Midsommar: Review by Hollie Bareham

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Just over a month ago I was at the cinema to watch a movie and the trailer for ‘Midsommar’ played during the previews. I was instantly excited – it looked interesting, scary and something a little different which is everything I look for in a horror movie. The fact that it was made by the people who made ‘Hereditary’ didn’t put me off. I didn’t hate ‘Hereditary’ it just wasn’t what I’d been hoping for.

For those who haven’t seen the trailer or heard of the film the basic plot is that Dani and her boyfriend Christian have a very strained relationship. Just as he’s working up the courage to end things a family tragedy occurs leaving him feeling like he should stay with her. When Dani discovers Christian and his friends are planning a trip to Sweden to attend a once-in-a-lifetime midsummer festival Christian guiltily invites her along with them. However the carefree holiday soon takes a dark turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that become increasingly disturbing.

The moment tickets dropped for this film I messaged my friends Becca and Jess asking if they wanted to go to the 8PM showing on the opening night. They’re both horror fans too so they were up for it and soon we were off. And Jesus wept, I was not prepared.

By that I don’t mean I wasn’t prepared for the scares because really there weren’t many. The film was rated 18 and due to this it was a bit gorier than a 15 rated film would’ve been but in terms of things like jump scares there weren’t really any. Which would’ve been fine because I’m not really a massive fan of films that solely rely on jump scares to make themselves scary but other than the gross and gory scenes it wasn’t particularly scary.

In fact, I found parts of it absolutely hilarious and it wasn’t just me – Becca was weeing herself with laughter and there was one particular scene that had me and most of the audience in absolute tears because it was so bizarre. I won’t go into immense detail but there’s an extremely strange sex scene that I couldn’t for the life of me take seriously. I’m not sure if the director wanted us to laugh or what we were really meant to be feeling in that scene but I was genuinely crying, I couldn’t contain it.

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The things I hadn’t liked about ‘Hereditary’ were that it was quite slow and that I just didn’t fully understand it at the end. I don’t necessarily like everything being wrapped up in a big bow but equally I don’t like feeling completely confused. For example, ‘Us’ was a confusing film but I still feel relatively satisfied with its ending. Unfortunately I think the negatives from ‘Hereditary’ were passed onto ‘Midsommar’.

The film was quite long, it was about two and a half hours and that’s mainly due to it being just so slow. It takes a good while for them to even reach the Swedish commune and takes longer still for anything creepy to begin happening. Then when the disturbing events did begin to occur I just feel like there was too long of a gap between each event to keep up the atmosphere. I wasn’t scared, I was just left waiting.

Then there was the confusion aspect. I just have a lot of questions. Maybe that was the point of the film, I don’t know, but I feel like a few things were thrown in and then not really explored making me wonder what the point was. I feel like the director was just going for shock value which like was definitely delivered, parts of it were quite… Odd, which is putting it mildly. But was there anything beyond that? I’m not sure there was.

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Also this is probably quite nit-picky but I hate the over the top crying that occurs both in this film and in ‘Hereditary’. At the start of the film when the family tragedy occurs Dani cries whilst Christian comforts her and it’s so over-the-top that I don’t really believe it’s genuine. It was how Peter cried during ‘Hereditary’ and it just absolutely drove me up the wall. I know Dani was obviously very distraught but I’ve never heard anyone cry like that in real life and it makes me wonder why they keep putting this in the films as it just feels so out of place.

The rest of my review will contain spoilers so please stop reading if you don’t want to see them!

Some character deaths were just a bit annoying and almost too easy if that makes sense? For example Will Poulter’s character Mark was having dinner with his friends and the rest of the commune when a girl approaches him and says “Come, I will show you” and then… That’s it. He’s dead. We don’t see his death he’s just gone from the rest of the film. Of course we did see his face carved out and placed on top of somebody else but that’s the only indication we have that Mark did die. Similarly Simon and Connie, the British couple who decided to leave as they’re too disturbed to stay, they’re just sort of disposed of. I’m not saying every death had to be on screen but the fact Mark was led off by a Swedish girl and then didn’t go to bed that night or appear at breakfast the next day and his friends were just like ‘ayee I bet he’s having fun’ was just so stupid.

