Two Lovers Become Entangled in Evil’s Child Abduction Web! “Hollow Creek” review!


Wyoming County, an economic crumbling West Virginia area, is the destination for a work and romantic getaway for popular horror novelist Blake Blackman and his book cover illustrating mistress Angie. As Blake continues to struggle with writer’s block on his next book, Angie attempts to relax in a town that’s outside her comfort zone, but immediately diagnosis trouble as she believes she is witnessing a crime in progress and not just any misdemeanor violation, but a child being abducted, a third abduction that has plagued Wyoming County for the last 18 months. Angie follows the kidnapper to an isolated farm house where she’s captured and imprisoned in the basement for five months along with two caged young boys. Blake becomes prime suspect number one in the case, but after five months of no evidence and Blake not vacating Wyoming County as he searches for the woman he loves, the frustrated police department finally open to new leads from Blake’s obsession in locating Angie, even if his theories and circumstantial evidence are churned from out of a supernatural presence that surrounds itself around the malevolently insane child kidnappers.

From this reviewers stand point, the last Burt Reynolds’ film to cross these glossy green eyes was perhaps in the year of 2005 with “Legend of Frosty the Snowman” and, even then, Reynolds’ casting was just voice work. “The Longest Yard,” starring that ridiculing funny guy Adam Sandler, was the last live action film, but the films I recall of the handsome mustache charmer sticking to me like glue and always coming to the forefront of my sometimes fried brain isn’t always “Smokey and the Bandit” or “The Cannonball Run.” No, the films that stay with me are “Cop and a 1/2,” “Boogie Nights,” and “Strip Tease.” A guilty pleasure comedy and two adult comedy-dramas overwhelm the light-hearted and comedy action of the 1980’s favorites and, perhaps, solely becomes I was more conscious of films in the 1990’s. In either case, Reynolds’ in any of the noted films was this charismatic and larger than life figure. That’s not the case in the 2016 thriller “Hollow Creek.” Written and directed by Guisela Moro, with Steve Daronn credited as a writing collaborator, “Hollow Creek,” also known as “Haunting at Hollow Creek,” displays a much more humble Burt Reynolds whose weak physique and agitated temperament more closely resembles his 81-years on this Earth and even though the enduring actor has only about 5 minutes’ worth of screen time as the region’s wealthy owner of coal mines, the fading A-lister shares a headlining credit alongside costars Moro and Daron.

Filmmakers Guisela Moro and Steve Daron also star as the lead characters Angie and Blake Blackman. The two have well enough chemistry to pull off incognito lovers, but regress when unable to feed off each other when they divide for more than most the runtime as they’re pitted against their respective oppositions and fed their individual motivations. For Daron, the Burt Reynolds protégée succumbs to his character’s desperation and eagerness to locate his missing lover, showing an earnest fiery ambition and displaying a softer side whenever Angie is paired with him on screen. For Moro, I wasn’t sold on her performance that shifts into many different gears and taps into a wide range of unwarranted expressions and actions, but Moro’s directing herself and in that mindset, a narrow envision of how your character should react, behave, or carry themselves comes off a bit skewed and that’s more or less what happens in Ben Stiller directed-and-starring movies. If you’ve seen “Zoolander,” you know what I’m talking about. Alyn Darnay and Earleen Carey steal the show right under the noses of Moro and Daron with an unstable older couple trying to recoup thee the loss of their twin boys with the snatching of other people’s children and the pair dive into two very different hostiles with Darnay exposing his character, Leonard Cunnings, as a paranoid and psychopathic hand of the couple while Carey sails a softer, yet still deranged, side with trying to hunt down the perfect children for their unsuitable home.

Guisela Moro’s “Hollow Creek” succumbs to a lack of genre identity. Meaning, the 2016 film wasn’t constructed with one genre in mind, does it want to be a ghost film, an exploitation, and even Blake Blackman goes through his segmented drama of searching for his mistress in Wyoming Counter. There’s even a quotational introduction referring to children being abducted every 40 seconds in the United States. Without an identifier, plot holes rear their ugly little heads. For example, a hazy dynamic between Angie and a ghost of one of the dead kidnapped boys doesn’t seem to add up to the film’s ultimate conclusion when Angie has briefly passes into death and she shepherds the dead boy’s ghost to the great beyond, ending his Earthly torment. The whole scene is out of place and significantly unimportant as the two really never had an interaction with the exception of a pair of extremely brief moments, but in Angie’s moment on the other side, the two are the best of friends. The story was also inarguably one sided with much of Cunnings’ mental stability and criminal escapades of kidnapping three young boys falling shamefully by the waist side.

