THE SACRAMENT DREDGES UP MEMORIES OF JONESTOWN AND REMINDS US NOT TO DRINK THE KOOL-AID

THE SACRAMENT-United States-95 Mins. 2013

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Joe Swanberg as Jake in The Sacrament

Joe Swanberg as Jake in The Sacrament

AJ Bowen as Sam in The Sacrament

AJ Bowen as Sam in The Sacrament

Kentucker Audley as Patrick in The Sacrament

Kentucker Audley as Patrick in The Sacrament

Amy Seimetz as Caroline in The Sacrament

Amy Seimetz as Caroline in The Sacrament

Gene Jones as Father in The Sacrament

Gene Jones as Father in The Sacrament

Directed and Written by Ti West

I was telling a friend of mine, Alex Laybourne, that one thing I have noticed about the films I have watched from director Ti West is that he enjoys bringing us memories of bygone decades. The House of the Devil was a nod to the TV and splatter movies of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever was a mischievous wink at the bottled water craze that began in the mid-1980’s and is still going on today. The Innkeepers featured, and was filmed, at the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Connecticut. One of the oldest non-franchise hotels that is still in operation, it was built in 1891.

The Sacrament is no exception to this pattern. In eerie parallel it dredges up the memories of the tragedy that struck the “Jonestown” community on November 18. 1978. Over 900 people lost their lives that day in an event that, depending on the account, was either the largest mass suicide or one of the largest mass murders in recorded history.

The “Jonestown” of The Sacrament is Eden Parish, a sober living community in an undisclosed location outside of the U.S. When a documentary team follows their friend there to locate his missing sister, they meet and interview a handful of the people living there who recount to them the idyllic nature of their lives there. There’s not a single luxury of the outside world to be found at Eden Parish and that’s just the way Father wants it.

Father is the Jim Jones of Eden Parish. Played by Gene Jones he is as charismatic as a televangelist and as manipulative as the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Father is the type who quotes Bible verses to suit his own agenda. When the cameras are rolling and Father is put on the spot is when we begin to see that what appears to be paradise is flawed and imperfect and that people are desperate to leave-if only Father would allow it.

As written previously West enjoys invoking memories of past decades. He’s becoming somewhat of a master at it. There are images in The Sacrament that, while I cannot say what they are for the sake of no spoilers, brought back some unpleasant memories of my youth. I had nightmares about “Jonestown” and Jim Jones.

The most important message to come from The Sacrament is that West beats it into us to never have blind faith in any human being. If you do then you do this at your own risk. Question those in authority and if you’re not satisfied with their answers then question them some more. I strongly recommend The Sacrament. Don’t ask questions; watch it.

TRIVIA

Two retired members of the Harlem Globetrotters played background roles in this movie.

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Joe Swanberg also appears in Silver Bullets and Proxy.

AJ Bowen also appears in The House of the Devil and The Signal (2007).

Kentucker Audley also appears in V/H/S and White Fox Mask.

Amy Seimetz also appears in A Horrible Way to Die and You’re Next.

Gene Jones also appears in No Country for Old Men and Oz the Great and Powerful.

 

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WRITTEN IN BLOOD SCREAM QUEEN OF THE MONTH-SEPTEMBER, 2014-CHRISTINA RICCI

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Where does one begin when it comes to describing Christina Ricci? She’s not what you’d consider as a classic beauty; yet when you look at her the word ‘gorgeous’ is the first thing that pops into your head. She’s talented as hell; watch her performance as Selby in the serial killer classic Monster (2003) if you don’t believe me. She’s worthy of starring in any Hollywood film but seems to favor the ones that are close to the edge instead of smack dab in the safety of the middle. She’s funny, sexy, creepy and cool and usually she is all of these at the exact same moment.

