11-11-11 Movie review


11-11-11 Movie review

That is my review of this film. Three letters, one word, one feeling – UGH! Man alive, I tell you what, I dragged my girlfriend to a dumpy mall an hour and a half away from where we live to see what I thought would be a creepy little movie only to be greeted with one of the dumbest movies I have seen in a while. And what makes it worse is that this is a director – Darren Lynn Bousman – who has done stuff I have liked. He has talent. He has skill. This though, this is junk. This is one of those movies you trick people into watching because you are mad at them.

The film centers around an angsty writer who recently lost his wife and son in a tragic arson perpetrated by a crazy fan (something we sorta find out in passing) and has since been on his own death trip. His publishers are desperate for his next best seller (they go to great lengths to tell you about his LEGION OF FANS but we are given no context of what SORT of writer he is – fiction, bio, thriller, horror, romance, physical books or e-books, this actually does sorta matter) but all he has on his mind (reasonably so, though we don’t know how long ago his family were murdered) is his pain and writing in his journals. After a brush with death himself he begins to get the funny feeling that something isn’t right in his life. The number 11 keeps reappearing over and over again and its shadow looms large in his mind. When he finds out his father, a very religious man, is on his death bed he flies to Barcelona to be with him (the film is set up as a countdown, starting on 11-7-11 and for the huge stuff that happens to this guy it always ends up contained to a few hours, like being in a serious car accident. You don’t even realize or understand that he was close to Spain in the film until you have to just assume as much since he flew there in no time at all). When he returns to his family home he finds out that his wheel chair bound brother has been working with their father on a new religious text and that there are things that may not want it completed. Enter the mythology of 11, which states that if you begin seeing the number regularly that you have been ‘activated’ and will begin hallucinating and seeing ‘way-finders’ who may be angels or demons, but no one is quite sure which. As danger begins to push in on the family and their home our hero’s atheism is put to the test and he must now question if what he has believed for all this time was wrong and whether he and his brother have a key part to play in a war for the future.

Annnnd, that’s about it. There’s more but the less you know the better. Not to avoid spoilers but to avoid dooming you with the mind-shattering inanity of this mess. Poorly written, soap opera acting, a plot that was cool in 1999, and enough leaps of faith and logic to make Frogger tired. This is amateur hour on full display. The film is in such a rush to get you to 11-11-11 and 11:11PM that day that you never get a genuine feel for what is at stake. The film never makes you feel empathy for the lead character that abandons his brother and father over and over again when he knows there is danger afoot, and who, in the end, would almost seem like he’d want the end of the world as miserable as he is. This film is so frustrating and so lazy, and my god, so dark (there is so much in the film that you can’t really see with the muddy way it was shot) that this becomes one of the most frustrating films you’ll encounter this year.
And sure, sure, I have seen WAY worse films in 2011, absolutely, but this had so much potential that this one stings as bad as the worst of those movies because this was someone who could have done something good. Instead he did a story that was a mix of eight other movies that were done way, way better. Literally, this feels as if it was an old script that someone grafted onto the 11-11-11 date. This is bad, folks, bad, bad, bad, and I warn you away from it and hope you can be spared the utter heights of mediocrity that this film achieves. You are warned.

4 out of 10


CROPSEY–movie review


   It is a delicate bit of balancing that comes with making a documentary film. You have to serve the truth, the story, and the audience and all of it at once. As exciting as the truth is it is exciting often because of its subtlety, because of its delicacy, two things that films often don’t have the luxury of having. There have been a lot of documentaries that place fast and loose with the facts, too many I would add, but it is rare when you get filmmakers that find ways to make the truth exciting. That use their skill in storytelling to let the truth speak without letting the movie rule the day. Such is the case with Cropsey, a wonderfully macabre film that dances very closely to being a horror film, too close for some perhaps.

