Saw is perhaps one of the most original horror movies to come in recent memory. It went with a minimalist approach in characters, sets and scope.

I didn’t first see Saw until well after it came out on DVD. It was coming close to Halloween and after dozens of people were talking about it I put it on my list to watch. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Everyone knows the story – two guys locked in an unknown room and they need to try and get out. But what will they do to save themselves? Why are they here? Who is the other person, friend or foe?

The tone of Saw is tense and gripping. What will these two men do to get out? Can they trust each other? Can they work together and get out? Who is going to kill who in order to save themselves?

We get several flashback scenes that help to understand the motives. We get to understand that Jigsaw is looking to make the men repent and redeem themselves. But the part that makes Saw different is the fact that there is a plot behind it all. There is a reason these men are here. There is a reason they are made to suffer.

And of course as we hit the end of the movie we see it’s all just a game. A well thought out, diabolical game.

The acting is a little stiff and some observations during the movie don’t need to be said out loud, we all can see what the saw will be used for. But overall this is a good movie and is definitely full of chills and tense moments. Lionsgate really garnered publicity by bringing this movie to light. And now they have a whole horror genre at their disposal.

Saw is one of the better horror movies out there and despite some quirks it’s a still a great movie to watch. Hell it’s on sale practically everywhere, there is no reason not to get a copy. I got mine for $5. :)

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1408 – Stephen King

1408 – Stephen King

“Based on a short story by Stephen King, a man who specializes in debunking the paranormal checks into the infamous room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel, only to discover… the terror is real.”

I can’t say I’ve been thrilled with how Stephen King’s work seems to turn out when it hits the big screen. However, this story seemed very interesting and the fact that John Cusak and Samel L. Jackson were on board got my interest even more. And who could miss all that hype at Blockbuster? Too bad they didn’t do that kind of job when it was in the theaters, I’ve never even heard of this movie.

But anyway, the premise goes like this – John Cusak is a writer of paranormal fiction. He creates such riveting titles as 10 most haunted house, 10 most haunted cemeteries, etc. When a chance postcard with the word “Don’t enter 1048” comes in the mail, of course he has to go investigate. He is met by the soft spoken, but firm manager (Jackson) who tries to convince him not to stay in the room.

But of course Mike Enslin (Cusak) does stay in the room and that’s when all hell breaks looks. He hallucinates, see visions, and battles many of the previous guests who gave taken their own lives in the room. Rather than turn this movie into a complete gore fest it’s more of psychological thriller. Is Mike dreaming or is it real? Is he paranoid or is he seeing ghosts? Is he in purgatory or is he just drunk?

The movie creates a lot of atmosphere by keeping most of the movie within the confines of the room. It builds slowly giving plenty of reasons to doubt anything is actually happening (drinking, not sleeping, paranoia, power of suggestion) so you really get drawn into the story. Is Mike actually experiencing this or is he passed out asleep? Is his mind playing tricks because of the previous events in the room?

What follows is a wild ride of torment and “unexplained phenomena”. Mike gets drawn into the terror of the room and does everything he can to escape. And then escape again. And again.

This is a good mood movie, very little gore, but plenty to keep you guessing about what’s going on. Cusak does a fantastic job of showing his decent into madness. So much of the main movie is just him, you really get to see him show off some talent.

Not on par with The Shining, but definitely worth renting. Plenty of things to make you jump and plenty for you to think about. I have to admit, one of the better King stories that have been put to film. Blockbuster has hundreds of copies so you should no problem getting one… :)

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When a Stranger Calls – Rating 2.5 out of 5

It’s the classic tale of an attractive teen that helps out a friend with an “easy babysitting job”. She is then tainted with bangs, crashes, shadowy figures, noises from all parts of the home and an endless series of phone calls where the unknown caller is ultimately in the same house.

When a Stranger Calls is a formulaic, by the numbers, uninspired teen horror movie that is ultimately pointless and disappointing. It’s painfully predictable with a whole slew of characters who could be the villain. We have the mysterious housekeeper, the son who might or might not be back from college, the obsessive boyfriend, the drunken friend, the children she is babysitting but that we don’t actually see, and even the parents themselves who become unavailable whenever she tries to call them. Even the police officer she tries to get help from seems less than excited to investigate.

There are lots of bumps in the night, plenty of dark scenes (curse those power outages that always happen in these kinds of movies) and plenty of weapons conveniently located around the house. There is plenty of suspicion building, but there is no doubt about what’s going to happen. The babysitter is tormented, runs through the house knocking things over in the dark and hurting herself, frantically tries to find the housekeeper and the son but to no avail. She must face the evil alone while trying to save the children.

Nothing new in this movie except a minor amount of excitement and suspense.

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After Dark Horror Fest – 8 Films To Die For

After Dark Horror Fest – 8 Films To Die For

Well I can’t say these movies are to die for. In fact only two of them really stand out while the rest really don’t offer much.

There are certainly better films out there to watch, but as a series this isn’t too bad. It shows a lot of promise in many cases and hopefully with some more practice some of these directors and writers will have some quality goods to show us in the future. Unfortunately some of the other movies in this series show some of the real clichés and pitfalls to making this type of movie. While sometime we get good stories in a low budget (Reincarnation) we also get typical fair (the Abandoned).

In case you want to keep up here is my ranking for this series from best to not so best…

The Hamiltons
Penny Dreadful
Wicked Little Things
Dark Ride
The Abandoned

I give Lions Gate full credit for putting these out. It’s definitely good to see something other than high budget Hannibal films coming out. Hopefully we will see a new horror fest with all new title in the not too distant future. While not all showcase films they are worth renting. For the most part they set the mood for a creepy night of movie watching.

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