Doctor Sleep (2019) Review

My History With the Film:
I remember when the book came out and I wasn’t super thrilled. The Shining didn’t seem to need a sequel and I haven’t read a full length Stephen King novel in many years. I never did read Doctor Sleep, but once a movie was announced directed by Mike Flanghan I was all in. Flanghan is the one director who I watch everything he does, so pairing him with another Stephen King story (he previously directed Gerald’s Game) I was all-in.

I choose not to see Doctor Sleep in the theater, mainly because I was busy, but also because it was 2.5 hours long. I’m really over these 2.5 hour long films, especially in theaters where you’re forced to watch 30 minutes of previews making the entire experience well over three hours long.

However, once I saw Doctor Sleep was available at the Redbox, I rented it and enjoyed it.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Danny Torrance is grown and dealing with the fallout of his experience at The Overlook when he’s thrust into a battle of good vs evil as he’s forced to help a young girl battle a group of creatures who feast on the shining.

What I Liked About It:
-The casting was great with Rebecca Ferguson stealing the show as Rose the Hat. Ewan McGregor was solid as always, it was nice to see Zahn McClarnon in something other than Longmire, Carl Lumbly played a fantastic Dick Hallorann, and the list goes on and on. There was no one miscast in this film.

-I loved the throw backs, re-created scenes, and brilliant tie-ins to the original story. It never came across like fan-service and all of it served a purpose to the overall story which was enjoyable.

-The cinematography was great and the movie has an excellent atmosphere. The score was strong, and the use of heartbeats to control the tension was a great throwback and very useful tool in dictating fear.

-There is a very uncomfortable death scene in the film that I give major kudos to Warner Brothers for allowing on film. It’s not something you’d expect to see nor do you see in a major motion picture. It was hard to watch and quite impactful.

-The movie feels like a Stephen King book, with the pacing, the acting, script, and all.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The movie was long, but didn’t feel too long. I really think this would have translated better into a three or four hour long Netflix series, vs. the current run-time.

-I’m not a fan of energies and the shining and I prefer the more haunted house vibe of the original film/mini-series.

-The first half is a little slow.

Additional Notes:
-Most of the sets from The Shining were re-created with blueprints taken from Stanley Kubrick’s estate. However, three shots were re-used from the original film: the aerial shot of the water and island and the two shots of the car driving on the mountain road. These shots were degrained, recolored, and had snow added digitally.

-Dr. Dalton’s room where Danny is interviewed for the orderly position is identical to Stuart Ullman’s office where Jack Torrance was interviewed. The same paint color were used and the desk has a little American flag on the right side.

-The name of the cat, Azzy, is short of Azrael the Angel of Death. Azzy is based on a real cat, Oscar, a tabby who resides at Steere House Nursing in Rhode Island who has been present for over 100 deaths.

I’d rate Doctor Sleep a four out of five. It’s arguably one of the best Stephen King adaptations and almost flawless as a movie. My only problem with the film was the story content didn’t do much for me, and never once did I feel any sort of fear. Because of this, I’m sure I’ll never watch Doctor Sleep again, but it was a very good one-time watch and if you are fond of The Shining in any format (movie, book, or mini-series) I highly recommend checking this out.

Halloween Resurrection Review (2002)

My History With the Film:
After my irritating experience seeing Halloween H20 in theaters, I decided to hold off until Resurrection was released on DVD before seeing it. I avoided the reviews online and had no expectations when going into this film. My initial reaction was very similar to my reaction now, there are some cool moments, and the film is based on a great concept, but there are some horrible casting decisions and characters that really bog the film down. I’ve watched it probably half a dozen times over the years, and find it easier to watch than Halloween 4 and 5.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A hot shot reality TV producer decides to live stream a show from the Myers House on Halloween night.

What I Liked About It:
-The whole live streaming reality TV angle was really ahead of its time. Reality TV was in its infancy, but live streaming over the internet really wasn’t being done in much. That made this film feel very new and unique, at least at the time of its release in 2002.

-It’s always fun going back and seeing a young Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) in one of her early roles which is so unlike the characters she’s known for portraying: Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica and Vic from Longmire.

-I liked how much of the Myers house we got to see, and how much of it was discovered to have been spruced up by the producers of the reality show to make it extra scary. (SPOILER) At first, I was extremely frustrated with the discovery of the high chair, but once it was revealed to have been placed there for dramatic effect it really made sense.

-Brad Loree’s Michael Myers is pretty spot on perfect. He looks great, moves great, and quite honestly is one of my favorite Michael Myers.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes.

-The opening scene with Laurie Strode. Halloween H20 ended perfectly for that character, and while I look forward to seeing her reprise her new character in 2018’s Halloween, her part in this film was so unnecessary and a total waste.

