Chernobyl Diaries Recap

Jamie

A bunch of dumbos take a tour into a town near Chernobyl. Like dumbos they get trapped there and then must do battle with the mutant denizens of the town. Can these dumb-dumbs stop being dumb and escape before it’s too late? Find out in… Chernobyl Diaries. (If you’ve seen the movie, take the quiz as well! Test you nuclear disaster knowledge against the best of the best i.e. Jamie).

How?! Ah, to be young and dumb… emphasis on the dumb. Travelling Europe our heroes, Chris, Natalie and Amanda, make a stop in Kiev to visit Chris’s brother Paul. They mean to proceed from there to Moscow where Chris will propose to Natalie. Unfortunately Paul is super dumb and is like, “Forget proposing, bro. Let’s go to Chernobyl instead. Rad, right?” Nope. Not rad. Yet all these dumb-dumbs are like “Yup, obviously sounds amazing. We’ll get some super cool pix near that nuclear disaster. Good idea.” They join up with a tour group and head to the town, which is seemingly just an empty looking European town filled with wild dogs and a bear. Which I guess is terrifying in a non-horror film kind of way. Anyway, when they attempt to leave (presumably because they realize that they were super dumb) they find that their van has been sabotaged (a saboteur!) and they can’t leave until morning. While waiting their guide goes to investigate a noise and is killed and Chris is seriously injured. Realizing that Chris needs medical help they attempt to reach a checkpoint outside town only to be chased by dogs. When they finally make it back to the van it’s been attacked and Chris and Natalie are gone. They attempt a daring rescue only to be surrounded by mutants that have been living nearby. Their numbers are slowly whittled down until only Paul and Amanda remain. When they emerge from the reactor area they have severe radiation poisoning and are corralled by local authorities. It’s revealed that the mutants are escapees from a government experiment and we end with Amanda being thrown into that experiment to die… or perhaps become one of the mutants… or something. Bum bum bum! THE END

Why?! Did you not see where I said they were young and dumb? Isn’t that enough? You get a little backstory on the characters to show that Chris and his brother have had a rough relationship. Seems like Paul is always screwing up and Chris is always getting into trouble because of Paul. Unfortunately none of this is resolved in this film as Paul does the same thing here and everyone dies so… oh well. As for the mutants, well… they’re mutants!

What?! I do enjoy looking for products in these films just to see how much they tried given the very specific European locations. This gets an F right off the bat with a clear Telekom Srbija truck driving by in an early scene. As it sounds this is a telecommunications company servicing Serbia… where this film was actually filmed… not Ukraine. Even weirder is the beers they drink while partying it up in Ukraine: Bavaria 0.0%. This is a German beer but also a non-alcoholic beer… which is either because the actors couldn’t drink real beer in the scene or hints at a deeper backstory to our intrepid heroes. I choose the latter.

Who?! I literally had no idea the main character Chris was played by former boy band singer and child actor Jesse McCartney until I was looking around for this section of the email. Keep it up, my man, we always welcome more singers-turned-actors here at BMTHQ.

Where?! Ukraine all day never to be beaten (probably). It’s basically a perfect mapl.de.map film. Set in a weird location that is an integral part of the plot and in the title. A++ if I ever saw one.

When?! I do not know. I looked back through the film and didn’t get a glimpse at when this might take place. We certainly didn’t get anything after they got to the abandoned city… since it was abandoned. F.

I thought this movie was terrible. Not quite as bad as some of our least favorite BMT found footage horror films, but generally one of the most useless films we’ve watched in a while. I actually struggle to understand what the purpose of the entire affair was and why so much time was spent arguing and running away from wild animals rather than, you know, running away from mutants and discussing the presence of said mutants. This gets to the point where it’s very confusing as to exactly what the mutants were and why they existed (which is not a good thing since Patrick and I close watch these films). It also doesn’t help that the characters were so dumb (even for a horror film where all the characters are usually pretty dumb). Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! What do you get when you cross the heart-pounding disorienting fear from Paranormal Activity, with the gripping stranger in a strange land horror of Hostel? Wait … this isn’t a found footage film? And it isn’t torture porn? Hmmm, yeah, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Let’s get into it!

The Good – Seeing Pripyat was cool. Basically the idea behind the movie is incredibly obvious. Chernobyl is legendary in a very unique way, a nuclear disaster leaving a desolate city in the former Soviet Union. Just sets up for a zombie apocalypse type movie with a creepy atmosphere on the cheap. And congrats you guys did it, you made a movie in Pripyat.

P’s View on the Preview – Going into the film I was mainly struck with surprise that the film wasn’t a found footage film. I could have sworn it was going into it. So seeing a movie that, in my mind, would have worked better as found footage being forced into something perhaps closer in style and tone to Hostel I thought would be interesting. It isn’t like Hostel either though … I actually am not sure I’ve seen a movie quite like this, although I’m sure there are stranger-in-a-strange-land type horror films shot in the traditional manner.

The Bad – I think this film would have worked a lot better as a found footage film. Given that I heavily dislike found footage films that … is not a compliment. The movie is incredibly dull, the “monster” part of the film is unimaginative and just feels cheap, and the twist ending didn’t work. The characters are so dumb it kind of ruins the whole affair.

Sklogification – The biggest crime of the film is, naturally, how stupid the characters are, epitomized by Chris leaving the van in order to … well to cripple himself and throw the tour into disarray. Let’s say instead he doesn’t leave the van. Now instead the whole band is mobile. Dawn breaks, they know where to go (Uri, the tour guide, naturally has a map), and they know it is 13 miles away. And they are off to the races. First chased by dogs, and then getting turned around by a mysterious band of men carrying Uri’s gun (uh oh are they friend or foe?). As they are picked off one by one can they make the checkpoint in time? … I like it more at least. Racing along a lonely road hoping to get to your destination in an abandoned city with wild animals. I wouldn’t even touch the mutant thing, too obvious, not to say offensive. Just the fear of whether what you are seeing is some urban legend come to life or guards protecting an abandoned city.

The BMT – Terrible. The movie is boring. For me, a person who has come to appreciate good horror films (partly by watching so many bad ones), this isn’t even bad. It merely brings nothing to the game. The more I think on it though the more I wonder about the tourist part of it … makes me want to watch An American Werewolf in London.

StreetCreditReport.com – Turns out critics agreed with me as none of them even bothered to report on this film as far as 2012 went. Even where there was 25 films in some of these lists there was no mention. I looked up the worst horror films and found this list interesting actually … because the guy calls the film found footage … it is not. It is traditionally shot. Bizarre.

