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Visitation, The (DVD)



The Visitation DVDStarring Martin Donovan, Kelly Lynch, Edward Furlong, Randy Travis

Directed by Robby Henson

Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment

By the time the opening credits for The Visitation had finished rolling across my TV screen, I was intrigued. Going in, I knew absolutely nothing about the film. I didn’t read the box or pay much attention to the cover. The title made me think I was about to watch an alien invasion movie or maybe the tale of a haunted house, but right from the beginning, its tone and setup made me realize it was nothing of the sort. It had all the ear markings of a fresh take on the age-old battle between the forces of good versus evil. But that’s not quite it either. No, what we have here instead is something along the lines of Close Encounters of the Jesus Kind.

The Visitation opens amid news reports of a murdered woman, a preacher’s wife, whose killer was never apprehended. As you might expect, her husband, Travis, lost his faith, left the church, and commenced living out his remaining years with Max, their beloved dog. Jump to three years later, and we’re introduced to an array of characters residing in the same town as Travis and Max including Michael, a young kid who’s killed in the church van while out on a kegger run for his friends, and Morgan, Michael’s mother and Max’s vet. But wait, Michael isn’t dead after all. He’s been brought back to life by three mysterious men, the apparent leader of whom tells him, “You must go back. Tell them he is coming.” Others see them too and are told, “He is coming.” Soon there are even more stories of “miracles” and “sightings,” and Michael isn’t the only one being resurrected. Max dies, is buried by Travis, and yet reappears, healthy and happy, with the same three men lurking in the background.

So, who are these guys? Are they angels? Demons? And what of this other wanderer who creeps up on the town sporting a plaid shirt and bad grunge haircut looking a bit like a homeless Eddie Vedder? Is he in cahoots with them, or are they his enemies?

As it turns out, the wanderer is Eddie Furlong, doing a pretty good job of playing a man who may or may not be Jesus. He claims his name is Brandon Nichols, but before long we learn that’s just an identity he stole from someone he worked with in a nearby town who is now missing. However, he does have the undeniable ability to heal people – or turn them on in the case of Priscilla Barnes’ character, the religious fanatic wife of the town sheriff who can’t hide her disappointment when “Jesus” takes more of a liking to her daughter – and all the other pretty young girls in town – than to her. Priscilla shows her performance in The Devil’s Rejects was hardly a fluke; her sexed-up MILF writhing in pleasure from the feeling of the holy spirit inside her is one of the highlights of The Visitation

In fact, all the acting is well above average. Martin Donovan as Travis is the heart and soul of the film, and I found myself both sympathizing and empathizing with him almost immediately. Kelly Lynch as Morgan, Joe Unger as Priscilla’s husband, and Randy Travis as Kyle, the thoughtful minister who is practically the only one who recognizes the potential danger wielded by Brandon or Jesus or whatever his name is, are all highly credible. The only one I had a little problem with was Furlong, but that was mainly due to his ill-fitting wig and odd, unflattering clothing selections. They caused a distraction that affected my ability to get a handle on or make any type of connection with his character, but by the end of the film, when Bandon’s true nature is revealed, it didn’t really matter anyway because The Visitation had also revealed its true nature – that of a Christian horror film with a message.

I’m not a religious person, but some of my favorite films tackle religious subject matter: Exorcist III, The Prophecy, Stigmata, and, most recently, The Exorcism of Emily Rose. (Interestingly enough, Scott Derrickson, who wrote and directed Emily Rose, served as a co-producer on The Visitation.) Demons and angels, god and the devil – I eat that stuff up! But only if there’s no agenda involved. Movies or music or books, etc., that target specific groups tend to be preachy even if they’re not about religion, so those that do broach the subject from a uniquely Christian perspective run the risk of coming across as proselytizing. The Visitation doesn’t quite go that far, but the ending does totally take the edge off all that came before and makes it somewhat less of a really good movie and more of a movie that “isn’t bad for a Christian film.” Which I think is how pretty much anyone who isn’t a Christian will judge it. Is that fair? Of course not, but it is reality.

Putting aside the Christian slant for a moment, on every other level it is a more than serviceable horror film. It’s shot extremely well, and both the sound design and score gave me everything I could want and more. Up until the last 20 minutes when the Bible thumping began and the almost laughable special effects showed up, the mood and tone were dark and deep and kept me guessing as to the outcome. The main characters are adults who look and act like real people. No one does anything stupid or unbelievable, and they discuss what’s going on like you or I would. Two scenes in particular are especially creepy and intense: One is when the townspeople surround Brandon, reaching out to him to heal them, and the other is when Travis looks through police photos of his dead wife, Miriam, for clues. It’s scary to think of how easily the former could take place and disturbing to imagine the pain and suffering portrayed in the latter. The filmmakers definitely have a good grasp on how to put together a horror film. Priscilla Barnes returns for Henson’s next project, Thr3e (as does genre icon Bill Moseley), and I am interested to see how the talent he displayed in The Visitation progresses.

The DVD is a two-sided affair with full screen and widescreen versions. Why? Are there really people out there who prefer full screen? Fine; knock yourselves out. But at the very least you’d think there’d be room for a few extras like a discussion of the Biblical references and/or the religious overtones. Nope. Not a one. Just a trailer for something called End of the Spear about a group of missionaries in Ecuador. Ahhhh . . . I’m sensing a theme here.

Is The Visitation the type of film genre fans will embrace? Is it even the type of film Christians will embrace? I’d say that based solely on the secular aspects, there’s a lot for both groups to like. However, taking into account a script that falls apart at the exact moment when it should be bringing everything together, all I can do is quote our hero Travis’ statement to Kyle, “Spare me the clichés.”