As mentioned, there were tons of things thrown in almost just for the sake of it. For example they have a deformed child (I think it was a child?) who they consider an oracle but there’s not much explanation as to why or what that was even about. This kid just paints pictures and the elders or whatever study them. Why? I don’t understand why.

To be honest I think I’d have enjoyed this movie more if it was shorter. So much of it just felt so unnecessary and like I said, the gaps between anything weird or spooky happening were just too long to keep me interested. I also just got the overall sense that they were like “yeah let’s do a weird folk festival movie” and decided to film it before they actually figured out what they were doing – if that makes any sense?

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Overall I am glad I watched it as it was certainly something different. I’m unlikely to watch it again due to the length and how slow it is but some scenes were interesting and worth the watch. That sex scene alone was hilarious and I’d recommend watching that but scenes like the dance to become the May Queen were interesting as well. So I’d recommend watching it just once but be prepared for a long and slow ride.

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Five Worst Horror Movies

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Let’s be real, most horror movies aren’t that good. I often count down the days for a new horror’s release and pray it’ll be good but most of the time it just isn’t. I wanted to write a quick list of five horror movies that I just can’t forgive for being so bad that there was almost nothing redeemable about them.

5. The Unborn (David S. Goyer, 2009)

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I feel like this could’ve been decent but they tried to get too deep with the plot. They took it too far back by including all that World War Two stuff and it just made the whole thing a bit ridiculous. For those who don’t know anything this film it’s about a girl named Casey who is tormented by visions and nightmares of ghosts. They soon discover a curse has been placed upon their family that dates back to Nazi times.

When I watched the trailer for this film I assumed it was just like one twin died in the womb and now it was seeking revenge which like yeah is far-fetched but not as far-fetched as the rubbish I had to sit through when I watched this movie. What a bunch of rubbish. Honestly don’t recommend wasting your time on this film, it sucks.

4. Ouija (Stiles White, 2014)

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Can you believe they made a sequel to this movie? The first one was a bunch of nonsense and although the trailer for the second one looked promising it, of course, let itself down. The idea of the film is that after the death of her best friend a girl decides to do an Ouija board to say goodbye to her. However what they’ve summoned is not her best friend but a spirit determined to wreak havoc on her and her friends.

This movie was such a waste of my time and I really wouldn’t recommend anybody else subject themselves to this. The characters were all completely unlikeable and the whole thing was just super unrealistic. Laine’s best friend has just died and yet her Dad is taking a business trip? Spoiler alert – by the end of the movie all her friends are dead and the police have nothing to say about that? It was just a stupid film.

3. Apartment 143 (Carles Torrens, 2011)

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This one will contain spoilers so I apologise in advance but what the fuck even was this film? It’s got the typical set-up of a family experiencing supernatural occurrences in their home after the death of their Mother except this one is filmed in found-footage style with a team of paranormal investigators looking into the case.

The main issue I take with this film is the ending because it was STUPID. Basically, the eldest daughter gets possessed towards the end of the film, starts talking in a demonic voice, throwing things round the room with her mind, I’m pretty sure she crawled along the walls at some point, all the typical stuff and you think ‘oh okay’. And then for some reason the film ends with a discussion between the paranormal investigators where one says “I knew from the start she was schizophrenic, that’s what caused all of this.”

I’m sorry, forgive me if I’m wrong, but since when do schizophrenic people have telekinetic powers? You could’ve maybe pulled an ‘it was all in her imagination’ on me at the end but the film was shot in found-footage style which suggests that everything we saw was real. And then the film ends with a demon girl crawling towards the camera when the apartment is now empty – have I missed something here?

Even without the stupid ending it’s just cliché ridden and wasn’t a particularly interesting watch so I wouldn’t recommend this one at all. Don’t waste your time.

2. Slender Man (Sylvain White, 2018)

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I wrote a review of this movie a while ago here but like… What were they thinking? Realistically a film about Slender Man was never going to be good was it? But this took it to a whole new level.