No homework as has become usual it seems.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Chernobyl Diaries Preview

After a frigid trip to the X-treme heights of the Alps, the Bad Movie Twins are ready for some fun in the sun. Unfortunately on our way to Monaco we were waylaid by a black market travel agent promising the adventure of our lifetime with a trip to forbidden Chernobyl. “Why not?” we say. Can’t be much worse than the horrors we see on a weekly basis at BMT HQ. That’s right! We’re creeping our way into Ukraine and watching Chernobyl Diaries. Since I know nothing of this movie other than it qualifies and clearly takes place in Ukraine I’m gonna go ahead and guess that it’s about a young woman who is wooed by two young suitors, the rich man she knows she must marry and the rakish rogue called to adventure that she so desires. Set during the tumult of the Ukranian Civil War, young Nastya has only her diary to confide in. Set your heart aflame with… Chernobyl Diaries. Oh… and there are like vampires and Frankenstein’s monsters in it also since this is the horror/thriller entry in the cycle. Nailed it. Let’s go!

Chernobyl Diaries (2012) – BMeTric: 65.3

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(That is a very strange plot. I think this is regressing from two different means. Where it starts is basically where fans of perhaps horror in general, or maybe the one of the actors, thought “meh below average”. And then it quickly goes straight to where normal people thought of it (very below average). It just sticking at 5.0 is interesting and I don’t really have a theory on it. Usually that means a film is particularly bad, but I guess we’ll see.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Six “extreme tourists” are stranded in Pripyat, the supposedly abandoned Ukrainian city near the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, and discover they may not be alone after all. Despite a few scares ad stretches of suspense, small-budget thriller plods along a predictable path through familiar territory.

(A few scares and stretches of suspense? This is already heads-and-shoulders above a lot of horror films. I’m wondering now whether this is actually going to be weirdly better than we thought it would be … I mean if it has a scare that is genuinely not bad for a bad horror film.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLRL5rjmqS8

(Hmmm … You know I could have sworn this was a found footage film. But it isn’t. Like  the camera isn’t really being held by anyone for the most part, only occasionally. How strange … Maybe I was thinking of Apollo 18 or something. Looks like a real world Silent Hill though. Actually they would have been  better off going with a story like that now that I think about it.)

Directors – Bradley Parker – (BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Notes: Kind of first and foremost a visual effects guy. He’s attached as a visual effects artist on the next Godzilla film (King of the Monsters). He was second unit director for a few of the Planet of the Apes films as well though.)

Writers – Oren Peli (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Paranormal Activity; Paranormal Activity 2; Paranormal Activity 3; Future BMT: Paranormal Activity 4; Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension; Area 51; Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones; BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Notes: He was a software programmers at one point helping to develop Photon Paint for the Commodore Amiga)

Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke (screenplay) – (BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Notes: Grandsons of Dick Van Dyke. They’ve written a few Asylum mockbusters and acted in a few more as well. I’m not exactly sure why or how they got involved here … I guess it is one of those things where a movie is actually written by like 20 people and these two guys did juuuust enough to get a cut.)

Actors – Jesse McCartney – (Known For: Horton Hears a Who!; TinkerBell and the Secret of the Wings; Beware the Gonzo; Future BMT: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel; Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked; Alvin and the Chipmunks; Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip; BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Notes: He was the youngest member of the short-lived boy band Dream Street which disbanded in 2002 after a dispute between the parents of the artists and the production company. He’s been in a number of Disney shows like Hannah Montana.)

Jonathan Sadowski – (Known For: She’s the Man; Die Hard 4.0; Spring Breakdown; Future BMT: The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard; BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Friday the 13th; Notes: He was the nerd character in Friday the 13th. He was also in the main cast of S#*! My Dad Says.)

Olivia Taylor Dudley – (Known For: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story; The Dictator; Dude Bro Party Massacre III; Future BMT: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension; The Vatican Tapes; Dumbbells; BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Transcendence; Notes: She’s apparently most famous for being one of the stars of SyFy’s Magicians television series. All of the news about her has to do with that show.)

Budget/Gross – $1 million / Domestic: $18,119,640 (Worldwide: $37,157,648)

(Obviously made a fine amount of money. Interesting that it isn’t Blumhouse Productions considering they did Paranormal Activity which has the same writer. That $1 million budget certainly seems like the Blumhouse style though. This film netted probably $13 million in profits, which is a pretty penny if they had the same profit sharing arrangement that Blumhouse tends to do.)

#210 for the Horror – R-Rated genre

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(This genre is just going to keep going up as R-rated films become more profitable I think. It is an interesting trend, and It and Get Out kind of prove it is a good trend I think (and R-rated film was probably in the top three most likely film to win best picture which is crazy). Freddy vs. Jason is the highest BMT on the list.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 17% (15/86): Despite an interesting premise and spooky atmospherics, Chernobyl Diaries is mostly short on suspense and originality.

(There it is again. So this movie is likely to be an okay horror which is just a little trite and tired. I think I’d accept that over The Devil Inside or whatever. Reviewer Highlight: Director Bradley Parker shakes his camera around a lot. – Hank Sartin, Time Out)

Poster – Sklognobyl Diaries (B)

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(I really enjoy the artistry of the poster despite its similarity to many cheap straight-to-DVD covers. But maybe I just think that because most films have famous actors on the poster and this one doesn’t have any actors to put on the poster.)

Tagline(s) – Experience the fallout (A-)

(Hmmmm… this doesn’t sound like a tagline to a horror film. More like a thriller about trying to stop the end of the world via nuclear war. Otherwise this is excellent. Short and sweet and clever.)

Keyword(s) – abandoned city; Top Ten by BMeTric: 71.6 Cell (I) (2016); 65.3 Chernobyl Diaries (2012); 61.4 Vanishing on 7th Street (2010); 50.4 The Swarm (1978); 46.0 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016); 41.5 Kill Switch (I) (2017); 31.1 Suicide Squad (2016); 28.0 Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970); 26.9 Land of the Dead (2005); 24.0 Incubo sulla città contaminata (1980);

(Oh look our first one. It is kind of amazing because these are all basically on our radar. I kind of love how many movies have the keyword “abandoned city” entered for them as well, so specific. There was an abandoned city in Expendables … 2? Whatever, all I’m saying is the list isn’t exhaustive.)

Notes – Oren Peli first thought of the idea for the story when he saw a photo blog posted by a girl traveling through Pripyat on a motorcycle. (Cooool)

The film was shot on location in Hungary and Serbia. (Wait one goddamned second … that isn’t Ukraine!)

Real Ukranian tours to Prypiat and Chernobyl can be booked online for under 100 USD. (No thanks)

Writer/Producer Oren Peli – who also created Paranormal Activity – strongly defends this movie against claims it was insensitive to a devastating disaster, saying “I found it very sad and fascinating and eerie and creepy… I thought it would be a great setting for a scary horror film. It was never our intention to offend anyone.”

