The Hallow: Review by Holly Bareham

The Hallow

Look at me, being on time for a review! Posting a review on the day the film came out? That’s a rare miracle!

So, I haven’t seen this film advertised much – I saw a poster in Cineworld and the trailer played one time. It’s definitely not been advertised as much as Krampus (which looks really good by the way). This didn’t stop the film getting a good turnout at the cinema I went to today, the room was nearly full. The basic plot is that a family, Adam, Clare and their baby Finn, move to remote house in Ireland next to a forest that the villagers believe belongs to the ‘Hallow’ and that if you trespass there will be consequences. Of course, as it’s a horror movie, the family ignores this and soon find themselves in a fight for survival against the demonic creatures that reside in the forest.

Phil Scared gif

The trailer looked pretty good and I was counting down the days to finally see another horror movie and then finally it came out today! On Friday the 13th which is obviously a perfect date to release a new horror movie, that’s probably why my screen was so packed – there were only two showings and seeing it on Friday the 13th makes it ten times more fun and scarier.

Except, bad news, the film wasn’t scary. Normally when I go see a horror movie by myself at the cinema I’ve already seen it with a friend to make it less scary, so I know when the jump scares are coming up and stuff. But this was the first horror film where I went to see it for the first time without a friend. And I wasn’t the teeniest bit scared. I’m not saying that to make myself sound brave either, I wanted to be scared so badly. But I just wasn’t.

Okay I will admit that there were a couple of jump scares that got me but if those are the only scares in the film then it’s a pretty shit film. It didn’t keep a creepy atmosphere at all and I think that’s because they rushed it. We’re barely introduced to the characters, we don’t really know why the neighbours dislike the forest so much and suddenly BAM everyone’s screaming and running for their lives and I’m left wondering what on earth is going on. Also whatever the ‘demon’ creatures were, they didn’t look scary at all.

In terms of plot, there wasn’t particularly much of a story if that makes sense. There have been some shit horror films but at least they followed a story with reveals and stuff like that but this just didn’t seem to do anything or go anywhere. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. It just seemed so pointless.

FUN FACT ABOUT THE MOVIE: The baby seen in the film is a mix of animatronics and twins that were digitally shot in front of a blue screen. There you go. Fun fact for The Hallow, which if anybody didn’t know I’ve started doing for my horror reviews.

Overall, I would recommend this movie if you want a couple of cheap scares. And for them to be effective you have to get scared super easily. Otherwise, it’s not really a film worth watching.

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Paranormal Activity The Ghost Dimension: Review by Holly Bareham (Spoiler Version)

PA Ghost Dimension

This is a spoiler filled ‘review’ so if you would like to read the spoiler free version then please click HERE. If you’re happy to read spoilers then please continue reading. If you have want a brief summary of what this film’s about then please have a quick look on the spoiler free review as I’m not going to recap it again.

Right I know this review is later than I said it would be, that is because I started writing it and it was mostly nonsensical ranting and I couldn’t really remember the points I wanted to make so yesterday I went back to the cinema to see it again to clear my mind. If you’ve read my first review then you’ll know this is a big deal for me as I kind of hate this film.

Let’s start with the very beginning of the film, that seems a sensible place to start. This film begins with the ending of the third one and as I had recently rewatched the third one I could remember the ending all too clearly. Which is why I was so shocked when they changed the ending of the third one at the start of this one? It wasn’t a major difference – in the original third ending Grandma Lois takes Katie’s hand and starts up the stairs then pauses to call to Christi. Christi joins them on the stairs, turns around and says “Come on Toby.” The camera shuts off. At the start of this film however Christi doesn’t even make it to the stairs before the camera is picked up and carried upstairs. Okay I’m sorry but no matter how small; you can’t just change the ending of one of the films to fit in with a new one. And if you’re going to do that then please make the film actually good.

We’ll move swiftly into the next part of the film that completely pissed me off: There’s a scene where Leila is front of her mirror saying ‘bloody Mary’ backwards perfectly. I’m not mad that they changed the scene in the film to how it was shown in the trailer because I can accept that, editing decisions were made before the film was released properly, fine. It’s what happens after that that pisses me off. Ryan shows the footage to Skyler and Mike and finds out she’s saying ‘Bloody Mary’ backwards. Ryan is then a lot more concerned that his daughter knows what Bloody Mary is rather than the fact she can talk backwards perfectly.

