Review 19: Darkness Falls (.5/5)

Darkness Falls

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Starring Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, Lee Cormie, Grant Piro

Released on January 24, 2003

Running time: 1h 26m

Rated PG-13

Genre: Horror

First off, a couple of little tidbits that I found rather annoying:

  • One of Darkness Falls’s covers says that it’s rated R, but its official rating is PG-13. I’m not kidding. Look it up. Actually, just look at the cover I put on here.
  • The end credits are 11 minutes long. This was done so that the movie would be long enough to release it in theaters. This explains why the movie not only feels very rushed, but it completely forsakes all character development. We are introduced to the monster way too soon. And we begin our build to the climax well before the one-hour mark.
  • This movie was directed by Jonathan Liebesman. Yes. The same man who directed the really bad The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, and the “meh” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, which have a 12% and a 21% on Rotten Tomatoes respectively. And Darkness Falls has a meager 9%. Looks like we have a winner here.
  • I think I remember only one scare. But it was a cheap jumpscare. And I wasn’t scared. I was startled, but not scared. Actually, I think the scariest part of the movie was the sudden appearance of the Columbia Pictures sequence.

What Darkness Falls does wrong that so many other horror films have done right is this: It tells us its backstory at the very beginning.

Imagine starting Psycho by telling us about Norman Bates’s backstory. His secluded upbringing, his unhealthy attraction to his mother, his killing of his mother and her boyfriend, his psychosis, and his killing of the other two girls (you know, the ones before Marion Crane). Imagine starting off The Texas Chain Saw Massacre by telling us all about Jed “Leatherface” Sawyer and his crazy cannibal family. Imagine starting off The Conjuring by telling us all about the witch Bathsheba Sherman.

Sinister executed the “gradual spoon feeding” plot device right. The Ring did this right. The Hills have Eyes did this right. The Haunting in Connecticut did this right. Hell, even The Unborn did this right! Even the 15-minute-long Power Rangers fan fiction did this right! (The Amityville Horror kind of did this right. We knew that Ronald DeFeo, Jr. killed his family, but we didn’t know the horrific circumstances under which he did so.)

Anyway, here’s the poorly placed backstory. 150 years ago, in the town of Darkness Falls (based on Fall River, Massachusetts), a widow named Matilda Dixon (referred to as Matilda, Margaret, Maggie, or Madge throughout the movie) was adored by all of the town’s children. She – get this – gives each child a gold coin when he lost a tooth, earning her the nickname “The Tooth Fairy”. Boy, I bet this ends well. A fire broke out in her home, horribly burning her face and giving it extreme sensitivity to light. Because of this, she wore a porcelain mask and only ever went out at night. When two children went missing, the townspeople blamed Matilda, tore off her porcelain mask, exposed her face to the light, and hanged her. With her dying breath, Matilda cursed Darkness Falls (or did she curse Darkness Falls?). The very next day, the two missing children returned home unharmed. The populace of Darkness Falls quickly buried Matilda, and their secret.

The urban legend is told for many generations after: whenever a child loses his last baby tooth, the spirit of Matilda Dixon will visit them while they sleep. If the child sees her, she will attack the child. If the child survives the attack, they will be marked for Matilda’s vengeance.

So says the urban legend. Here’s my take: when Jonathan Liebesman realized what a travesty he had created, he quickly shut down production and attempted to hide Darkness Falls from the world. So, Darkness Falls was not released. It escaped and submitted itself to the MPAA. Despite Jonathan Liebesman’s pleas to not release it, Darkness Falls made copies of itself, and sent them to the nearest theaters.

The acting is amateur at best. The characters are fully and completely underdeveloped. The story feels ungodly rushed and laughably paced. The movie in and of itself is phenomenally short. Not including the end credits, it only comes down to about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Here’s another PG-13 horror film that thinks it can maximize its audience by keeping a PG-13.

Because some people think that that gimmick actually works.

Final verdict: 0.5 stars out of 5.

