May 31, 2012

The Pact (2012)

(aka Family Ties: The Movie)
Release Date: On VOD now, In Theaters July 6th.
Country: USA
Written and Directed by: Nicholas McCarthy.
Starring: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien, Agnes Bruckner and Haley Hudson.

Since it has an awesome poster, we assumed that The Pact would suck, because that generally tends to be the rule... but my oh my, how we were wrong.

This is easily the creepiest movie of 2012 so far, and by far.

Also, Caity Lotz is one of the cutest chicks of 2012. Or any year, really.
She had pokies going on throughout the entire movie.
When their Mother dies, Annie and her Sister Nichole are left to pick up the pieces. Annie doesn't want anything to do with the funeral because her Mother was an abusive bitch, but out of love for her Sister, she agrees to come home and give her a hand with the arrangements. When she arrives at her Mother's house the next day, Nichole is gone. At that point, Annie should have left too.

That is NOT the front door.
Annie's Cousin Liz stays the night with her after the funeral because Annie doesn't want to be alone in the home of her childhood abuse, and because Liz has Nichole's daughter, whom she probably wants to be rid of. I mean hey, it's not her kid, so she has every right to want to give her back. They assume that Nichole is off on some crack binge somewhere, though when Liz goes missing in the middle of the night, Annie begins to have suspicions... which are quickly confirmed by a ghost beating her ass. Seriously, it was like a brawl.

Let's fight.
Annie goes to the Police, but they are useless, so she eventually goes to see a creepy blind chick named Stevie that she went to High School with, who was rumored to have some sort of supernatural affinity. Stevie goes and gives Annie's Mom's house the once over, and says "screw this, I'm not staying here!" which leaves Annie alone to unravel the mystery of her Sister's and Cousin's disappearance, the ghost, and a Serial Killer, all on her own. Oh yeah, by the way there's a Serial Killer in this movie too.

When the creepy, blind seer says it's time to go, then it's time to go!
From the opening sequence, The Pact pulled us in and didn't ever let us go. The premise was great, and mixing the story of a Serial Killer with some effective paranormal elements worked perfectly for us. The atmosphere was eerie and tense throughout, and the scares were effective. There was one instance of a musical cue/jump scare early on, but that sort of trickery wasn't repeated or resorted to to drive the movie.

For the record, the entire cast did a great job here, but Caity Lotz carried this baby on her back. She may have played it a bit over dramatic here and there, but for the most part she felt real, and made us feel for her. The part where she uses the Ouija Board -and her reaction to her first answer- illustrates it perfectly; it was genuine and exactly what most people would have done if that had been them.

At the point where the upside-down crucifix abruptly slides across the hand-made Ouija Board on the floor, I'm out of there.
We've Gotta give writer/director Nicholas McCarthy credit here; he crafted his first full length feature into a great little sleeper hit. There were parts in the early going that felt fairly formulaic, but once it got going, it was a smooth ride for us. There were a few critics out there that found The Pact less effective than we did, and they deemed it ultimately dismissible, but we just don't get that; the movie is by no means perfect, but it absolutely works on the levels that it's supposed to.

*BEWARE- This section do be spoiler-ish*. We would like to have a few of the movie's more ambiguous plot elements cleared up for us. For instance, what exactly was this pact that gives the movie it's title, and who was it between? We have a pretty good idea what it involved (siblings and silence) but it could have been something else as well. Also, was the brother a ghost or alive. The answer is most likely alive, but there were things that happened that could definitely be proof of him being a spirit of some sort. Also, was he Uncle and Daddy? And what was with the end? Just a dream or was there something more to it? None of these questions spoiled the movie for us at all, but we just hate not knowing for sure. We're selfish like that.

We're not sure either, Caity.
There were a couple of good-n-gory stabbings and a shooting, but aside from that, the rest of the movie was blood free... aside from the corpses and decapitated heads of course... and the glass in the foot... alright, it had a decent amount of blood and gore.

