Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a biweekly column on all things horror.
Never Sleep Again inspires Elm Street coffee table book – Never Sleep Again, the massive documentary chronicling essentially everything you could ever want to know about the Nightmare on Elm Street films, isn’t content to exist as just a movie anymore.
Writer and producer Tommy Hutson has decided that the documentary should also have a companion book – and he’s announced that he’s ready to release a 200-plus-page tome on Craven’s classic first film. The new book will feature interviews, pictures and presumably some things that weren’t covered in the documentary. There’s no official release date set, but clear a space on your shelf next to Crystal Lake Memories for when this bad boy finally ships.
Game of Thrones’ Liam Cunningham headlines Irish horror flick Let Us Prey – Liam Cunningham is probably best known for his work as Stannis Baratheon’s buddy Davos on HBO’s hit Game of Thrones, but the venerable character actor has been working for years – and the teaser for his newest project looks pretty damn awesome.
Cunningham headlines a new Irish horror film entitled Let Us Prey and looks like a total badass in the process. It’s hard to get a feel for the plot of this one from the short clip, but here’s the official synopsis:
“Rachel, a rookie cop, is about to begin her first nightshift in a neglected police station in a backwater town. The kind of place where the tide has gone out and stranded a motley bunch of the aimless, the forgotten, the bitter and twisted who all think that, really, they deserve to be somewhere else. They all think they're there by accident and that, with a little luck, life is going to get better. Wrong, on both counts. Six is about to arrive - and All Hell Will Break Loose!”
Unfortunately, there’s no official release date yet for this one, but we’ll pass it along when it’s revealed.
It’s a Cruel Summer in this new British trailer – One thing horror cinema has taught us over the past few years is that kids can be cruel. If you need further convincing of this, Phillip Escott and Craig Newman offer up additional supporting evidence with this trailer for Cruel Summer.
The film, which is loosely inspired by true events, finds three teenagers beating and tormenting another young adult. The woodland setting and bad-seed kids give the whole thing a sort of Eden Lake vibe, but the trailer looks good. No official release date yet, but we’ll keep you posted.
Don’t breathe while watching this new House of Dust trailer – Here’s a new trailer for A.D. Calvo’s House of Dust, another horror film “inspired by true events” set inside a haunted mental asylum.
While the premise might seem a bit overly familiar at this point, the trailer does a nice job of selling the film as an atmospheric chiller with lots of supernatural beings running amok picking off the unlucky humans. Anchor Bay will release the film on video and VOD in late May. Until then, enjoy the clip.
While I’ve (mostly) enjoyed the first four installments in the Paranormal Activity franchise, it’s become increasingly more obvious with each sequel that the guys behind the found-footage films were running low on ideas. You can only have white people in fancy houses endure ghosts slamming doors so many times before it all becomes old hat.
So, when a spin-off film was announced, I was both interested and wary. Interested because the idea of a separate film opened the door for some new ideas. Wary because the PA mythology feels cobbled together already, and stretching it to a new locale could be the very thing that causes this narrative house of cards to come tumbling down once and for all.
My concerns became even more pronounced when it was revealed the offshoot story would center on a Hispanic family in a rough part of town. I was genuinely worried we were gonna get a “Demon in the ‘Hood” film when all was said and done.
I’m happy to report that my fears were largely unfounded. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones gets this flagging series back on track, and is a real treat for the hard-core fans of the franchise. It’s a spin-off side story, yet it’s littered with Easter eggs and plot elements that not only connect it to the earlier films, but also answer questions that have been nagging fans for years. Those who really pay attention will come away from The Marked Ones with a much better understanding of the story about the demonic Toby and the coven behind him. You might even find yourself interested in seeing the new installment of the main series when it debuts this fall.
This time out, new characters Jesse (Andrew Jacobs), Hector (Jorge Diaz) and Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh) find themselves dealing with the supernatural shenanigans. I don’t want to spoil the film’s big twists, which are likely to please the fans who’ve been waiting for the story to come together for several years now, but I will say that the story and cast are the movie’s strong points. After an opening act that feels rather familiar, The Marked Ones breaks with the formula just enough to seem fresh when compared to the two previous sequels.
Things eventually wind up back in familiar territory for the third act, but the revelations of those frantic final scenes make it all okay.
Writer and director Christopher Landon acquits himself nicely here. When a stand-alone film spawns multiple sequels, there’s a tendency for the stories to feel tacked together and disjointed as each new entry calls for the creation of more mythology that wasn’t necessarily part of the original film’s setup. I was sure PA was heading this way after the fourth film, but Landon has done an admirable job in tying the elements of this sprawling tale together and creating a sort roadmap for where to go moving forward. It’s not perfect, mind you, but it works for the most part.
As for the film itself, the found-footage angle is a love-or-hate proposition for most people at this point – and if you’re a hater, this entry isn’t likely to win you over to the aesthetic. It works for these stories, though – and it gives Landon the opportunity to work in some jump scares to keep the audience on their toes. The Marked Ones isn’t a particularly scary film (in fact, in some ways, it reminds me more of Josh Trank’s Chronicle than a horror film), but it does manage to tick most of the required boxes for a genre flick. Creepy demons, covens and jump scares are all here. The gore? Not so much.
Ultimately, The Marked Ones manages to do something completely unexpected – it gets the flagging Paranormal Activity franchise back on track by answering some of the questions that have been nagging fans since the first film ended. Those who enjoy the series should be happy with this entry. Those who were ready to throw in the towel after PA4 might want to give this one a shot and see if it wins them back into the fold. The overarching story of these films still has some issues, but at least we can sort of see where it’s going now. That’s enough to keep me interested in seeing the next sequel later this year.
Horror on the Horizon
April has seen its fair share of horror films in the theaters this year and we close the month with one more. April 25 will see the arrival of The Quiet Ones in theaters.
Things are a little more interesting on DVD and Blu-ray. The week of April 22 doesn’t offer a lot of high-end titles – the only real notables are the Israeli film Big Bad Wolves and a Blu-ray version of the original House on Sorority Row but things pick up slightly on April 29. That week sees the arrival of Jess Franco’s The Demons, Scream Factory’s Dead Shadows, an opportunity to see the rarely-seen The Black Torment, and Tobe Hooper’s original Salem’s Lot miniseries.
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