   Cropsey is the story of a legend. The filmmakers decide to look into the origins of a folktale and legend they heard as children growing up in New York. It was the story of a crazed killer that stalked Long Island and who would kidnap and kill children and hide their bodies so no one would ever find them. As the filmmakers begin digging into the legend though they start to uncover the horrible truth that lay hidden within that legend, the truth of a murderer who preyed on the innocent. What they found was that on Long Island there had been a series of institutions that catered to the physically and mentally disabled, a place that was to protect these people but which abused and neglected them. When the world found out about these crimes the institutions were closed but in their closing many of the people who had lived there were left behind. Left to find their own way in a world that they could scarcely survive in. This is when the story really begins. It was said that many of these people scattered across Long Island and hid in underground tunnels and in the woods surrounding the institution, surviving on scraps. One by one several children disappeared from the island, and for years no one knew what had happened. When a man who had once been a worker at one of the institutions is suspected of the murders we learn that this is one legend that may well be more horrifying as a truth.

   What we follow after the legend then is the reality of a city in horror at the murders of several children and the cry for justice. The filmmakers begin following the trial of this man as another child’s murder is attributed to him. Things take an even wilder turn though when an attempt to contact the suspected killer leads them to become pen-pals of a sort as they search of the truth. What they find though is that murder or not, he is toying with them, and may be hiding more than they can imagine.

   It is really rare to get a documentary that is as thrilling as a feature film but this is one of those rarities. This, like Paradise Lost offers no answers, just truth, but it is the path you take that makes the film so amazing. An outstanding film and one that thankfully focuses on the story and not the filmmakers. Highly recommended for not just fans of documentaries but for fans of horror as well.

8 out of 10

S&Man – review



For fans of horror films there is always the allure of the unknown and the unseen. There is always the pull of the forbidden. When I was in my teens and twenties the bootleg horror market was booming. There were all kinds of horror movies from Asia, Europe, Mexico, even the U.S. that went unseen, or at least only seen in heavily edited forms and the only way to find these movies was on the underground dealer circuit, at conventions, or on sketchy websites that lived as close to the edge of legal as possible. This was such an exciting time to be a fan because, while so many films were unavailable many of them were out there waiting to be discovered and their discoveries were amazing. Now there is little that is unseen and there is less that is undone. Now that some of the great and rarely seen horror films are available, and can now be seen cleaner, crisper, and louder than ever before there is little undiscovered country for the hardcore horror fan. Ah, but there is always the draw to the underground. The underground is where the gore is thicker, the violence harder, and where the only thing off limits is being boring. The underground is where you head if you want something that the indie and mainstream filmmakers are not giving you. Enter S&Man a pseudo-documentary that delves into the world of underground horror films and the people behind them.

The film begins discussing how director J.T. Petty first got into directing by doing an extreme horror film and that when he saw the filmmakers doing the horror con circuit and the brand of horror he decided to link that to a voyeur he had heard a story of when he was young, and this is where the film begins. When the neighborhood voyuer refuses to be interviewed though the film Petty had planned seems in question but within the underground horror world he finds his focus. Here is where horror becomes more extreme, more taboo, and where nothing is off limits. Here we meet several pundits and filmmakers who talk about the allure of the underground, the power of it, and why people are drawn to it. As we are meeting these people we also meet the director of the S&Man series, a quiet man who directs a series of videos where his ‘character’ stalks young women, steals mementos from their homes, and eventually kidnaps and ‘kills’ the women. Petty and his crew are immediately suspicious of how he makes his films and what they really are but he is the only one of the filmmakers that not only wants to talk about his movies but wants the crew to understand them and what they are. Just the same, as Petty and his crew get to know the filmmaker more they start to push for answers – who are these women? do they know you are following them? where are the women now? The more they push for answers though the less the filmmaker will reveal and the more the questions mount, creating a mystery that may prove deadly in the end.