From when the film takes place his daughter should be eight years old although she looked and acted more like a six year old in my opinion but whatever. Either way, by eight years old I know that I knew what Bloody Mary was. Pretty much every kid knows what Bloody Mary is even if they don’t play it. I find it hard to believe that as an adult Ryan didn’t know what Bloody Mary was either, he had to get Skyler to explain it to him. Also, the fact his daughter was up in the middle of the night talking perfectly backwards into a mirror that somehow smashes by itself should concern him a hell of  a lot more than how his daughter find out what Bloody Mary was in the first place.

I still don’t fully understand why Leila was so special. Like I understand that she was born on that specific day but like, that’s it? There’s nothing else. She just happened to be born on the right day and be in the right location for the coven. How original and creative.

I also don’t understand why Katie and Christi didn’t remember their childhood. If they were raised by the coven and were taught by them what to do and everything then surely it would’ve just been easier and quicker to keep their memories. That way Christi would’ve had her baby and just given it to the coven instead of having to make Katie go and kill her and steal it? Right?

I think you can tell from watching just the first movie that this was probably originally intended to be a standalone movie as Katie talks about something she used to see at the end of her bed and how she used to experience things with her sister. The second film seems to support this. By the third film the pattern has changed though as we see Christi has an imaginary friend named Toby and Katie doesn’t really experience anything supernatural at first. So it looks like they probably changed their minds about what story they were telling by the third film and then maybe again after the fourth one.

So I’ve been reading forums on iMDB ever since this film came out and I have much preferred reading the fan ideas for this film and would’ve appreciated them a lot more than the canon film. I understand there were budgets that they had to stick to and stuff which obviously fans don’t have to think about because they’re just having fun but really, they couldn’t have made a better plot than that?

They shouldn’t have hyped it up in the way they did either with ‘this will answer every question’ because no, it didn’t answer every fucking question, it barely answered any questions. “You will finally see the activity!” You mean that totally not scary black goo? Fantastic.

I’m ending this here because I could go on for the next ten years about what annoyed me in this film and whatever. But let’s end on the worst fun fact ever: This is the first film that Katie Featherston hasn’t been in. It’s not a Paranormal Activity film unless Katie Featherston is in it; she was even in the spin-off, why didn’t they find a way for her to be in this film? Her character was in it as a child but she wasn’t and that will forever annoy me.

Thank you for reading! If you want to know who I’d recommend this film for: pretty much nobody.

Paranormal Activity The Ghost Dimension: Review by Holly Bareham (Spoiler-Free Version)

PA Ghost Dimension

Right, this review is going to be a spoiler free version and tomorrow I’m going to be posting a spoiler version so if you don’t want to read that then please avoid it. The reason I’ve chosen to do it that way is because I have quite a few strong feelings/opinions about this film and I need somewhere to vent it all. So yeah, here we go!

This is the fifth film in the Paranormal Activity series, not including the spin-off ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’. In this film we follow the lives of a different family that are completely unrelated to the one that appears in the first three films. This time we see the story of Ryan, Emily and their daughter Leila. Ryan’s brother Mike also comes to stay and there’s a girl named Skyler but I really couldn’t figure out how she was related to the family, please tell me if you know. Ryan and Mike find an old camera in a box that they thought was full of Christmas decorations but this camera can pick up things that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Soon Ryan suspects that something suspicious is going on so he starts recording pretty much everything.

So it’s pretty much a similiar set-up of all the Paranormal Activity movies really which makes sense because obviously we need realism as to why they’re documenting every second of their life. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to that basic plotline, especially as they switch it up between which character documents everything, for example in the first one it was Micah, Katie’s boyfriend, but in the fourth one Alex, the daughter, filmed everything.

I want to start this with positives first: I liked that Ryan and Emily actually worked together and faced what was happening. You have no idea how much I hated how in the first four films, although faced with evidence they couldn’t ignore, there was always at least one character who refused to believe what was happening in the house which seemed relatively stupid so hooray for Ryan and Emily who both just get on with it instead of trying to repress it. I hope that didn’t count as a spoiler?

