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!

Evil Hate Trumps Good Love! “The Hatred” review!


In 1968, former Nazi occult officer, Samuel Sears, runs a strict farm in rural America, restricting his only daughter Alice from the corruption of the outside world with an infinite workload, and Alice violently rebels against her tyrannical father, Samuel kills her with rage. Hidden deep in the dark basement of his plantation home, a powerful Nazi-occupied amulet, charged by fear and hate, feed on his rage and fear and curses him to do the unspeakable. In the present day, four college girlfriends retreat to a friend of the family’s recently purchased foreclosure farm house, the abandoned and forgotten Sears farm, for a relaxing weekend getaway, but after night of drinks and games, the amulet reignites an ominous and dark cloud, reviving long forgotten, evil spirits who search for an endless quantity of fear and hate and will stop at nothing to swallow the souls of each and everyone inside the Sears’ estate home.

“The Hatred” is the 2017 haunting thriller from writer-director and Brooklyn native Michael Kehoe and produced by long time “Halloween” franchise producer Malek Akkad. Kehoe tells the story in two parts with the first delving in the Sears family, getting a first hand look at the hardworking German mennonite character that is Samuel Sears whose a former war time Nazi that’s settled down and raised a family in America’s backcountry. From what can be gathered about Samuel Sears, the farmer protects his past identity and isn’t ashamed of yet, but rather proud of his accomplishments alongside the Führer. All of the attributes of a proud countryman come suddenly alive when he receives a mysterious package containing the amulet, a photo of him in full Nazi dress standing with Adolf Hitler, and a signed letter personally acknowledged by the Nazi leader himself offering him the amulet as a gift for his fine work during the War and that ultimately becomes his downfall, pitting him against his family. The second part of the film tells a more uncharismatic story of four young girls staying at the Sears farm in present day. One of the girls, Regan, just finished college and is about to start a new job and what’s her ideal getaway with her girlfriends? An old (haunted) farmhouse.

“Wishmaster” himself, Andrew Divoff, gives “The Hatred” much more life despite his joyless character Samuel by somehow giving the former Nazi, now American farmer personality traits that are haunting in an unforgettable performance during the first act. The same can not be said about the four girls – Regan (Sarah Davenport), Layan (Gabrielle Bourne), Samantha (Bayley Corman), and Betaine (Alisha Wainwright). There’s no comparison as Samuel is a superiorly written and finely performed character than those he stalks beyond the afterlife. The gaggle of women offer no substance in the face of adversity or just plain ole progression of their character. Numerous times does Regan’s sick grandmother have scenes and Regan passively forgets about her poor grandmother’s health or Samantha’s uncanny interesting in history that really goes no further than the random facts that she spews. Regan and Betaine seem to have this close knit relationship, yet it founders and is suddenly cut short when all hell breaks loose. There are no personal connections established, offering little-to-no worth to their lives when Samuel comes calling for their souls, and leaves “The Hatred” in the take-it or leave-it column in the second and third act. Darby Walker, Nina Siemaszko, and Shae Smolik complete the cast.

Kehoe does display intense, nail-biting visuals with the materialized embodiment of fear and hate as well as sly editing with a scene involving Shae Smolik’s Irene, a little girl whose friends with Regan, who asks Regan to check under her bed, for supposed shadowy figure. When Regan pulls back the skirt to look, she sees another Irene putting a finger to her mouth, hushing Regan, and saying, “that’s not me,” as she points upward toward Regan’s impending doom. The heart-stopping moment will tear eyes away from the screen in anticipation of what Regan will see atop of Irene’s bed. However, that’s the sad truth in the extent of Kehoe’s story; a story riddled with plot holes and underdeveloped subtexts in which one in particular pertains to the aforementioned subplot of Regan’s ill stricken grandmother that goes undercooked when attempted to connect with the supernatural portal that of the Sears farm home. Characters disappear to never be seen again, character motivations go unexplained, and backstories are like a hazy dream and the entire ensemble is a mismatched, muddled mess in a premise that should have continued with the motif of the Nazi infiltration into America and less about scaring the wit out of witless girls with the creepiness of an alternate dimension seeping out of an unholy amulet.