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Review 18: The Unborn (1/5)

The Unborn

Directed by David S. Goyer

Starring Odette Yustman, Meagan Good, Cam Gigandet, Gary Oldman

Released on January 9, 2009

Running time: 1h 29m

Rated PG-13

Genre: Horror

Apparently Michael Bay is under the delusion that utilizing Jewish demonology rather than Christian demonology somehow makes his crappy story sound original.

This is not the first movie released by Platinum Dunes that I have seen. As you may remember, I reviewed the first movie that Platinum Dunes unleashed on the filmgoing world: the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I bashed it for its lack of originality, lack of scares, lack of improvement over the original TCSM, and lack of effort altogether. I also reviewed Ouija, and also bashed it for its unoriginality, lack of scares, and ultimately lack of effort. The Unborn, however, does not have a classic horror movie to gangrape and mutilate more than a Game of Thrones character. It has the opportunity to develop an original story and memorable characters. It could have been the next Exorcist. Its villain, a demon from Jewish demonology known as a dybbuk, who takes the form of a young, wide-eyed boy, could have been the next Regan MacNeil / Pazuzu.

Unfortunately, The Unborn squanders its opportunities.

Young Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman) starts out living a decent life. She lives with her father as she goes to college, and has two good friends – her best friend Romy (really?)(Meagan Good), who has some sort of prejudice against old people, and her boyfriend Mark (Cam Gigandet – goshdangit, it’s James from Twilight and Ryan from Never Back Down! Ugh.)

But all that goes to hell, literally, when Casey starts experiencing all sorts of weird crap going on. Not only does she have a strange dream involving a ghostly child, a dog wearing a mask, and an … aborted baby(?), not only does the boy she’s babysitting attack her, saying, “Jumby wants to be born now,” not only does something knock on her bathroom mirror, not only does a Jerusalem cricket fall out of an egg she is cooking for breakfast, not only does Casey hallucinate “Jumby wants to be born now” during a class lecture, not only does she develop heterochromia (one of her brown eyes has parts of it that are now blue), but the ghost child from her dream is stalking her! GoshDANGit this is ridiculous!

Oh, and I’m sure that this isn’t just me – the little ghost boy looks BORED. BORED out of his MIND.

Of course, the rest of the story involves some sort of halfhearted plot twist, some old creepy photos, a film reel, an old woman, some more weird crap, another plot twist involving a flashback to history, the revelation of our halfheartedly written villain as a Jewish demon known as a dybbuk, a priest or two, a book, more weird crap, more weird crap, more weird crap, eventually an exorcism, and another bullcrap plot twist.

Sigh. At least it’s not as unoriginal as Ouija.

The story is not only really weak, but completely unoriginal. The characters are not only really weak, but completely unoriginal.

Oh, and there’s this: stop thinking that shots of creepy kids, colored contact lenses, and the occasional out-of-nowhere jumpscare are actually scary! They’re not!

Here’s another major problem I have: the spider-walk scene is ripped directly out of The Exorcist.

Odette Yustman is at least passable in this train wreck, and Gary Oldman is clearly trying. Cam Gigandet is still James from Twilight. Meagan Good is an annoying, stupid bimbo.

Oh, and the villain is completely forgettable. Well, of course, the villain is evil enough, but we’ve seen him so many times before!

We get horror films like The Unborn about every year now. It is ungodly disappointing that we now expect PG-13 horror films to suck tiny, wrinkly, impotent balls. It hurts to realize that the PG-13 horror movie is now the equivalent of the Xbox Kinect: hellish to develop and ultimately broken. Good PG-13 horror films are few and far between. And the ones that are in between those good ones suck. Horribly.

The Unborn is no exception.

Nuts.

Final verdict: 1 out of 5 stars.

Review 17: Dredd (5/5)

Dredd

Directed by Pete Travis

Starring Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Domhnall Gleeson

Released on September 21, 2012

Running time: 1h 36m

Rated R

Genre: Sci-fi, Fantasy, Action

I will begin by making one thing quite clear: I have not read any of the Judge Dredd comics. I just know that Judge Joseph Dredd is a very adult antihero. He is dark, brooding, gruff, rough, tough, buff, and is the foremost upholder and enforcer of the law. He is utterly consumed by his job. He is emotionless, towers over everyone, and mercilessly deals out justice in the dying Mega City One. He knows the system is defunct. But he still tries to do what’s right in an overwhelmingly dark, post-apocalyptic world. A light in the darkness.