Born February 12, 1980 in Santa Monica, California, Christina never formally studied acting. She made her feature film debut at the age of 9 in Mermaids (1990), alongside Cher and Winona Ryder. Her genre work, including her turn as Wednesday Addams in the supernatural comedies The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993) as well as the kid-friendly Casper (1995), include the short film Little Red Riding Hood (1997), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Bless the Child 2000), The Gathering (2003), Cursed (2005), After.Life (2009) and the TV movie Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (2014). Her non-genre work includes The Hard Way (1991), The Ice Storm (1997), Pecker (1998) and Black Snake Moan (2006). 

Ladies and Gentlemen may I present to you the Written in Blood Scream Queen of the Month for September, 2014-Christina Ricci.

Christina Crystals

5′ 0¼”

Her parents divorced after she filmed Addams Family Values (1993). She has not spoken with her father since.

On December 4 1999, she appeared on Saturday Night Live (1975) as the guest host, in which she parodied Britney Spears and the Olsen twins. During one of her skits, she accidentally punched actress Ana Gasteyer in the face. The skit was a parody of the Sally Jessy Raphael (1985) show, in which she played a 13-year-old runaway who sleeps with dogs, and required her to fake- punch Sally (Gasteyer), but accidentally hit her for real. While she initially reacted by putting her hands over her mouth in surprise, she maintained her professionalism and quickly fell back into character.

Her best friend is actress Gaby Hoffmann.

Underground Hip-Hop heroes Sean Daley (of the group Atmosphere, who makes many references to her in his lyrics) and MURS have released a collaborative album entitled “Felt: A Tribute to Christina Ricci”.

Suffers from botanophobia (fear of plants). Admits to being especially afraid of houseplants.

Ricci’s Ramblings

“I spend a lot of time with my mother. When I’m doing movies, she’s always with me. We spend days being bored in an apartment together waiting for someone to call and say I’m needed for a shot. Because we’re together so much, we have to get along. We have to find ways to get to know each other. We’ve gone through a lot of stuff, you know, and I think we’re pretty close.”

“I don’t have any training, and I don’t believe in training. Of course, people who don’t have any training always say that.”

“I’m not perfect-looking and I don’t say the right things, I’m a little different, nothing really special, but I guess I come across as a little more real to people and that comes through on the screen. I know I look young, but with the right make-up I can look older. I definitely feel older.”

 

 

 

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ANKLE BITES-A WEREWOLF TAIL

I decided to do something other than a movie review for this post. That ‘something’ is putting myself out there with a short story that I wrote. I hope that you like it; be nice if you don’t.

Thanks to my wife, Phyllis, for putting the idea in my head.

Big thanks to Alex Laybourne for his patience in reading the drafts and his editorial advice. If you like it, thank him. If not, then blame me.

Thanks to Eric S. Brown for proving that you can keep it clean and still tell a story.

 

ANKLE BITES-A WEREWOLF TAIL

 

1

Hello. My name is Steven Mayall. I am a werewolf. Prepare to die.

I’ve always wanted to say that. You probably don’t believe that I’m a werewolf. The usual werewolves that you read about have names like Lupo or Luna. They are not real. I am.

There are two things that you should know about me as they will tie in to how I came to be in this situation. The first is that I have been a security guard for the better part of 15 years. I have guarded offices, shopping malls, a hospital and even a graveyard, the latter of which was the most fun. That transient may not have believed in apparitions on his way into Oakwood Cemetery but I can damn sure guarantee that he believed in them as he made a swift retreat out of it.

The second and perhaps most important aspect of me is that I have a short fuse, a hair trigger-anger management issues. The slightest thing can set me off; alarm doesn’t go off making me late for work-rage; burn my tongue on hot coffee-rage; trip over the dog-rage; internet is down-rage. Granted, I have learned to control it in recent years but I can tell you that I have lost friendships and severed relationships over the years. I’ve been married for seven years now and my wife has seen first-hand my outbursts and surprisingly has stayed by my side. I still debate whether she has the patience of a saint or is simply stupid. One thing for certain is that she has no idea that I’m a werewolf. I make sure to be far away from home on the nights of the change. She is better off thinking that I am working, getting drunk in a bar or having an affair than to know the truth.