Not screened in advance for critics.

After the end credits, the final sound the viewer hears is a rapidly clicking Geiger counter indicating high radiation. (ugh, alright)

According to Reuters, at least 1 organization has tried to use the film to raise awareness and funding for children of the disaster. Producer Peli is pleased with that but divulges, “I’m not going to pretend that was my main goal – my main goal was to create a movie that people will find entertaining and scary and will enjoy it.”

Jonathan Sadowski and Jesse McCartney have since worked together in the sitcom Young and Hungry. (fun facts)

Ouija Recap

Jamie

Laine Morris is struggling with the apparent suicide of her closest friend and ropes a group of teens into attempting to contact her through a mysterious ouija board. Instead they unintentionally awaken an evil spirit. Can they subdue the spooky ghost before it’s too late? Find out in… Ouija.

How?! When Laine Morris’ BFF forever Debbie dies in an apparent suicide she is shocked. Laine is tormented by the fact that she didn’t get to say goodbye, so when a mysterious Ouija board shows up she decides to communicate with Debbie one last time. Her friends and her gather together in Debbie’s house and think they’ve contacted her, only to realize too late that they’ve instead communicated with an evil spirit (Disclaimer: Hasbro does not support the use of its board games for communicating with evil spirits). Oh no! While the spirit kills them off one by one and grows stronger they race to solve the mystery. The find out that the spirit was a little girl murdered by her mother and they need to find her body and free her spirit to put her to rest. In a totally original twist that we definitely didn’t just see in the Ring franchise, it turns out that this was all a trick and they actually make the spirit even stronger. Double oh no! In a final confrontation Laine does battle with the spirit over a rousing game of Ouija while her sister is able to destroy the body. Phew. They did it… or did they? Bum bum bum. THE END.

Why?! The impetus for a bunch of high schoolers to gather together and play a little Ouija is entirely due to Laine wanting to have one last goodbye with her best pal Debbie. All the other teens are basically like “We’re only doing this because you are clearly struggling to process this tragedy and we’re here to help you.” Unfortunately this empathy gets them all killed. The spirit is just evil, having been driven mad through being used as a medium in seances. The spirits she communicated with told her to do terrible things and boy howdy does she.

What?! You mean besides the lame board game that this is a (really bad) advertisement for? Doesn’t seem like a super fun addition to game night. That is unless you awaken a spooky ghost who’s tormented only by its own enthusiasm for board games.

Who?! The editor Ken Blackwell makes an appearance in the film as Internet Expert… whatever that is. I don’t remember why there would have been an Internet Expert in the film. It also seems unnecessarily cruel that he had to show up on set and do a scene when they were also giving him a pile of useless film and making him edit it over and over with different stories and reshoots added in. Almost like the film was created as a form of torture for Ken Blackwell.

Where?! This film is set in California. It just obviously is. However I couldn’t make out the license plate clearly on my burn of the film so technically unknown. My theory is bolstered by the fact that the prequel, set in the same house as this film, is very explicitly set in Los Angeles. D.

When?! With how closely they seemed to keep the setting hidden (or more likely just didn’t care much about it), I thought for sure I would have to do without any inkling of when this took place. Not the case! In the age of cell phones you can always count on the possibility that a character looks at a spooky text and the date and time are in full view. That is the case here where we are informed that it is in fact March 8th. The cell phone date is the temporal setting equivalent to a license plate. Weak but precise. B-

You can tell by how little I wrote for the recap that the film is very basic. Pretty much as basic a ghost story as you can get. Take The Ring and strip away everything of substance and you might end up with something like this. It is also incredibly poorly made. Clearly taken apart, reshot, and put back together you can see where characters were inserted or changed throughout the story. It is actually so bad that it makes The Bye Bye Man look like a masterpiece in comparison. And that’s quite the feat since Bye Bye Man was hilarious. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Hasbro wants those Marvel bucks (who doesn’t?) but their big greed is now your big problem. They need a hit to start their board game universe off right! Well … horror films are easy peasy and cheap as shit. Call up the cheapest director available, what could possibly go wrong? Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel / Prequel / Remake) – Uh … the movie is better than you would expect of a cut-to-shit horror film based on a board game. That is really really really it. For the good version of Sequel / Prequel / Remake I kind of want to highlight Ouija: Origin of Evil. So, the entire underlying story of Ouija (a mother dabbles in channelling ghosts, but her daughter succumbs to the evil they find in their dark magic) was completely invented during reshoots. You can kind of tell the movie knows that the background story is interesting, but they can’t really do much with it because they just didn’t have the material to fill the space. So, after the modest success of the film, they just made the obviously more interesting prequel. And it worked! The movie got 82% on Rotten Tomatoes and is apparently great! That’s crazy impressive stuff. I cannot wait to watch that film and see what they did with it, I’ll try and report back when I do.

The Bad (Tril-Oh-Jeez) – The acting is quite bad, all the way down to bad horror film all-star Douglas Smith from recent BMT The Bye Bye Man. The kills look silly and cheap. There is not a single moment in the film that is scary. The twist is obvious (don’t help the ghost girl idiots, you just got Ringed!), and it is clear it only comes about because the movie was cut to pieces desperately trying to get something other than an F cinemascore. As for the Tril-Oh-Jeez how about the don’t-help-the-little-girl-ghost trilogy with Rings, One Missed Call, and Ouija. Can we talk about these dummies and how they deal with ghosts. For reals … don’t help the ghosts. Oh, you have to help the child! You have to help her stop the mother! No. No you don’t. The mother hasn’t done shit for the last like 60 years. Why do you think all of a sudden it is your job to solve all this anyways? Obviously, helping the girl is what it wants. Obviously she is going to ouija your ass the instant you help her out. Y’all dumb. Don’t help the ghosts! … don’t help the ghosts!!

The BMT (StreetCreditReport.com) – Paired with The Bye Bye Man in close proximity the film has that Douglas Smith one-two punch. The brand of so-not-scary-it-is-actually-funny horror film would have probably bored me a year ago, but I find them somewhat fascinating now. Like … how do you manufacture a scare from a disparate set of not-scary shots I wonder. It has to be just impossible. Like … a loud sound and shake the camera a bit? Brutal. As for StreetCreditReport.com … amazingly there is nothing. You have a bunch of horror nerds complaining about how terrible the film is, but there is a somewhat surprising lack of acknowledgement in the media. I remember even we balked at bothering with the film at the time. Our mistake.

