Pay the Ghost (2015) – Movie Review

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Pay the Ghost (2015)

Directed by Uli Edel

Starring:
Nicolas Cage
Sarah Wayne Callies
Veronica Ferres
Jack Fulton
Elizabeth Jeanne le Roux
Stephen McHattie

 

Dad, can we pay the ghost? Imagine if that were the last thing your child said to you before disappearing without a trace. Add to that fact that the young son in this film had been seeing a cloaked figure outside his bedroom window and three vultures circling the sky above the NYC skyline. It’s not often that I enjoy a film with Nicolas Cage in it, but this is a decent enough horror tale. It won’t be remembered for being all that scary, but it was entertaining and I cared for the characters by the end. It’s based on the Tim Lebbon novel of the same name, with the screenplay by Dan Kay.Pay the Ghost - poster

Cage plays Mike Lawford, a father striving to gain tenure at a NY University and after putting in extra hours on Halloween night, he misses trick or treat with his son, Charlie. The carnival is still going on down the block, in the Greenwich Village area, so he asks his wife, Kristen, if he could take their son for a little while. He lets go of the boy’s hand for one second to pay for ice cream and the boy is gone.

Mike and Kirsten (Sarah Wayne Callies, who played Laurie in The Walking Dead) search for him. They fight and blame each other. For a whole year there are no clues or leads to follow until a few days before Halloween. Mike sees graffiti on a wall that reads, did you pay the ghost? This leads him on a trail into the unknown where myth and the darkness of old yarns converge onto the modern city back alleys. There’s some moody atmospheric visuals with the vultures and the witch’s cottage for those who like that kind of stuff (like me).

There’s also a lot of horror flick standards and cliché horror tropes thrown in for good measure. The end is the usual Hollywood faire and although not original, it was good to see the dad be the hero. The film reminds me of older style horror with some jump scares and visual effects thrown in to fill the gaps between the main parts. There’s no blood or gore to speak of and not even much death. It seems like most viewers gave this film bad reviews so watch at your own risk. It won’t win any awards for originality but it can be a fun watch if you don’t expect too much.

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Blend Poltergeist, Darkness Falls, Celtic and Greek mythology tales into the subject of missing children, and you have a decent horror film with a decent story.

I give it 3.0 wicked witches out of 5 on the harrowing harbingers of hell scale.

It Follows (2014) – Movie Review

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It Follows (2014)

Directed by David Robert Mitchell

Starring
Maika Monroe
Keir Gilchrist
Daniel Zovatto

This film starts out really slow and somber. The background music kinda’ sucks, it stands out because it’s so bland and Casio keyboard sounding. Jay’s boyfriend is a real creep. I guess teenage girls have little judge of character. That’s why they should listen to their parents more. So this bad entity, that can take over bodies and look like anyone, follows these youngsters around. It moves slow but if it catches you it will kill you. It’s passed to someone else by having sex with them. A guy has sex with Jay then disappears. Shortly after Jay begins to see strange people around her. They look like a normal people but there’s just It-follows-Moviesomething weird about them. They are in unnatural settings like an old woman on the school campus, or a freaky girl that looks like she’s just been raped.

The young man, Paul, that lives with the family loves his old time sci-fi flicks. Killers From Space and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women are two of the flicks he’s watching. Damn, these ghostly people are creepy. Especially the real tall guy. The movie definitely ramps up the tension with these scenes. It doesn’t help that the mom works nights.

The family hides at the neighbor’s summer house on the lake. It gets creepy there too. In fact the good scenes are so good that you can overlook some scenes that are extremely slow and that there are a couple of loose ends in the storyline. The fact that there’s no adults anywhere in these kid’s lives has to be overlooked, too. It‘s like a Charlie Brown/Peanuts cartoon. I’ve seen reviews that compare this to the atmosphere of modern sexuality of young people today. The only way to deal with this sexually transmitted ‘ghost disease’ is to pass it on to someone else. Really? I hope today’s young people are more intelligent and morally decent than that. I’ve also seen reviews that praise this film as the best horror flick in a decade. I wouldn’t go that far–its good but not that good. Anyway, it does have a semi-happy ending for Jay and Paul who, it seems, had a crush on Jay for many years.

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A decent creepy thriller with a somber mood.
I give it 3.3 creepy ghost girls out of 5 on the scale of horrific harbingers of hell.

 

The Grave Dancers (2006) – movie review

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The Grave Dancers (2006)

Directed by Mike Mendez

If you like in-your-face ghost horror, poltergeist attacks and you want a good scare the next time you watch a flick, I would suggest you check this film out. To me, this is a fun film, scary in parts and humorous in other parts. The story is simple but effective. You dance on a grave and the buried spirit is let loose to exact revenge for the disrespect. After a buddy’s deatthe gravedancers cover pich a few ol’ friends from college get together, get drunk, and go to the cemetery in the middle of the night to pay their final respects. They find a card with a limerick on it and read it aloud. Although it suggests dancing in honor of the dearly departed, which they do, it is actually an incantation for spiritual haunting. Unfortunately, the graves this group of friends dance upon are in Potter’s Field, where psychopaths and mental patients were buried. There are three well-defined ghosts in this film – not CG or even wispy see-thru phantoms, but in your face, solid entities. One is a jilted lover who seeks to strike out against any happy couple – revenge for her lover leaving and her subsequent suicide. The second is a psychotic child who likes to start fires. At age 10, he burnt down his home with his family trapped inside. And lastly, is the deranged doctor who raped and tortured women when he was alive and seeks to continue his sadistic pleasures in the afterlife. They are all portrayed in a frightening manner and Mendez does an excellent job at making the viewer feel the threat of these entities. It starts out slow like a traditional haunting and builds some good tension and suspense. It soon escalates into violent poltergeist activity.  It was packaged in the original ‘Frightfest: 8 films to die for‘ marketing device and I would consider this the best one of them all. Strong ‘R’ Rating!

Recommended if you like: The Conjuring, Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror, etc.