Archive for May, 2015

Fear Clinic (2014) Review

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: Contains Spoilers**

Seeking to combat your worst fears?  Then fret no more, as acclaimed Doctor Andover’s fear chamber is ready for you…

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When a group of survivors who endured a brutal shooting attack are left traumatized, they are miraculously cured after a visit to the Fear Clinic run by the renowned doctor Andover (played by the legend of Nightmares himself, Robert Englund). A year later, all is no longer well; their  individual phobias begin to manifest themselves once again and they also begin to develop more frightening hallucinations that keep them awake at night! Sara (Fiona Dourif) naturally unnerved, pays Doctor Andover a visit to relay her concerns, determined to enter the fear chamber once again to lay her demons to rest once and for all. Following the unfortunate death of survivor Paige (Bonnie Morgan) Andover is reluctant, what is he afraid of? and what is creeping in the dark corners of his invention? Will he be able to save his patients before its too late and fear itself literally consumes them?

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Based on the 2009 FEARnet. web series, Robert Green Hall’s Fear Clinic is an exercise in ultimate terror. Englund reprises his role as the fearless Doctor, however horror stalwarts Kane Hodder and Danielle Harris who starred in the webisodes are notably absent. Instead we have Fiona Dourif (daughter of Brad Dourif of Chucky fame) who’s making a distinct name for herself within the genre as a result of her powerhouse performances. Impressed by her roles in long-awaited Child’s Play sequel, Curse of Chucky (2013) and Chelsey Burdon’s short shocker She (2014), Dourif steals the show in Fear Clinic, portraying a strong, uncompromising, edgy female heroine who’s prepared to go to any lengths to protect her fellow survivors. Sara is an inspiring character. She is beyond determined to conquer her fear and begin to live her life again. She will not allow the horrific shooting incident dictate who she is, allowing the audience to be completely on her side as she continually persuades Andover to let go of any reservations he has and to act in his patients best interests.

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Fear Clinic marks the début acting role for Slipknot and Stone Sour front man Corey Taylor as Bauer, one of the security and maintenance workers at the clinic. Taylor relishes in his performance and its clear that he’s having so much fun acting in his favourite genre alongside the iconic Englund. Bauer provides light relief in an otherwise dark film, showcasing Taylor’s ability at comedy, he plays him as endearingly obnoxious. A few cheeky references to Slipknot are thrown in for good measure. Bauer can’t resist placing a mask on his face to sneak up behind and scare his colleague Gage (Kevin Gage), a nod to his mask-wearing persona in the band. In a flashback sequence a child character also donnes a Slipknot t-shirt  and Taylor’s band Stone Sour provide the one and only soundtrack number in the entire film titled The Dark, an energetic and fierce piece of hard rock. A sample of the track is heard during one of Taylor’s funniest as well as indulgent scenes and is played in full during the end credits. With several successful albums under his belt, most recently Slipknot’s phenomenal 5. The Gray Chapter, Taylor is a welcome addition to the cast and hopefully he’ll have a good future ahead of him as a genre actor as well as being a talented musician.  

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Visually, Fear Clinic is an eyeful of creative and strange imagery, a chance for Robert Green Hall to show off his talents. Hall comes from a make-up artist background, previously having worked in visual effects on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and a number of horror movies. He brings in something unique with the imagery on offer in this feature while also providing a throwback to the twisted visuals present in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, allowing Englund to feel right at home in his horror comforts. The cinematography is stunning and makes the most of the on-screen effects. When Andover is forced through the ambiguous door that has been created through his fear chamber he is bound into a snowy scene where he comes across a corpse-like Paige. There’s a chilling aesthetic on show, capturing the weird yet serene moment. Megan’s (Cleopatra Coleman) arachnophobia sequence is grizzly and heightens a sense of discomfort as she experiences something nasty crawling away inside of her, enough to make us squirm! The ending is a complete spectacle in effects which will leave the audience in amazement, its a Robert Englund transformation like never before!

Fear Clinic is a slow-burning lesson in horror. It has some really strong set pieces and is incredibly well-acted with some interesting ideas all round. It has a couple of weak moments, for example the out of place sex scene between Caylee (Angelina Armani) and Dylan (Brandon Breemer); it doesn’t help that these two are probably the most unlike-able characters in the movie with their incessant angst and moodiness. Thomas Dekker is outstanding as Blake, a victim of the tragedy who bared a worse brunt than the other survivors. Wheelchair-bound, brain-damaged and mollycoddled by his over-bearing mother, Blake has more to overcome than the others and proves to be Andover’s most challenging patient. He must come to terms with his inner demons. Along with Sara’s help and guidance, progress is made but it all leads to a startling revelation that will change the dynamics drastically.