There was no nudity in this one, but we did get a whole lot of footage of Caity Lotz running around in a tight tank top and boy shirts, which pleased us none the less. There was so much cleavage going on throughout this thing, that we sometimes found ourselves forgetting what just happened plot-wise. We didn't mind rewinding though.

She even rides her motorcycle in her undies. Now that's class.
The entire opening sequence has to get the nod here, because it was played perfectly. The sequence in which Caity Lotz goes flying and sliding around the house was great too, as was Casper Van Dien's "big scene." Good to see him back in a solid flick for a change.

It was kinda like she was doing a crazy ballet or an energy charged Flashdance.
The Pact gets a solid B+ because it was a great little flick, and it's been a while since we've seen a smaller Horror movie that genuinely gave us the creeps. It's great to see a movie like this getting a Theatrical Release, even if it is a Limited one. You need to go see it if it plays near you, or check it out on VOD now, because it's easily one of the best of the year thus far, and one of the most genuinely creepy movies of the past few years.


It's been a while since we've seen Agnes Bruckner in a movie, and it felt good. As for Caity Lotz, well she gets her own special little post below... *Click her banners below to see more of her, each one goes to a different post.

May is Caity Lotz Month, because... damn!

This girl is just too hot to not take a closer look at. Sure, she doesn't have many projects under her belt yet, but she's starred in a pretty cool TV show and one of our favorite movies of the year thus far, so at least she's off to a good start.

Caity with Danny Trejo.
Even though it's since been cancelled, Death Valley was a fun little horror-comedy show that gave us a weekly dose of cops vs. the undead and other nastiness. Caity kicked some ass in her role as Kristen, so we know she's tough.

She will cut you, man!
She finally came into her own when she headlined in The Pact; and she kicked even more ass in the movie than she did on TV! Not literally. Figuratively. She screamed and whimpered a lot more in The Pact, but we didn't mind... because, yum.

Don Draper should have banged her, morals be damned!
Let us not forget her important guest appearances on AMC's Mad Men; it's in no way part of her Horror filmography, but it shows that she can walk onto one of the best shows on TV (and of all time), and hold her own. 

So... she's crazy hot, with her pouty lips and freckles; she can act; and she isn't afraid to embrace the Horror genre. She's our kind of girl. Now for her next movie, she needs to broaden her horizons and get naked. A lot. Prudes just don't last in this business. True story.

May 30, 2012

Urban Explorer (2012)

(Aka Dummkopfs!)
Release Date: On DVD & VOD now.
Country: Germany
Written by: Martin Thau
Directed by: Andy Fetscher
Starring: Nathalie Kelly, Nick Eversman and Klaus Stiglmeier.

This whole Urbex craze that's popular with the kids these days is beyond me; who really wants to go poking around through miles of subterranean tunnels that hold countless numbers of possible dangers and threats?

The Germans, that's who.
Urban Explorer deals with a bunch of young kids of different nationalities that decide to explore the sewers and catacombs underneath the city of Berlin, because that sounds pretty damn fun and exciting, doesn't it? Forget the fact that you could easily find yourself injured or lost while exploring a desolate subterranean tunnel system, because nothing can hurt you. You're young and invincible.

Pride cometh before the fall, fucko!
Our brave explorers hire a guide to, well, guide them through the tunnels, and lo-and-behold it isn't long before he gets injured, and the group has to split up to get him help. Luckily, a grizzled old kraut shows up out of nowhere and offers to help them if they will only follow him to his "safe place." Sounds legit to us.

From here on out, creepy Fritz dispatches the moron explorers in gruesome ways, and teaches them the ultimate lesson; when you do stupid shit, there is always a price to pay. In this case, the price is death. Creepy, underground, grizzled-German death!

His smile is not one of happiness or joy.
Urban Explorer is a solid effort in every way save for the script. The movie looks good, and the pace moves along nicely and doesn't drag much at all. It also offers up a good amount of intensity and creepy atmosphere, because dark tunnels kind of have that whole creepy thing going for them, don't they?