Firstly, there’s none of the lore that everybody loved from the Slender Man games. The premise of the game is that the user is trapped in a forest and needs to find the eight pieces of paper to leave. Not the case with this movie. It’s about four girls who watch a video and this somehow summons Slender Man to come and wreak havoc on their lives. I mean really, they summon him by watching a video!?

Most of my issues with the film were written in the review but the film just doesn’t go anywhere! It’s like they show you something and then they go ‘yeah but we’re not going there’. I was so surprised when it ended because we still had so many loose ends and not in like an ‘I wonder what happened there, that’s mysterious and intriguing’, just a ‘you clearly threw that in and had no idea what to do with it so now you’re ignoring it happened’.

This film is just garbage, I’m glad I have an Unlimited Card so that I didn’t have to spend actual money on it. Throughout the film at least three groups of people decided to get up and just leave, more than I’ve ever seen at any other movie before. Avoid this at all costs.

1. The Bye Bye Man (Stacy Title, 2017)

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This film was weird because I remember seeing the trailer in the cinema and then for months the movie just disappeared before cinemas started promoting it again. I’d already made fun of the stupid movie title with my friend Jess and I already knew it wasn’t going to be good. But I’d gotten up early after a sleepless night to meet my friend up town and when they left I didn’t want to go straight home so I decided to kill some time by watching this movie.

First of all, the title and the name of the villain. Could we not have come up with something a bit better than this? I mean seriously. He sounds like a character from ‘In the Night Garden’ or something. Watching the characters on screen running around saying his name with such fear felt really out of place with such a pathetic name. A little more time and effort on the guy’s name couldn’t have saved this movie though.

So the premise is that if you say or think his name he will haunt and kill you. The main character finds out the name by reading it on the bottom of a drawer in the house he’s just moved into. He then tells all his friends about it and they start experiencing things too. And I just… That’s stupid. That’s so stupid. What if I made up a joke and the punchline was ‘The Bye Bye Man’? Would I then die? What if I was trying to write a book and I was like ‘a great character name is The Bye Bye Man’ – am I now a goner? It’s just STUPID.

I don’t remember an awful lot that happened in this movie ‘cos I was really tired and it was just a boring mess but I’m about to reveal a stupid spoiler. At the end of the film the main character’s brother is outside trying to get in to the main character and to stop himself from telling his brother and niece about the ‘Bye Bye Man’ he kills himself. Brother then drives home with his niece and both seem relatively chill that the main character is now dead. It was honestly just a complete pile of rubbish.

So there you have the five worst horror movies in my opinion. Feel free to leave the ones you think are the worst in the comments and if you actually enjoyed any of the films I listed then feel free to comment on what you liked about them!

Unfriended Dark Web Review

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Heads up, this review does contain spoilers so please don’t read if you’re not interested in that!

I’m pretty sure I didn’t know that ‘Unfriended’ was getting a sequel until I got a trailer in front of a YouTube video I was watching to advertise this movie. It caught my attention so instead of skipping it like I do with most YouTube ads I watched it and was immediately intrigued. I liked that this time they weren’t going for the supernatural element but for the whole hacker dark web thing instead. I’d say it was more realistic but I’m not sure that’s the right word – it just wasn’t supernatural like the first one.

I’m not really sure what I thought of the first one, I like the idea of it and how it’s done but I think the overall storyline could’ve been a bit better. I watched it at home with Becca once and she hated every character and only really liked Val (the mean one, typical Becca) which made me realise that actually none of the characters were particularly likeable. I think that was part of the point by the end but it was just also a bit pointless.

This wasn’t really the case with ‘Unfriended Dark Web’. I actually liked the characters, especially Serena and Nari. The only character I wasn’t sure about was Matias which was a bit annoying as he was the main character. All he seemed to do was make stupid decisions and I’m just not sure I liked him that much.

I’m getting ahead of myself – for those who haven’t seen the trailer, ‘Unfriended Dark Web’ is about a young man, Matias, who takes a laptop after he notices it’s been sitting in lost and found in his local web café for a few weeks. He manages to log into the laptop and begins skyping his friends but notices the system keeps crashing so his friend advises him the laptop might be full. Matias investigates and finds a series of sinister videos and messages which creeps him and his friends out. Before long the group notices they’re being watched by the original owner of the laptop who warns them that if they disconnect or contact the authorities they will die.

