After Dark Horrorfest III: 8 Films to Die For
Every year, After Dark does their part to bring the world a collection of new horror movies. Their 8 Films to Die For are custom built for the die-hard horror fan, with none of that PG-13 crap — no, no, these are real horror movies that are graphic and completely unapologetic.
Being a big fan of horror movies, I jumped at the opportunity to not only take a look at one of the third annual collection’s offerings, but to swim around in all eight of these demented and twisted tales. My happy dreams may now be permanent nightmares, but really, what fun would it be to just review one part of what’s meant to be an entire collection of pure horror good-ness?
From here on out, I’ll do my best to review each of the eight films so movie fans and horror buffs alike can decide whether they want to see just one or if they want to see them all over and over again.
Directed by: Stewart Hopewell
Starring: Lucy Holt, Amy Shiels, David Sterne, Antonia Bernath
Slaughter tells the story (apparently based on true events) of a young woman named Faith who moves to the city to escape an incredibly abusive relationship. When loneliness begins to get to her, she takes the opportunity to move in with a new friend named Lola on her family’s pig farm. Eventually, she comes to realize that Lola isn’t so innocent and enjoys the company of men after a night on the town. When Faith realizes that these men are disappearing, she begins to suspect that Lola’s father and the farm’s slaughterhouse might just be where they’re ending up.
Slaughter is a simple, yet fairly effective little horror movie. Being based on true events always helps…though it’s hard to tell how much of it is actual fact. Even so, being a story that could happen any day, any place, makes it that much more difficult to watch after you’ve subconsciously placed yourself in those people’s shoes. The movie runs slow at times, but you will likely find yourself making wild guesses as to what the hell is going on.
Considering these movies are indie horror films, most of them don’t have people you recognize and in-turn, not the best acting performances. This can obviously be distracting at times, but it’s easy to look past. These are horror movies, kids, we’re looking for “oohs,” “ahhs,” ewws,” and a few screams, not Oscar-worthy performances.
Directed by: Jody Dwyer
Starring: Nathan Phillips, Leigh Whannell, Billie Brown, Mirrah Foulkes, Melanie Vallejo, Ken Radley, Elaine Hudson, Sheridan Harvey
This one was easily my favorite of the bunch.
Dying Breed is an Australian horror movie which takes the real-life story of Alexander Pearce — a man who was hanged in 1824 for cannibalism — and builds a horror movie around it.
The movie follows a Zoologist whose sister was killed while trying to capture a photograph of the elusive Tasmanian Tiger. With a desire to finish her sister’s mission, she and three others set out to find the tiger and document its existence. When they arrive at their destination, something is very obviously very off about the small, dirty community, but they move forward with their objectives. One night, while deep in the woods they finally encounter the beast, but the joy quickly turns to horror when things begin to go very wrong and the secrets of the mysterious place begin to show their ugly (literally) faces.
The thing that stood out to me here, is the acting. While the cast may be known well in Australia or elsewhere, to me, they were all unknowns. In this case, and in most horror movies, a cast of unknowns doesn’t progress smoothly and you can see their lesser skills shining brightly. That was not the case with Dying Breed. They all seemed very comfortable and natural in their performances, and it really helped the movie along. I can’t begin to say how important this is, and it took what could have been a mediocre horror movie and turned it into an entertaining little ride.
The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelation
Directed by: Seth Grossman
Starring: Chris Carmack, Rachel Miner, Melissa Jones
The third movie in the franchise, The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelation sees a man who uses his ability to alter time and change things to assist detectives in discovering who committed murder and so on. He goes back and witnesses the crimes, but can’t do or change anything that would alter time — he just watches and notes who commits the crime. Eventually, his talent is too tempting to ignore when it comes to the murder of his girlfriend and he tries to find her killer. This is where things go very wrong and as he struggles to try and get it all back to normal, more and more things go very wrong and the present is severely altered.