Unfortunately, plot wise, that’s one of the only positives I have. I, personally, have been a fan of the Paranormal Activity franchise ever since I started enjoying horror films instead of being too scared to watch them. I liked the first four films and I especially loved the spin-off so I was practically counting the days until this film came out. I kept up with the news on iMDB and watched as it kept getting pushed further and further back. I, like most fans, hoped this meant they were working hard to create a quality sequel. Well.

The film doesn’t particularly make a lot of sense. I want to save most of my points for the spoiler version of this review so that I don’t ruin anything but it didn’t fit with the first four films. Well I mean, they tried to make it fit and by doing so they bent the first four to fit this one instead of creating a film that would fit in with the story they’d been telling since the first one. I have a theory that by the third or fourth one they’d completely changed their minds about what story they were telling, possibly so they could continue making more films. It has been stated that although this is the last film following this particular story there may be films set in the Paranormal Activity universe.

Because my review for Poltergeist was a bit crap because I hadn’t seen the film in 3D, only 2D, I decided to watch this film in both formats so I could write a better review and quite frankly I feel like I deserve a reward for sitting through it twice. I watched it first in 2D and then again in 3D and quite frankly, it doesn’t make all that much difference. If you’re on a budget, then just buy a 2D ticket. Better yet, don’t bother going and seeing the film.

As stated in my last review, I’ve decided to start leaving a little FUN FACT on all my horror reviews so here goes nothing: Apparently Demi Lovato was offered a role in this film and it is also the first and only Paranormal Activity film to be available in 3D. There, that’s two fun facts for you.

Now normally I would have something positive to say and I would at least recommend this film to someone but honestly, I’m so disappointed in this film that I just wouldn’t recommend going unless you seriously loved the first four films. If you were relatively critical or sceptical about them then definitely don’t go, trust me. Wait until this film comes out on DVD and then wait for it to be reduced to £5 and even then, think carefully before buying it.

Crimson Peak: Review by Holly Bareham

Crimson Peak poster

Before I get into this review can we please remember the wise words from the director himself:

Guillermo del Toro Tweet

Let’s get straight into what the film’s about – After a family tragedy aspiring author Edith leaves her home with a man named Thomas Sharpe, a man she has fallen in love with and who has proposed to her. She goes to live in England with him and his sister Lady Lucille Sharpe. The house is old and crumbling away but soon Edith discovers something even more shocking – it appears to be full of ghosts.

Me and my best friend have been looking forward to this film for ages now (I always seem to count down the days to a scary film…) and we were pumped to finally see it. We love Guillermo del Toro’s work and this film looked brilliant so we had a lot of high hopes.

I know Guillermo del Toro said it wasn’t a horror film but it obviously did have a lot of horror conventions within the film including quite a few jump scares. These worked really well and I for one jumped out of my skin a couple of times. I liked the way the ghosts moved, the way they shuffled and creaked but I don’t think I was a big fan of the way the ghosts were actually shown – I liked the woman she saw in the bathroom but I couldn’t get behind the other ones. However, my friend explained to me why they might’ve been chosen to look like that so I can understand the artistic choices behind it.

Visually the film is absolutely beautiful. All the houses, costume, everything it was just all done so amazingly. However, I’ve got to be honest that I did occasionally get a little bored. The plot overall is good and mostly interesting, especially the ending, but I did feel myself drifting off occasionally. Of course this might not necessarily be the film, I did go to quite a late screening, but it didn’t keep my attention the way that ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and ‘Mama’ did. Visually I think this film surpasses those two but for storyline I would choose Mama.

I’ve decided to leave a fun piece of trivia on my horror reviews so here it goes – Benedict Cumberbatch was originally cast as Thomas Sharpe but had to pull out due to undisclosed reasons. Tom Hiddleston asked for Cumberbatch’s blessing before taking the role as they are good friends in real life. There. I hope you enjoyed that little fun fact.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this film to 1) horror film fans because it is an effectively scary movie but don’t expect to be shitting your pants every ten seconds because that wasn’t the intention of this film and 2) to movie nerds who love cinematography and all that because like I said, visually it is stunning.