Robert Green Hall has created something triumphant with Fear Clinic, it seeps with potential for future ideas, maybe another possible series that deals with new characters and all kinds of different phobias? or even a sequel despite the conveniently tied-up if not rushed ending that leaves one or two questions unanswered. Defying expectations, the dream team (or should I say nightmare team?!) of Hall, Englund, Dourif and Taylor is a must-see if you love psychological horror movies that tap into the sub-concious.

Following its World Premiere at ScreamFest 2014Fear Clinic is available to own on DVD in the US & UK!

Listen to/ Watch the Fear Clinic themed music video for Stone Sour’s The Dark:

 Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

 

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**Fourth Anniversary Article** My Top Six Slaughter-tastic Underrated Slashers!

Posted in Anniversary Pieces with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Slasher films; low-budget, gory-fuelled romps; masked killers lurking in the shadows ready to slash n’ hack their sexually charged teen victims who never ever learn their lesson!

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Despite being considered bottom of the barrel when it comes to our great genre especially after the 80’s mass saturation of endless sequels leading to never-ending franchises, there’s something that always brings us back to the slasher film. There’s the entertainment factor, the creative gore effects and on a deeper scale the social messages underneath the surface of all the blood, guts and sex! Let’s not forget that some of today’s most famous actors began their careers getting bloodied up by a super-human lethal killer, there’s that Depp bloke you may have heard of who’s done a few films here and there and that Kevin Bacon guy who is busy selling ‘the UK’s fastest mobile network’ these days; to name a few!

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Most will argue that the slasher reached its peak during the early 80’s; notably as Jason rose from the murky depths of Camp Crystal Lake for the third time. The slasher was  semi- revived in popularity again later in the decade with Child’s Play then most prolifically in the mid-90’s with post-modern hit Scream which has since paved the way for the train of remakes, spoof films and more a brutal type of horror in the shape of Saw, Hostel and The Collection from the mid 00’s to the present day.

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If it wasn’t for slashers I probably wouldn’t be the horror freak (I mean, fanatic!) I am today. It was discovering the Scream/Elm Street/Friday franchises at a young age that aided my growing interest in the genre. There was nothing better than coming home from school and watching the latest taped VHS of whatever slasher had been on TV the previous night instead of doing any of that boring homework stuff! For me, slashers represent nostalgia, escapism and fandom. To this day slashers still maintain a level of popularity, they prove increasingly marketable and continue to be revived. Thanks to films such as The Town that Dreaded Sundown (2014), Stage Fright (2014) and the Hatchet series (2006-2013) the sub-genre is alive and well and is slowly being taken in new, fresh directions! Slashers are pretty easy films to watch however there’s plenty lurking underneath the surface to interpret; there’s running themes of murder and revenge, a level of mystery and they are played out as cautionary tales for teenage viewers. There are always consequences for bad decisions. Slashers reflect a universal fear in society that are applicable to their cultural and historical contexts e.g casual sex in 80’s slashers used as a metaphor for the AIDS scare.

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Its been four years since I began reviewing so what better way to celebrate that take a look back at my personal favorite entries from the sub-genre that made me horror obsessed. This list will not contain the typical choices of Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street etc. we all know they are critically-acclaimed and completely awesome and rightfully so! However, this list will contain films that are appreciated by a genre audience and have generated a cult following over the years but are not as well regarded among the mainstream. Some films included also may have been popular on their original release but have since gone under the radar. So here it is, Hayley’s Horror Reviews most beloved slasher films.

**WARNING: Will contain Spoilers!**

6. Prom Night (1980)

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Prom Night is what happens when you capitalize on the popularity and cast the star of hit slasher Halloween in order to create low-budget Canadian horror flick. Filmed over 24 days during 1979, director Paul Lynch struggled to achieve finance for his movie about a massacre circulating around a high school dance; that was until Jamie Lee Curtis who was making a recognizable name for herself as the final girl of horror at the time came on board as Prom Queen Kim Hammond. Paramount expressed an interest in distributing the film however would only give it a limited theatrical release whereas Avco Embassy offered a much wider release in which Lynch decided to go with. Also starring Leslie Nielsen, Prom Night was popular around the drive-in theater circuit and was somewhat financially successful upon its release in 1980, making it Canada’s highest grossing horror movie of the year.  Its a classic tale of revenge, a prominent theme of the Slasher. Six years before the main events take place a young girl is taunted and accidentally killed by a group of mean-spirited kids and the blame is placed on a local pervert who is arrested for the crime, flash forward to the ‘present day’ of the movie and someone has bloodthirsty revenge on their mind; but the question is who saw the “accident” and knows what they did?