I am certain that my occupation and my dysfunction converged on that fateful night that I was bitten and my life took a savage and hirsute turn. I got a last-minute plea from my boss asking if I would fill in for one of our guards, an 18 year-old stoner who had called in sick a half hour before his shift would begin. If there was an award given to the most clueless shmuck on the planet my boss would win hands down. All he had to do was realize that it was a Friday night and this kid decided he’d rather get high with his friends than earn a paycheck and realize this brain-dead punk was jerking him around.

The job was at a construction site on the outskirts of town. I would be guarding two bulldozers and a backhoe and was required to do a sweep of the area every hour. I got there at 5 o’clock. At six o’clock the moon was on the rise and by 7:15 it was dark with the exception of a trio of streetlights on the side of the road just off to the left of my post. I had made two sweeps-at 6 and 7 o’clock and all was well. At eight o’clock my life changed forever.

I told you about the streetlights, did I not? They do an excellent job of illuminating the place at night. That is all except for the back area of where I have to patrol on an hourly basis. I know I said I was filling in but that doesn’t mean that this was my first day at this post. That pothead is the guard here on my days off; which pisses me off even more knowing that I’m working while he’s toking, playing video games and or jerking off. I digress. Let me get on with the story.

On my eight o’clock rounds I had already patrolled the area illuminated by the streetlights and as I made my way to the dark section I flipped the switch on my flashlight and got nothing. I slapped it against my hand like you see people do in the movies and got sore palms for my trouble. As much as the light wasn’t shining on the flashlight the temperature gauge in my brain was on the rise and any second I was going to blow a gasket. I told you the smallest things could set me off and this was one of those small things. I let out a wave of shouts and curses. Every variation and combination of fecal or sexual expletives escaped from my mouth and turned the air blue and as I was just getting my second wind to let loose another wave of profanities I heard of all things a low, rumbling growl just off to the left of me.

Two things occurred at that moment. The first was that I turned my head to the left to try to see the source of the growl coming from the darkness. I never completed the turn because the second thing was that the source of that growl hit me like a ton of bricks simultaneously knocking the wind out of me and to the ground. I put up my hands in defense but the thing still managed to claw at me until finally biting me hard in the neck and climbing off me to run back into the darkness as I lie there scratched, bloody and bitten. I wondered, strangely enough, whether my outburst had drawn this thing to me. Then I lost consciousness.

2

I woke up in room 237 of the Sisters of Mercy Hospital. My wife was leaning over me, smiling. Her clothes were wrinkled and when she leaned in to kiss me I could smell her stale breath. Finding this odd knowing Amy the way I do I put two and two together and knew that she had been by my bed the entire time I was out. She’s devoted. I kissed her full on the lips despite her halitosis.

Amy told me that my boss was the one who found me. He came by the post after I failed to check in. I could feel the pressure of something around my neck and reached up to feel a large bandage covering over half of it where that ‘thing’ had bitten me. I asked Amy how long I had been in the hospital.

“Three days”

“I’ve spent three days in this room?”

“No, you’ve only been in here for two days.”

The woman should have been a dentist.

“What about before that?”

“You were in ICU for a day.”

“I was there for a day?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Why was I in ICU for only a day?”

“I suppose it’s because you got better. They sedated you to help you sleep and put you in here.”

My mind began to process all of this. This creature attacked me, clawing furrows in my shoulders, chest and my left arm. It bit me on the neck before taking off and leaving me to bleed out and I was only in intensive care for one damned day?

“Were you here when they brought me in, Amy?”

“No, only since you were moved to this room.”

So much for her being here the entire time, I thought.

“So you didn’t see my wounds?”

“I only saw the one on your neck, Steven.”

I was getting irritated. “You didn’t see the scratches-the claw marks?”

