Movie Review: The Battery (2013)

Did someone say zombies?  No? Well fuck, then I guess I’ll do it… LIVING DEAD! Damn it, I messed up.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Battery”.

The world has gone to shit (god, it’s been a long time since I last used that phrase). Zombies have taken over and humanity is spread thin over New England. And in the middle of this apocalypse are Ben and Mickey (Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim), two former baseball players traveling together to try to survive. And that’s really about it, no grand goal, no major arc… just two polar opposite dudes trying not to die and trying to enjoy their new, horrifying life as best they can. And I appreciate that about this. I do of course love big stories with a lot of themes, but I found this one oddly refreshing. The relatively minimal story gives it a bit of a day-in-the-life kinda vibe that I dug. What also helps is that it never takes itself too seriously, keeping things pretty light, and even managing to be quite funny at times. And for a movie technically about corpses, it certainly has a beating heart. It does take a bit to really get going, but when it does, it becomes a really engaging story that I really fucking enjoyed.

Let’s talk about our two lead characters for a bit, because I love them. They’re opposites in most way, so for a lot of the movie they’re more or less clashing. Not in a hateful way, you can tell that they do care about each other on some level, but they’re not necessarily besties either. And what really helps sell these characters are Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim, both absolutely killing it in their roles, while sharing some terrific chemistry.

The score was composed by Ryan Winford, and it was alright. It wasn’t super memorable, but it worked well enough for the various scenes it could be heard in. But then there also are a fair bit of licensed songs used throughout, and they’re all really good and help to establish the mood of the film in really wonderful ways.

“The Battery” was interestingly enough written and directed by lead actor Jeremy Gardner, and I think he did a good job with it. He clearly shows how to make the most out of having almost no budget, always finding clever workarounds for the various scenarios that he wants to show. And the cinematography by Christian Stella is really solid too, really helping maintain the film’s vibe.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.4/10.

“The Battery” is a very charming and refreshing take on the zombie film that I really enjoyed watching. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Battery” is a 9.55/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Battery” is now completed.

Hey batter batter batter batter batter, SWING!

Movie Review: I Sell the Dead (2009)

Greetings, friends. It is time for more Month of Spooks content. Ain’t that exciting? Let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “I Sell the Dead”.

Grave robber Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) has been captured  by authorities, awaiting his end. And in his final hours he tells a priest (Ron Perlman) about the various crimes committed by him and his friend (Larry Fessenden). I like the story of “I Sell the Dead”, it’s a fun and breezy batch of stories that explore an oft neglected theme within horror (grave robbing). And while it gives us that gothic horror angle and an interesting exploration of it, it also gives us a lot of goofy humor, and it all somehow comes together beautifully and makes for one of the most fun and enjoyable narratives I’ve experienced in a while.

The characters in this are all weird, colorful, charming, and really interesting. I don’t know what to say about them without getting too much into spoilers, so I’ll just stick to surface level stuff. First I want to mention Dominic Monaghan and Larry Fessenden as our two lead grave robbers. The two on their own are a lot of fun, but together they’re an absolute riot, with the actors sharing some fucking incredible chemistry. Ron Perlman’s a lot of fun as the priest taking Monaghan’s confessions. And throughout the movie we see supporting work from people like Angus Scrimm, Brenda Cooney, John Speredakos, Daniel Manche, Joel Marsh Garland, and more, all giving really good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace (hell yeah), and I think he did a really good job with it. He uses a lot of strings and some woodwind to capture a really eerie vibe that adds to the gothic feel of the movie. But he also creates a fair bit of whimsical tracks for the more comedic scenes in the movie, and those tracks work really well too. Grace is a composer whose work I’ve enjoyed a good amount of times through the years, and this is honestly one of my favorite scores of his, it’s so good.

“I Sell the Dead” was written, directed, and edited by Glenn McQuaid, who I think did a really good job with it. McQuaid has this really fun and snappy style that I think really fits with the tone of the movie, complementing both the horror and comedy beautifully. This especially shines in his editing, which is incredibly fun. And yes, there are some hokey green screen/background effects at times, but I don’t mind, I think they add to the wacky charm of the movie. It’s good stuff.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.1/10.

