film we’ve all been craving since Craven?!

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Interestingly, You’re Next technically came out in 2011. It circulated a few small festivals but did not obtain a wider and more commercial release until 2013. To be fair, home invasion movies are pretty trendy at this moment in Horror, and it came out just in time to rival The Purge within the space of a couple of months.

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You’re Next is the story of the Davidson family who come under attack during a family dinner by a mysterious gang disguised with animal masks. Prior to the family’s introduction, there’s a weak opening sequence which sees two severely underdeveloped characters murdered just to lead the way for the words “You’re Next” to be painted in blood on the wall. Need I remind everyone how this doesn’t compare to Scream in the slightest! In one of cinema’s most iconic and terrifying opening scenes, a character played by Drew Barrymoore is brutally murdered following a very clever and intense build-up. When your movie opens with a famous actress being killed off that sets the standard that anything is possible and was shocking for its time. You’re Next’s opening didn’t even compare. If this really wanted to be marketed as a “game-changer” then at least do something to surprise the audience instead of the derivative, seen-it-all before, meaningless cliche.

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This is then followed by some filler scenes which are a poor attempt at establishing the Davidson’s. The Mum and Dad characters, Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Rob Moran) look far too young to be the parents of their four thirty-something children but I imagine we are supposed to suspend our disbelief in this case. Their obnoxious offspring are accompanied by their dull partners and the scene is set for carnage to take place. The main focus is on Erin (Sharni Vinson), son Crispian’s (AJ Bowen) girlfriend, predictably set up as the intended final girl. It’s an attempt at placing a strong, empowered, resourceful yet flawless woman in the lead in order to tick their post-modern feminism box but that’s the problem, she is too good to be true, more caricature less character. That said, Sharni Vinson is easily the strongest actress in this blood-soaked mess and does well with the material she’s given, despite her characters backstory being incredibly far fetched. Prior to the brutal attack on the family during what could be described as a tense meal time, there’s tedious talk about Ti West’s character Tariq being a documentary filmmaker who gets his films screened at “intelligent” underground festivals which comes across as either pretentious or being self-aware about pretentious mentalities in filmmaking. The brothers then begin arguing amongst themselves in a shouty, uninteresting manner before a crossbow smashes through the window taking the family down one by one.

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That is pretty much the film. There’s too much shouting that quickly becomes irritating, there’s shaky cam particularly at the dinner scene which feels unnecessary and possibly done pretentiously. Erin’s “strong woman” act is over exaggerated, there’s only so many times you can watch someone being bludgeoned before it becomes boring. I found myself yelling at the screen, “That’s enough now!” and “Oh was that meant to be funny” at its poor attempts at humor. The acting was terrible as a whole, no empathy was created with anyone and as for the twist, I doubt it will leave you thought-provoked or astonished!

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Not for a long time has a film completely irritated me to this extent. It’s Scream comparisons as you may have gathered has a lot to do with it. Hype like this for a mediocre slasher doesn’t bode well for the future of these kinds of films. Unfortunately You’re Next has no redeeming qualities, it comes across as lazy, predictable, badly constructed, poorly written and just one huge disappointment. It could have possibly been forgiven if it had not marketed itself in that way and been hyped up so much. The masks may be gimmicky and hold some appeal but as a film it doesn’t hold up as one of the slasher greats.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

The Most Eagerly-Anticipated Horror Movies of 2014 (so far!)

Posted in Horror Festivals, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

2014 has some thrilling genre titles on the way, already establishing that the year ahead is shaping up to be one of horror’s most exhilarating and bloodiest yet! Here are my top picks so far on the movies that are likely to appeal to my tastes. In no particular order:

Truth Or Dare

  • Directed By Jessica Cameron.

truth or dare posterTechnically a 2013 film, Truth or Dare has circulated genre festivals in the USA and Belgium. It’s Hollywood premiere is taking place on January 10th at the Shockfest Film Festival. There’s been a huge internet buzz surrounding the film which has picked my interest since I first heard about it. The premise sounds deadly and brutal, a group of friends have become an internet sensation through their popular “truth or dare” videos. Things soon take a sinister turn when their biggest fan decides he wants in on the action however he starts to play by his own rules! With the ever-growing internet phenomenon, the film appears to make a dark commentary on something so prominent in people’s day to day lives and there’s nothing scarier than that! Hopefully a UK release date will be on the cards or some festival screenings this coming year. Although Truth or Dare is Jessica Cameron’s directorial debut, she has already proven she’s a rising cult star in the making by starring in over 30 horror, thriller and sci-fi projects over the passed couple of years including To Jennifer (2013) and The Black Dahila Haunting (2012). Cameron has collaborated with Jonathan Scott Higgins on the screenplay to create a disturbing and gory feature which is already getting fans talking while putting a high quality of indie horror on the map.