As far as the Adaptation is concerned? I mean … Ouija isn’t a board game. It is barely a board. So what can you really do with that? Honestly, if I were to give one decent compliment to the film, I would say they did a pretty good job making Ouija seem like a thing people do and think about. I could have done with a bit more ghost conjuring perhaps, a few more potent Ouija scenes, but otherwise as far as adapting Ouija is concerned … this was a good start. And they ended up making a very good sequel apparently! So I’ll give it a B. Solid prep for what ended up being a surprisingly adept adaptation in the prequel all for something that had no business being adapted into a movie in the first place.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

88 Minutes Preview

A small note prior to this post: Once again we take a look back at the movies that we watched over five years ago and choose a Hall of Fame class, five movies that we thought embodied BMT in some way. Perhaps they were particularly bad, or an example of a specific bad movie trope, whatever, something made them stand out as special in our minds. Since we didn’t do email previews back in 2011/2012 we also decided to provide a preview for the movie as well. This is the third in a series of five leading up to our yearly awards the Smaddies Baddies. A recap (Hall of Fame speech really) will follow immediate afterwards to explain why the movie was chosen, things we loved about the movie, and things we discovered upon second viewing. Enjoy!

88 Minutes (2007) – BMeTric: 37.1

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(Wow, I think this is a first. It regressed down from what appears to be roughly above-average rating on IMDb. No wonder its BMeTric is so low. I cannot believe it has over fifty thousand votes and a rating of around 6.0, that is truly mind-boggling.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Dreadful thriller about a forensic psychiatrist (and professor) who’s received an all-too-palpable death threat from a man he helped send to Death Row (McDonough). Lumbering, heavyhanded theatrics and clumsy attempts at suspense make this a total waste of time.

(aaaaaaaaaye I see what you did there Leonard. 88 minutes … a waste of time. I got you. This is what I live for though. Heavyhanded theatrics. If anything says good-bad thriller or drama it is heavyhanded theatrics. I want dolly zooms all over my film, I want rending of clothes, chewing of scenery. You’ve given me everything I need to know Leonard … this is why 88 minutes is great (from what I recall).)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUCd805JDJk

(The bird’s nest they tricked Al Pacino into wearing on his head is absurd. Tick tock doc. Tick tock! Getting me amped. He got a guuuuuuuun ….)

Directors – Jon Avnet – (Known For: Fried Green Tomatoes; Future BMT: Righteous Kill; Up Close & Personal; Red Corner; The War; BMT: 88 Minutes; Notes: Not sure if this ended his feature directing career, but it was the last film he directed. He produces and directs a lot of television. His filmography is tripping me out, he does a lot of scripted television for his own channel WIGS previously funded by YouTube and digital exclusive, so a lot of his credits are shows I’ve legit never heard of with giant stars in them. Like this.)

Writers – Gary Scott Thompson (written by) – (Known For: Fast & Furious 8; Furious 6; Fast & Furious 7; Fast 5; Future BMT: Hollow Man; BMT: The Fast and the Furious; 2 Fast 2 Furious; 88 Minutes; Fast & Furious; Notes: If you can’t tell he wrote the original Fast and The Furious (the rest are character credits). He also created the show Las Vegas, and wrote the show Taxi Brooklyn (the American show based on the French film Taxi which was remade into the Fallon and BMT classic Taxi!))

Actors – Al Pacino – (Known For: The Godfather; Heat; The Godfather: Part II; Scarface; The Devil’s Advocate; The Godfather: Part III; Insomnia; Ocean’s Thirteen; Donnie Brasco; Scent of a Woman; Glengarry Glen Ross; Dog Day Afternoon; Danny Collins; Dick Tracy; Carlito’s Way; The Insider; Any Given Sunday; Serpico; Cruising; Dabka; Future BMT: The Son of No One; Misconduct; Revolution; Righteous Kill; Two for the Money; Stand Up Guys; Bobby Deerfield; BMT: Jack and Jill; Gigli; 88 Minutes; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Couple for Jack and Jill in 2012; Nominated for Worst Actor in 1986 for Revolution; and in 2009 for 88 Minutes, and Righteous Kill; and Nominated for Worst Supporting Actor for Gigli in 2004; Notes: Y’all know Al Pacino. Let’s go with a nice BMT themed fun fact for him: for a bit he was in both the best rated film on IMDb (The Godfather) and the worst rated film on IMDb (Gigli).)

Alicia Witt – (Known For: Dune; Two Weeks Notice; Mr. Holland’s Opus; Last Holiday; The Upside of Anger; Cecil B. DeMented; Citizen Ruth; Liebestraum; Bodies, Rest & Motion; Fun; Playing Mona Lisa; Future BMT: Urban Legend; Peep World; Bongwater; Four Rooms; BMT: Vanilla Sky; A Madea Christmas; 88 Minutes; Notes: Born in Worcester, MA. She is also a rather accomplished pianist and has gone on tour with Ben Folds and others.)

Leelee Sobieski – (Known For: Eyes Wide Shut; Public Enemies; Deep Impact; Never Been Kissed; Roadkill; Max; Walk All Over Me; My First Mister; A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries; Future BMT: Jungle 2 Jungle; Branded; The Glass House; Finding Bliss; BMT: The Wicker Man (HoF); In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (HoF); Here on Earth; 88 Minutes (HoF); Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Supporting Actress in 2009 for 88 Minutes, and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale; Notes: Her filmography is a lot more impressive that I would imagine considering she will have been in four of the first fifteen BMT Hall of Fame films. I think she’s taken a bit of time off from acting as she is now a mother of two. Was previously married to Matthew Davis who is best known as the jerk boyfriend of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde)

Budget/Gross – $30 million / Domestic: $17,213,467 (Worldwide: $32,593,385)

(Bombtastic. Stunning that they’d spend $30 million on a weird thriller starring Pacino, but he had a bit more … clout at the time I think. Just not good.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 5% (6/122): 88 Minutes is a shockingly inept psychological thriller that expertly squanders the talent at hand.

(“Talent” … Pacino. You are referring to Pacino. I love Leelee and McDonough, but they are BMT all stars. To put in another way: This will be, along with In the Name of the King A Dungeon Siege Tale, Leelee Sobieski’s third Hall of Fame BMT film (Wicker Man is the other). And along with I Know Who Killed Me this is also McDonough’s third (Street Fighter Legend of Chun Li is the other). That is amazing. So the cast might not be the tops … all I’m saying.)

Poster – Eighty-Sklog Minutes (C-)

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(I actually kind of hate this poster. The stylization comes across as cheap and half-assed. The red letters are kind of embossed in a weird way as well. We’ve had posters similar to this before and we came to the same conclusion: it looks cheap.)

Tagline(s) – Jack Gramm has 88 minutes to solve a murder. His own. (D)

(I also kind of hate this. It repeats the title (strike one). It is kind of expectedly inevitable, in that of course the “twist” on the tagline is that it is his own murder (strike two). And I don’t even like the name of the main character. I can’t even figure out why I hate all those things so much. I gave a little bump from an F because it at least tells me something about the movie.)