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Halloween’s Producer Irwin Yablans advised Lynch to center the film around a seasonal setting, building on the success of the  John Carpenter classic. Lynch opted for the prom scenario and tied the his premise around a story written by Robert Guza Jr. that told the tale of a tragic accident that had come back to haunt the children who were involved several years later. Prom Night has the classic makings of a traditional slasher but it has its own unique tone. What’s most striking is it builds up the characters and plot slowly, introducing us to the self-righteous teenagers who are about to get more than they bargained for. Essentially, its what happens when you cross Carrie with Saturday Night Fever, which is an apt description as there’s plenty of disco galore and polished choreographed dance sequences that sort of stall the carnage but creates a kind of spectacle. If you enjoy blood and dancing, like myself, Prom Night is one for you! While not as popular as its contemporaries, genre fans will take something from it as one of the more underrated slashers of the early 80’s that knew how to exploit the slasher movie marketing machine!

5. Scary Movie (2000)

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Scream set the rules, then generated dozens of copycats. Some really held up prominently I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend while too many to name fell flat. The concept had been taken so far and in the four years since its release, the slasher was dying out once again. Something needed to come along and shake things up and thanks to the comedic talents of the Wayans brothers, that something certainly did! While not the first slasher spoof, Student Bodies (1981) takes that crown, Scary Movie is hip, crude and satirical of the contemporary horror of that period. You will never be able to watch Scream, Last Summer, The Matrix and The Blair Witch Project in the same way again!

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Scary Movie cleverly weaves the fantastical story mainly poking fun at Scream and Last Summer, while being non-stop hilarious throughout. There are some genuinely amusing critiques, the characters ponder about who would be cast to play them if they were in a slasher movie; they comment that actors in their late 20’s-early 30’s would be the most likely candidates, creating an awkward exchange with that being the cast’s actual ages! Shannon Elizabeth’s aptly named Buffy Gilmore possibly has the best death scene, she fails to take the killer seriously, critiquing how a typical death scene in a slasher will go as she’s hacked to pieces until she’s a talking severed head!  Regina Hall equally steals the show in a too funny for words parody of Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Scream 2 murder scene and Marlon Wayans is completely memorable as loveable stoner Shawty. While its a product of its time by today’s standards, who still remembers the “Wassup” Budwiser advert that gets the parody treatment?! For fans you’ll be surprised how hilarious it really is even fifteen years later. A batshit blend of laughs and gore, Scary Movie poked fun but manages to be an entertaining and outrageous comedy that literally slashes the fourth wall!

4. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

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Well what a misleading title! In all fairness, in the documentary Camp Crystal Lake Memories its stated that the intention was to lay the tormented Jason to rest once and for all after this instalment! But if something is profitable then why stop?! The Final Chapter picks up where Part III left off. Jason (played by stuntman Ted White this time around) is presumed dead is rushed to the morgue only for him to rise off the cold slab and brutally slay an unsuspecting nurse and frisky doctor! Immediately The Final Chapter ups the gore spectacularly with each kill proving more blood thirsty than ever before. Some kills come off as repetitive e.g. horror’s fixation with shower murders that inevitably aren’t as shocking as Psycho (1960) was but these are certainly some of Jason’s goriest moments. Its thanks to the return of FX master Tom Savini who effectively returned to finally kill off his own creation. Typically, The Final Chapter does feature a group of self-absorbed, horny teenagers with one thing on their minds but it also shifts the focus to a family staying at the camp. Divorced mother Mrs Jarvis (Joan Freeman), her teenage daughter Trish (Kimberly Beck) and young son Tommy (Corey Feldman) bring in a new dynamic, representative of the changes in familial roles in America that were emerging at the time, notably the father is absent in the film. A metaphorical external fear is present with Jason lurking in the backdrop of the family’s separation and it paves the way for Friday’s original theme of the protective mother figure to be incorporated.