The ABC’s Of Death 2

  • Directed By Various

abcs 2Anthology horror is becoming an increasing trend within the genre, thanks to film’s like last year’s success, The ABC’s of Death. There’s bound to be something for everyone on offer with such an eclectic range from gross-out gore, to humor to downright psychological terror. ABC’s is an impressive piece as it showcases what directors can come up with when given a limited run time. There’s no surprise that ABC’s warranted a sequel, bringing in more directors from all over the world. Following the search for the 26th director which saw many competitors battling it out for a segment in the film, the winning entry is officially Robert Boocheck’s M is for Masticate. I can see why it was chosen for its balance of humor and stomach-churning effects however it wouldn’t have been my personal winner. Joining Boocheck are a number of talented filmmakers  who will hopefully produce some diverse and interesting segments including Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary), Aharon Keshales (Big Bad Wolves), Dennison Ramalho (short film director) and E.L Katz (Cheap Thrills) which are the ones I’m most looking forward to seeing.

See No Evil 2

  • Directed By Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska

see no evil 2Being two of the most successful female directors currently in the genre with a hugely supportive fan base, the majority of us gore freaks are anticipating what the Twisted Twins will do next following their beautifully dark, body modification movie, American Mary. Collaborating with WWE studios, many were surprised that Mary’s follow-up would be a sequel to an average slasher flick from 2006. However there’s no doubt that the Soska’s will bring in their own unique style to the piece and transform Kane into one of the most talked horror movie villains of the decade. See No Evil 2 allegedly picks up where the first film left off. Killer Jacob Goodnight, played by the wrestler Kane wakes up in the morgue ready to terrorize a group of medical students. The Soska’s have expressed that since Mary became successful they have been encouraged by the studios to continue to use the same types of trends within their future projects and have come across scripts that are basically American Mary. As disheartening as that it is it appears they have reached a compromise by including the medical angle in See No Evil 2, making it the one aesthetic it shares with Mary as well as providing a trademark for them as directors. Katharine Isabelle is set to star in her second film with the Twisted Twins and will be joined by iconic Scream Queen Danielle Harris. This is one movie that is sure to celebrate the rising status of women in horror and will have enough packed in to appeal to the horror and wrestling communities alike.

Wolf Creek 2

  • Directed By Greg McLean

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Eight years after its initial release, Australian ordeal shocker, Wolf Creek is getting a sequel. Loosely based on true events, Greg Mclean’s 2005 outback carnage saw a group of tourists terrorized by menacing serial killer Mick Taylor (John Jarratt). Literally getting away with murder, the film was left open ended meaning evil Mick Taylor still remains a deadly threat to all that cross his path. The upcoming sequel has been in development for a while although finally has a February release date in Australia so hopefully mad Mick will be making his way over to the UK very soon. There hasn’t been much information as of yet surrounding the plot therefore its unknown if it deals with the aftermath of the first film or whether its a prequel. Two tie-in novels have been penned by Mclean himself, detailing Mick Taylor’s bloody origins, Wolf Creek: Origin and Wolf Creek: Desolation Game. It’s uncertain whether a sequel is really warranted to what could be considered a modern classic, however if there’s more story to tell then it could be a very interesting film.

The Purge 2

  • Directed By James DeMonaco

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The Purge was one of my favourite genre offerings of last year. It upped the ante on the home invasion sub-genre by bringing in a well-crafted concept that made it a little less conventional than the standard fare. A sequel has recently been announced and it will certainly be intriguing to see if it manages to hold up as well as it’s predecessor through replicating the formula or whether this is an attempt to place The Purge in the same league as the SAW and Paranormal Activity franchises. A plot has not been revealed as of yet however some cast members have been confirmed. The film will star Zach Gilford, Michael K. Williams, Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez and Carmen Ejogo. With an all new cast of characters, it will be interesting to see if any rules have changed since the previous instalment. With the same director on board it gives it a promising start meaning the vision from the first film will be in place. The home invasion sub-genre has proved popular in 2013, but will it continue? Time will tell when The Purge 2 hits our screens in June.

XX

  • Directed By Various

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The second anthology film I’m anticipating in this list. XX is set to be a female led horror anthology, featuring segments from the most innovative female directors in the genre and promises to incorporate a lead female character in each. Women in Horror is bigger than ever and far more celebrated than it may have been in the past. Its been argued for a long time that women have been under-represented in the genre and now finally a surge of successful female filmmakers are given the opportunity to showcase their dark visions for the big screen. Its been said that there will be some animated, stop-motion sequences in place to transition between each segment created by Sofia Carrillo who’ll also be in charge of the title sequence. Joining her will be Jennifer Lynch (Chained, Boxing Helena), Mary Harron (American Psycho), Jovanka Vuckovic (The Guest, The Captured Bird), Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body) and of course the Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia who are making an impact in horror this year through their involvement in various projects. Many films have been directed by women over the years however it isn’t until recent times that they are been given a prominent voice. It’s about time more films were shot in a way that women can identify with rather than feel objectified, not that its always the case. XX is sure to be inventive, ground-breaking, stylish and brutally gore-geous!