“What scratches? What claw marks?”

I looked dead at her to see if she was yanking my chain. She wasn’t. She was dead serious. I looked at my left arm. It was healed. I pulled down the front of my hospital gown and looked at my chest. It was healed. With Amy to help me I pulled the bandage off my neck and used her compact to look at the wound. Only there was no wound.

It was healed, completely; just like the others.

 3

Rapid healing was only one of the many benefits of my ‘condition’. There were others; my senses were heightened. I could hear a person’s heartbeat in the next room. I could smell their sweat and detect if it was from exertion, or fear. I could see things in the dark from a hundred yards that a normal person couldn’t see from half that distance in broad daylight. My taste buds danced across every grain of salt, savored every seasoning and swam happily in the juices of the succulent steaks, ribs, chicken and pork that I consumed like a man obsessed. And sex? Let’s talk about sex. My sense of touch was so attuned that my penis felt as if a million tiny fingers were caressing it each time my wife covered it with her mouth or gently slid her tongue up and down the shaft. My condition had its benefits, indeed!

Benefits aside, any moron who has ever watched a Viagra commercial knows that there are bound to be side effects to balance out the equation. When the days drew closer to the to the change I found myself aching to go outside where I would urinate upon a favorite tree and chase away the doves and pigeons that would light on my grass. If Amy missed the trash can, as she often did, I would retrieve the object and bring it back to her to try again. I also grew a deep-seated hatred for the mailman and before he would even set foot on our porch I would lash out at him with obscenities. It got so bad that Amy had to meet him down the block to receive our mail. Repairmen, meter readers, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Girl Scouts all suffered the same abuse. This was what being a werewolf was all about and to think I haven’t even killed anyone. I’m working up to it. In fact I have just the right person all picked out.

 4

One month before I’m bitten, Amy is spending the weekend at her sister’s house, mentioning something to me about a quilting bee as she was on her way out the door. Amy is into that arts and crafts spinster shit; it’s as if she can’t wait to be an old lady. Fine by me since it leaves me with the house and the weekend all to myself. I look at my watch: 10:36. That means Murphy’s will be hopping. The night is starry and I forgo driving to walk the short distance to the club.

I pay the cover and I step into the heart of Murphy’s. I scan the place from one side to the other looking for anyone I might know but there are no familiar faces here. Then, on my second scan I see her standing there in a circle with her friends. I pay for a pitcher of Coors light and look for a table close enough to watch her and far enough not to seem creepy.

Her long red hair shines radiantly. Her green eyes dance like ballerinas as she smiles and laughs with full, red lips and the whitest and purest of teeth. She wears a black dress over a figure that can only be described as exquisite. It covers just enough before stopping to reveal legs that would bring a dancer to tears with their graceful perfection. Elegant black heels complete this masterpiece. I love Amy with all of my heart but all I want right now is to have the courage to ask for one dance with this woman. I just want the chance to prove to myself that someone of my status could approach someone of her beauty.

I sit there sipping beer and gaining courage. I see my chance and walk over to her.

“Excuse me?”

She looks at me with those eyes and my bravado begins to fade.

“Yes?”

Her voice is crystal as she utters that single syllable.

“I noticed you when I came in and I’ve been thinking of how I wanted to say this to you.”

“Say what to me?”

“That you are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on and would you honor me with one dance?”

Her eyes sparkle and there is a hint of a smile on her lips.

“You’re saying that you want one dance with me?

“Yes.”

“Can I ask you a question, what’s was your name again?”

“I haven’t told you my name. It’s Steven, uh, Steve.”

“Well, Steven, uh, Steve. Why would I want to dance with someone as insignificant and below average as you?”

I stand there as they stare at me, grinning, giggling. The damage done they turn away from me and back to their conversation.

I think to myself, “Beautiful woman makes you feel like dog vomit in front of her friends-rage.” I walked out of Murphy’s and headed for home seeing red.