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Corey Feldman is brilliant as the young Tommy Jarvis, establishing his status as one of the franchises most popular characters. He is the first pre-teen to be featured in the Friday series and his character single-handedly breaks the traditional final girl convention by being the one to ultimately defeat Jason and protect his older sister. His performance is genuine and brings in authenticity, he was actually frightened during the scene where Jason grabs him through the window. The Final Chapter is iconic in its own right, it continued Jason’s hockey mask legacy that began in Part III, it also confirmed Mrs Voorhees’s (Betsy Palmer) first name as Pamela, as seen on her graveside as the teenagers drive to Camp Crystal Lake. Finally, Crispin Glover starred as the awkward Jimmy Mortimer pre-Back to the Future fame. The Final Chapter is my favourite instalment for the grizzly gore effects, the shift in dynamics, the return to the Jason POV shots instead of the stepping into the frame style they used in Part III, it bravely having a young boy take on Jason and its ambiguous ending.

 3.The Burning (1981)

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Tom Savini turned down Friday the 13th: Part 2 to bring his splatterific, gory visuals to life in 80’s camping slasher The Burning. Taking inspiration from Peeping Tom and the slew of similar films that were consistently being churned out during the decade (its been debatable that it was in production the same time as Friday 1), The Burning was certainly ahead of its time featuring a killer audiences were able to empathize with. Bizarrely, it found itself banned in the UK under 1984’s video recordings act due to the graphically violent and now infamous raft scene. It challenged typical conventions in regards to pre-marital sex, it was much more self-aware than the films that came before it and also featured a final boy instead of the final girl slasher staple. I wrote extensively about The Burning during one of my Halloween Month specials which can be read here. I also discuss The Burning in the context of the Video Nasties panic in this video:

2. Tourist Trap (1979)

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Stephen King took the words right out of my mouth; in his book Danse Macabre he describes Tourist Trap as an “obscure classic”. J A Kerswell, who wrote my favourite guide to the slasher ever, Teenage Wasteland referred to it as “an interesting sub-genre film”. Both are incredibly valid statements. Unlike Halloween released a year previous, Tourist Trap doesn’t have the mainstream appeal but there’s something so freakish about it you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. Possibly used as the primary inspiration for 2005’s non-remake of House of Wax, Tourist Trap sees five teenagers become the victims of a deranged psychopath with telekinetic powers who lures them to his run-down Wax museum located  in the middle of nowhere.

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Aside from the undeniably creepy visuals that see wax figures come to life entering into uncanny valley territory, what’s incredible about Tourist Trap is its use of sound. Italian composer Pino Donaggio creates an otherworldly sense using breathy female vocals for the mannequins that proves effective. The sound effects are the film’s most outstanding factor, a bizarre atmosphere is created placing a sense of unease for the audience throughout, without its strangeness diegetic sound the film certainly wouldn’t have managed the same impact. Tourist Trap has a considerably small core cast creating an isolated and compact feeling. Chuck Connors is unforgettable as the ambiguous Mr Slausen, who is definitely a fascinating slasher villain. We discover his back-story is again cemented in the slasher’s favourite trope of revenge however he is phenomenally creepy in his methods of murder. One victim Tina (Dawn Jeffory-Nelson) meets a painful end by having her face slowly covered with wax, her skin is burned and she is suffocated. The whole film’s tone, including the death scenes has something so mean-spirited about it! Many genre fans will say Tourist Trap needs to be seen to be believed. Its a truly fantastic, bizarre and mesmerizing slasher film that wholly deserves its cult status.

1. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

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Happy Campers gather round as we take a look at the best underrated slasher film of the 1980’s (In my humble opinion, of course!). Instead of a masked maniac slicing and dicing his victims, Sleepaway Camp offers a whole new kind of killer, the mysteriously sweet, thirteen year old and trans-gender Angela (Felissa Rose). A tragic accident occurs in the opening sequence that sees a young child killed, years later cousins Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) and Angela are sent to Camp Arawak for the summer by Angela’s eccentric Aunt (one of my stand out performances in any film of this kind!). At the camp, a bloody rampage begins, which sees a bunch of young teens with enraging hormones and the corrupt staff slaughtered! Sleepaway Camp weaves in some taboo themes which were becoming prominent within society during the 80’s. Both gender and sexuality are explored along with bullying and familial issues. Strong hints are evident throughout the film in regards to Angela’s anxieties and motive with the symbolism of phallic objects used as murder weapons, hair straighteners anyone?! Sleepaway Camp heavily uses POV shots, conveying that the killer could literally be anyone, cleverly masking Angela’s reveal until the shocking end!