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Some aspects of the film were a little unrealistic. Matias tries to convince the group that the scary videos and messages were part of a game he was developing in the hopes their lives will be spared but the group are sent a video of one of their friends being pushed off the top of a building. Matias finally finds a way to warn the group that the whole thing is real and the group return to their game night in the hopes of convincing the hackers that they’re unaware of the truth. None of them seem too panicked that their friend is now dead at this point.

Also, I liked the ending and I like the idea but it also seems a bit… Coincidental? How did they know he would take the laptop and go home and skype a group of friends? Sure I skype my friends occasionally but only really when we’re planning something and none of us like doing face cam so we only have the mics on. What if a lonely pensioner had taken the laptop instead of Matias, would they just have stolen it back immediately? It was really very dependent on Matias taking it and I just don’t know how they could’ve predicted that he would. This paragraph probably only makes sense if you’ve watched the film but I didn’t want to spoil the ending.

Equally, Matias was given the opportunity to return the laptop but didn’t because he found a message that intrigued him and that’s how he discovered the videos in the first place. What if the message hadn’t caught his attention though and he’d just shut it down and taken it back? Would the events still have happened or not?

While we’re at it I think logic went a bit out the window at some points. The owner’s email address and password is saved for most websites but Matias deletes this and logs into his own Facebook account – yet he gets pop up Facebook messages for the owners account even though he’s not logged in? Everyone has logged into their own Facebook on a friends computer before and that just doesn’t happen. I suppose it could be argued that the hackers did this to trick Matias in the first place but he didn’t even seem surprised that he was getting notifications for an account he wasn’t logged into.

I’m going off on a tangent here. Regardless of the logic and coincidental unfolding of events I did actually enjoy the movie. It made a lot more sense than the first Unfriended and I’m actually glad they made the sequel this way instead of going for another supernatural movie. This one seemed more like a thriller film than a horror and it worked so much better.

My piece of trivia for this horror review is that in the original plotline the movie was set to follow on from the events of the first movie and revolve around Laura Barns targeting college freshman for their role in her suicide. I’m very glad they didn’t go down that route and instead went with this.

Overall, I did like the movie and I would definitely go and see it again. I recommend it for any horror fan and you don’t need to have seen the original to get this one. In fact, don’t watch the original ‘cos that one pretty much sucked anyway. But go and see this one!

Hereditary Review

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I haven’t written a horror or book review in a while because I just don’t have as much motivation anymore – for a while I was churning out posts about my personal life and other interests so I just didn’t have the time anyway. Unfortunately lately I seem to have hit a brick wall and have a bit of writer’s block so I decided to return to my reviews and what better movie to review than one I had been absolutely desperate to see.

I was shocked to get to the cinema and find out my friend had not seen a single trailer for this movie. I have no idea how she managed to avoid it since it’s been everywhere. At the cinema, all over Facebook, it popped up before every YouTube video I watched. And I didn’t mind because it looked really good and I was counting down the days until it was finally released.

As a basic plot overview the main character is Annie whose Mother has just died and the film begins with the family attending her funeral. Before long the family start noticing strange occurrences and Annie believes they are being haunted by something their Mother left behind.

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I was ready to like this film but unfortunately… I don’t think I did. I don’t particularly want to give away any spoilers but the trailer was extremely misleading and the film was almost completely different. In a way I sort of respect that because it did add shock value and didn’t completely give away the plot of the movie like some trailers do. As my friend hadn’t seen the trailer I advised her to go home and watch it because it shows a completely different movie.

Maybe I would’ve enjoyed it because the first twenty minutes or so were quite interesting and really got the plot going but then it completely slowed down and although things were happening I don’t think it was enough to keep me invested in the plot. I do appreciate that they didn’t rely on cheap jump scares because although those are scary in the moment they don’t particularly leave a lasting impression whereas I must admit some parts of this will stick with me (Annie banging her head manically against the ceiling sticks out as one). It didn’t necessarily have to be full of spooky moments though, I just felt like the story was very slow to get going.

