The Rezort – 4 gnomes

The Rezort (2015), 1hr 33min, Horror

The Rezort“The ReZort, a safari park, offers paying guests the opportunity to kill as many zombies as they please following an outbreak.”

The zombie outbreak was safely squashed and life gets back to normal. But what if the most excitement you’ve ever had was killing zombies? You can relive that thrill as long as you can pay for it! What if you were so traumatized that you can’t function? You can start the healing process with a zombie safari!

What could go wrong?

If Jurassic Park is any indication, you will be trapped on an island full of zombies.

I liked this silly movie. Normally I’m not a huge fan of zombie movies – if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But every once in a while, one pops up that’s just fun. I’m not saying it’s without its problems, but overall it was pretty good.

The thing that makes it for me is the various storylines, there’s a lot going on here. How does the world deal with the millions upon millions of people that were displaced during the outbreak? It’s a political disaster, of course. Then there’s our main character who’s suffering from PTSD and is thrown into another outbreak situation. Once again she has to make hard choices to survive. And something that is a first for me is the Zombies are People Too activist! Yes, I made up the name because I couldn’t remember what they were called, but as the name suggests, it is a group that questions the morality of canned zombie killing. The movie does a good job of giving a pretty well-rounded experience. Questions I had during, were answered by the end, and those ended up being satisfying and disturbing.

I admit I had problems with the zombies. They were way too smart, too cunning to be convincing as zombies. The zombies in The Walking Dead and Night of the Living Dead franchises work because they’re just hungry bags of flesh. The zombies in 28 Days Later and World War Z work because of the mindless rage. Both examples work through the idea that there is no higher brain function, only the impulse to kill.

The zombies in The Rezort are a combination of mindless and aware. Mostly they’re mindless, but if the set-up is there, like an ambush for instance, they manage to lie in wait and jump out at the appropriate moment. The movie would have been much better without these contrived instances. We know everything is going to go tits up, it’s a horror movie! Giving the zombies the ability to think (and recognize people) when it was convenient, tarnished the experience. With a little more imagination, the zombies could have been zombies without these forced instances.

I still like the movie, and it’s still fun, despite my zombie disappointment. I can definitely see myself watching it again. It’s available on Netflix, so go for it!

Respire – 4 gnomes

Respire (2010), 1 hr 31 min, Horror/Thriller


“The Ancient Romans believed that the soul escaped one’s body with the last breath. It was believed that last breath held the power to cure disease and prolong life. In 1930’s, Dr. Robert Kaminsky devoted his life to finding out how to harness the power in the last breath. Susan Jordan owns a local novelty shop. One item in her shop, an antique box once owned by Doctor Kaminsky, draws the interest of two men: Raif Collins who hopes its contents can save his dying sister, and Alex Poe whose motives are more mysterious. Susan quickly finds herself in a perilous struggle to protect the box and the secrets that it holds.”

I was surprised at how much I liked this movie. The acting was spotty in places – a little too over the top, but the story was interesting. Shop owner Susan Jordan who is dying from cancer stumbles upon a possible cure. Why not try it, right? What’s the worse that could happen? And what do you know, this weird little cure works! Of course, there’s a catch, there always is. Susan finds herself caught between two men, both of which want that cure and will do anything to take it from her.

I’m giving Respire 4 gnomes because it held my attention. It’s an interesting concept, and the execution was decent. The set up for both male leads was a little trope-y, but it didn’t interfere with my enjoyment. I would watch it again. If you’ve got some time, get some popcorn and put your feet up.

Go for it!

You can find it on Amazon here: Respire

Fireside Tales – 2 gnomes

Fireside Tales (2016), 1hr 10min, Horror

“A low-budget anthology film focuses on a young group of friends, gathered for a night of fun and drinks around a campfire. Every year they try to outdo themselves telling scary stories. Will they survive another round? One story showcasing 5 unique macabre tales to frighten audiences everywhere.”

The key word here is “low-budget”. All of the stories are of the “slasher/psycho-killer” variety and so I’m not going to summarize. There is nothing new or fun here – although after each tale the listeners rag on the teller which makes it mildly amusing.

The acting was spotty even though many of the actors played more than one part. There’s an extra tale after the credits, but I don’t think it enhanced or detracted from what was already a mediocre movie.

View at your own risk!
Fireside Tales Trailer from Ian Messenger on Vimeo.