Keyword(s) – serial killer; Top Ten by BMeTric: 81.0 I Know Who Killed Me (2007); 78.9 Basic Instinct 2 (2006); 78.8 Halloween: Resurrection (2002); 78.2 Feardotcom (2002); 76.8 The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1994); 76.2 I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998); 74.1 Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005); 73.9 Species II (1998); 73.5 Psycho (1998); 72.9 Zoolander 2 (2016);

(I wonder if the Deuce Bigalow 2 note is a spoiler … is that part of the storyline or a one off joke. I’m intrigued. Otherwise we’ll likely watch all of those .. maybe not Psycho unless we are rolling through a remake cycle of something. Nice list though, those are some real bad horror / thriller films. Shout out to fellow Hall of Fame inductee I Know Who Killed Me.)

Notes – The film runs in “real time” meaning that at the moment Jack Gramm is first told he has only 88 minutes to live, the remaining running time of the motion picture until the identity of the person who set Gramm up is exactly 88 minutes. (yiiiiiiissssss. From what I recall they don’t make a big deal out of this, it was just kind of a fun trick)

The movie trailer of the film reveals parts of scenes that failed to reach the final cut, most obvious of which were flashbacks of the trial convicting Jon Foster. (I wish this movie was called 888 minutes so I could just live inside of it. Let’s get a tv series going, call me Netflix)

Was scheduled for release in 2005 but the release date was pushed back numerous times. (awesome)

Jon Avnet replaced James Foley as director. (Probably at the last minutes, and I thank him for it)

Filmed on campus at the University of British Columbia and in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Al Pacino)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Leelee Sobieski)

Ouija Preview

Oh boy. I am pretty excited for this week’s film. It’s not just because Horror/Thriller has turned into my favorite section of the cycle, but also because this film in particular looked so misguided and awful when it was released that it piqued my curiosity. That’s right! We are watching Ouija, the horror film based on the Hasbro spirit board game and one of the many horror films produced by Michael Bay over the years (he’s a noted enthusiast). Seems like an obvious choice to make an adaptation out of. It’s already about spirits and spooky ghosts so as long as it’s not totally unoriginal and terrible you should be fine. Easy, right? Wrong. Let’s go!

Ouija (2014) – BMeTric: 75.7

Ouija_BMeT

Ouija_RV

(Pretty good. A film in the 4.0’s staying strong and not rising as votes are added is a very very good sign. This is a case of what I will call Arrested Regression. The film should be regressing to the mean (the mean being that of films with around the same number of votes), but it isn’t. This is because it is in actuality as terrible as it initially seemed, so people seemingly are choosing to see the film despite knowing that it is terrible.)

RogerEbert.com – 3 stars –  Though I admit 16-year old me enjoyed the hell out of “Witchboard,” I didn’t think I’d have fun at “Ouija.” But I did, and assisting me were actors who gave their paper thin teenage types a little humor and character, and the film’s look. Shot by veteran camera operator, David Emmerichs, “Ouija” is a glossy hoot, showing more flair than a throwback to the 80’s horror movie should. As a lifelong horror movie viewer, I wasn’t scared by the film, but I dug the many ways it tried to goose me.

(Wowza! Three stars?! The review reads a little oddly, admitting he basically had a soft spot for the nostalgia the film evoked, but it is an interesting take I suppose. Not very many people agree to say the least.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBLmBdn2QF8

(Classic case where the less you show the better. Definitely parts that make me think it’ll be spooky scary. But then all the parts that they actually show the ghost or have someone flossing with their mouth stitched shut is just… not.)

Directors – Stiles White – (BMT: Ouija; Notes: Started in the industry in special effects before launching his career in screenwriting with his writing partner/wife Juliet Snowden.)

Writers – Juliet Snowden (written by) – (Known For: Ouija: Origin of Evil; The Possession; Future BMT: Boogeyman; Knowing; BMT: Ouija; Notes: Married to Stiles White. Also executive producer on the film.)

Stiles White (written by) – (Known For: Ouija: Origin of Evil; The Possession; Future BMT: Boogeyman; Knowing; BMT: Ouija; Notes: Apparently they are both attached to a remake of a German film called Du Hast Es Versprochen. Hoping it works out as well as this one did.)

Actors – Olivia Cooke – (Known For: The Limehouse Golem; Thoroughbreds; Me and Earl and the Dying Girl; The Signal; Katie Says Goodbye; Future BMT: The Quiet Ones; BMT: Ouija; Notes: Notably starring in the upcoming blockbuster release Ready Player One. Also in the new Amazon adaptation of Vanity Fair.)

Ana Coto – (BMT: Ouija; Notes: Really hasn’t done anything much since Ouija. Weirdly was just in a Logan Paul film released exclusively to Shudder called Can’t Take It Back which is coincidentally about putting something on the internet that you can’t take back… must not have been much of an acting stretch for Logan.)

Daren Kagasoff – (BMT: Ouija; Notes: Probably best known as one of the leads of the show The Secret Life of the American Teenager.)

Budget/Gross – $5 million / Domestic: $50,856,010 (Worldwide: $103,590,271)

(Obviously a colossal hit. They all are aren’t they? These small budget horror films. It is quite the phenomenon that they can effectively print money with these types of movies.)

#39 for the Horror – Supernatural genre

ouija_supernaturalhorror

(Comes is right around The Devil Inside which isn’t a good look. Being a major money-maker for cheap horror means it has been growing in power throughout the 2000s, although it looks like maybe it is reaching its saturation point now. BMT: The Ring Series, The Devil Inside, Silent Hill, Thirteen Ghosts, Ghost Ship, The Fog, Bless the Child, The Forest, The Gallows, and  The Bye Bye Man)

#13 for the Toy Adaptation genre

ouija_toyadaptation

(They are desperately trying to make this a thing. It looks like it has so far resisted moving beyond a few big budget franchises into faller fair. I feel like this is going to stay in the realm on animated films for the most part though, they’re all adapted from cartoons basically, so Transformers is really the odd-man out, no the other way around. BMT: The Transformer series, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Bratz)

Rotten Tomatoes – 6% (5/79): Slowly, steadily, although no one seems to be moving it in that direction, the Ouija planchette points to NO.

(I wish someone at RT would tell them that no one wants a joke consensus. Just tell me the actual consensus of the critics, which is kinda the point of your website. This tells me nothing other than you spent too much time trying to think up something clever.)

Poster – Sklog-ja (B-)

ouija

(I can dig this. Bold choice with some interesting font. Decidedly not scary though. Literally just a ouija board… why would I be scared of that?)