Also I take issue with the ending. Becca swears down that she understands it and I think my issue with it is that I can’t accept it at face value. I have my own theory about what the ending meant but I can’t quite make sense of it in my head. I think I’m so desperate to have this theory because otherwise I just really didn’t like the ending. I’m not sure if it was meant to mean something else or if I was seriously supposed to accept what happened but I don’t know what to think.

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I’ll be honest and say I was a bit disappointed in this film. The start is really good and I won’t fault that but it sort of goes downhill from there with nothing really happening until the final ten minutes when it suddenly all kicks off. I feel quite bad writing this review because I honestly really wanted to enjoy it… But I didn’t.

On the bright side I think the acting was amazing, especially from Toni Collette who played Annie and Milly Shapiro did a good job as Charlie. Alex Wolff was good but he needs to stop with that awful, ugly crying it sounds absolutely horrendous and out of place with the tone of the film.

Time for a fun piece of horror trivia – according to Alex Wolff the original cut of the film could have easily been over three hours with mostly more family dialogue. I feel bad but like thank god, am I right?

Let me know if you saw this film and what you thought, whether you have any theories, whether you loved it or hated it, or whatever you wanna do!

Happy Death Day: Review by Holly Bareham

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Happy Halloween guys! However you’re choosing to celebrate I hope you have a great day. I personally am stuck at work and by the time I thought about having the day off I realised there wouldn’t be enough cover in the office so… I’ll probably watch a horror film later tonight though just to say I’ve done something.

So for those of you who never saw this trailer you’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding it because for a while it was all over Facebook and people were freaking out about it. To be honest I thought it looked interesting but I also thought it looked like one of those films that would just annoy the Hell out of me. I assumed right from the start it would be dreadful but I was still intrigued so I decided to give it a go.

‘Happy Death Day’ is about a college student who is murdered on her birthday but wakes up the next morning on her birthday. She is forced to relive the same day over and over again until she can figure out who her killer is and stop her own death.

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I actually really enjoyed it. I was intrigued the entire time and I found the whole thing really entertaining. It didn’t take itself too seriously which is just as well because it simply wouldn’t have worked if it had. Although at first most of the characters were unlikeable this was deliberate for the overall message of the film which was essentially ‘don’t be an asshole’. I ended up really liking Tree, the main character, by the end and I liked Carter right from the start.

Maybe I’m an idiot but I didn’t guess who the killer was at all. My friend told me she’d guessed before we even went in and was really bemused that I hadn’t figured it out. Listen, it’s good to be an idiot when watching films – I’m always shocked when the plot twist is revealed. I really liked this one. It was kind of ridiculous but in a good way.

As long as you don’t take it too seriously it’s a really good film. It’s entertaining and I’d really like to see it again before it leaves cinemas but I’m not sure I’ll have the time. I definitely wanna get it on DVD when it’s released though. I just really liked it and I’m quite surprised to say how many positive reviews it has on iMDB. Maybe we all low-key expected it to be trash but because it wasn’t that bad we can’t help by like it.

Compared to other horror films this year it just feels really refreshing. This is what ‘The Bye Bye Man’ should’ve been like because that was dreadful and took itself way too seriously. ‘Happy Death Day’ mocked itself and it worked really well!

Time for my piece of horror film trivia. There was quite a bit on iMDB and it was all pretty interesting but I’ve chosen this one: The scene where Tree walks across campus completely naked had to be done quickly as it was being filmed on an active campus thus presenting the risk of students witnessing the scene being filmed and taking photos. In the end they managed to do it in just 2-3 takes.

I recommend this if you haven’t already seen it and are looking for something interesting to watch this Halloween. I was genuinely really pleasantly surprised by this film so go into it with an open mind and just view it for it is: a bit of fun.

The Bye Bye Man: Review by Holly Bareham

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This film was advertised absolutely ages ago, I remember watching the trailer at the cinema towards the start of last year. I can remember because me and my friend made jokes about how non-threatening something named ‘The Bye Bye Man’ was and how ridiculous the concept seemed. Then another one of my friends popped up saying the trailer looked alright and we should all watch it. In the end none of us could agree on a date so I went and watched it by myself. Oh boy.