-The film felt like a very big step backwards for the series after H20, and it was. The failure of Resurrection led to Halloween being rebooted by Rob Zombie.

Additional Notes:
-Four different endings were shot and the director wanted them sent to different theaters, but the studio refused.

-Rick Rosenthal, the director, directed Halloween 2 twenty-one years earlier.

-The film ignores Halloween 3, 4, 5, and 6. So the timeline for this film in the series would be Halloween, Halloween 2, H20, and Resurrection.

-Several of the cast members had roles in other notable horror films:
  • Katee Sackhoff (Oculus, Don’t Knock Twice, The Haunting in Connecticut 2)
  • Sean Patrick Thomas (Dracula 2000)
  • Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3, The Ring 2)
When you compare Halloween Resurrection to some of the franchise’s better sequels, it doesn’t hold up all that well. But I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s a horrible movie. It’s a 6 out of 10 for me and a rental.

Disturbing Behavior Review (1998)

My History With the Film:
I first watched this movie in July of 2016. I ran across the film streaming on Amazon Prime late one night and decided I should check it out. I’m a fan of both Katie Holmes and James Marsden and it was a treat to find William Sadler in the film as well.

I’m not a huge fan of body-snatcher type movies, and this film definitely falls in that category. I enjoyed it for what it was, but it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me. I actually had to rewatch it so I could complete this review.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A new kid becomes suspicious of a clique in school that seem to be a little too perfect.

What I Liked About It:
-The cast is pretty solid with James Marsden (X-Men), Katie Holmes (The Gift), Nick Stahl (Terminator 3), Steve Railsback (Ed Gein), William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption), Katherine Isabelle (Gingers Snaps), Ethan Embry (Empire Records), and Bruce Greenwood (Gerald’s Game).

-I’ve never been a fan of the whole “Stepford Wives” type plot, but at least in this film it has a point. ::SPOILER ALERT:: The town is using mind control to turn all the children into well behaved productive members of society. Of course, this programming comes with glitches that show themselves in violent outbursts.

-Katie Holmes is great as the young goth girl, but she doesn’t get near enough screen time. I feel like the movie marketed itself around her, but it takes a while before she’s featured in most of the scenes.

-William Sadler is both amazing and horrible in his portrayal of Dorian Newberry. Watch the film and you’ll see what I mean. There is some redemption in his performance towards the end.

-::SPOILER:: Nick Stahl’s character’s conversion is a bit tough to swallow because you do grow to like his character quickly. It might be the most effective part of the entire plot.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-As I’ve mentioned before, I really dislike the whole “Stepford Wives” plotline. You can make all sorts of connections to various factions throughout history and even currently and thus turn it into social commentary, but that’s just too much thinking for a stupid film about a teenager who moves into a new found and finds himself an outcast.

-The ending is effective but dumb.

-The film is super short (83 minutes), and because of that it’s short on plot and character development.

-The film is not fun. In a movie like this it either needs to be terrifying or fun, and this film is neither. Somewhere deep down I feel like there is a good film and maybe it’s in that unreleased director’s cut, but it certainly isn’t in this 83 minute cut.

-James Marsden is an actor I usually enjoy, but he seems miscast in this film. I think he would have made a better Blue Ribbon than the protagonist.

Additional Notes:
-The film was heavily edited by the studio. The director, David Nutter, had his cut taken away from him and multiple edited version was sent around to test audiences before an 83 minute version was finally sent to theaters. David Nutter almost had his name removed from the credits because the film was so dramatically changed. No official director’s edit has been released but the SyFy channel has aired an extended version of the film, and a fan edit does exist.

-The film was a massive box office disappointment.

-Several of the cast members had roles in other notable horror films
  • James Marsden (Straw Dogs, Gossip, Campfire Tales)
  • Katie Holmes (The Gift)
  • Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps,
  • Tobias Mehler (Carrie, Wishmaster 3)
  • Steve Railsback (Ed Gein)
  • Ethan Embry (Vacancy)
  • William Sadler (The Mist, Bordello of Blood)
  • Bruce Greenwood (Gerald’s Game)
Disturbing Behavior is a below average movie. It took a plot that has already been overexposed and applied to the late 90’s teen horror films in an attempt to make it fresh. It works to a degree, but the film gets bogged down with explaining why the town acts such a way, instead of giving us a reason to root for the good guys. Katie Holmes should have been the main character and the movie needs another fifteen minutes of plot to really make it work.

I give Disturbing Behavior a two out of five and say skip it.