The Visit: Review by Holly Bareham

The Visit

When I saw the trailer for this I was really excited. From the trailer it looked different, interesting and best of all, it looked scary! I was actually counting down the days until it came out (and it came out while I was in Spain which bugged me a little) and I finally got round to seeing it last week. I even went to see it a second time on Wednesday.

My friend had seen this film before me and when I asked her if it was scary all she could say was “It’s weird.” I had a vague idea of what she meant by that but this film was the definition of the word weird. I don’t think anything my friend could’ve said prepared me for that film.

If you haven’t seen, ‘The Visit’ is about two children Becca and Tyler who go to stay with their grandparents that they’ve never met before as their mother left home at eighteen and never went back. Becca decides to film the whole thing and turn it into a documentary. Things are going well at first but soon Becca and Tyler sense that something’s not quite right and their Grandma and Grandpa might be hiding something from them.

If I had to sum this word up in three words then those words would be ‘creepy’, ‘weird’ and ‘interesting’. The trailer just looked like it would be scary but when you actually start watching it they combine a lot of comedy elements in with the horror, which although has obviously been done before made it such a unique film because of the way they did it. Ed Oxenbould who portrayed ‘Tyler’ especially did an excellent job and thoroughly amused everyone.

I saw this film three times, once with a friend and then twice more by myself and the reactions to this film from other members of the audience have always been positive when I’ve seen it. Also, slight spoiler, there is an interesting twist that I did not see coming. Don’t believe the trolls on the iMDB page who claim to have guessed it as soon as the film started. Yes, the clues were there, but I still didn’t pick up on them and I doubt many other people did. Also, interesting fact, I read that the director had two cuts either one that was pure horror and one that was pure comedy and in the end he decided to go for a middle ground. I personally think it works really well.

So yes, this is a horror film I would recommend to horror fans and even if you don’t particularly like horror I would still recommend because it has a lot of comedy elements too. Although not my favourite horror film ever, it’s definitely high on the list! So go and watch it!

Sinister 2: Review by Holly Bareham

Sinister 2

When I saw the trailer for this film I wasn’t sure that I wanted to watch it. I didn’t think it looked crap or anything but honestly… I thought it looked too scary for me. That is the honest truth. The first film scared me; I will admit that – I remember watching it with my friends and absolutely shitting my pants. I don’t know what it is about it. It doesn’t quite scare me as much as ‘The Babadook’ but it definitely still scares me. The second film looked just as scary.

If you’ve seen the first film then you know the basic premise and how it’s about ‘the bogey man’ or whatever. The second film revolves around a different family, a single mother with her two sons. One of the sons can communicate with children in the house who show him tapes similar to the ones we saw in the first film. We all know the basic set up here (spoiler alert for those who didn’t see the first film) – all the tapes get watched, the kid kills their family and then they go with ‘the bogey man’.

This film changed directors but kept Scott Derickson (the original director) as a writer. You notice the change of director as the second film was telling a completely different story. Instead of focusing on the bogey man, this film focused more on the kids and showed them trying to influence and manipulate the family instead of the bogey man scaring them into acting.

This film didn’t waste any time. Most horror films start calmly and then build up to the scares but this one threw you right into the deep end. I was already crapping myself and jumped out of my seat when someone walked into the film late. I must admit though that although the jump scares were effective, I didn’t find it as scary as the first one. The first one managed to scare me even when I was sat in my own living room with my friends. The cinema makes all films scarier. I feel like the first half was scary and then it just kind of died down.

Okay and I just couldn’t believe how much of an asshole that one kid was. Not in an ‘omg-don’t-you-think-that-kid-was-an-asshole’ kind of way, I mean he was so much of an asshole that it wasn’t realistic. Those who have seen it will know exactly who I’m talking about straightaway and I couldn’t take him seriously.

Overall, I think it is what it is. I don’t think it brought anything new to the franchise really, it just continued the story a bit longer. Also, the trailer made it look a lot scarier than it actually was. I guess I’d recommend this film to anyone who enjoyed the first film. If you didn’t like or didn’t particularly have an opinion about the first one then it’s probably not worth your time.