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The film is mainly overlooked due to its low-budget feel and hammy acting (more so from the adults!) but this film and its subsequent sequels have an endearing quality to them, even Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008) which is pretty laughable, in a good way! The sequels starring Pamela Springstein as Angela are also amazingly fun to watch, especially Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988).  It pushes the boundaries in regards to actually featuring characters playing their ages, a risky move for the sub-genre at the time having a cast so young in a film of this kind. Sleepaway Camp is pretty much an enjoyable entry in the sub-genre. The killer’s identity is unexpected and fantastically twisted. Angela endures cruelty at the hands of the more ‘well-developed’ campers especially Judy (Karen Fields) who utters the quotable line, “She’s a real carpenter’s dream: flat as a board and needs a screw!” adding to the tension and building on Angela’s insecurities, therefore its no surprise that she snaps! Sleepaway Camp is distinctive in its own right. Its memorable enough to be beloved by its fans and is extraordinarily warped.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my trip down slasher movie memory lane. Here’s a big thank you to everyone who follows and supports my site as well as the other side projects I’m involved in. You’re why I keep on writing about the movies I adore. Here’s to another four years of blood, guts and gore!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Welcome to the Witching Hour…(Again!)

Posted in Press Release, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

So I was pretty much unhappy about the I Know What You Did Last Summer Remake and I’m equally disheartened by the news of teen, cult favourite The Craft getting the same treatment. Its despairing that Hollywood are officially completely out of their own ideas and seem to be reaching back to the glory days of the 90’s in order to replicate some of the most popular movies of the decade.

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To Recap: Sarah (Robin Tunney) enrols at a new Catholic Prep School where she is befriended by a trio of outcasts led by the dark and twisted Nancy (Fairuza Balk). She learns that the girls practice witchcraft and begins to explore her own strength and powers. The whole school is no longer safe as their coven conjure up a series of malevolent curses and spells on anyone who dares to cross them.

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Also starring Scream’s Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich as well as Rachel True, Andrew Fleming’s The Craft took on some serious and affecting topics such as racism and self harm. Most notably the song “How Soon Is Now?”, a cover of Morrissey performed in the film by Love Spit Love was used before it was made famous in the witch themed long running WB series Charmed.

The talented, up and coming genre name Leigh Janiak is set to write and direct. Janiak has received critical acclaim for her mysteriously haunting debut feature Honeymoon, which manages a disturbing, psychological impact about a couple on a romantic getaway that turns horribly wrong. A film that deals with powerful female characters is the ideal material for Janiak and its hopeful that The Craft will be safe in her hands with her ability to write two-dimensional, believable characters. That said, it would be far more interesting to see Janiak work on her own ideas. She will also be directing an episode of Scream: The TV Series, coming soon, more proof that we can’t let go of the 90s.

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In 1996 The Craft proved to be a sleeper hit and is ultimately a cult classic amongst its audience. It made $6,710,995 at the North American Box Office when it opened. Fairuza Balk gave an unforgettable performance that will be difficult to match.

Everyone is all for nostalgia these days especially on platforms such as Tumblr and Buzzfeed, but we already have these movies to look back on, The Craft hasn’t even had its 20th anniversary yet!

Its time for some fresh ideas to make marketable as what will happen when there’s nothing left to remake…?

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews. 

Moondial

Posted in Love Horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Who remembers Helen Creswell’s  creepy Children’s BBC television series adaptation, Moondial from 1988? Well you can re-live those memories all over again as its now available to own on DVD. Read all about it here.

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Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

May Reviews: Love Horror

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals, Love Horror with tags , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

As promised the full write-up of my visit to the Leeds Horror Festival last Sunday, April 26th is now available on Love Horror. I give my thoughts on seeing some of the genre’s classic movies on the big screen and also find out why Charlie’s Farm is so notoriously terrible!

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http://lovehorror.co.uk/zombies/leeds-horror-festival-full-write-up/

Plus my review of creepy, British, chiller The Sleeping Room. The Brighton set The Sleeping Room played on the Discovery Screen at 2014’s Film4 FrightFest and is now available to watch On-Demand and to download. A DVD will be released on May 11th. I was particularly impressed by this low-budget ghost story.

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http://lovehorror.co.uk/latest/the-sleeping-room-2014-review/

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews