Underappreciated Films on Netflix

It's been some time since I've posted a review, so I thought I would plug a handful of films I recently enjoyed from Netflix. By 'underappreciated,' I mean that we have not paid these films their dues with a proper review. The first two you've surely heard of, but the next four have remained under the radar.

Insidious: Chapter 2
The second installment of Insidious retains all of the thrills and chills of the original and develops the story sufficiently where one no longer feels like they are watching a modern-day Poltergeist. Don't worry, the influence from A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Matrix, etc. etc. is still apparent. It also helps that the cast is still excellent.

The Cabin in the Woods
The film is a masterpiece of Horror cinema. If you're well cultured in the Horror genre, prepare to appreciate the hell out of this one. If you're new to the game, spend some time with the classics and come back to this one in a few months. This film blindsided me in a good way; to be honest, I expected something between Cabin Fever and Cube.

A documentary crew stumbles onto an underground military bunker, is pursued by the mysterious Church of Lunology, and may be in the middle of a grand conspiracy. The detail and focus of the storytelling is incredible, and the film contains one of the best explanations of 'deja vu,' second only to The Matrix.

The Conspiracy
Much like Lunopolis, two filmmakers follow the life of a seemingly crazed conspiracy theory activist only to stumble onto the trail of a secret society following his disappearance. The presentation of the 'conspiracy logic' and its seduction is truly gripping and powerful.

Long Pigs
First, a confession: this one is no longer on Netflix. This does not mean that one should not seek it out with great haste. Two filmmakers follow the exploits of a serial killer who feasts on his victims. His mind and past are probed while the filmmakers wrestle with feelings of empathy and immorality.

Mon Ami
Finally, a bloody buddy film that will leave you with a sinister smile. But first, another confession: I viewed Mon Ami at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival in 2012 and have been really lazy about writing this review. Partially, it's because this one is difficult to describe without using too many generic words such as great, fun, entertaining, brutal, etc. I have the same problem with similar films, e.g., Shaun of the Dead. Check this one out ASAP; here is the link.

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

By Brett Mullins

Released: 1985

Directed by Danny Steinmann

In the first four entries in the Friday the 13th series, I've taken issue with the incredible amount of filler that hinders an otherwise interesting story about a deformed, deranged man hell-bent on revenge. On one hand, Part V overcomes these worries with an interesting murder mystery that largely parallels the first film; on the other hand, the audience is disappointed by the lack of character development.

A handful of years following his gruesome encounter with Jason, Tommy Jarvis is shuffled around to a rural treatment center, a funny farm so to speak. Though Jason is supposedly dead, just as Tommy arrives, the murders begin.

This entry is largely focused on Tommy's psychological health which, as one can guess, is not too good. This is an interesting angle and breathes a bit of life into a formulaic series in which the audience passively wonders "which underdeveloped character will Jason butcher next?" While this film features its fair share of death sequences, there is an element of mystery and surprise present. The audience is somewhat kept in the dark, and a good bit of suspense builds as a result.

The film's undoing results from an anticlimactic resolution. Perhaps Chris Rock had this film in mind when he asked "What ever happened to crazy?" Despite its acknowledgment by fans and critics alike as the 'blacksheep' of the series, A New Beginning is an interesting attempt to do something different and is far from the worst film in the series.

Rating: 5/10

Tokyo Gore Police

By Brett Mullins

Released: 2008

Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura

In a not too distant future, the Tokyo police force has been privatized and is pooling its resources to combat engineers, genetically modified individuals whose wounds transform into conveniently appropriate weapons.

Tokyo Gore Police features the elements one expects from a splatter film: exaggerated characters, gravity defying action, an abundance of death and mayhem, and blood, blood, and more blood. Two particular aspects of the film stand out.

First, a villain is featured who slays his victims by efficiently draining their blood into bottles, dismembering the body, folding the victim's clothes, and neatly placing it into a box. This character is especially appealing given the excessive disorder found throughout the rest of the film.

Second, characters are effectively motivated. Ruka, the officer, dubbed 'hunter,' who is tasked with disposing of engineers, has depth and a story. Even the obsessively orderly villain from above has his place. While a coherent and relevant plot is standard fare for many enjoyable films, it is unexpected from a film whose title obviously doesn't take itself too seriously.

With this being said, many relevant side plots are underdeveloped. Perhaps this is due to the film's runtime, just under two hours; however, this does not excuse providing insufficient closure. At times, this film feels dark, yet, other times, humor prevails. It's not clear that a consistent or, at least, deliberate mood is maintained throughout.

Tokyo Gore Police is an enjoyable film that will satisfy the splatter-fiend and quench the thirst for, well, blood.

Rating: 7/10

This review is part of the Blood Sucking Geek's Ultimate Gore-a-thon 2014.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

By Brett Mullins

Released: 1984

Directed by Joseph Zito

Where to begin? As a series, Friday the 13th is ripe for scrutiny for all too obvious reasons: incoherent plot, predictable and dumb characters, and so on. The fourth entry tries to be innovative and nearly succeeds, except for all the reasons listed above.

Miraculously, Jason survives an ax to the head and returns to his favorite camping spot to terrorize a new group of promiscuous teenagers.

Whereas Part III could have served as a legitimate ending to this series, "The Final Chapter" is anything but. The audience genuinely wants to know what will happen to Jason as the credits roll, unlike in later entries where one can simply suppose that Jason will survive, be reborn, etc. The bad news is that things only get interesting in the final fifteen minutes of the film; this seems to be a persistent trend across the series. The brutal deaths of a half-dozen or so unlucky kids feels more like filler than plot. While interesting and, at times, creative, it's hard not to feel as if the film is simply running through the motions to get to the goods.

Jason is an odd, underdeveloped, and uneven character. At this point, it's not clear what Jason is supposed to be: a feral human?; a monster?; a demon? All that is clear is that he rather enjoys murderous rampages and cleverly hiding the bodies for scare antics, haunted house style. Prior to the final act, Jason sneaks around a crowded house and kills with cold efficiency, not unlike Michael Myers. At the film's conclusion, he is suddenly fumbling around, loudly and sluggish. It's clear that at some point Jason did not take child grabbing classes (sorry for the awful joke; see here).

The Final Chapter is a successful continuation of the overarching story. Though the film ends on a high note, there are too many low points during the build.

Rating: 4/10

Justin Hamelin's The Darkest Corner

Disturbing Films is proud to announce that our long time author Justin Hamelin has published his first book, The Darkest Corner. This collection of nine short stories will evoke both terror and fear. Most importantly, you will enjoy a good read!

You can find the e-book on Amazon here for only $2.99! If you're an old fogey like me and would rather read a physical book, then the paperback version is rather affordable as well.   

Justin's reviews on Disturbing Films can be found here. Congrats to Justin!

The Ubiquitous Hiatus Post

It's been nearly six months since an article or review has been posted on Disturbing Films. In that time, the domain name expired (in a controversial account freeze on part of our former hosting company) rendering nearly all of the links around the site void and effectively making DF impossible to view. With that being said, efforts have commenced to revamp the website under a new URL: www.disturbingfilms.org. The existing links will be repaired and new content will arrive in the future. As a bit of a preview, we will have coverage, plugs, and interviews of Diani and Devine meet the Apocalypse.


Zombie Week 2013

Disturbing Films' third annual Zombie Week event! Thanks to Maggie from MK Horror for the amazing artwork above.

Reviews and Articles:
City of the Living Dead
The Return of the Living Dead
First Glimpse: A Resurrection

From our friends:

MK Horror
Living Dead...Seriously?

Candy-Coated Razor Blades
Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things