Here we have a movie that was no easy for me to approach. I saw The Butterfly Effect in theaters three nights in a row with three different friends who wanted to see it. By the end of the third viewing, I had developed such an extreme and passionate hatred for that movie, that it makes me sick to even think about it.
Because of this immense hatred for the original, I had a faint hope that maybe, just maybe, this independent third movie in the franchise would score an upset and turn out being better than the original. But unfortunately, I can’t say this.
Revelation is really just a mess. I believe that the concept in general is just completely ineffective and because of this, the movies don’t work well. I personally struggled with trying to make my way through this one; trying to find something compelling to latch on to and look forward to finding the answers to. None of these things came though. As things continue to get worse (in very unoriginal succession), you become agitated with the decisions being made and the reasoning behind everything. After what seems like an eternity, you finally get to the end of the movie and the awkward and uncomfortable payoff ending that you likely predicted was coming about 45 minutes prior to the scene.
As much as I hoped this movie would wash my eyes clean of what the original movie was, it just didn’t play out. If you’re a big fan of the original movie, and maybe even the sequel, then you might just find yourself loving it. For myself, it’s just a world that doesn’t work, and sadly enough, that doesn’t bode well in a review.
Directed by: Phedon Papamichael
Starring: Elizabeth Rice, Thomas Dekker, Kelly Blatz, Laura Allen, Adam Goldberg, Rumer Willis
From Within is set in one messed up town. One of those towns where every single resident goes to church every Sunday and is ultra-religious. In this town, if you’re a “non-believer,” then you are evil and of Satan. Yes, one of THOSE towns.
The story follows a young girl named Lindsay who tries to figure out what is going on in town when people begin committing suicide like it’s a hobby. She eventually meets a young man named Aidan whose mother was killed by the town for practicing her own Wiccan religion. He explains that the suicides all stem from a curse that was unleashed by his brother, who read the words and then killed himself to set it in motion. The moment someone kills themselves, it leaves their body and finds the nearest person to take over until they’re driven to kill themselves as well. As this goes on, many people die seemingly by their own hands while the conservative town refuse to acknowledge it as anything but suicide. When Lindsay realizes how messed up the town is and goes to Aidan for help, the town decides that he must be killed like his mother in order to regain peace and the rush to try and stop the curse before the town catches them is on.
I was tugged back and forth with From Within. Some parts I thought were good and I found myself curious as to how things would play out; while other areas really got on my nerves. In particular, this insufferable town of all-religion, all-the-time people can dig at your senses while you’re watching a movie and this becomes tricky. These people needed to be that way to sell the extremist views of the town, so there is no fault in it. On the other hand, I became so annoyed at them that it distracted me. Also, when it came to the ending, it was all pretty anti-climatic and there was something left to be desired. On a brighter note, Adam Goldberg is in it, and he certainly helps out in his few scenes.
Overall, it’s a movie worth watching for you big thriller fans. You won’t find anything that will change your world, and a lot of the actions and situations are generic and sometimes dull — but again, as a horror movie, it does its job for the most part. If, of course, you can handle the aforementioned ultra-religious town.
Directed by: Craig Singer
Starring: Richard Brake, Patrick O’Kane, Mihaela Mihut, Michale Graves
Ah, Perkins 14. An interesting event you were, indeed.
There were moments where I thought that Perkins 14 could be one of my favorites of the eight films.
The movie follows a small-town cop named Dwayne, whose son was kidnapped along with 13 other kids long ago. One slow night with just a couple of overnight prisoners to worry about, Dwayne realizes that one man suspiciously fits the profile of the man who took his son from him. After he finds enough evidence to look into it further, he finds himself in the man’s basement and staring at 14 imprisoned kids. Naturally, the kids are all released, but it’s not long before we realize that these kids have been tortured and starved into severe psychological dysfunction — a sort of sickness that has them running around town in a mindless, zombie-like state which leads them to kill anyone that they come across.