So, as you can imagine, I, despite not having read the comics, thought Judge Dredd was pretty cool.

After hearing that the 1995 Judge Dredd movie with Sylvester Stallone flopped harder than an impotent, flaccid penis, I was not excited for the 2012 movie Dredd. I was immediately suspicious of the casting of Karl Urban as Dredd himself. I have seen Urban’s acting range from delightfully cheesy in Star Trek and Into Darkness to somewhat bland in Priest. So, I think Karl Urban is a mixed bag. I also thought that casting Lena Headey as the villain was a confusing choice. I didn’t want to see her stoop any lower than The Purge. And Olivia Thirlby? She can look like she’s playing someone who’s about twenty, but she’s a little too Hollywood. Oh, and there was only a budget of about $46 million. Pretty meager for an action film. I read up on Dredd, and went in expecting it to be mediocre at the most, laughably bad at the worst.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

Our story begins with a view of the incredibly realistic-looking Mega City One. No sarcasm intended. Right off the bat, the Mega City One is bleak and gloomy. Brutally realistic. Rundown. Overrun. Overwhelmed. Dying.

Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) gives a voiceover about the dying Mega City One, and then takes down three petty crooks that recently got high.

It turns out that a new and incredibly addictive narcotic, Slo-Mo, is hitting the streets. It’s a vapor ingested via inhaler that makes the brain feel like time is passing by at one percent of its normal rate. And it also makes for some impressive gore effects, as well as other special effects. Mostly with the color scheme. but seriously. Sequences that involve the use of Slo-Mo look gorgeous. The production and citywide distribution of Slo-Mo is headed by the massive clan of the nihilistic drug queenpin (get it?) Madeleine Madrigal, AKA Ma-Ma (Headey), who skins three junkies, jacks them up on Slo-Mo, and throws them off the 200th story of her base, the kilometer-high Mega Block known as Peach Trees, which is home to tens of thousands of people.

Dredd meets up with the Chief Justice and a rookie named Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). Anderson failed her first aptitude test, but she, thanks to her psychic abilities, is being given a second chance. Her test will be overseen by Dredd and will take place at Peach Trees.

The two go to Peach Trees to investigate the triple homicide, and they bust a group of druggies. One of them that they arrest, named Kay (Harris), is apparently a very important figure in Ma-Ma’s drug ring, and she cannot let the two Judges interrogate him. She has her men hack into the building’s security system and shut the blast doors and windows, effectively trapping the two Judges inside. Ma-Ma announces the Judges’ presence to the building and orders her men to kill them.

The Judges’ comms are scrambled, and their only hope is to fight their way to the top of Peach Trees and finally confront Ma-Ma.

Karl Urban must have been a huge fan of Judge Dredd, because he does not just play Dredd. He literally BECOMES Dredd. His bland (for the most part) acting is perfect for this role. He constantly has this slightly comical frown. He is an emotionless, walking, stalking killing machine. But he is also human. In one scene, he is shot and feels pain and fear. But he remains stoic. He never loses his composure.

Olivia Thirlby is a little too Hollywood for the role, but only a little bit. It’s nice to know that her character grows throughout the movie. She starts out thinking she’s ready for anything, but she realizes that she’s completely unprepared for what awaits her in Peach Trees. She has to kill someone for the first time. She gets shot for the first time. And she ultimately realizes and accepts that the life of a Judge(ess) is not for her.

Lena Headey gives us a surprisingly good performance as Ma-Ma. She manages to put forth the guise of high-as-a-kite junkie, being a drug lord, and not caring about the difference between right and wrong. She started out as a hooker until she bit her pimp’s balls off during a blowjob. She rose through the ranks of her clan through violent and terroristic means.  She’s not afraid to skin three junkies and throw them off the top of Peach Trees to tell the Judges not to mess with her. She’s not afraid to sacrifice her goons and massacre men, women, and children in an attempt to kill Dredd and Anderson. And she’s not nearly as comical as Armand Assante as Rico in the Stallone ’95 movie.

RICO: He worships the laaaawww.

(Later)

RICO: You want fear? I’m fear. You want chaos? I’m chaos. You want a new beginning? HUH? [SLAM] I AM THE NEW BEGINNING!

(Later)

DREDD: You killed innocent people!

RICO: The means to an end!

DREDD: You started a massacre!

RICO: I started a revolution!

DREDD: You betrayed the law!

RICO: LAAAAAAAAWWWWW!

There were two things about Stallone ’95 that got people really pissed off.

1. Dredd removes his helmet.

2. It was lighthearted and comical.

Urban ’12 avoids both of these issues like the plague. The only bit of Dredd’s flesh we see is his perpetual comical frown.

It is as grounded in reality as ever. Sure, it’s futuristic, but I think we only see one aircraft whatsoever. It looks like a major metropolis. It looks like what New York City or Los Angeles or Chicago or Detroit could turn into.

Even though the film doesn’t start out on a high note, it still does not end happily. Anderson forsakes her badge and leaves Dredd without even a goodbye. Dredd lets her go, but tells the Chief Justice that she passed. Dredd has become only slightly more human. While Ma-Ma been killed, her goons were even able to infiltrate the ranks of the Hall of Justice, and countless civilians on Level 75 are dead.

Geez. This is on the same level as the original Assault on Precinct 13.

The story is simple. Bad guy does bad things, and the good guys stop her.

It’s a predictable story, but rather than dealing with some apocalyptic threat, it’s simply a look into a day in the life of a Judge.

It doesn’t have big names like Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Rob Schneider, Max Von Sydow, or James Earl Jones. But that’s a good thing.

Hey, at least Dredd’s suit isn’t made of spandex.

And at least the brass codpiece remains on the inside of the suit.

And at least it’s less comical than

DREDD: You betrayed the law!

RICO: LAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWW!

Final verdict: 5 out of 5 stars.

Review 16: The Wicked (2.5/5)

The Wicked

Directed by Peter Winther

Starring Devon Werkheiser, Justin Deeley, Diana Hopper, Jess Adams, Jackelyn Gauci, Chase Maser, Cassie Keller

Released on April 30, 2013

Running time: 1h 46m

Not rated (Suggested rating: R for disturbing violence, language, and brief nudity)

Genre: Horror

Its just a senior dare. You just need to go to the old abandoned house, nicknamed … “Open Hearth”…or something like that. You take a small stone and throw it at the house. If you break a window…then THE WICKED (Cassie Keller) WILL GET YOU. She eats children to stay young. She eats teens to stay strong, with emphasis on the pretty ones for beauty.

Such is the legend that the drives the plot.

We begin with a prologue in which a little girl is kidnapped by THE WICKED.

We cut to a new scene. In the aftermath of his grandfather’s funeral, Zack (Justin Deeley), his girlfriend Julie (Jess Adams), his friend Carter (Chase Maser), and Carter’s girlfriend Tracy (Jackelyn Gauci) decide to test this legend. Zack’s brother Max (Devon Werkheiser) and his girlfriend Sam (Diana Hopper) plan to play a prank on them. Zack’s group goes to the house and one of them breaks a window. They leave the house and camp in the woods that night. Max and Sam arrive and Max breaks a window.

So THE WICKED begins hunting them.

One issue: I’ve seen it all before. Except for one thing. In this case, you can get naked, but you’re only screwed if you have sex.

While it’s about time that the villain of a horror film was a witch, she’s just a retread of other, better horror villains.

The story’s kind of weak, the characters are somewhat stereotypical, the acting is mediocre at best. But hey, at least the characters are trying to be at least a little heroic, and Max and Sam both manage to cast aside the temptation of nonmarital sex. Good for them. I’m serious. Well done. It pretty much ensures their survival. And the two Douche Cops are enjoyably douchey.

Here’s a movie that, despite a pretentiously named monster (THE WICKED), is actually trying to be good. It’s an average horror film, but, deep down, you can tell it’s trying.

It just doesn’t succeed.

Final verdict: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Review 15: A Haunting at Silver Falls (1.5/5)

A Haunting at Silver Falls

Directed by Brett Donowho

Starring Alix Elizabeth Gitter, James Cavlo, Tara Westwood, Steve Bacic, Tadhg Kelly

Released on May 28, 2013

Running time: 1h 37m

Genre: Horror

Not Rated (Suggested rating: PG-13 for disturbing content, brief strong language, and drug use involving teens)

I had absolutely no idea that “cereal” in French was “Kellogg’s”. Yes, when I watched this film, it had French subtitles.

Our story begins with a prologue, in which a young girl runs through the woods and is killed offscreen. Well, that was quick.

We are introduced to Jordan (Alix Elizabeth Gitter), who lives with her aunt Anne (Tara Westwood) and uncle Kevin (Steve Bacic) at Silver Falls, which is…somewhere. Jordan has only recently moved there, and she already has a nerdy boyfriend, Larry (James Cavlo). Well. She doesn’t waste time. She and Larry go to a party where she finds a ring she cannot take off. … It happens. Some crap happens when the cops show up and arrest Larry, and some superfluous character named Robbie (Tadhg Kelly) gives her a ride home. But as Jordan sleeps that night, she’s visited by a g-g-g-g-ghost who – what else? – tries to take the ring off.

The next morning, Anne and Kevin brush it, and some knocked-over pictures, off, saying that maybe it was the wind. Well, these characters are going to be ball-scrapingly annoying. We learn that Jordan is a baaaaaaad girl – drugs and shoplifting dot her history. Why does she have such a history? I don’t know. Maybe it was the wind.

That night, Kevin and Anne go out on a date, and leave Jordan locked in the bathroom. The g-g-g-g-ghost shows up and tries to drown her and take the ring. However, Kevin and Anne think she’s just unstable, and that it was just the wind. So they send her to see a therapist. However, the g-g-g-g-ghost is following her everywhere.

And then through a long plod of nearly incoherent exposition and bickering, possibly caused by the wind, we learn…something. Apparently there’s two ghosts. Apparently this haunting affects all new girls for some BS reason. They all end up committing suicide. Maybe it’s the wind’s fault. We never see the actual falls. Something happens involving the father of the ghosts. And a completely predictable twist involving Anne and Kevin.

You know what I dislike about most horror movies? Everything is explained.

It felt like there was a decent story in there somewhere, but it was buried under flat characters (not counting the superfluous characters), subpar acting, lack of scares, a plodding plot, an illogical romance, a predictable twist, allegedly “good” ghosts, and an attempted but failed execution of the plot device known as the “Slow Build”. Why? Maybe it was the wind.

And, apart from two ghosts, what was the actual haunting?

It could have been so much better.

But maybe it was the wind.

Final verdict: 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Review 14: The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (0/5)

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc

Directed by Luc Besson

Starring Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, and some other idiots whose names I can’t remember

Released on October 18, 1999

Running time: 2h 39m

Rated R

Genre: Action, Medieval, Historical

We all know this story. It is the early 15th century. Half of France has been invaded by England in the Hundred Years War. 17-year-old Jeanne d’Arc receives several visions from God, telling her that she is to lead the French army to victory over the English. She tells Charles VII, Dauphin of France, about this. He allows her to lead the army, and she, over the next two years, leads them to multiple victories. Charles VII betrays her to Burgundy, who turn her over to the English, who try her as a witch and burn her at the stake at Rouen. This drives the French to defeat the English and win the Hundred Years War. Jeanne is made a saint in 1920.

But here’s Luc Besson’s take.