Tagline(s) – Keep telling yourself it’s just a game (B)

(I think this is good. Sometimes I have to say it a few times to make sure it isn’t nonsense. But this is short enough and gives a hint of the spooky scary concept. Wish it was a bit more clever.)

Keyword(s) – ghost; Top Ten by BMeTric: 84.8 The Fog (2005); 80.2 One Missed Call (2008); 78.9 Feardotcom (2002); 76.9 Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977); 75.7 Ouija (II) (2014); 73.2 Zoolander 2 (2016); 72.8 The Apparition (2012); 70.7 The Gallows (2015); 68.7 The Haunting (1999); 67.5 Pulse (I) (2006);

(We are killing this list. The Fog is by far the best one there. Although The Haunting is a pretty special viewing experience as well.)

Notes – The name can either be pronounced ‘wee-ja’ or ‘wee-gee’. Charles Kennard, founder of the company manufacturing the boards, claimed he learned the name “Ouija” from asking the board what it wanted to be called. (My god)

Far from being ancient, the Ouija Board was patented on May 28, 1890. (Well … yeah, that isn’t a surprise)

Hasbro Studios first horror film. (Probably last? Oh wait, they made (a pretty good) sequel to this film.)

According to costume designer Mary Jane Fort, the cast and crew would often take breaks between shooting and use the Ouija board to jokingly predict the box office opening weekend numbers. (Z-E-R-O D-O-L-L-A-R-S … you know what this is stupid)

The film’s tagline, “Keep telling yourself it’s just a game,” was used for several years as the advertising slogan for the Ouija board game.

Though there are many other horror movies about Ouija boards – some with the same title – this film is not officially a remake of any of them and tells its own story revolving around the titular game. (Well yeah, it is a Hasbro production)

None of the actors portraying teenagers in the film were actually in their teens. The youngest actor was Olivia Cooke who was 21 at the time of filming.

When re-shoots went underway, in the process of drastically changing Doris Zander’s backstory, two new characters were created including her sister and mother. Lin Shaye, who plays Paulina Zander, was not in the original version of the film and was cast for the re-shot footage.

The location where Laine goes to visit Paulina Zander is also known as Eichen House in MTV’s hit TV show, Teen Wolf (2011), where Shelley Hennig, who plays Debbie, stars as Malia Tate/Hale.

Although this is the first film theatrically released starring Shelley Hennig, she filmed this after completing her work on Unfriended (2014) which was previously released as Cybernatural making it her proper film debut (technically). It would be theatrically released about 6 months after the release of this film.

Some cast members are said to have experienced supernatural occurrences since the production of the film Ouija ended. It is said to be influenced by the making of the film.

In the original unaltered version of the film, Doris Zander had a much different look to her. In the original cut she took the appearance of a young girl with half of her face burnt while always carrying a doll. The re-shoots version is a rotting girl with sewn lips. (What? Changing the fundamental look, and thus backstory, of a character like that seems like an odd decision)

Erin Moriarty was cast in the film in an undisclosed role though she does not appear in the finished project. Her scenes were deleted when the film was reshot.

Another theory of where the name of the Ouija Board comes from is that it is the French and German for “Yes”: Oui-ja. The Board has Yes and No answers as well as the alphabet. (No that seems much more plausible)

Film debut of actors Ana Coto, Darren Kagasoff, Bianca A. Santos, and (technically) Shelley Hennig.

Directorial debut of Stiles White.

Although Sarah Morris is supposed to be Laine’s younger sister in the film, in real-life the actress Ana Coto is actually 3 years older than Olivia Cooke, who plays Laine.

The first trailer for the film was released with the theatrical release of The Fault in our Stars (2014) containing alternate footage. A new trailer was released in the summer containing new scenes. In an interview, Olivia Cooke stated that about 50% of the film was reshot due to a negative reaction from test audiences, as a result Universal ordered a week’s worth of re-shoots during the summer 4 months before its theatrical release which drastically altered the original plot. The original cut contained a different assortment of footage including an alternate death scene for Debbie where she instead falls to her death instead of hanging herself (which is why the chandelier is swinging when Pete sees it because she struck it while falling) along with the most advertised scene where Sarah’s eyes roll back and she says “it’s not even real okay? It’s just a game”. Nona was also supposed to have a more prominent role in the film as it implied she becomes possessed in the promotional material. (Wow … this is going to be a mess)

Rings Recap

Jamie

Samara is back, Jack! Holt is off to college leaving behind his girlfriend Julia. When he stops answering her calls she races to campus to find that he’s watched the Ring video for a research project. She saves his life by watching his copy, but realizes too late that the video is mutated and can’t be copied. Can they unravel this new mystery before it’s too late? Find out in… Rings.

What?! When a Very Cool Professor (we know he’s rad because he smokes weed and sleeps with his students… uh… cool?) stumbles upon the Samara tape at a flea market he begins research into the effects of the tape. Some time later we are introduce to Holt and Julia. They are super in love and whispering sweet nothings to each other before Holt heads away to college. They keep in touch diligently until Holt straight up ghosts her one day shortly before she is meant to visit. That ain’t cool, Holt! She rushes to campus and finds that he’s been caught up in the Very Cool Professor’s project! Oh no! After witnessing the death of another subject in the experiment, Julia takes matters into her own hands and watches Holt’s copy to save his life. It’s all cool says the Very Cool Professor, but when he tries to make a copy for Julia it turns out the video is mutated and rendered unreproducible. Decidedly uncool, Very Cool Professor! Analysis of the new scenes all point to Sacrament Valley, the town where Samara was ultimately buried. When Holt and Julia go there they find a near ghost town filled only with sadness. In their explorations Holt and Julia discover that this town was where Samara’s mother Evelyn was from and that she was impregnated by the town priest and kept captive in a secret room under the church. Creepy. Unfortunately for them that very priest is still there and attempts to murder them before his secret is out. Just before he kills them, Samara pulls the ol’ switcheroo and crawls out of a phone to kill him instead. All seems well until at the very end we get a Spoiler Alert where it turns out that Sarama has possessed Julia and is spreading the Ring virus to all corners of the world. THE END.

Why?! Like the first Ring film this asks the question of how far one is willing to go for love. After Holt is roped into the video experiment, Julia makes the choice to save his life by watching a copy of his video. She took on that risk for love and honestly it didn’t work out. Should have let that dumbo die. After that their motivation is to help Samara find peace in the hopes that it cures Julia. Unfortunately that doesn’t work out because she’s pure evil. People keep making this mistake. Stop helping Samara! She is clearly a hate-filled demon that cannot be trusted.