This is a pretty interesting film. On one hand the documentary is very good and deserves to be longer and deeper as the underground scene is getting a lot bigger these days. Sadly, of the two main filmmakers interviewed you only really take one of them seriously where the other really lives down to the stereotype. As for the fictional part of the film it’s very fun but not terribly believable. I won’t ruin the film, and am dicey about whether or not to say what is or is not real but honestly, if you believe that someone put a movie out about a serial killer on the prowl well, you are a big gullible. Which is not to say that this aspect of the film is poorly done. It’s very creepy and when played against the ‘extreme’ horror the nature of the ‘real’ killer and how reserved his murders are really pushes the question of which is more disturbing – the reality or the preceived reality? The movie is good, to be sure, but it just didn’t pull me in. As interesting as the extreme horror subgenre is I really have no interest in that stuff and have seen things that disturbed me more. Not having seen a whole film from the filmmakers of this stuff I can say I saw enough to know that Nekromantik and A Serbian Film were much more disturbing because there was depth there and more art. The scarier stuff for me was definitely the ‘fake’ part of the film about the killer. It was handled very well and really showed the difference between gross out and tone in horror films.

While not a great film., this is a find and a lot of fans will find something to like here. The extreme footage is definitely a bit much and will turn of many viewers but if you can get past that it’s a solid entry and worth a watch. As a fan of this type of film it’s pretty well done and handled and has a very creepy ending.

6.5 out of 10

Got Meep?


American Fetish – review


Ya know, far be it for me, or any of us suckers lucky enough to get movies in the mail to review, to ever say that reviewing movies is a chore but, darn, sometimes it really is. Most of the time even the bad movies are watchably bad, and are at least amusing but once in a great while you get a movie like American Fetish, which is so unrepentantly mediocre that it takes everything in you to finish watching it. Sure, there are worse films than these, for sure, but there are scarcely films more boring, that is for sure.

American Fetish is the story of a man looking to solve the riddle of his deceased father. It seems his father had been an underground fetish filmmaker years earlier, many with the man’s mother in them, and had reached a level of infamy and legend until his death. His father also had been convicted of murders the son never believed he committed and he has now become obsessed with proving his father’s innocence. What the son finds though is that the deeper he digs into his father’s past the deeper he falls into the fetish world of his father. His only hope is that with the help of someone he can get to the bottom of the mystery of his father’s life before that life consumes him and changes him forever.

The first and most important thing you should know is that I had to look up what this movie was about because I had already forgotten. What this felt like was someone who knows a lot people in the fetish world and wanted to make a movie so they leaned on these friendships thinking they would make something shocking and gripping. Let me assure you – they didn’t. This is a clumsily made film with little plot, no logic, terrible acting, and no heart. It was all about the ideas and none of them connected with me. The film is far too interested in the fetish angle and not the mystery and they lose the story this way. Now, if you are into the fetish scene than there may be some interesting stuff for you though, honestly, none of if felt sexy, and none of it felt compelling. So instead of an interesting, edgy mystery film set in the fetish lifestyle you get a very boring movie that is obsessed with fetish but never makes it sexy. Not a good sign.

This movie doesn’t work, and the sad heck of it is that the review copy I got was shrunk to fit the cent of my HD set and had the ‘this is property of…’ info in the MIDDLE OF THE SCREEN. Distracting to say the least. The production values are low and it reflects on the quality of the film. I hate being so negative about a movie but it’s my hope that this film gets the door open for the filmmakers and actors and that they can use this as a way to get further in their careers. I just found nothing of interest here. It was boring, poorly shot, and utterly lost me as far as the story goes.

4 out of 10

Catfish – review



There is one thing with film that other mediums don’t quite have and that is the intimacy of certain films, especially documentaries. Until the past few years we accepted that a documentary was reality and while we may also accept that some of the moments in the film may be accentuated through editing or sound design, essentially you are supposed to be watching a work of non-fiction. Things have changed though with films like The Blair Witch Project and the films of Michael Moore and reality has become very loose and documentaries have become very exaggerated. Oh, the truth is still in there but it can change with the filmmaker and their views and with films like Blair Witch the form of the documentary has become another way to convey a fictitious tale. Such is the tale of Catfish a movie set out and meant to be a documentary but which seems so sensationalistic that it stretches its credibility.