Special Features
Widescreen and full screen versions
End of the Spear trailer

2 ½ out of 5

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Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?



Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas

While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

  • Inside (Remake)


Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

User Rating 1.67 (3 votes)
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What If Tina Fey Wrote Jennifer’s Body? My Friend’s Exorcism Book Review



“Rummaging in one of his duffel bags, [the exorcist] pulled out and athletic cup and slid it down the front of his pants. ‘First place they go for,’ he explained. He then adjusted himself and picked up a well-worn Bible. ‘Let’s do the Lord’s work.'”

It was about a year ago now (it seems) that I first saw the cover of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” If you haven’t seen it for yourself in all of its glory, make sure to click the image over to the right for a more in-depth look. Awesome, right? Got to love all the VHS details such as the “Horror” and “Be Kind Rewind” stickers. Classic. Utter classic.

Now I’m fully aware that one should not judge a book by its cover. Literally. But still the moment I saw this work of delicious art crop up in the inbox I had to read the book asap. Well, it turns out asap was about a year later, but all the same, I’ve now had a peek at the inside of the book as well as the outside. Does the content inside match the content outside?

Let’s find out…

For those who might not know, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (henceforth referred to as MBFE) tells the tale of two best friends named Abby and Grethen. One night the two, and a few of there other friends, drop a bit of acid for the first time. While the drug never kicks in (no worries, there’s no lame twist-ending to be had here) poor Gretchen still wanders off into the woods and gets possessed like a motherf*cker in some creepy abandoned building. From there, things go from bad to worse until an unlikely exorcist is called in and things go off the wicked walls in all the best ways possible.

Now, to review. First of all, let it be know that MBFE is more of a teen romance (between two friends) than a straight tale of terror. Think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body?” and that will give you a good hint at what the book holds in store for you. Not that that’s a bad thing. Still, you should be aware that the first 2/3 of the book is almost exclusively teenagers not getting along, bitch about losing touch, who is sleeping with who, and yada, yada, yada for pages on end. Dramarama for days. Mostly.

That said, not only is the teen drama bearable (and truthfully quite sweet in spots), Hendrix keeps the horror in the spotlight just enough that I never lost faith the book was heading somewhere truly balls to the wall. And it does. Oh, boy does it. From the time the unholy shite hits the fan in the last third, to the time the last word is read, the book is filled with horror moments that will make even the most jaded fright-fiction fan gag, grimace, or stand up and cheer!

You just have to get through all the angst first…

But speaking of angst, let me get a bit of extremely personal business out of the way real quick. Can I trust you with this info? Sure I can. MBFE made is cry like a baby. Not kidding. There have been very few times in my life that I have literally burst out crying. I’ve had some sad shite happen in my days, and I have seen some sad-ass movies, but nothing has made me cry out of the f*cking blue like MBFE. I’m not going to go into details about the final 10 pages of the book, but it tore my poor horror-heart a new one. It was bad. Like snot and hyperventilating type shite. Again, not kidding. Thank the lord I wasn’t in public is all I can say. I would have arrested and thrown in the booby-hatch.

MBFE goes along like a slightly horror-centric version of Mean Girls and Heathers for most of its page count. If you’re a straight horror fan, you’ll be at odds with whether you should bother finishing it or not. You will. Trust me. But listen to me now and know that once our heroine goes into the dark, dank bedroom of the school’s resident bitch to find out why she hasn’t been in school the past few days/weeks, the horror hits like holy hell. And it only gets worse (RE: better) from there.

In the end, MBFE is a book ever horror fan should own – if only for the cover. I dug the hell out of the book (eventually) and I’m sure the majority of you guys will too. But even for those hard-hearts out there that just can’t stand to read about things like uncompromising love, and hellfire-forged friendship, you still need to own the book. You still owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don’t care for it, that’s cool, just display in on your bookshelf in all it’s VHS glory. It will make you look cool.

  • My Best Friend's Exorcism - Book Review


Grady Hendrix’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is a killer mixture of Mean Girls, Heathers, and The Exorcist. Just think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body” and you’ll have a good indication of what lies in store for you within the amazing VHS-inspired cover art.

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Knock Knock Review – This Throwback To The VHS Era Packs A Fun Punch



Starring Kerry Tartack, Sisi Berry, Chuk Hell

Directed by Toby Canto

I remember the glory days of my youth back in the early to mid-80’s, renting every friggin horror flick on VHS and keeping the cassettes well past the return dates, eventually blacklisting my name from damn near all of the movie shops in my hometown. For the sole reason of wanting to hop back in the time-machine, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to check out a film that promises to ship you back to the days of all of that cheesy-neon attire and overblown hairdos.

Director Toby Canto was generous enough to offer his latest film up onto the sacrificial stone, and it’s called Knock Knock – about a WAY past his prime pugilist named Sam (Tartack) who is unwillingly thrust into a throwdown with a bloodsucker who happens to reside in the same apartment – damn noisy neighbors! His only birthday wish is to spend his 60th go-round safely hold up in his domicile, away from pesky residents alike. Well, that plan goes to shit when his kooky neighbor (Berry) comes by and pitches the idea of throwing hands with the newest tenant: a real creature of the night (Lucas Ayoub).

Sam initially nixes the idea wholeheartedly, but when more of his quirky neighbors show up to his place to substantiate the vampiric-claims, Sam finds himself lacing up the leather for one more round…or two, depending on if he can still take a beating. Filled with more than a handful of goofy instances, this near-hour presentation won’t blow the doors off of the horror/com vehicle, but should more than suffice in the short-term until the next spooky-laugher comes slithering out of its hole.

  • Film


Historians alike, this movie’s for those who want a reminder of how loopy those VHS days were, and the best part is you don’t have to rewind a freakin’ thing.

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