 

5

I am at Murphy’s again. Ginger is there, also; she doesn’t see me. Why should she? I’m insignificant and below average, remember? She’s going to find out that I am much more than that.

She leaves the club at midnight with a guy named Trevor, a douchebag with a popped collar. I follow them to his place and watch as they go inside and lock the door. Soon, a light comes on in what I can only assume is his bedroom. I wait outside for her and for two hours my ears are assaulted by the sounds of their coital fervor. I didn’t have to be a werewolf to hear this; cats under my window at night have made sounds more passionate than the cacophony that Ginger and Trevor made while fornicating that night.

She leaves his place and I blend into the shadows just in case she looks my way; she doesn’t. She makes her way up the sidewalk and I let her get further away before letting the change come over me. Transformed, I begin to follow her again. My wolf would catch up to her with ease. I am nearly ten feet and closing in fast behind her when, as I steel myself to pounce a low growl escapes my throat and she turns around and begins at first to laugh and then picks me up and tries to pet me.

I am nearing the end of this story and I suppose now would be a good time to mention to you that as a human I am a mere three feet, two inches tall. When I am a werewolf I resemble less a wolf than I do an angry brown terrier. I snapped at Ginger’s face and she dropped me, startled. My leap made its mark this time and I dug into her throat and ripped it from her neck. I chewed it up and swallowed it as she collapsed dead to the ground with a look of dumb surprise on her face. After that I started on her ankles, working my way up.

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THE QUIET ONES LACKS ITS OWN IDENTITY, SPINS ITS WHEELS

THE QUIET ONES-United States/United Kingdom-98 Mins. 2014

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Jared Harris as Professor Joseph Coupland in The Quiet Ones

Jared Harris as Professor Joseph Coupland in The Quiet Ones

Sam Claflin as Brian McNeil in The Quiet Ones

Sam Claflin as Brian McNeil in The Quiet Ones

Erin Richards as Krissi Dalton in The Quiet Ones

Erin Richards as Krissi Dalton in The Quiet Ones

Rory Fleck-Byrne as Harry Abrams in The Quiet Ones

Rory Fleck-Byrne as Harry Abrams in The Quiet Ones

Olivia Cooke as Jane Harper in The Quiet Ones

Olivia Cooke as Jane Harper in The Quiet Ones

Directed by John Pogue

Screenplay by Craig Rosenberg, Oren Moverman and John Pogue

Based on the screenplay by Tom de Ville

I’m trying to come up with something good to say about The Quiet Ones; I’m not sure I can come up with very much. I liked Olivia Cooke in the role of Jane Harper, the young woman who either is or is not possessed by a supernatural spirit named Evey. Then again this may stem from my admiration for her on A&E’s Bates Motel than from her actual performance or character in this film.

An Oxford University professor enlists the aid of a trio of students to assist him in experiments conducted on a young woman, Harper, to prove that she is not possessed by a malevolent supernatural being known as Evey; instead she created Evey through a figment of memory from her childhood through a news article or having heard her parents speaking about her, and having locked it away in her mind and releasing it upon reaching adulthood. If this all sounds hokey to you I can assure you that you are not alone. As the professor, Jared Harris spouts all sorts of paranormal and psychological lingo with a haughty English accent (yes, I know he is from England-that does not make it any less haughty) and it translates into warmed-over mumbo-jumbo.

The Quiet Ones could have been a good film if it had been able to find its own identity. I was reminded of The Legend of Hell House, the original The Haunting and the Paranormal Activity series throughout much of the film. The other problem is that it is so uneven it seemed as if the film was written and directed by placing scenes in a box, shaking it and using whatever came out next. The aforementioned Cooke was a pleasure as was Erin Richards but for reasons that I wonder were more visceral than due to actual talent and there were a couple of scary scenes but other than that all I keep thinking is that perhaps The Quiet Ones should have been kept silent.

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TRIVIA

Filmed in 2012, it sat unreleased until 2014.