I kind of loved “I Sell the Dead”, it’s an insanely funny horror-comedy that I had fun with from start to end. It has a good story, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing/editing, and hilarious humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “I Sell the Dead” is a 9.87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “I Sell the Dead” is now completed.

Hellboy as a priest… huh.

Movie Review: The Stakelander (2016)

Once upon a time I reviewed a movie called “Stake Land”. It was very good. Now for the Month of Spooks, I am reviewing its sequel. So let’s do it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Stakelander”.

The world has gone to shit. After his life in New Eden is destroys by the vampire brotherhood known as… The Brotherhood, Martin (Connor Paolo) must travel into the wasteland to try to find his old mentor and friend Mister (Nick Damici). So now we have our story. And I really enjoyed it. Sure, it lacks a lot of the little subtleties that made the first movie’s plot so great, but it’s still an enjoyable enough plot that works in its own right. Whereas the first one was a slowly burning road drama, this is more of a fast-paced action-horror thing. I do still prefer the first movie’s plot, but this is still an enjoyable romp.

The characters in this are interesting and entertaining. Connor Paolo reprises his role as Martin, the young man taken in by Mister in the first movie. He’s older, much more proficient at killing vampires, a hardened survivor. But he still has a warm heart beating behind that chest of his, giving some nice layers to the gruff boy. And Paolo is really good in the role. Next up we have Nick Damici reprising his role as Mister. How do we describe his character… had the movie come out in the 70s, Charles Bronson would’ve played him. He’s an older badass who is able to kick a lot of ass. But he does also have a soft side in there, he just doesn’t reveal it to anyone. And Damici is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Laura Abramsen, A.C. Peterson, Steven Williams, Kristina Hughes, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Redding Hunter (that is such a good name), and I think he did a good job with it. Of course there are a lot of familiar horror stings there, but there’s also a good chunk of the music that has a very western-y vibe, which I think really works for the whole “wandering through the wasteland” thing this movie is going for. And it all comes together to create a really good score.

Unlike the first movie, “The Stakelander” was not directed by Jim Mickle (though Nick Damici stayed on as writer). Instead this was directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, and I think they brought a somewhat distinct style to it that I liked. Where the first movie created a very broody atmosphere for its slow character drama, this has a more light atmosphere that complements the generally faster pace. But they still do bring in the creeps from time to time, thanks to solid direction and some vicious fuckin’ vamps. And the cinematography by Matt Mitchell was really good, giving us some really good looking shots. Some decently satisfying action here too.

This movie doesn’t have much of an existence on the sites I usually use, so this’ll be brief. But I can say that on imdb.com it has a score of 5,3/10.

While it lacks a lot of the subtlety and layers that made the first one great, “The Stakelander” is still a really solid sequel. It has a good plot, good characters, really good performances, great music, and really good directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Stakelander” is an 8,76/10. So while not perfect, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “The Stakelander” is now completed.

Not gonna lie, my expectations for this were quite low, but I am glad to have been proven wrong by it.

Movie Review: We Are Still Here (2015)

And the month of spooks continues. So what’s on the menu today? Haunted shit? Cool.

Ladies and gentlemen… “We Are Still Here”.

To try to cope with the recent death of their son, a couple (Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig) move into a remote New England house. But it doesn’t take long for them to find out that there’s something sinister about their new home. So now we have our spooky plot. And I find it to be good. I like that it plays around with a lot of haunted house clichés we’ve seen before in ways that makes it all feel fresh. I also like that it has an old school slow burn feel rather than the rushed factory made spookfest that so many are these days. That said, it’s not perfect. There are moments where the slow burn kinda turns into nothingness. I’m all for a slower burn, but there still needs to be some kind of hook. And there are moments throughout the movie where there is none, keeping those slow moments from feelings the most relevant. But overall it’s still a well crafted and intriguing story that both engages and chills.

The characters in this are layered, interesting, and overall entertaining. Barbara Crampton plays Anne, the woman at the center of this story, and the first to acknowledge that something might be up with the house. She’s still broken up about the sudden death of her son, and it helps make her a more interesting character as she goes through the film’s events. And Crampton is fantastic in the role. Next we have Andrew Sensenig as Paul, Anne’s husband. While the death of his son has had some effect on him, he clearly has moved on a bit more. He’s also a skeptic to the idea of spooky shit going on. But he’s never an asshole about it, as I found him quite likable. And Sensenig is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden, Monte Markham, Michael Patrick Nicholson, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Wojchiech Golczewski, and it’s pretty good. It does have a similar sort of eerie droning sound as many other horror scores, but I think this one stands out a little better as it captures the isolated and cold feeling of the location. Would I be able to recognize a track from it if I randomly heard it? Not really. But it’s still pretty good and works well enough for the movie.