Catfish is the story of a New York photographer who starts up a long distant friendship with a young girl who recreated a photo of his in a painting. He is so charmed by her paintings and her spirit that she becomes a regular part of his life via her letters and art. The friendship deepens when the girl’s mother and sister add him as friends on the website Facebook and he starts to get close to all of them. Capturing all of this on film is Nev’s brother and friend, who are so fascinated by this story of unsusual friendship that they decide to make a documentary about it. The family lives in Michigan so things never progress past calls, emails, and the occasional package but the photographer starts to get close to the little girl’s older sister, a beautiful young woman who models, dances, and is a musician. As crazy as it seems, he is falling in love with her despite the miles between them. Nev, the photographer, begins to get suspicious though when he realizes the music the older sister is sending him and taking credit for is all music from little known recording artists. Suddenly angry that he as been lied to, he and his brother and friend decide it is time to really discover how real his friendships are and how much is sheer fabrication. And it is the quest for the truth and the answers that lie at the heart of this friendship that make up the mystery of this film, and is something that should be seen to be believed.

And believabilty is definitely the biggest issue with this film. Taken as a movie, it is fascinating. It is the truth of the film that stretches your patience. If you accept it as a fiction it is fascinating, and while the twists are not as scary as I may have hoped (seriously, the hype here was a bit out of control) the movie is good. It is just that, really, who can honestly take this as fact. It is too convenient that the camera is always present to capture things, and that Nev is always willing to allow himself to be manipulated into continuing on with things. There are just too many questions, too much asked of the audience that to take it as fact is asking too much. As a fiction though it is compelling, chilling, and to varying degrees heartbreaking. But the audience will be divided between those that love and those that hate the film. And then there are the oddballs like me.

I like the movie, to be sure. I think it is fascinating, is scary at times, and is utterly watchable, but where the movie is heading and where you end up isn’t exactly what I hoped for. I had built the film up so much over the course of hearing about it that I really, really wanted it to be more than it is. And that isn’t fair of me to punish it for not being what I wanted it to be but the facts is the facts, and the fact is that it plays better as fiction than fact, and if it is fiction, it needed more fiction to be compelling. It is very well made, has a gripping story to tell, is ably filmed, and you will be hard pressed to not want to know how it ends. It has its issues, to be sure, but it is a conversation starter and another film worth the analysis.

It isn’t great, but it is a solid movie and whether you believe it or not, it is worth a look. Just go in knowing that things, in the film, and about the film, are not always what they seem.

7 out of 10

Chronicles Of An Exorcism – review


Over the years of watching bad movies you start to get a little gunshy on checking new ones out. Shucks, and can you blame me or anyone else because of that? Hecks no. If it isn’t seeing bad mainstream movies it’s seeing bad indie ones and sometimes the worst are the ones that the world SWEARS are simply genius yet you just hate with every fiber of your being. Once in a while though you take a deep breath, hold it, and dive right back into the movie poop and see what is out there. Thanks to services like Netflix, trying new movies isn’t nearly as daunting as it used to be. Enter Chronicles of an Exorcism, a movie that isn’t great in any manner but is just solid enough to be worth a look.

Small time filmmakers join three priests in the middle of nowhere to videotape and chronicle the exorcism of a young woman. When they arrive they are not sure what to expect but soom realize that they may be in far over their heads. Something is clearly wrong with the young woman but what it is they are not sure, but the longer they stay, the more unsafe they begin to feel. As the exorcism begins there seems to be hope that the girl can be saved but could this be another trick of the thing that may reside within the girl? All the filmmakers can hope is that they can get away from the small farmhouse before it’s too late.