MVDVisual in association with FilmRise distributes the Guisela Moro directed “Hollow Creek” on DVD home video. The widescreen presentation is glorified by the lush West Virginia backdrop with intrinsic details in the greenery and the couples’ cabin, but darker scenes succumb to digital block interference and appears slightly washed over. Skin tones are a nice touch when in natural lens, but the back and forth between natural and a heavy blue filter, especially during scenes at the gas station, become a thorn in the side of continuity. Overall Jon Schellenger’s cinematography conveys a nice concoction of intrinsic beauty and hazy mystery. Audio quality pars well with some range issues that don’t really discourse the project. There are zero bonus features accompanying the disc. “Hollow Creek” flatters the Stephen King story telling imagination and Guisela Moro helms her first feature with rock solid determination with a touch of a cinematic spark that hooks you into the story, yet the unclassifiable stance mislays how the story is to be accepted, spooling an incomplete wash over Moro’s work as a whole. Still, “Hollow Creek” aims high and doesn’t miss and that’s the bottom line.

Own “Hollow Creek” on DVD today at Amazon.com!

Where There is Darkness, There is Evil. “The Dark Tapes” review!


Four dark and terrifying tapes tell tales of a petrifying horror through the camera lens of various found footage assets. Whether between the bleak, grim nature of disturbed mankind or the ominous, otherworldliness of menacing creatures, each story’s ultimate objective is to expose what lies behind the scenes, to shine a light upon what lives shrouded in shadows, and to unearth what lurks in the mind’s subconscious. At first glance, the dark tapes might seem uncorrelated, but at closer examination, the tapes share a deep rooted evil that connects every afflicted recorded event and makes one think twice about their perception on reality.

“The Dark Tapes” are a formidable found footage anthology that resembles a familiar “V/H/S” layout under the meticulously constructed eyes of co-directors Michael McQuown and special effects guru Vincent Guastini (Child’s Play 3). Scripted by the anthology creator, Michael McQuown, “The Dark Tapes'” four interlocking episodes will leave inside you a paralyzing case of nyctophobia as the genre-spliced anthology has no shortage of bone-chilling creepiness; in fact, “The Dark Tapes” epitomizes the very term and with an alternate universe mixture of ghastly ghouls, ghosts, and grisliness, the extremely exhausted found footage genre might have discovered some new, and much needed, life before being on the brink of a near death extinction in this quaint independent production from Michael McQuown.

The three internal tapes, directed by McQuown, are entitled, and in this order, “The Hunters and The Hunted,” “Cam Girls,” and “Amanda’s Revenge” with Vincent Guastini’s external wrap around segment, “How to Catch a Demon,” being broken into four parts between each tape and each tape should be viewed in complete and utter darkness to achieve maximum level of pants-pissing fright. Your overworked heart will skip with long deadly pauses in between, your lungs that keep you breathing will cease to provide breath, and your mind will warp to unfavorably play tricks on your eyes from an unrivaled nightmare witnessed on “The Dark Tapes.” The full body-stopping, comatose-inducing effect can’t be accomplished without the collaborating cast that includes Brittany Underwood, Tess Munro, Stephen Zimpel, Meredith Thomas, David Roundtree, “Sushia Girl’s” Cortney Palm, Anna Rose Moore, Shawn Lockie, Jo Galloway, and Michael Cotter to just name a few.

Much is right about Michael McQuown’s “The Dark Tapes.” Always welcoming practical effects are better than most indie ran features, especially in the anthology category, and the effects can best some lower-end Hollywood productions inside eye-glueing, on the edge of your seat narrative designs that are smart, gripping, and definitely heart-stopping scary, but to be somewhat of a devil’s advocate, the acting was overall a bit stiff across the plane with an awkward uneasiness in the vary of lackluster performances and overzealous deliveries that petered scenes from reaching full potentials. Production wise, “The Dark Tapes” impress inside the sets of bland reoccurring locations, but coincide them with a vast amount of timely, well placed special effects that quickly mutate the stark locations and the uninteresting backdrops turn into vivid portraits of hell.