The Lionsgate Films’ “The Hatred” is presented by Anchor Bay Entertainment on Blu-ray and UltraViolet home video in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio from an encoded AVC 1080p transfer that’s sleek and well lit, especially capture Samuel’s earthly and grim nature. The overall atmosphere doesn’t particular hone in a horror palette design, but offers realistic ventures into brightly lit areas of dark scenes. Details are fine in more of the natural aspects of the film whereas the CGI goes soft at times, but still very well detailed. The English language Dolby TrueHD 5.1 keeps Kehoe’s film buoyant with a leveled mix through and through with clear fidelity and good, if not great, surround sound output. Instilled with conventional horror schemes, burdened with design flaws, and unfocused in it’s inability to pin down an narrative identity, Malek Akkad and Michael Kehoe’s spook house feature “The Hatred” requires much tender loving care to uplift this unkempt cliche horror into a coherent thriller.

“The Hatred” on Blu-ray+UltraViolet!

Can Evil Be Thwarted From Plaguing Your Family? “The Hours Till Daylight” review!

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Ever since he was a small child, Marco has been haunted by a malevolent presence inside his family home. The nighttime darkness has become Marco’s most feared adversary, staying up late and sleeping with the lights on has been molded into the normalcy of his life. While recollecting his childhood, a happy and tragic period in his life, Marco tracks downs and locates a Curandero, a Witch doctor of sorts, named Luis Ortiz, hoping for a resolution to the spirit’s relentless torture before Marco’s son becomes the spirit’s next target. The unorthodox Ortiz discloses a self-exorcising ritual that only Marco can perform to ultimately rid Marco’s family’s curse. Armed with ritualistic candles, a barrier of salt, the holiness of water, and a slither of courage, Marco transforms his childhood home into an evil eviction dwelling that will be the last stand.
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Director Jon Garcia’s first step into the horror genre with “The Hours of Daylight,” a ghost film through-and-through, starring Quinn Allen as Marco. Set within the confines and on the outskirts of Corpus Christi, Texas, Garcia’s uses the industrial and river-ridden backdrop to contrast a stark outline between the metal and the nature qualities of the coastal city, a demarcation dividing the otherworldly evil versus the organic man. However, the diverse landscape is only a embellished blanket over a lingering underdeveloped story written by Garcia. Marco spends much of the time wandering the land, pondering the what ifs of his past, and doing a lot of soul searching in order to build courage against a lifelong and unknown force, but the story goes stagnant for a good portion of the first two acts doing nothing to motivate and build upon an established character from early into “The Hours Till Daylight.”
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Interesting aspects of the film such as Curandero Luis Ortiz and the stricken girlfriend of Marco left a befuddled teaser in a Quinn-centered story. Dan Braverman (Dylan Dog: Dead of Night) portrayed the Curandero, a character whose disability, threatening protection, and greedy candor made a highlight when Marco comes calling for unconventional assistance. Braverman’s “gangster” charisma overpowers Quinn Allen’s timid and drab performance of a desperate man on a mission to do and try anything to end his family’s suffering. Marco’s girlfriend, credited to Sarah Jannett Parish, begin to experience the affects of Marco’s torment as the apparition clings onto her and their unborn son, pursuing a legacy of spirit attachment. Again, the scenes are brief and unexplored; these scene would heighten a clear and present danger that provokes Marco.
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I previously read that the slow pace of “The Hours Till Daylight” was well worth the wait at the finale. I disagree. The finale was better with a blue tinted, “not-of-this-Earth” force, naming itself Hate, makes a confrontal appearance when Marco challenges it and though the ghost effect does the job, final bout lets the air whoosh out, deflating any kind of tension and excitement right out of moment. Technical details crash Garcia’s initial horror achievement and its the little things that create an atmosphere. Garcia has an eye for horror, but not the eye it needs to be more defined in it’s training to capture the tiniest of details that makes a scene, or a movie, truly scary. Whether or not Garcia’s intentions we’re to display a blatant ghost thriller or to exhibit Marco’s severe mental distress stemming from the tragic loss of his sister and his emotionless father doesn’t matter if the film isn’t technically and emotionally sound. Garcia’s film isn’t technically sound and borderlines being emotionally there, but falters through the inconsistencies.
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Breaking Glass Pictures distributes the 84 minute not rated DVD of the Jon Garcia’s Lake Productions feature film presented in a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio on a singer-layered disc and the video quality is solid sans some compression artefacts. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix could you some work leveling out of the LFE with the audio tracks. The special features include an in-depth look into the behind the scenes of “The Hours Till Daylight,” the film’s theatrical trailer, photo stills, and other BGP promotional trailers. Overall, “The Hours Till Daylight” atmospheric creepiness bleeds in the conformity of filmmaking, offering nothing new and unique to the psychological horror thrillers. Director Jon Garcia has talent and ambition that needs tweaking and more experience in order to accomplish horror at it’s scariest.