An oft times effective and tense film this is one of those little films that could. With a solid cast and some great sets, this one really plays on the nerves. This is, as with most of the exorcism films that come down the pike, not something new to us but just the same there are some real shocks and the film takes interesting turns. The biggest issues here are some melodrama and a huge miscasting in the part of the possessed girl. It isn’t that she’s bad (though they needed to either play up the possession aspect more or really underplay it, as it is they played the middle and it wasn’t always effective) but she just doesn’t fit the part. She looks too clean, too pretty, and too prom queen to feel like this is a lost lamb of God.

Chronicles is far from a bad film it just isn’t anything to get overly excited about. The movie is effective for what it is and does well with its meager budget. This is definitely the sort of film you watch late when you have nothing else to watch. And seen late, and in the dark, it’s sure to put some creep in your bones, for sure.

6.5 out of 10

Home Movie – review


Home Movie – review


It isn’t a modern notion certainly, but there is something about modern technology which makes home movies seems all the more prevalent than they were in the past. Sure, sure, people made them before but now it’s so much easier to document the life and minutia of the modern family that it’s harder to find people who don’t film or photograph everything they do than it is to find people that do. Such is the world of Home Movie, a film done in the ‘found film’ style that features the home movies of a family on the brink of Hell. And as with all things of this nature, the bitter irony is always that you the viewer can see too well how quickly disaster is coming while the people living it cannot.


Home Movie is the story of a family via its home movies. The family almost obsessively videotapes every moment of importance (and lots of incidental ones as well) they share, the holidays, the birthdays, and even the every day. This is a family trying desperately to create solidarity by forging moments that unite them while they are tearing themselves apart. The family consists of the preacher father, the psychiatrist mother, and an inseparable brother and sister. The family is attractive, well off, and there is no shortage of love in the hearts of the parents but something is wrong here. Something is wrong with the children. We find out during one of the videos that the children had done something at school that forced the parents to move far out to the country to try to restart their lives and to save their children from their misdeeds. It doesn’t take long though for the viewer to see that whatever is wrong with the children is still wrong. What seems like mere pranks and acting up takes on a darker tint as the film progresses and their transgressions and misdeeds get darker and far more deadly. Their mother and father try in their own ways to hold the family together but always the children are gnawing at their roots. Too late the parents realize how dangerous their children are as they turn their attentions on a fellow classmate and their games turn deadly. It will take an act of sheer will and love for these parents to save the family, but even their best efforts may be too late.


Wow, what en effective little creeper. I had never heard of this movie and it was definitely one that snuck up on me. I know a lot of people get tired of certain sub-genres and this is one of those that really rubs people the wrong way but for me, when they are done right, they are just so effective. So powerful. This is one of those cases. It’s flawed, for sure, but we’ll get to that.

There is a growing dread that begins as soon as the film does and doesn’t let up. The pacing is great here, and works very well to create a palpable tension. The acting too is very good and the adults make this feel like a family, like two parents trying to save their children. I also love the restraint shown by the filmmakers. We are definitely shown how evil these children are but never do things go so far that it becomes a gore show or over the top. Enough is shown to make the point but not to belabor it.


I think the biggest issue I had was that it does get a bit far fetched in these types of movies how it seems that EVERYTHING that happens is filmed. It happens, sure, but man, everything? But on that, they do a good job of making it seem that the camera either exacerbated things or just happened to be on. There is also a turn in the plot when the father turns to his faith to save his children and it’s a bit much. No, it’s a lot much. It does add an element to the film we had not considered – is the evil in these children something supernatural? – but the way it is handled is pretty over the top and takes you out of the film for a few moments.


There is good, there is bad, but overall, darn I really like this film. The end disappointed me in how it played out but I cannot complain with how it all comes together. It’s just one of those things where I cared enough about the film and the story to want to see something else – not a bad thing, just a thing. This is not a great film, and isn’t the best example of this genre (we forget Man Bites Dog a bit I think) but it’s an effective and chilling film that will scare the heck out of young parents. To tell you how much I enjoyed it, despite the score I may give it, I still shiver a little at how things play out. Yipes. That’s a heck of a film.


7.5 out of 10