Not the 90's: Blair Witch Review (2016)

My History With the Film:
I’ll admit, despite not being a fan of the original and never seeing the sequel, I was pretty excited when they surprised announced a new Blair Witch movie at the San Diego Comic Con in 2016. I thought the film was going to be a regular movie since found footage films seemed to be on their way out, but I was wrong. This hurt my excitement for the film and once it opened to bad reviews, I lost most of my interest in seeing it.

In October 2017, the film popped up on Hulu and I decided to give it a watch. I found it to be better than the original, but not by much. I’m just not a fan of the whole found footage genre and I prefer a decent story be told with the movies I watch.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A brother of one of the original victims from the first Blair Witch film finds evidence on YouTube that his sister may still be alive.

What I Liked About It:
Note: I attempt to avoid spoilers in most of my reviews, but in this film I cannot. You have been warned.

-This film tried hard to increase the amount of scares and insanity that occurs in the woods. My favorite part of the film came when two members of the group find the rest of the group and claim they’ve been wandering the woods for five days, when it has only been one afternoon as far as the film shows. It reminded me of something you’d see in the wonderful film Coherence, which I highly recommend you watch instead of this movie.

-The last ten minutes are pretty decent. We get to see a glimpse of the witch (which according to IMDB is not actually the witch, but instead a victim), which looked cool and was scary.

-I loved the plot that tied into the original, with the little brother going out to find his sister.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-It’s found footage.

-There is way too much stupidity going on by pretty much everyone on the cast.

-The storyline where the YouTubers fake some of what is found really ruins the rest of the film. After that occurs, you can never truly believe what is going on which takes you out of the realism that found footage only functions with.

-None of the characters were very likable, so it was kinda hard to root for any of them.

-It’s friggin clear that the witch mimics voices, and the fact that the final girl turns around so incredibly frustrating. People like to make fun of horror movies because people make stupid choices and this was one hellova stupid choice.

Additional Notes:
-The film was produced under a fake title, The Woods. The trailer was released at San Diego Comic Con in 2016 and surprised the audience. The actual film was released two months later.

-One second frames of the original film show up throughout this film, usually when the camera is being turned on or off.

I’ll admit up front, I’m biased. I do not like found footage films and that hurts this rating. I’m sure someone who enjoys this subgenre would rate this film higher. So please keep that in mind.

I’d say this film is a four out of ten and a low priority rental if you are a fan of the franchise, otherwise skip it.

Gossip Review (2000)

My History With the Film:
I watched Gossip for the first time in April 2018. It was a film that never really appealed to me, but I decided to give it a shot to review here on the blog.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Three college students start a rumor about a fellow classmates that soon spirals out of control.

What I Liked About It:
-The cast is amazing! James Marsden (Straw Dogs), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones/Dredd), Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Kate Hudson (The Skelton Key), Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica), Joshua Jackson (Scream 2).

-The film has a Cruel Intentions sort of feel to it, which I always like.

-In a way the film is quite topical in the ways of which it deals with male and female relationships and the whole #MeToo movement.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The biggest offender of this film is that it's not a horror movie. The trailers make it look like a horror movie, as well did the poster, but it's very much a suspense thriller. There is nothing scary about this film at all, nor does it try to be scary. I think it was marketed in such a way to try and cash in on all the successful horror films of the time.

-The movie just feels long. It's got a convoluted plot that just gets more absurd as it goes along.

-The cast is great, the characters not so much. None of them are likeable, which makes it hard to get behind any of them throughout the movie.

Additional Notes:
-The university was also used for Urban Legend and The Skulls, both of which starred Joshua Jackson.

Gossip is a strange movie. It's definitely not a horror film, and it's a sub-par thriller at best. I spent the majority of the movie hoping it would end, and this is not something I can recommend to anyone. I'd rate Gossip a three out of ten and say skip it.

The Strangers Review (2008)

My History With the Film:
I’ll never forget watching The Strangers trailer for the first time. It was intense, creepy, and really stuck with you. I decided to re-watch The Strangers once it began streaming on Netflix in September 2018, but once the film began I realized that I had never seen the movie. I’m not a huge fan of home invasion flicks, mostly because they tend to drag, but I enjoyed The Strangers for the most part.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A couple are stalked late one night by three mysterious masked individuals.

What I Liked About It:
-The Strangers has a very eerie vibe to it. You can see this in the trailer and it continues throughout the film. There is some great cinematography and fantastic use of simple, yet creepy motions that keep you uneasy throughout the entire film.

-Liv Tyler really goes all out and makes this movie her own. I remember being shocked that she was in The Strangers, since I assumed horror was a stepdown from what she was used to acting in. Luckily for us, she did The Strangers and really brought her A game.