After a slow start, Perkins 14 had me pretty interested in the story and it even had a kind of new way to tackle the zombie-style onslaught, which is always impressive. The movie would certainly appeal to those die hard horror fans who love their graphic violence and running from crazy, psychotic killers. Given the right mood, I might even watch it again, so I would surely recommend it to those who enjoy this kind of dance.
In what was a depressing turn of events, though, this movie began doing things that made no sense to me. The main character, Dwayne, and those around him began doing and saying things that had me actually yelling at the TV. This all mainly occurs when he, his wife, and his young daughter retreat to the police station to try and survive the deadly attacks. They take cover in a wide open area with what looks like multiple entry/exit points instead of locking themselves in a cell with a war’s worth of weaponry to aim and shoot at will. Only very late in the movie does one of them smartly jump into a cell, but even then — without spoiling anything — confusion is the end result. At another point, while people are being murdered left and right, one of them leaves the group to go to the bathroom completely alone without one word being said to stop them. It’s very obvious what was going to, and what did happen after that. These sorts of nonsensical actions and decisions can take massive chunks from a movie, and it pained me to see them shuffled in so near the end of what could have been a pretty solid horror flick.
In any case, I would still have people at least rent it and give it a whirl. Maybe the damaging actions in the final act won’t affect you like if did me.
Directed by: Adam Gierasch
Starring: Robert Patrick, Jessica Lowndes, Jenette Goldstein, Michael Bowen, Robert LaSarde, Ross McCall
With a title like Autopsy, you know you’re in for it.
The movie takes the traditional group of young kids who, while leaving a Mardi Gras adventure in New Orleans, crash their car and apparently run over a man. While they all seem to be all right, side for the sore body parts and such, they all jump into the ambulance that arrives to get a basic check-up and to get to a phone. When they arrive, we realize that one of them has a shard of glass deep in his stomach-area and he’s rushed off to be taken care of. As time moves on and the kids get checked out, we quickly realize that this is not a friendly hospital, and as it turns out, one evil doctor (played by Robert Patrick) is using his patients to keep his dying wife alive.
Autopsy is for the most part, a fun horror flick. It’s scary enough, and it has some gut-wrenching moments that could make the strong-stomached keel over. It has that basic storyline, as well, but there’s no real depth to it. Everything is offered straight up to you. While I would have desired a lot more substance to the story, it all seemed to work well as the horror that it is. One hit or miss for viewers will be the violence. The term “torture porn” does come to mind with some of the sequences and one scene in particular made even me squirm. One thing worth note, I do have the unrated version of the movie and I’m not sure if there’s a regular R-rated copy out there. If there is, I imagine that this one particular scene will not be on it!
Oh, and may I remind you again — Robert Patrick!
Directed by: Ki-hwan Oh
Starring: Jin-seo Yun, Gi-woong Park, Ki-woo Lee
Voices (also known as Someone Behind You) is a South Korean horror movie which is based on the comic book It’s Two People. Considering the style it’s made in, you would not be out of your mind to assume that one day, this will be coming to us in an Americanized form.
The movie begins with a happy Korean girl named Ka-in (Ga-in in the subtitles…which has me curious as to what happened there) and her family attending their Aunt’s wedding. Out of nowhere, the happy occasion turns to horror as their Aunt’s body comes crashing down from the balcony. She’s in bad shape, but still alive — that is until later that night when her own sister stabs her many times until she is dead, right in front of Ka-in. This is the workings of a long-running curse in which it seems that if you wish someone to be dead, they become marked. When Ka-in apparently is targeted, she fights to survive as anyone, any time could try and kill her until it’s finished. Her very best friends, her loving family…in the blink of an eye, they could be coming at her with a knife. Who can she trust? How can she survive?