The Thunder Road Incorporated produced, “The Dark Tapes,” has been slated for a worldwide video on demand distribution release come this mid-April after a theatrical stint this past March courtesy of the Epic Pictures Group. VOD platforms include Google Play, Vudu, iNDemand (Comcast- Xfinity, Time Warner, Cox, Bright House & more), Dish TV, Amazon, Vubiquity (Verizon Fios, Charter, Sudden Link, Media Com &more), Xbox, Playstation, Sling TV & Vimeo. Unfortunately, I was provided with an online screener of the festival favorite and can’t necessarily comment on the video or audio qualities nor any bonus features that might be available on a home entertainment release, but I can firmly state that, visually, “The Dark Tapes” is the Haribo of horror eye-candy with the different flavors of thrilling genres in a pint-sized package and while a little tame with the cherry red graphic content, director Michael McQuown seizes the opportunity to instill an open faucet of fear rather than tease with gore and sleaze with sex. If I had to recommend a horror anthology for 2017, “The Dark Tapes” would be on the very short list.

Evil Wants You to Be a Better Father! “In the House of Flies” review!

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Heather and Steve take a trip into the city in June of ’88. Adversely, their romantic holiday turns into a nightmare of claustrophobia, torture, and a fear when a maniac abducts the couple and holds them in small, enclosed basement of a middle of nowhere house in a undisclosed location. Using a broken rotary phone that only receives inbound calls, the abductor plays a horrifying psychological game that will test the bounds of Heather and Steve’s strong relationship.
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Director Gabriel Carrer and screenwriter Angus McLellan have proven that their diabolical host lives up to being the epitome of unsympathetic, unreasonable, and sadistic in “In the House of Flies”. The captor leaves no room for wiggle and makes the outlook for our hero and heroine look tragically bleak and sorrowful. The method on how Steve and Heather manage to overcome their host doesn’t jive well with me. Surely a smart and methodical person would not be so careless agains’t two individuals who have to be delirious and weak after weeks of isolation and starvation. Yet, somehow in a matter of a few minutes, the delirious and weak couple hardly break a sweat and barely struggle for victory. I hoped for a better ending, but I shouldn’t take away from the devilish qualities of their capture who lives up to other iconic insane captors such as John Kramer.
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The subject matter is obviously dark and realistic. Heather and Steve are put into a position where their love for each other is tested to the brink of it’s limit. Will Steve kill himself to save Heather? Will Steve kill himself to save Heather and their unborn two-month term baby? Will Heather kill Steve to save herself? The couple reach breaking points and question their adoration. The host is firmly behind the wheel of his own sadistic game and wants only one thing and that is the destruction of Steve; his will knowns no limits when dealing with women or unborn children. Though the plot reeks of sinister events, the dialogue and the characters actions don’t reflect the film’s blunt storyline. Heather and Steve are a bit too comfortable in their newly dim basement home and kind of accept being kidnapped or give up far too quickly. Rated as unrated, “In the House of Flies” has a tame dialogue. The rap between Steve and Heather and the host doesn’t convey the aggression one may convey if frightened and angry. Graphic scenes are another tame portion of the film that I feel a movie of this caliber could have heightened, but I admire filmmakers that can provoke without having to visually exploit and that is what “In the House of Flies” does here.
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The cast of three is fairly solid. Much can’t go wrong if you have a limit number of actors and actresses and other films have proven this such as Ryan Reyonlds in “Buried” or even the Sandra Bullock lost in space film “Gravity.” Surrounded by unbreakable nothing can be more unsettling than the most vicious and ruthless of villains and can bring out the greatness in most actors and actresses. While I believe Ryan Kotack (Steve) and Lindsay Smith (Heather) do an amazing job as struggling survivors, the characters are a bit overly dramatic very early in the film showing signs of weakness and lethargy too early for effect. Punk rocker legend Henry Rollins is the voice of the caller and I must say I couldn’t even tell it was the punk rock icon. Rollins delivers a monotone sardonic voice that could scare the shit out of anybody.
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“In the House of Flies” shows that independent exploitation horror is not yet dead. This film will burn right into your brain leaving you scarred and scared of the cruelty in the world. Though still very Worthy of all the film festival nominations and wins, this thriller was given an 80’s retrofitted treatment that doesn’t quite live up to the video nasty era, but does invoke questions about love in dire situations and who would you save: Your unborn baby? The love of your life? Or yourself? Check out the Parade Deck Films feature distributed on DVD January 20th, 2015 by my pals at MVD!

Nudity Report

No Nudity 😦