“We Are Still Here” was written and directed by Ted Geoghegan, and I think he did a really good job with it. He clearly has a knack for making a person feel uncomfortable with simple camera movements as well as what he puts in the fore/background. But his direction here is tight and helps build a decent amount of suspense throughout. And while I was creeped out in parts, I don’t think I was fully scared. But I don’t think I needed to, as the creepiness factor keeps it from feeling like a failure. Also, I’m not saying exactly what happened, but there are some really effective/enjoyable deaths in this movie that brings it up a notch for me.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,7/10.

While not perfect, “We Are Still Here” is still a really enjoyable and well-crafted movie. It has a good plot, pretty good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing. As previously mentioned, it is brought down a little bit by a few moments throughout being kinda dull. Time for my final score. *BOO!*. My final score for “We Are Still Here” is an 8,88/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “We Are Still Here”.

That title sounds like something annoying house guests say when you try to get them out.

Movie Review: In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Something, something… Markus likes westerns… something, something… let’s get into it!

Ladies and gents… “In a Valley of Violence”.

The story of this movie follows a mysterious wanderer (Ethan Hawke) who experiences a horrific act of violence. And then he goes on a hunt to find and take out the people responsible. It’s a very simple western revenge plot, and it really never needed to be anything more. Sometimes you don’t need an overly complicated plot or a plot touching on the themes of morality and/or the psychology of the characters. This plot is exactly what it needed to be… a highly enjoyable western revenge tale. Original? Nope. Good? Hell yes.

The characters in this movie, while not very deep, are all interesting and entertaining. Ethan Hawke is great as the main guy. His character is also probably the deepest, because thye actually give him a backstory and clear motivations. And Hawke gave us a great performance. John Travolta plays the Marshal of the town that most of the movie is set and he was actually really good. Sure, he never gets to do anything that truly stretches his acting muscles, but he still did well in the role. James Ransone plays Travolta’s son/the man that makes Ethan Hawke go on the hunt for the assholes responsible, and he was really good. His character is set up to be a big cunt, and Ransone played that very well. Taissa Farmiga plays a young woman Hawke more or less befriends in the movie, and she was really good. Karen Gillan is in the movie, playing the wife of James Ransone’s character, and she was really good in the role. Then we have Larry Fessenden as Roy, a member of Ransone’s crew, and how do I put it… his character was really over-the-top and Fessenden was just a million flavors of fun in the role. And we also have Burn Gorman as a preacher that pops up at a few times in the movie, and he was really good in the role. All actors did a really solid job in the movie!

The original score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace and it was great. It is a mix of both old and new. Let me explain. The composition shares similarities to scores from Ennio Morricone’s old western scores. But it also shares a few similarities with some more modern scores, à la “The Assassination of Jesse James” or “Sicario”. And it all fit the movie very well, often making scenes more intense while being overall well composed.

This movie was directed by Ti West and I think he did a great job. What I like most about it feels like an old-school 1960s western. The shots just feel like something from Sergio Leone. Now, it’s not quite as great as Leone’s stuff, I’m just trying to find a suitable comparison. But yeah, it’s like an old western but with better camera/sound equipment and more blood. So yes, this is a pretty violent movie. When people get shot, there’s blood. Not as much as in maybe “Django Unchained”, but there’s definitely more blood than in a fair amount of other westerns. And for anyone possibly wondering, I am not using any of these comparisons to make this movie seem smaller/worse than it is… just trying to find good ways to explain certain elements of it.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,0/10.

“In a Valley of Violence” is a really solid old-school western. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Bang!*. My final score for “In a Valley of Violence” is a 9,78/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “In a Valley of Violence” is now completed.

Gotta say, 2016 was a pretty good year for westerns. “Magnificent Seven”, “Hell or High Water”, and “In a Valley of Violence”…