Horns

  • Directed By Alexandre Aja

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Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Mirrors) adapts Joe Hill’s novel of the same name in what looks like a dark, quirky thriller about a young man who mysteriously develops a set of horns following the brutal rape and murder of his girlfriend which he is accused of. Daniel Radcliffe marks his return to the genre following his lead role in 2012’s gothic, hammer horror The Woman in Black, in a role that’s far cry from his Harry Potter days. Radcliffe described his part in the film as both “emotional” and “outrageous” to play as his character experiences deep turmoil when using his new, unusual abilities to track down the real culprit! With the names attached it will be interesting to see how they approach the project, Aja as director and Radcliffe as an actor. Deep, harrowing, compelling and enigmatic, Horns will be one to look out for as its due for an upcoming theatrical release.

There we have it, some of the most exciting titles in Horror for 2014. I’m sure they’ll be many more to join them in the near future but for now, let me know which genre movies you can’t wait to sink your teeth into this year! Feel free to comment below or tweet me on @hayleyr1989.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

“She Made Me Do It!!” A Review Of “The Conjuring” (2013)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Continuing the reviews of some of the most talked about horror movies of 2013, let’s take a look at James Wan’s  supernatural thriller, The Conjuring.

**WARNING: May Contain Minor Spoilers**

Admittedly, I put off watching this film for a while, mainly due to the fact that it didn’t appear to offer anything new to the sub-genre. It had predictable, mainstream horror fare written all over it! Insidious (2011) failed to impress and turned what could have been a decent paranormal flick into something that completely missed the mark. Especially during it’s third act, with its contrived plot-line and cartoonish looking ghouls, destroying any potential it may have had. After a number of viewings, Insidious does not hold up very well. In this case, undoubtedly there’s unfair judgement in place on my part. Stylistically The Conjuring shares similar aesthetics with Insidious from the music and loud jump scares to the use of flashback scenes. It basically delivers itself in the same conventional formula. It even stars Patrick Wilson who played Josh Lambert both Insidious movies. James Wan himself recently admitted that he was done with making horror movies for the time being due to feeling typecast as a particular genre filmmaker. He puts this down to Hollywood studios riding off the back something successful and encouraging it to be repeated over and over. Cinema is ultimately a money-making business that needs to create products that audiences will want to see; however Wan wants to turn his hand at something different and is currently set to direct Fast & Furious 7 (2015) a far cry from what is about to be discussed.

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The Conjuring both steers away from convention at times but also remains with it. Arguably you will have seen this type of concept many times before. The film’s opening tells the tale of a supposed possessed porcelain doll, a trademark of Wan’s (See Saw (2004) and Dead Silence (2007), however its not the main focus, which surprises the audience to a degree. This sub-plot introduces paranormal investigators Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) to the audience to provide a sense of the kind of cases they’re involved in. During the credit sequence we are informed of the film’s main story which is marketed as “Based on True Events”. Yes, the Warren’s were in fact real people, however the majority of haunting-themed films are allegedly inspired by real occurrences that may or may not have happened. See The Amytiville Horror (1979, 2005) or The Haunting in Connecticut (2009).  Apparently the plot we’re about to witness is one of the most horrific cases that ever materialized, for me however a lot of suspension of disbelief is in place.

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The real life Lorraine Warren and Andrea Perron worked closely with the film’s screenwriters and claim that the events unfolded on screen are an accurate depiction of what actually took place. We are sent back in time to 1971 where the Perron family are then introduced, consisting of mother Carolyn (Lili Taylor), father Roger (Ron Livingston) and their five young daughters. Oh and they have a dog! This typical American family are moving into a creepy looking old farmhouse, filled with plenty of frights around every corner! The 70’s setting is often featured in films of this vein, must have been a lot of creepy houses and a lot of spiritual activity back then if this is what the movies lead us to believe! To its credit though, the setting does give provide an unsettling tone especially emphasized by the design of the house itself.

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Despite being predictable in many ways, The Conjuring does present several hide behind the cushion moments. The music rises, bangs on the walls are heard and you know its coming yet you still want to turn away! Wan has achieved his scares well this time round and limited the visual appearances of the demonic presence in comparison to the Darth-Maul inspired creation from his previous supernatural outing! It’s always far more effective when its what you can’t see that creates a sense of fear. Some impressive tracking shots are used to heighten the feeling of anxiety resulting in some shudder-worthy moments. Without giving too much away, the revelation of the demonic possession relating to witchcraft does bring in that extra layer of pure evil and let’s the audience know that anything is possible. It goes in depth with its mythology surrounding demonic activity that proves engaging.

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The Conjuring is well-acted with strong, emotional performances from Wilson, Vera Farmiga and Lili Taylor in particular.  The child actors within the film play their roles convincingly, Joey King as Christine and Sterling Jerins as the Warren’s daughter Judy do well at giving out the impression of dread in a compelling manner. The two narratives in place of the family’s possession and the Warren’s backstory weave together well before merging as one. The film builds up nicely and is perfectly paced incorporating some genuine moments of atmospheric tension that run throughout. It’s safe to say I was pleasantly surprised with The Conjuring. It was one that I didn’t expect to like however its the ideal film to watch with a group of friends if you want a good scare. Annabelle the doll who is arguably the face of the movie, used to cleverly market it is becoming a little icon in her own right through appearing in creepy doll lists by horror enthusiasts. Personally, older films such as The Innocents are far more chilling, but The Conjuring takes its expected formula and does a pretty good job with it.

Hayley Alice Roberts.