-I’ve mentioned it before, but what really gets me in a horror film is the use of uncontrollable sound. I don’t think there is anything more terrifying than a horrendous sound that you just cannot stop. In the first real invasion scene, there is a mashup of sounds that plays out wonderfully and really stressed me.

-The mask designs were all simple, creepy, and different enough that you could tell what attacker was doing what.

-I loved the wrap around story that begins and ends the film.

-The movie was shot in handheld and it works. There’s that light documentary film to the shots that immerses you, but doesn’t distract you from what’s going on in the scene.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-Home invasion films tend to follow the same formula in that the attacks come in waves. I find home invasion films terrifying for about an hour, but after that I start reaching for my phone. The Strangers is one of those films that punishes you for not paying attention by providing so many creepy details in the background, but that isn’t to say that the film doesn’t drag in spots.

-You pretty much know how the film ends based on the opening scene. This took away the mystery of whether not our protagonists survive and I couldn’t help but think this hurt the effectiveness of some of the scenes.

Additional Notes:
-The exteriors were all shot on an actual farmhouse with a barn and long road, while the interiors were shot on a soundstage.

-Liv Tyler suffered from tonsillitis while filming.

-In order to get authentic screams from Liv Tyler, the director would tell her where to expect a sound and then have it come from a different direction.

The Strangers is the perfect film to watch while home alone late at night, preferably out in the country somewhere. It’s a movie that makes you uneasy and feels like it could really happen. Towards the end you almost get a Last House on the Left sort of vibe that these are just some sick individuals that you know exist somewhere, but hope you never run into.

I rate The Strangers as three out of five and say it’s worth a watch. It’s not going into any regular rotation for me, but I did enjoy my time with the film.

Final Destination 3 Review (2007)


My History With the Film:
I really enjoy the Final Destination franchise as a whole now in 2018. However in 2006, when Final Destination 3 came out, I was a little fatigued. I felt like Final Destination 3 was a low budget attempt to cash in on the Final Destination name. I distinctly remember turning it off right after the tanning bed scene that happens maybe twenty minutes into the flick. Maybe I was just in a bad mood that day or maybe I was wanting something more ground breaking, but I always wrote off Final Destination 3 as the terrible sequel that doesn’t deserve any credit.

I decided to watch it again, this time completely, and I found myself enjoying the movie a lot. I still feel it’s the weakest entry in the franchise, but it retains that Final Destination charm and the film works.

What the Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Following a rollercoaster disaster, a group of survivors attempt to thwart death’s plan to finish them off.

What I Liked About It:
-I hate roller coasters, like seriously hate them. I don’t like the idea of being strapped to something I have no control over and then sent along a bunch of wood or metal while just hoping it all holds together. So, naturally, the roller coaster scene is what I assume will happen whenever I strapped in on a rollercoaster. I can’t say that I’m terrified by it, because quite frankly, I’d never find myself in that situation to begin with.

-The cast doesn’t a decent enough job, but I feel like it may be the reason I find this sequel so weak. I’m a big fan of Amanda Crew (Sex Drive, Silicon Valley), so it was a pleasant surprise to see her pop up in this movie. 

-The most effective death scenes are the ones that are simple, probable, and can happen anywhere. In Final Destination 3, there is a scene that takes place in a drive thru and involves a huge rolling truck that is absolutely terrifying because it’s something that could happen to anyone, pretty much anywhere. When a scene sticks with you weeks after watching the movie, you know it’s effective, and that scene stuck with me.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The film didn’t try anything new which worked for and against it. It was very formulaic, and that made it feel old, but I’m also glad they didn’t try and reinvent the wheel.

-The ending was bad. I was not a fan of the subway scene.

Additional Notes:
-The cast members had to ride the rollercoaster 26 times in one night to get the shot for the premonition scene.

-Tony Todd (the mortician in the first two films) provides the voice of the devil above the rollercoaster as well as the speaker’s voice in the subway at the end of the film that says, “This is the end of the line.”
-Like the previous two films, the ending was changed after testing badly at a test screening.
-The movie opened ten days after post production ended.
-Notable cast members in other horror films:
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead (The Thing (2011), 10 Cloverfield Lane)
  • Amanda Crew (The Haunting in Connecticut)
  • Kris Lemche (Ginger Snaps)
  • Jesse Moss (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, The Uninvited)
Final Destination 3 is a good time, despite being a weak link in the franchise. The movie is worth watching only because it sticks with what makes Final Destination work, which are outrageous kills that send a chill down your spin, while making you cheer at the same time.

I wouldn’t start with Final Destination 3, but if you decided to check out the franchise then don’t skip out on three. I’d say the film it’s a three and a half out of five and is skippable if you are just looking for a horror movie to watch, but if you are doing a watch through of the whole series then be sure to check it out.