Buy “The House Till Daylight” at Amazon!

Feeding Off on the Evil Energy! “The House on Pine Street” review!

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Married couple Jennifer and Luke move to Jennifer’s small hometown in Kansas suburbia after an incident with Jennifer’s pregnancy at their city home in Chicago causes concern for the baby from both Luke and Jennifer’s mother Meredith. Feeling not at home and isolated, Jennifer quickly detaches herself from everyone around her, but when spooky occurrences start to slowly reveal in their new home, Jennifer desperately needs her family and friends to eagerly believe that the house is haunted. When everything firmly believes that Jennifer might be suffering from another pregnancy episode like in Chicago, the young woman experiences a psychological horror that drives her into a blurred line of what’s she seeing is either frighteningly real or a nightmarish psychosis.
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“The House on Pine Street” is a chilling, effective thriller helmed by twin brothers Aaron and Austin Keeling, who both also co-wrote the film with newcomer Natalie Jones. The Keeling twins, along with numerous short film cinematographer Juan Sebastian Baron, were able to capture alluring framing and uncomfortable camera angles, consisting of the use of medium and close up shots, that suit the film’s unsettling and haunting nature. The poetic beauty of the vibrant exterior contrasted with the bleak and rundown features inside the Luke and Jennifer’s home tell the harrowing story of where the dread begins and lingers to languish and the brothers were really able to set the entire pace of the film, prolonging out the story’s suspense, and able to create an engaging tale within about a two month time spatial difference and have it laid out logically.
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Aside from the obviously talented crew, the phenomenal cast ranks this lesser known 2015 ghost film near the top. Emily Goss embodies Jennifer’s loneliness and fear through the subjection of constant ghastly occurrences. Whereas Jennifer’s husband Luke played by Taylor Bottles, even with the slick and enduring hipster hairdo, feeds off Goss’s non compos mentis situation, making the character Jennifer drown in darkness without any compassion. Personally, Jim Korinke captured my favorite performance as the neighborly quasi medium. With no acting credit to his name, Korinke’s ability to keep up and maintain with a younger, more experienced acting talent is beyond remarkable on screen and fun to watch.
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Much like the film’s generic title, the story is simplistic; however, the story is without a mind blowing twist which most of Hollywood gets off on. “The House on Pine Street” speaks in underlining messages. The motif of energy keeps reoccurring throughout much of the plot, sparking the conversation that negative or positive energy will be the inevitable karma influence. If a person emits negative energy, bad juju will be the result and visa versa. While the story hovers around Jennifer’s locus, her negative, pessimistic attitude contributes to the tribulations toward other characters. The Keelings were able to subtly convey the energy message without being blatant and expositive.
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“The House on Pine Street” works and works well regardless of the overused and lackluster title that has become more repetitive and an unfortunate eyesore to those scouring the retail racks, looking for an engaging thriller, but the Keeling duo are a pair of cinema prodigy twins, who with the right cast and crew can take a smaller project, like this, and polish it into gold. Second Sight distribution is set to release this spin-chilling “The House on Pine Street” thriller onto DVD home video in the UK on February 1st. Just in case you’re not completely sold, take it from me that goosebumps will occupy every inch if your chilled flesh when watching in the dark and the light.

A Video Diary of Evil. “The Death of April” review!