What?! This film seems particularly focused on the effectiveness of Apple products to communicate to your long-distance beau, copy death videos for the viewing pleasure of your next victim, light up a creepy underground dungeon, or bring Samara wherever you go so she can kill the homicidal priest that’s trapped you in his house. Makes you wonder if they actually paid for this because it makes their products out to be horror devices.

Who?! God do I wish there was a Planchet in this film. Would have loved a chubby best friend cracking jokes about Samara as she crawled towards him. Since we don’t I just want to use this space to give a round of applause for writer Akiva Goldsman. What. A. Year. This, Transformers: The Last Knight, and The Dark Tower. It’s glorious.

Where?! Most of the film takes place in Washington state. First in Spokane, where Holt goes to college, and then in the made up town of Sacrament Valley, where Samara is from. I bump this up to a B for how Washington has played a big role in the entire Ring series.

When?! A true favorite of mine for a Secret Holiday Film Alert! Julia and Holt are going to see each other six weeks after he leaves for college. That’s when he has a long weekend for, that’s right, Columbus Day! In fact when Holt ghosts her we see a series of texts of her trying to reach him spanning from October 6-8, meaning that major events in this film take place on the all important date of October 9th. Boom. That’s a B+ because it’s amazing.

This film started off in the way that I kind of hoped The Ring Two would have gone: the release of the tape being part of dark web culture and researched by rogue scientists. It’s a great story. Unfortunately they abandon it almost immediately to rehash the mystery surrounding Samara’s past. Seems to be a trend in the story. Stick your toe into something different and then quickly retreat back into the thriller-mystery convention that made the first film a hit. I’m always up for some more lore when it comes to franchises, just wish it wasn’t so lame and bleak. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The Golden Boy became the Golden Dud after he botched the sequel to the megahit (and his baby) The Ring. Meanwhile, everyone else is just copying his game with this supernatural horror shit. The Golden Boy is going he back in the game! Show these children what is what! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read The Ring Two recap. Meanwhile, let’s get into it!

The Good (BMulTiverse Theory) – I’m glad they got some closure on the story of Samara. It would seem like with the final rebirth of Samara here they can leave the video behind and start, if they so choose, to explore more about the demon itself. I kind of hope they do it. The story itself isn’t terrible, it is just unfortunate it was done in such a trite way in movies that didn’t live up to the original’s promise. Since I’m going to do a remake in the Bad section this week let’s explore another BMulTiverse Theory. I honestly believe if The Ring had been made about 10 years later this would be The Conjuring. The Conjuring has had three films, but then a spin-off series (Annabelle) and two more spin-offs in production (The Nun and The Crooked Man). The Ring could have gone deep into the origins of Samara, and then started to explore other demonic beings that have, in their own way, touched the world, exploiting are growing dependence on technology to make their power grow. The Ring was too far ahead of its time and instead ushered in an era of bad J Horror adaptations instead, many of which I’m sure we will discuss in the future.

The Bad (Crimes Against BMT-anity) – The acting is pretty rough. They toss out a fairly interesting story (a scientist studying Samara’s abilities) in yet another Janus Device (see The Ring Two recap for the definition) whereby the movie is almost perfectly split in twain: First the discovery of the college experimentation with Samara, and then a road trip to Samara’s mother’s home town. In this case I think the back half is weakest, partially because it seems like they kind of copying Don’t Breathe’s blind-man-hunting-you-down-in-a-darkened-house routine. The biggest Crime Against BMT-anity in this film is definitely the lost opportunity in exploring Samara’s powers. The rumor is that they were hoping to create a whole Ring Cinematic Universe, and the scientist would have been a perfect jumping off point. Almost like a Stephen King thinner idea Samara represents the potential to discovering a demonic power unknown to this world. And when they drill down into that power it unleashes a pandora’s box of other demon. Johnny Galecki is a pretty big name, and could have been that evil Crichton-esque Mad Scientist and a constant to the series, insistent that the pursuit of knowledge (and by extension fame) is so pure that even death and destruction can be ignored in the face of it. It would have been an interesting twist if they had a place to go with it. Hmmm, this is almost a remake in an of itself, and could have gone into the good part as well. Maybe I need to watch more supernatural horror. I would have thought someone would have gone after the thinner idea from Stephen King books. It is a great idea, it is just that Stephen King adaptations are usually terrible.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – Like The Ring Two the legs can go on for days because The Ring likely marks a point in which BMT will start to look at a watch J Horror a bit more. Finally, we do have a bit of street cred because I can find a … it looks like a blog, but it is mentioned here. Unlike some of the recent films we’ve done I am confident Rings, being the descendant of a well respected horror film, will get some play in worst-of lists.

In this case we did have a bit of a Homework Sklog-signment in the original The Ring. I loved The Ring on second viewing. The movie isn’t really scary per se, but the investigative aspect of it is really interesting. They keep the mythos tight, don’t fall into a trap of over-explanation, and have a great twist ending (Naomi Watts you doofus, why’d you help Samara!). Others don’t agree apparently, both Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert gave The Ring Two a better review than The Ring (I think the same scores even, 2 and 2.5 stars for the original and sequel respectively). I disagree, but I also think it depends on how many scares you require in your horror films. I would tend to punish non-scary horror films, but here I think the investigative-thriller is a fine look for the first film. It is far bigger crime that the second does half the investigation and is just as not-scary, in my opinion. Such is life. I still haven’t seen Ringu unfortunately, but I’m certainly looking forward to that. It is unlikely I’ll read the books (because they are weird as fuck apparently), or see the Japanese sequels (because they are terrible apparently). So Ringu will complete The Ring lore for me for now.

I’ll leave it there. Cheerios

The Sklogs

The Ring Two Recap

Jamie

Samara is back, Jack! Following the events of the first film, Rachel and Aiden Keller move to Oregon to start anew. It’s not long though before the rapidly spreading video virus finds them again and Aiden is possessed by Samara hoping to regain a physical form. Can Rachel battle to save her son and put Samara to rest before it’s too late? Find out in… The Ring Two.

What?! We pick up about 6 months after the events of the first film. Rachel and Aiden have moved to a small Oregon town where Rachel takes over as editor of the local paper. Everything seems to be going well until a report comes in about a disturbing death of a local teen. It sounds eerily similar to Samara’s MO, which Rachel confirms by going to the scene of the crime. Oh no! She’s found them! The next night Aiden dreams of Samara and is totes possessed by her. When Aiden starts to show serious health concerns related to demonic possession (naturally), Rachel seeks to help of her coworker, who immediately is like “WTF, mate. Get this kid to a hospital. And put some more shrimp on the barbie.” Rachel refuses, but when Samara tricks her into almost killing Aiden, her coworker is like “I didn’t sign up for this shit,” and takes control of the situation (or so he thinks). Realizing that she needs to go figure out another piece of the Samara puzzle she finds Samara’s mother, Evelyn, in a psychiatric hospital and is told to listen to Aiden if she wants him to survive. Returning to Astoria she finds that Aiden has violently escaped the hospital and killed her coworker. In her sleep she dreams that Aiden tells her to drown him and so she drugs him and places him in the bathtub after which Samara leaves his body. Hoping to destroy her once and for all she follows Samara to her TV home and locks her back in her well. THE END.

Why?! I mean, Samara is pure evil so we don’t need to delve too deep into her motivations. It would be fun if they were more mundane (Samara just wants that big promotion at work!), but alas she’s just pure evil. As for Rachel she just wants to escape Samara. When that turns out to be impossible, though, she decides that she must trap Samara for good instead.

What?! While there isn’t much product placement in this (probably some cars and stuff), I did find a moment in the very beginning somewhat amusing. The opening deals with the teenager who dies in Astoria trying to convince an unsuspecting girl to watch his copy of the tape. He kinda makes it seem like he’s into her and the whole situation is a date and as part of his seductive dance he asks if she wants a drink. Of course she does, the hottest guy in school seems into her. Duh. Out he pops from the kitchen with what I swear is a SoBe… bad move, dude. SoBe tastes like trash. She was probably already looking for the exits before you even broached the subject of the death video.

Who?! There isn’t really something to go here. No Planchet and no credits of note. So let’s do a short meditation on who Samara is as a monster. In this film we basically get the whole backstory: her mother claimed to be impregnated by a water demon and when the child is born Samara never cries and steadily drives her mother insane. Samara is adopted and continues to drive everyone around her insane with terrible visions. She never sleeps and these visions never stop until Samara is thrown down a well and sealed inside. This limits her influence until Rachel frees her in The Ring allowing her the freedom to attempt to possess Aiden. It really is a solid backstory, particularly the idea that the demon Samara never sleeps and the child she possessed is forever asleep within. I think both Patrick and I would have liked to see them play with that “water demon” idea of it at some point (and also opens a possibility for ultimate closure). But through three entries it’s kept fairly vague.

Where?! I love this setting as it so specifically narrows in on a random town in Oregon that actually exists. Rachel and Aiden move just over the Washington border into Astoria. It’s actually a well known filming location acting also as the setting for The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop. This is a B+, but the whole series borders on an A because of how entrenched in the Northwest it all is.

When?! This is almost a secret holiday film as we get to see some commercials for Memorial Day on TV. That can only really be used for a bound, though, as they are all preparing for an upcoming long weekend without being more specific. We also see a prescription fill date for May 5th so that gives up a nice three week window to work with. Had to work for it. C-.

The first part of this film is horrific. Everything looks cheap and shitty and took a step towards One Missed Call rather than keep up with the slick appearance of the Gore Verbinski original. This culminates in a 20 minute flea market scene that was only horrifying in how dull and terrible it all was. Then a weird thing happens. The film shifts into the well-worn child possession territory and almost immediately becomes much better. There are lots of films ruined by the end (the classic being that the entire film was a dream or something equally dumb), but ruined by the beginning is much rarer. Could it be that we found one of these gems? Maybe. Still a pretty significant step back from the original in almost every way, not just in the beginning. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! You are the brilliant mind who brought J-Horror to the American masses. They. Went. Bananas. And you made the big bucks. What’s next for the Golden Boy (that’s what your coworkers call you)? Well … I mean, let’s just make that thing again right? There’s like a sequel and a book and everything, this should be easy … right? Golden Boy! Let’s go!

The Good (Sequel / Prequel / Remake) – The second half of this movie is kind of alright if you like The Ring. It is very similar. A investigative journalist needs to go investigating and encounters a spooooooky ghost. She barely knows what she’s doing and mostly causes trouble until she doesn’t (hooray!). That is the same as the first movie. And if you like thriller investigative films they both work shockingly well in that regard. So let’s imagine a Remake where the beginning of this film isn’t a complete pile of garbage. At the end of the first film Naomi Watts, Rachel, had just helped Samara (whoops) and presumably murdered someone to save her son. Honestly I think you pick up where you left off. She’s discovered the secret to saving oneself from Samara’s wrath, but there is an open question as to how to end Samara once and for all. Her method of saving herself is revealed to the world by Beth, Noah’s live-in girlfriend, which ultimately leads to an ever multiplying virus of tapes spreading across Washington. Rachel chases down as many of them as possible, but the desperate victims start to fight her influenced by the growing power of Samara. Realizing it is too late to stop the spread Rachel goes for the source, the convent that Samara (with demon in tow) was conceived and born. Can Rachel stop Samara? Or will Rachel, like a doofus, end up helping Samara achieve her ultimate desire: to be reborn again into another human vessel?

The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) – The first half of this film is garbage, but you knew that already. They never bother to address one of the weirdest mysteries of the entire series: why does this little girl demon live on a video tape? What are the rules even all about? Given it can be summed up as “it was an allegory for how technology is slowly killing us all” I think they basically gave that little mystery a pass (beyond perhaps that was her way of passing her “visions” to people far from her well-prison). The movie isn’t scary, although that is kind of expected given the first one wasn’t scary either. And finally, despite liking the second half of the film, it is pretty derivative of many films that came before it. It is basically a run of the mill child gets possessed by a demon tale. For the Sklog-cabulary Quiz I think I’ll note an interesting aspect of both the second and third Rings series which I’ll call:

The Janus Device (n.) – A plot device which acts to split a film into two disparate entities. Each half of the film can be viewed almost independently, often with distinct tones, settings, and plots.

In BMT the most famous Janus Device was from The Guardian where Ashton Kutcher’s graduation from the Coast Guard Academy perfectly splits the film into two parts. The first part sees Kutcher (aka Goldfish) butting heads with Kevin Costner among the sultry Louisiana bayou. The second half sees Kutcher (aka Speedboat) best of pals with Costner among the freezing waters of Kodiak, Alaska. Here you see basically a bunch of throwaway jump scares until Watts son lands in the hospital sick with possession. From there it kicks right back into The Ring territory, complete with changing the setting from Astoria, Oregon back to Seattle, Washington. The movie was clearly just over written by several different crews.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think this has got legs that go on for days my friends. I am officially a fan of J Horror. I was to watch more and get to know them. And I think I’ll try my very best to get BMT to give that to me. Stay tuned. As far as street cred, well it did get two nomination at both the Golden Schmoes (Worst Film and Biggest Disappointment) and the Stinkers Bad Movie Awards (Worst Sequel and Least Scary Horror Film). But as far as I can tell this kind of flew under the critical radar. I think it is great, whatever.

I’ll leave that there because this one is already enormous. I’ll cover The Ring in more detail in the recap for Rings.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs