Review: Jug Face (2013)

Jug Face is a low-budget indie horror movie, but that doesn’t mean that it is automatically not worth as much as any other movie. I can say without doubt that I’ve seen films by big studios that were way worse than this one.

The movie centers around a pregnant teenage girl called Ada who lives in a small, deeply religious community. This community does not worship any god, though. Instead, its members believe that their prosperity is the result of a pit – or actually, what resides in there. This being may be said to be benevolent, but the fact that it requires human sacrifices proves otherwise. It makes its desired victim known by showing their images to the village’s sculptor, who in turn sculpts a jug with the victim’s face on it. When Ada realises that she is next to be sacrificed, she decides to flee. However, she soon finds out that there is a price to be paid by those who refuse to hand themselves over.

As for the horror aspect, I did not find this movie that gruesome, which is a good thing to me. The audience never gets to see the monster’s face, as everything it does is only viewed from its own point of view. However, the bloody remains of the villagers are enough proof to me of what it can do. To be honest, it slightly scared me. The question of who would be next remained throughout the movie. Again, though, the villagers themselves were the ones who actually hunted me after I finished watching. They appeared to be the real evil – yet they were right. Frighteningly, I could understand their dilemma, no matter how much I abhorred it. That was part of this movie’s power. Cults are a terrifying thing, but what if some of them are actually right?

For those who want to be scared of their seats, this is not the right movie. However, for those who like a tale about the effects of a cult on the human mind and more, it might be a great choice. 

 

Cast:  Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Larry Fessenden, Sean Young and Daniel Manche.

Director: Chad Crawford Kinkle

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Review: Let Me In (2010)

Based on the Swedish book “Let the Right One In” by Tomas Alfredson, the American movie called “Let Me In” sets an entirely new standard for vampire movies. This tale about the friendship and blossoming romance between twelve-year-old Owen (Smit-McPhee) and vampire girl Abby (Moretz) is one that I won’t be able to get out of my head for quite awhile.
Although the genre of this movie officially is called romantic horror, it does not detract from the disturbance factor. On the outside, Abby appears to be a normal girl with some not-too-outstanding qualities. She basically seems to hate people and tries to keep Owen from getting close to her, which is only because he might be the only one she actually likes. Abby appears to be young and innocent, although her suggestions to combat bullying seem to be a little overly violent. In reality, it fits her perfectly, as she is nothing but a cold-blooded killer. Even Owen himself starts to believe she is the embodiment of evil. The contradiction of good and evil is quite prevalent in this movie, as Owen is the innocent one whereas Abby is the one that only appears to be innocent.
Part of this movie’s beauty are its main characters. Even though Abby sometimes gruesomely kills people, there is not that much focus on it. It often happens mainly off screen. Instead, the focus seems to lie more on the topics of bullying and coming-of-age. As Owen grows up, he learns how to deal with its problems… until something happens due to which he’ll never have to deal with them again, although I am not going to explain the whats and whys.
I personally loved this movie, but strange enough I felt more appalled by the human violence than by what was called evil by Owen. As long as it’s paranormal, horror generally does not shake me up. I could watch Abby kill. I could watch her guardian tie people to trees and let them bleed dry. I could not, however, stand to look at Owen being bullyed. If you are sensitive to that kind of thing, don’t watch it. It’s quite graphic and horrible. While this movie is not that graphic, it does not shy away from making its viewer want to cry… although that may just be me.
If you like vampire movies, but not the kind in which the vampires sparkle, this may be your movie. There is some pre-teen romance in there, there is some blood and gore, and more importantly, there is an actual story. The movie is a little long, though, but personally it didn’t bother me. Just watch it.

Cast: Kody Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz
Director: Matt Reeves

Review: The Ghostmaker/Box of Shadows (2011)