Jeanne (referred to as Joan in the title but addressed in the movie as Jeanne) is an obsessively religious girl to the point of fundamentalism (anti-Christian much, Luc?). She is impatient. Her visions, which start when she is a little child, terrorize her. She is psychologically scarred when the English destroy her village, and a soldier kills her sister and rapes the dead body (ew). She becomes almost like a vigilante during the years between her sister’s murder and her revelation to Charles VII. She’s played by Milla Jovovich, who has two facial expressions: holding her mouth slightly agape (showing her closed teeth), and yelling. She gives a Razzie-nominated performance. She is obviously emotionally impulsive and unstable. She is prone to mood swings. Her military skills suck and are purely impulsive. She is almost bloodthirsty. The only reason she was not immediately declared guilty was because she had a way with words. And, ultimately, she’s so mentally unstable that her mind made up the signs from God. Her own conscience (Dustin Hoffman) manifests itself and makes her convince herself that she’s absolutely crazy, and that she caused all of this out of selfishness, cruelty, and vengeance. Her defense against the courts crumbles, as she blatantly contradicts herself. The Church in England apparently tries to “save” her rather than immediately jump to the conclusion that she was a a witch and a heretic. She signed the form that symbolized her recanting her “lies and heresy”. She was not sexually assaulted in prison. She was justly executed, felt unimaginable fear at her death,  and the cross held up before her became a symbol of her fear of her soul being damned. And Luc Besson infers, “As if the Roman Catholic Church actually had a reason for making Jeanne a saint.”

Jeanne d’Arc has been one of my personal heroes for much of my life. Her life story is fascinating. Inspiring. Moving. If you’re a religious guy like me, you believe that Jeanne really had those visions. And if you know your history, you KNOW that she was mentally stable. Her sister was never killed and then raped. She was pious, rather than obsessively religious to the point of fundamentalism. She was patient. She was headstrong. She was humble. She was NOT prone to mood swings. Her visions, which started when she was 17, comforted and instructed, rather than terrorized, her. God is much more decent than stooping to such lows as to terrorize a young child. She hated bloodshed. She, and therefore God, was France’s greatest military genius until Napoleon Bonaparte. She was calm, cool, and calculating. She could make complex decisions under pressure. She was selfless. She was not driven by vengeance. The Church in England did NOT try to save her. In fact, they deliberately fabricated false scenarios, brought in false witnesses, and deceitfully worded their statements in order to trip Jeanne up and incriminate her. But she saw through their act and trapped them in their own lies. She did NOT sign any form recanting her “lies and heresy”. She remained faithful to God and defiant in the face of the English court to the end, despite having been sexually assaulted in prison. The cross was a symbol of hope and faith for her. And she died with dignity. In fact,the only reason she had a cross there at all was by last-minute request at the stake. One villager grabbed a cross from the bishop, and another held up a crude, homemade cross. She died a hero. And the Roman Catholic Church was justified in canonizing Jeanne and making her a saint in 1920.

To see this movie spit on the ashes of one of history and religion’s most important figures, reducing her to a crazy schizophrenic is beyond insulting.

Normally, I do not get angry at a movie for not following its source material. Most of the time, it’s fictional. But this is not fiction! It is documented history! It actually happened! That’s what makes films like PocahontasJFKThe Far HorizonsGladiatorThey Died with Their Boots OnBattle of the BulgeAlexanderPearl HarborNixon, and U-571 awful. They take HISTORY and butcher it as the means to a very shallow end. If you’re going to base your movie on historical events, you’d better get them right.

Discrediting these visions from God as hallucinations of a broken mind turns this into blatantly anti-Christian smut.

But, apart from its distortion of history, is the movie any good?

Well, I can say this. It’s very well made. It looks fantastic. It’s violence is gory enough to satisfy. It’s special effects are great. It rarely resorts to CGI.

It has style, but it has no substance.

I think I remember four of the side characters that were Jeanne’s fellow soldiers. I’ll give them nicknames.

General Douche Bigelow, Frizzy-Haired Catapult Guy, Pointless Love Interest, and Pottymouth McBeefcake.

Poorly done screenplay, forgettable side characters that are brought up and thrown aside at Jeanne’s betrayal and kidnapping at Paris, a neverending battle of Overacting vs. Underacting (Milla Jovovich vs. John Malkovich), … and the (as of my 69th review, third) worst ending in history. Yes. The ending is worse than The Devil Inside. It is the most rushed burning scene ever.