Jared Harris also appears in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and John Carpenter’s The Ward.

Sam Claflin also appears in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Snow White and The Huntsman.

Erin Richards also appears in Open Grave.

Rory Fleck-Byrne also appears in Stealaway and Vampire Academy.

Olivia Cooke also appears in The Signal and Ouija.

 

 

 

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THE SEMI-DAILY MOVIE QUOTE OF THE DAY-AUGUST 21, 2014

Since his death on August 11 there have been many people who have asked me what my favorite Robin Williams movie was. It’s One Hour Photo featuring Robin as Sy Parrish:

16-ONE-HOUR-PHOTO-2002

“And if these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it’s this: I was here. I existed. I was young, I was happy, and someone cared enough about me in this world to take my picture.”

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OCULUS IS MORE CREEPY FUN FROM MIKE FLANAGAN

OCULUS-United States-104 Mins. 2013

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Karen Gillan as Kaylie Russell in Oculus

Karen Gillan as Kaylie Russell in Oculus

Brenton Thwaites as Tim Russell in Oculus

Brenton Thwaites as Tim Russell in Oculus

Katee Sackhoff as Marie Russell in Oculus

Katee Sackhoff as Marie Russell in Oculus

Rory Cochrane (C) as Alan Russell in Oculus

Rory Cochrane (C) as Alan Russell in Oculus

Annalise Basso as young Kaylie Russell and Garrett Ryan as young Tim Russell in Oculus

Annalise Basso as young Kaylie Russell and Garrett Ryan as young Tim Russell in Oculus

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Screenplay by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard and based on their short screenplay

I’m not sure if any of you are aware of this but sometimes, with certain movies, I have difficulty explaining the plot. I have trouble describing a lot of things sometimes. I’m not dumb; it’s whenever I like something I get excited about it and it’s hard to get the words to come out. My wife always tells me to explain it to her as she, being my wife, is an unbiased listener. So for this post I am making all of you who are reading it into my surrogate wife so I can tell you about the movie, Oculus, and why I liked it, which was a lot.

Put simply, Oculus is about a haunted mirror. Well, not so much a haunted mirror but more like an evil mirror. It destroys people. It uses them up and spits them out. It makes them see things that aren’t real and twists the things that are real around until they just don’t know what’s up anymore.

Anyway, after her brother is let out of the mental hospital, Kaylie enlists his help to prove to the world that the mirror is not only responsible for the deaths of their mother and father, but 43 other people in the four centuries of its existence. Setting up video cameras and computers to record events and keep check on the temperature in the room, Kaylie also sets timers to remind herself and Tim, her brother, to eat and drink every so often as the mirror distorts that part of a person’s reality. There’s another alarm and if you’ve seen the movie then you know what it is; if not I’m not going to tell you because I don’t want to give anything away.

Oculus works a parallel line between two time periods set eleven years apart. The first is the present as Kaylie and Tim attempt to understand the evil behind the mirror in an attempt to destroy it. The earlier timeline is 2002 and shows us how the mirror destroyed the lives of Kaylie and Tim’s parents. I must admit that for a while I found myself confused as it seemed that the two time periods merged at certain moments of the film. This is not a mistake by any means on the part of the filmmakers but merely a lack of my understanding of it.

Oculus is directed by Mike Flanagan. Before Oculus he directed a small film called Absentia that I found to be quiet and creepy as hell. Witnessing Absentia I knew that this man had a talent for the horror genre and wanted to see if he could live up to the promises of that film. With Oculus I can safely tell you that yes; Flanagan does live up to that promise. Oculus may not be as quiet as Absentia but it’s still a creepy son-of-a-bitch. Another thing is that it’s produced by WWE Entertainment. Producing Oculus and the fact that they’ve recruited Jen and Sylvia Soska, the twin directors behind the excellent American Mary to helm See No Evil 2 may be a sign that they’re on the right track.

That wasn’t so bad, was it; being my surrogate wife for a few minutes? You’re now free to go about your business but before you do I just have one more favor to ask of you:

Could one of ya’ll please get me a beer while you’re up?

Please?

TRIVIA

Filmed in October 2012, first shown at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2013, but not given a proper release until April 2014.

The titular “evil mirror” in Oculus was “first documented belonging to the Levesque family”, aka Triple H! It’s the same mirror he broke on Wrestlemania 25, same mirror that Undertaker used on Orton, and the one that Bray used on Cena.

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Karen Gillan also appears in Guardians of the Galaxy and Not Another Happy Ending.

Brenton Thwaites also appears in Maleficent and The Giver.

Katee Sackhoff also appears in Riddick and The Haunting in Connecticut 2: The Ghosts of Georgia.

Rory Cochrane also appears in Argo and Dazed and Confused.

Annalisa Basso also appears in Bedtime Stories and Standing Up.

Garrett Ryan also appears in Insidious: Chapter 2 and Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer.

Posted in 2010's Horror Films, 4 Blood Drop Ratings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

TORMENT NEVER QUITE MAKES IT PAST MILDLY THREATENING

TORMENT-Canada-80 Mins. 2014

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Katharine Isabelle as Sarah Morgan in Torment

Katharine Isabelle as Sarah Morgan in Torment

Robin Dunne as Cory Morgan in Torment

Robin Dunne as Cory Morgan in Torment

Peter DaCunha as Liam Morgan in Torment

Peter DaCunha as Liam Morgan in Torment

Stephen McHattie as Officer Hawkings in Torment

Stephen McHattie as Officer Hawkings in Torment

Directed by Jordan Barker

Written by Michael Foster and Thomas Pound

Torment begins with the home invasion and subsequent murder of a rural family by a group of unknown assailants, their faces hidden by hoods and shadows. The sole thing that we notice before their deaths is that all is not well within this family. We cut away to…

Cory and Sarah, his new wife and Liam, Cory’s son from his last marriage. Again, we notice that there is a slight dysfunction within the family unit. Liam doesn’t accept Sarah as his new mother and resents his father for remarrying. The three of vacation in a house in the peacefulness of the wilderness and soon discover that things are not as idyllic as they seem. There is evidence that someone has been living in the house; the heater is turned up, there are dirty dishes in the rooms and a hole in the door of the storm cellar. Cory calls the police and an officer investigates but tells them not to worry. Later that night Liam is taken and Cory and Sarah are stalked and captured by four assailants wearing masks fashioned from the heads of stuffed animals-a rabbit, a mouse, a pig and a monkey. The remainder of Torment becomes a race against time as Cory and Sarah try to not only keep themselves alive, but also to rescue Liam and return him to them safe and sound.

The main thing I found at fault with Torment is that it never rises above a mildly threatening level.  A home invasion film should be among the most terrifying sub-genres of horror and simply put Torment fails to make the grade. Even The Strangers, an inferior American remake of the French home invasion film Ils (Them) is a superior film than Torment.

As much as I complain about the lack of tension in Torment I can’t say the same for how I feel about the character portrayals. Robin Dunne, Katharine Isabelle and Peter DaCunha work well as a believable family and I felt for them and the trauma that they went through onscreen. Oh, and lest I forget there is an all too short cameo by the perpetually reliable Stephen McHattie.

Unlike Ils or Funny Games or The Strangers, Torment is unlikely to transform you into a raving oikophobic (a person with an aversion to home surroundings) or agoraphobic for that matter. On the contrary; after the experience of Torment you will most likely find yourself sleeping peacefully with your doors unlocked and your windows wide open.

NO TRIVIA

2of5

Katharine Isabelle also appears in American Mary and Insomnia.

Robin Dunne also appears in Jack and Jill vs. the World and Space Milkshake.

Peter DaCunha also appears in Haunter and The Barrens.

Stephen McHattie also appears in The Tall Man and A History of Violence.

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