For those who haven’t seen this advertised the film is basically about three friends that move into a house who soon learn about something called ‘The Bye Bye Man’. However the moment they think about it or say it they put themselves in more danger. The Bye Bye Man can make them hallucinate and manipulates their sense of reality to kill them off.

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I hadn’t heard anything about this film but I had suspicions that it was going to be shit. I’m sorry but anything with a title like ‘The Bye Bye Man’ is bound to be awful. However I like to keep an open mind when going into films so I put that aside and tried to get into it. And oh boy did I try.

I think I nearly fell asleep. I’d not had much sleep the night before and this film was lulling me to sleep. I don’t like films that only rely on jump scares and it felt like this film was trying to rely on them, the only problem was that they weren’t scary enough. There was no atmosphere and even the jump scares weren’t working. So all we were left with was the plot and that was pretty shocking.

It was bad. I don’t really know what else to say about it. It was just a bunch of nonsense. Where did ‘The Bye Bye Man’ even come from and why is he so angry? What if someone randomly thought ‘a good character name would be The Bye Bye Man’ would they then die as well? Also, pretty big spoiler alert, but Elliot’s brother and niece were relatively calm and chill considering he’d just killed himself.

I don’t know if I was just being an idiot or what but nothing seemed to make sense. It was one of the most pointless films I’ve ever seen in my life and we didn’t get enough time to get to know the characters so it was hard to particularly care about any of them.

Overall I don’t particularly recommend this film to anyone because it was just plain awful. Don’t waste your money.

Blair Witch: Review by Holly Bareham

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So I’m quite behind on my horror film reviews lately considering I didn’t review ‘Lights Out’ or ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ but I’ve decided to move onto this one as it’s still out and relevant. If you haven’t seen any advertising for ‘Blair Witch’ then you’ve done quite well as I’ve seen the trailer at cinemas, posters, advertisements on pretty much every social media website available… It’s no secret that I love horror films and I’d enjoyed the original ‘The Blair Witch Project’ so I was looking forward to seeing it.

After discovering a video of what appears to be his sister’s experiences in the demonic woods of the Blair Witch, James and a group of his friends head to the forest in search of his lost sibling. Lisa, one of his friends, has to make a documentary for a class so they record the experience. Things are okay at first but they soon take a downward spiral as they soon find themselves terrorised by a paranormal entity.

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As I already said, I enjoyed ‘The Blair Witch Project’. I watched it a couple of years ago on Netflix and while it was quite slow I still thought it was decent. I can’t comment on the sequel ‘Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2’ because I’ve never seen it. To be honest, I completely forgot about that sequel and assumed that this was the second film but no, it’s the third.

Basically, I don’t know what the point in this film was. It didn’t add anything to the original film. It didn’t particularly add to the original story. In some ways it barely related to the original. Heather being James’ sister was just used as an excuse for them to end up in the woods. It was a film made with the sole intention of making money from the people who enjoyed the original. Which I could forgive if it had actually been interesting.

You know that feeling you get when you watch a good horror movie? When you’re on the edge of your seat or hiding your face behind your eyes because you’re so scared of what could happen next? There was none of that in this film. I am a massive wimp when it comes to horror films but I didn’t particularly feel anything when watching this. I did have a feeling of unease when Lisa was pulling herself through the tunnel (shown in the trailer so not technically a spoiler) but that’s only because I’m quite claustrophobic so that would be my worst nightmare. Sure, I did jump if there was a jump scare but they didn’t create an atmosphere at all.

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I read on the iMDB trivia page that the original film was about being lost in the woods whereas this film was designed to be about being chased in the woods. I think this is why it lost a lot of its atmosphere. The first film was spread out over a few days and nights giving us time to ease into the scares. This one was chill and then suddenly was supposed to be really scary all at once. It just didn’t work.

This reviews piece of trivia: Director Adam Wingard used air horns to get the right jump scare out of his actors.

Overall, I don’t think I’d recommend this film. It was mildly entertaining but overall didn’t add anything to the original film which is surely the point of a sequel. They could have made a completely different film about a different forest and it wouldn’t have made much difference.