We suddenly cut from Jeanne confessing her sins to The Conscience to an already well ablaze wood pile. Instead of Jeanne’s death taking an hour, it takes a minute. And the last shot is of the bishop’s cross as if it’s supposed to signify that Jeanne felt unimaginable fear at her death, and that she was justly executed.

But hey. The end has one thing that makes it different. While the other Jeanne d’Arc movies had stake, this one actually has a little bit of steak.

Here’s an idea for you. Go watch the TV miniseries that stars Leelee Sobieski that came out the same year. It is much more true to history. Just…just ignore this absolute travesty. Do not let this movie gain another cent.

God bless you, Jeanne. And I apologize for this tarnishing of your story.

God rest your soul.

Final verdict: 0 out of 5 stars.

Review 13: Ouija (.5/5)

Ouija

Directed by Stiles White

Starring: Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, Douglas Smith, Bianca Santos

Released on October 24, 2014

Running time 1h 29m

Rated PG-13

Genre: Horror

In the opening credits, we get one major puzzle piece that makes everything, at long last, fall into place: Ouija was produced by Michael Bay.

NOW it makes sense! Halfhearted, lackluster, rushed, easily predictable story. Cardboard, 1-D characters. Too much emphasis on the scares, or lack thereof, rather than the story.

I can just imagine good old Bay, high as a kite one night, saying,

“I wanna tell a really scary story, but I dont wanna hafta use my brain…where’s that Ouija script?

“Lets see…the story involves what happens when you dont use a Ouija board right. Thats new, right?

“Itll involve some high school students trying to contact one of their friends who recently committed suicide. Thats new, right?

“During their first try, they contact her, but this results in some sort of Paranormal Activity. Thats new, right?

“After that, their second try reveals that it WASNT REALLY (wait, what’s her name?) DEBBIE! Its actually a little girl named Doris – an old-timey-sounding name – afraid of her EEEEEEEEEEEVIL MOTHER that forced them to engage in Ouija sessions in the EXACT SAME HOUSE. Thats new, right?”

“And what this EEEEEEEEVIL spirit does is possess the teens and make them KILL THEMSELVES! Thats new, right?

“OOOOOH! Heres an opportunity to get back at that Lin Shaye chick for choosing Insidious 2 over The Purge! Thisll teach that old fart to choose that poopoo head James Wan over ME! Heh heh heh!

“And then, lets make Lin Shaye tell them that the only way to stop the curse is by finding the little girls body in the basement and clipping the stitches on her mouth! But then well insert a twist! It was really the LITTLE GIRL THAT WAS EVIL! Thats new, right?

“And then lets bring Debbies nana back into the plot for no reason! And she somehow knows how to stop the curse! You have to destroy the little girls body AND the Ouija board! Thats new, right?

“And it works somehow! But wait! Lets throw in ANOTHER TWIST! It actually DOESNT work, and the Ouija board is waiting for the main broad on her bed when she gets home! Thats new, right?”

WRONG!

“YES! YES! IVE CREATED THE MOST GREATEST, MOST SCARIEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME WITHOUT HAVING TO USE MY BRAIN! ITLL BE THE MOST HIGHEST GROSSING MOVIE OF ALL TIME AND WILL WIN EVERY ACADEMY AWARD THIS YEAR! YES! YES! YES!

“…what the – NOOOOO! IT FAILED HORRIBLY! BUT I WANT IT TO BE THE BESTEST! I WANT IT TO! I WANT IT TO! IIIIIM A BIG BAAAAABY THAT CANT HANDLE FAILURE! AAAAAAAAAAAAAA-(throws temper tantrum)” (obvious exaggeration)

Why this movie is facepalmingly bad amounts to this:

Here’s a story that’s supposed to be for adults, but it’s not treating us like adults. It’s treating us like we’re just now seeing these horror cliches for the first time. And these cliches are not even presented in a new way. In fact, the way they are presented makes them feel so much older, so much more tired, so much more tedious.

It’s as if Michael Bay just made it because he could.

Final verdict: .5 out of 5 stars.