Voices is another that had plenty of promise, and that worked on certain levels, but still left a lot to be desired. There was so much going on and they did very little to explain any of it. It was almost like they had the basic premise, but rushed to put it all together and it all seemed very messy and inconclusive. Even right this moment as I write, I still have a very weak idea of what happened in that movie. So many things occurred with just a touch of information here or there. As a thriller, I was definitely wanting more insight as to what was causing the curse and how it worked, but it was all just sort of there, and you took it as they offered it. Considering the main character’s name is listed as Ka-in everywhere I look, yet was listed as Ga-in in the actual subtitles. Maybe there’s a chance that whomever subtitled the film left some crucial words or translations out? I’m not sure, but something felt incredibly disorganized with this particular film.
If you like other foreign horror films similar to this one, such as Ringu or Ju-on, maybe you would find enjoyment in Voices. Being someone who thinks many foreign movies surpass American movies in originality, I always have high hopes for them, but this was more of a disappointment than anything.
Directed by: Sean Ellis
Starring: Lena Headey, Richard Jenkins, Asier Newman, Michelle Duncan, Melvil Poupad
Here we have the much more high-budget horror movie of the collection. Actually, it’s much more a thriller than anything, with one pretty messed up scene, but not much else in terms of the normal After Dark gore amount.
The Broken follows Gina (Headey), a radiologist with a good life, relationship, home, and family. While at a small birthday get together for her father (Jenkins), a mirror randomly shatters for no apparent reason. The group doesn’t think much of the event at first, but when the phenomena keeps happening, Gina becomes suspicious. One day, to make things even worse, she swears to see herself drive by in her car. She follows the woman to an apartment building and sneaks in only to find a photograph of herself and her father. While obviously shaken up by this unbelievable occurrence, Gina is in a nasty head-on traffic collision. While recovering, and while trying to put all of the pieces together, she and those around her try and figure out if something is really going on, or if Gina suffered more damage from the accident than once assumed.
The movie started fairly slow, but with the strong cast of Lena Headey (300) and Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), the slow parts move fairly smooth. As the movie progressed, I found myself really trying to figure out this mystery and what could possibly explain the events of the film. It took quite a long time, but eventually, things begin to get really chaotic and people began dying — now you’re really trying to figure out an explanation. As you approached the end of the film, you prepared yourself for the big reveal: all of the answers you’ve been waiting for! And this, my friends, is where things go so very wrong.
I can’t go and run off the ending for you kids, so I’ll do my best to just explain. I always try my very best to be open to a movie and what it’s trying to do, but if there’s one thing that just drives me so insanely crazy, it’s when nothing gets answered. While The Broken is coming to a close, it throws a bunch of quick-flash shots at you, which is where I guess the answers were supposed to come from, but unfortunately, none of the big, important answers were covered. The main mystery to the movie stayed that way, as if they forgot that they even included it earlier in the movie!
To be fair, this could have just been me, but I was right there, watching the whole thing, so I have no idea where I would have missed an explanation that important. I would love for some other people to see this movie and tell me what they got out of it. When the film ended, it was one of those rare occasions that had me literally just staring blankly at the screen, waiting and hoping this was some kind of joke and they would come back to explain it.
For the most part, The Broken is a film that’s pretty well-put-together and with strong performances. Again, it’s slow-moving at times, but fairly enjoyable. It really is a shame that the ending played out like it did, but some folks just love for a movie to leave it all to the imagination. If you’re one of those people, definitely check this movie out. In my world, I like the story that is being presented to me to be told in-full, and for the most intriguing questions to be answered.
Well, there you have it. After Dark Horrorfest — 8 Movies to Die For III, all covered in one massive party of a review!
While I may not have been won over by some of this year’s offerings, I can say that horror movie fanatics should absolutely check these movies out at least once. In a universe where horror movies have fallen to the very bottom of the genre bucket in terms of quality, these movies at least stay true to the old school recipe and keep intact the graphic nature and shock values that have been sacrificed so often.