Since the gore is the strongest point of the movie, let's just go ahead and cover that now. This film definitely gets nasty and bloody, which is a good thing, because we needed something to make the lame plot tolerable.

Why she broke into song while getting her ear cut off, we will never know.
I know it's hard to come up with a premise that feels genuine and fresh, especially in Horror, and Urban Explorer is a decent movie, but it would have been better to me personally had the writers given us a plausible reason for these morons to descend into the dark and dangerous underworld of a massive city like Berlin. How about someone's dumb ass sister or girlfriend went into the catacombs to party, and never returned. A brother of boyfriend might be compelled to go look for her, even if it was a crazy bad idea, because love is like that. That same guy could have a friend or two who hate the idea of going down "there." but can't let him go alone, because all they need is another person they care about to go missing. Safety in numbers, right?

Urban Explorer made me come to terms with something I realized long ago, but had tried as hard as I could to suppress; most people in Horror movies are morons. I used to try to give the average Horror movie character some leeway, because maybe real people would act the way that they do in their movies. Groups of young, cocky, "nothing can touch me because I'm invincible!" teens and twenty-somethings always seem to do the absolutely most nonsensical things in Horror movies, just because. It's cheap.

So, how was your trip?
This is really the problem I have with so many Horror movies these days; they're insulting to my intelligence.  Film after film showcases dumb people who do incredibly dumb things, which get them into situations that make me hope that they die, just for being so stupid. I understand that most people don't go through life adjusting their actions or routines just in case a Horror movie breaks out at any minute, but it's an old trope/plot device that instantly makes a film feel tired, even if it's a good one.

It's almost as if filmmakers and studios just say "Meh, it's a Horror flick, this script will do" when they head off to make a new movie, and that's what pisses me off. The Horror genre is the most dynamic of all movie genres. in that Horror films often tend to encompass elements of all other genre's at once. Amidst the carnage and terror, there can be comedy and levity, romance can and often does play a part in the story, and there's always plenty of drama and mystery. The Horror Genre is limitless. I guess that's why I don't understand why so many Horror filmmakers limit themselves with so much cliche' and plot device.

Black Christmas?
Urban Explorer is a well made film that delivers on the tension and the gore, but falls short in the scripting department. Had the plot not been so paper thin and familiar, and had the characters not been so cookie-cutter, stupid, and simplistic, this could have been a far better film. As it stands though, Urban Explorer delivers the goods as long as the goods your looking for aren't originality or depth.


She's in this.


May 29, 2012

The Digital Dread report for May 29th

May is drawing to a close, but there's one more batch of DVD releases to sort through for the month.

There are actually a few winners this week. The Aggression Scale was a raw, tense little thriller that managed to entertain us more than we thought it would. It's definitely worth at least a rental.Coriolanus was a great modern retelling of the Shakespeare play, that packed a lot of tension and blood into its 2 hour run time. Rape of the Vampire and Requiem for a Vampire are two old school Jean Rollin flicks that will make fans of that 70's exploitation style pretty happy. True Blood is True Blood; you either need to buy the new season on DVD or you don't.

Now we're going to go against the horror community grain and tell you that Gone was decent enough to warrant a viewing. Most horror sites, and many horror fans decried Gone as one of the worst movies of the year, but we don't fully agree. While it was flawed and very formulaic at times, it managed to be somewhat interesting and even enjoyable on some level. We wouldn't add it to our library, but we're not mad that we sat through it. Maybe we just like watching Amanda Seyfried's boobs on scree. Who knows.

The Yellow Wallpaper looks really interesting, and we will be seeing it as soon as we get a chance.

As for the worst bet of the week, we have Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies.  Oh yeah, it's The Asylum again, offering fans another ultra low budget, ultra low quality Mockbuster... We don't get the love for these flicks, but they obviously have an audience, because The Asylum hasn't stopped making them yet. It's one on life's little mysteries that we may never understand...