No, just because there are two film titles in this review’s title doesn’t mean that I’ll be talking about two different films. “The Ghostmaker” and “Box of Shadows” are one and the same, although I have to admit that I strongly prefer the first one, as it is more straight to the point.
“The Ghostmaker” is a movie about a drug-addicted student who discovers a strange coffin. Upon closer inspection, he realises that it is actually a mechanical device. If one lies down in it and turns it on, their souls leave their bodies and they are able to see the world from an entirely different perspective. Together with two friends, the student starts using the device for his own purpose. What they don’t realise quickly enough, however, is that one should not mess with Death itself…
To be honest, “The Ghostmaker” may have advertised itself as a horror movie, but it is not. Other than a strange, mechanical version of Death lurking in a corner, nothing actually frightening ever happens. Sure, the concept is interesting, especially since the coffins appears to have been made for quite malicious reasons… While the story is interesting, there is a lack of ambiance. All scenes basically consist of the guys getting in the coffin and using astral projection to look at the world. It only gets slightly scary near the end, as it becomes clear that astral projection can be taken too far. It can become more than just that.
Furthermore, only one of the characters seemed likeable to me – and of course, that person does not survive. The others are drug addicts and maniacs who are only in because of their selfish reasons. In fact, they do not turn around before the exact moment they have to. I am sorry, but I doubt that a drug addict can do that all of a sudden. It’s called an addiction for a reason. However, in the end it turns out that the real horrors are hidden inside a human’s mind. The characters may not be likeable, but admittedly, they are interesting.
Although this is quite a slow-paced movie, I would recommend it to those who enjoy watching a bunch of selfish people go crazy. I’m sorry, maybe that isn’t the right way of phrasing it. I honestly enjoyed the movie’s ending, but I was about to stop watching when I was only fifteen minutes in. This is one of those films that requires a lot of patience. In the end, though, it was worth it for me. The human mind is scarier than the supernatural.

Cast: Aaron Dean Eisenberg, Liz Fenning, J. Walter Holland, Jared Grey
Director: Mauro Borrelli

Review: Oculus (2013)

I have to admit that my first thought when watching this movie was: Amy Pond. In a way, Oculus is quite alike with the Doctor Who episodes “Amy’s Choice” and “The Doctor’s Wife”, only quite a bit darker; they all contain unreal realities.
The movie Oculus concerns a young woman, Kaylie (Gillan), who has finally managed to buy the mirror that she believes destroyed her family’s lives. Now it is up to her and her brother Tim (Thwaites) to figure out the truth. Kaylie sets up an experiment in order to bring out the ghost who used to torment her and the rest of the family.
What’s special about this movie is that it contains two storylines that are almost parallel to each other: one shows the past of the family as they went crazy, the other shows the present in which Kaylie and Tim return to the family house to conduct their experiment. However, past and present soon blend together and nothing is what it seems to be. The past nightmare isn’t over yet.
I loved this movie. At first, not much seemed to happen in both storylines. However, as events got darker in the past, so did they in the present. Soon it became a slightly confusing tale, which was exactly what it was intended to be. The psychological aspect to it all was what really gave me chills, not so much the evil which resided in the mirror. It was the evil that drove them mad, not necessarily that which actually hurt them.
I’d definitely recommend this movie to those who enjoy a dark family tale with a tad of horror, although you may want to look away at times as it sometimes gets a little too gory – well, at least for my squeamish taste. This tale may make your doubt your own sanity. Enjoy!

Cast: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katie Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane
Director: Mike Flanagan

Review: The Pact (2012)

When I first started watching The Pact (2012), I expected it to be a horror movie about a pact with the devil. I couldn’t have been more wrong, though. It was not about the devil – fortunately. I also would not really call it a horror movie, except for a few gory scenes. Sure, it had an atmosphere that made you wonder what was going to happen next and there were some spirits in there, but to me, that’s not enough for a movie to be called horror. However, I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s a bad thing, as I enjoy thrillers just as much. The Pact is a movie about murder – and revenge.

The story is interesting, albeit slightly confusing. It may be just me, but I could not keep Annie (Lotz), Liz (Perkins) and Nichole (Bruckner) apart. They and their stories looked a little too much alike, especially because of the way the scenes were smashed together. It was a little too subtle for my taste, as I like knowing what is going on. Apart from that, everything was kept relatively clear. Not everything was said, yet enough to keep a sense of suspense. The main clue, however, seemed to come out of nowhere to me.

As for the sound effects, I would like to say they were actually quite effective. Although this was not the kind of movie with a lot of jump scares, the few that were in there actually made me jump. The eerie piano tunes helped carry that feeling throughout the movie, although not always warranted.

While this movie was slow-paced at times and did not really meet my expectations of a horror film, I did enjoy it in the end. The graphic effects were used exactly where they needed to be used – quite sparingly for the horror genre. The reason for the title still isn’t entirely clear to me, as it was never explained. The real, dark reason can only be guessed. What made the movie stand out for me was the reveal of the actual evil, which is not always what and where you expect it to be.

 

Cast: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien, Mark Steger

Director: Nicholas McCarthy