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Megan Mullen, freshly out of college life, feels a strong urge to pick up and move from her comfortable California family home to the new surroundings of New Jersey. She can’t explain her why to move, but she quickly finds an apartment in East Rutherford where she settles in easily, creates a video journal for her friends and family back home, begins her new job as a school teacher, and gains a wonderful boyfriend. Everything seems to be going perfect for Megan until unexplainable, seemingly paranormal, acts happen in her apartment: doors open and close mysteriously, objects move on their own, and her soul doesn’t feel like her own. As she continues to her video journal, she further believes her apartment was once rented by April, a young girl similar to Megan who ended up brutally murdered and found on a riverbank, and that she is haunting her. This is Megan’s story told through a documentary revealed by her friends and family to the supernatural speculation of what causes Megan’s torment and downfall.
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In the spirit of new releases on or around horror’s big night of Halloween, Director Ruben Rodriquez’s 2012 paranormal mockumenatry “The Death of April” comes to life on for the first time on DVD from MVDVisual. Similar to the “Paranormal Activity” series, the pseudo documentary about a dangerous, abode dwelling spirit or spirits bombarding their supernatural havoc upon helpless inhabitants. While the release time is appropriate and has a modest appreciation for creepy atmospheres, “The Death of April” fails to bring something new to the genre table and I can’t see the easily overlooked “The Death of April” being the catalyst to spark more interest in a ghostly genre that becomes overpopulated, by the major studios, during the month of October.
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Backed finically by the Mojo Creative Group that was founded by Ruben Rodriguez, the mockumentary introduces a modest talent of actors and actresses including Katarina Hughes as Megan Mullen. Hughes, in her first feature film, delivers the much needed energy to a slow, stagnant script, but the contrast exaggerates Katarina’s overzealous happy-new-girl-moving-to-a-different-coast attitude. Her co-stars Adam Lowder as her brother Stephen Mullen, The Knick’s Chelsea Clark as her best friend, RayMartell Moore as her boyfriend Tim, and Stephanie Domini as her mother, who by the way looks almost the same age as Megan, sold their story, their take, of Megan’s downward events. That being said, Lowder, Clark, Moore, and Domini couldn’t lift the script out of the deep trenches of the uninteresting and mechanical motions.
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The script, which was also written by Ruben Rodriguez, could be considered to contain two interpretations, one literal and the other more concealed. The more literal interpretation is my least favorite of the two. Megan’s family constantly disowns the fact that she might actually be haunted by an apartment spirit; in fact, her family and friends negatively pelt her with denials and accusations, never once considering Megan’s theories of an aggressive April spirit. This is where the script becomes redundant as Megan’s brother Stephen and also her mother Stephanie reiterate over and over about how close their relationship with Megan was and how she had firm family roots in California and also proclaim the excuses of how she’s looking for attention or not coping with a new surrounding very well. Rodriguez’s script suffers by not displaying alternate ways in exploring how her family and friends should handle Megan’s paranoia or paranormal problem. Even when they’re is undeniable video proof with the video starting to distort and capturing uncontrollable movements from inanimate objects, nobody believes Megan and that would drive anybody to the loony bin. The second interpretation with, perhaps, a more underlying metaphor is that Megan is slowly going nuts. Her brother Stephen does mention her previous slightly creepy issues with Megan before her big impulsive move to the east coast. Almost like her impulsiveness and her energy-filled antics seemed manic and her sanity practically dissolved when she moved thousands of miles away from her support group in California. Megan’s mind could have invented April and her family, knowing that she’s had weird issues in the past, chalks this up to just being another mental issue. Of course, the video diary proof, even with her brother and friend witnesses, nearly excludes the second theory and that her “desire” to move far away from her family stems from April pulling her in that direction.
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“The Death of April” won’t make waves on the PKE meter. The picture quality of the MVDVisual and ITN distribution DVD release looks clean considering that most scenes had intentional video quality posterization and distortion for the web and home video diary appearance. The front cover art is slightly misleading with a foreboding, rundown gothic style house in the background when actually Megan lives in a sectioned off duplex apartment in a suburban neighbor of a New Jersey home that doesn’t look necessarily evil at all. Also, who I’m guessing is spirit of April on the front cover with a Ouija board in her clutches sports sexy booty denim shorts as if to lure a certain audience to the release. We’re not sold on “The Death of April” as too many before it’s time have come across and planted their seed and sprouted firm in place.