You can watch it here: Fireside Tales

8989 Redstone – 4.5 gnomes

8989 Redstone (2016), 1hr 20min, Horror

“Darryl Masters is the host of his own house flipping show, “Mastering Disaster”, along with his daughter and presumptive heir to his business, Rebecca. As soon as they begin work on their latest project, things start to go wrong, and Darryl is starting to believe that the house is responsible…”

There is so much that I love about this movie. It’s a pretty classic haunted house movie set during a taping of a reality show. So it has a “found footage” feel to it. But what sets this movie apart is the acting and the characters. The main character Darryl Masters is a perfect “bull in a china shop with anger issues” – he blusters his way through the entire thing and it’s just so perfect. Even with the obvious evidence of supernatural happenings, he stalwartly refuses to accept or acknowledge it – and it’s beautiful. Not many actors can pull that kind of intensity off for so long, and Eric Allan Kramer manages effortlessly.

Another thing that I love about this is that although the haunting was the point of the movie, to the characters, shooting the tv series was always their goal, and as such their lives went on despite the craziness. Only at the very end, did the haunting derail everything.

I can’t say that it’s scary, because it’s not. There are some really freaky happenings and some gruesomeness, but it’s very character focused and that’s what made it for me.

Two things kept this movie from being perfect:
1. Darryl’s daughter and co-host walked around in skimpy outfits – around the construction site – for pretty much the entire show. Who does that? I’ve seen flipping shows on tv – not one of those women, no matter how attractive they are, walk around those sites looking like she did. There’s no way she could have worked if she’s worrying about a boob popping out of her top every 5 minutes. It annoyed me and took me out of the story because it was so unnecessary. They got in their obligatory sex scene, so why she had to dress like a safety hazard beacon was beyond me.

2. The ending and the shots around the credits. They just couldn’t leave a good thing alone, could they? I can just hear a producer now “It’s good, but it needs a little something. A twist.” And so another good movie gets fucked up.

Despite the nonsense at the end, I really enjoyed this movie. Go for it!

You can watch it on Amazon here: 8989 Redstone

True Love Ways – 4 gnomes

True Love Ways (2015) 1hr 35min, Horror, Thriller

“After a recurring dream Séverine decides she needs to get away from her boyfriend Tom for a couple of days. Tom makes a deal with a man he meets at a bar: Séverine will be kidnapped. Tom rescues her from the clutches of the kidnappers, and will become her savior. However what Tom does not know is that his new made friend has a different plan with Séverine. Faced with violent criminals and her own primal fears, Séverine is pulled into a brutal game of unfulfilled desire and the search for true love.”

What the fuck did I just watch?

I kept wanting to turn it off, but I was too stubborn, I just had to see it through.

It’s a German movie, and like a lot of European films, the pace is very slow, a lot of the shots could be considered “artsy” (it’s shot in black and white), and the dialog and background music is sparse.

Besides the “main” story, there was a substory that if developed, could have made the entire thing more chilling. But instead, we get long contemplative shots of walls and stuff.

And then there’s that trainwreck of an ending which made no damn sense. Too abstract? Trying too hard to be a mind-fucking twist? I got nothing.

I gave this four gnomes because despite the movie’s problems, I recommend it, even if it’s just to commiserate on how WTF it is. Read that description again and remember just how awesome the movie sounds. Now watch the movie. Come back and we’ll talk about it.

You can watch it on Amazon here:True Love Ways


Satanic – 4 gnomes

Satanic (2016), 1hr 25 min, Horror

“Four friends on their way to Coachella stop off in Los Angeles to tour true-crime occult sites, only to encounter a mysterious young runaway who puts them on a terrifying path to ultimate horror.”

A group of four friends stop in LA to tour famous occult crime scenes on their way to Coachella. They go to occult crime scenes, stop off at an occult store, piss off the proprietors, and then decide to follow them home. They follow the occult folks to the Palisades, spy on them doing a ritual, and then save the apparent sacrifice – a young runaway. An act they soon come to regret.

There’s good “stupid kids, do stupid stuff, get killed” movies and then there are bad ones. This is a good one.

Just their fascination with occult crime sites alone, is cringeworthy, but then they just go off the deep end of stupid and it’s fabulous! I knew they were going to get picked off one by one – that’s how these movies go – but, I liked how it was done. Very creepy, and the helplessness of the kids just make it sweeter.

I was very surprised to find that Sarah Hyland is a good actress. You never know when the most popular thing they’ve done is play a teenager. Not much of an acting stretch. But she was very believable here, and the most sympathetic character.

If satanic stories are your thing, go for it. I loved it!

You can find it on Netflix and on Amazon here: Satanic