‘Oculus’ is one big ball of (creepy) confusion

‘Oculus’ is one big ball of (creepy) confusion

Haunted mirrors with evil spirits can be very creepy, as can watching someone break down into mental illness and violence. If presented in a simple, straightforward way, it’s effective, but some of the great disturbing moments of “Oculus” get muddied up in whiplash-causing cuts between past and present in rapid succession. It’s hard to stay in the moment when you’re trying to figure what the hell is going on.

Now that I think about it, “Insidious 2” also falls into the same trap of mixing past and present and confusing viewers, or least some of us. Dear filmmakers, this does not create suspense. I kept finding myself getting frustrated with the inability to just get a straightforward timeline and story of what was going on. It’s almost as if some films don’t have enough confidence to just rely on their story without the gimmicks of intercutting between past and present to try to make the story more complex.

Sometimes simple is better. Sometimes simple is actually great.

There’s no shortage of scary moments in this movie, particularly the mirror effect of the eyes. Although it did strike me as being very similar to that first “Salem’s Lot” movie with David Soul, where the vampires had that same glint in their eye. add to that , having mommy dearest chained up like a dog in the bedroom because she’s losing her mind, and you’ve got some pretty damn scary stuff, indeed.

But then if you mix in some plot holes — which to be fair, almost any horror movie has to some extent — you start to water-down the fear factor and that, combined with confusing elements takes you out of the story while you’re lagging behind asking yourself basic questions. Why didn’t the mirror effect the kids when they were younger like it affected mom and dad? Why did it wait till the present to have an effect on them? Why did it seem to create the need for violence in mom and dad, but just cause confusion about time and place for the kids in the present?

I’m still so perplexed by what the plot was that I can barely put the confusion I felt into words. I just know that if I was in a cartoon, there would have been a big “WTF?” floating over my head for most of the second half of the movie.

Also, recognize the difference between foreshadowing and giving away your ending. Now I admit, as someone who has dabbled in creative writing, I’m pretty good at seeing foreshadowing that other people miss. But this movie went way beyond foreshadowing, completely giving away the ending to me. I won’t say exactly how in case you actually haven’t seen this movie yet, but it doesn’t take a genius to see where one of the main character’s fate lies.

There are a lot of great positive things I can say about the film in terms of atmosphere, mood, creepiness, but when all is said and done, I just feel like I’m caught up in one big creepy ball of confusion. And that’s not a satisfying ending, even for a gal who hates happy endings like me.

‘Sharknado’ officially becomes a trilogy

‘Sharknado’ officially becomes a trilogy

Syfy officially announced that their camp phenomena “Sharknado” will get a third installment next summer, with “Sharknado 2: The Second One” already in the can and set for a July 30 premiere. Apparently summer is all about sharks again, in a way we haven’t seen since “Jaws.” And definitely in a different way than “Jaws.”

Hey, there’s a place for all approaches to the shark genre.

In the first “Sharknado,” Ian Ziering and Tara Reid fought to save the city of Los Angeles from killer sharks invading the city via tornado transport. In “Sharknado 2,” Ziering and Reid return to fight a new batch of spinning sharks in New York, joined by the likes of Mark McGrath, Kari Wuhrer, Judah Friedlander and Vivica A. Fox.

C’mon Vivica… you were in “Kill Bill,” for chrissakes. Is this really where you want to be? You’ve worked with freakin’ Tarantino for cryin’ out loud.

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‘Salem’ casts its spell with stunning debut

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Janet Montgomery as “Mary Sibley,” Ashley Madekwe as “Tituba,” and Tamzin Merchant as “Anne Hale” in “Salem.”

When a TV network jumps into the original series game for the first time, they usually have to struggle to find their stride and put out programming on a par with most of the shows that are currently airing. And with its plunge into the original series game with “Salem”, WGN has not produced the show on par with its peers, but surpassed the great majority of them.

Yes, it’s really that good. In fact, even after several repeat viewings searching for flaws or elements to critique for improvement, I have to admit I found the pilot episode flawless.

Not Afraid to Get Dirty

Now, flawless doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best show on TV, as there is more to creating a winner than simply not making any mistakes. But there are plenty of really strong qualities to “Salem,” starting with the set dressing and costuming. Instead of going overboard making everything neat and pretty and frilly, the creative team that designs the look of the series things gritty and earthy, even in the simple luxury of the wealthy and realistic details you don’t normally see on TV or even the big screen. For instance, instead of glamorizing a possessed village girl, they shaved her head and give her some pretty gnarly teeth. Not fangs or sharpened teeth, but well, mighty unclean.

And for someone who has gone mad in that time period, that’s probably pretty accurate.

Leaving the Camp to Those Other Witches

Along with the earthy simplicity and edginess of the design of the show are very solid performances by the actors who take material that could easily become melodramatic and keep it real. Or it could go to the campy side like those other witches in that oh-so-popular series, but thankfully “Salem” doesn’t go for campy humor, either.

It does, however, dish out healthy servings of gore and violence, more so than your conventional TV channels. This is where channels like WGN have an advantage over the basic network channels, in that they have more leeway to delve into harsher material and a more graphic presentation of it. “Salem” takes full advantage and and may give the squeamish a bit of a pause.

But that certainly isn’t considered a bad thing around here.

The writing is solid and it may not be as showy with plot twists and turns as other shows on TV, but this is a more than respectable debut for WGN and a show that will certainly appeal to horror fans with a very good chance for a crossover to a more mainstream audience like “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story.” One particularly interesting bit of dialogue in the pilot revolved around our lead female character, Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery), who crosses paths with a young ingénue in the local graveyard and gives her some rather menacing words of wisdom.

You know what killed nearly every woman here? Love. Most died in childbirth. So love is to a woman what war is to a man – the most deadly thing you’ll do. Only a fool runs quickly to war or love. You best watch yourself.

Breaking Bad

And around Mrs. Sibley, most everyone should watch themselves. Many characters have a great arc over the entire season of a show, but this lady has seriously broken bad right the beginning. I don’t want to spoil any more for you, because you should be watching the show, even if it means amping up your level of cable service. That may be huge hindrance to the success of this new show for WGN, but let’s hope enough folks will tune in to keep it around for another season.

It’s not only good TV, but it’s damn good horror. And a little Sunday reminder of the darker side of Christianity, with the warning to not let this bit of history repeat itself.

First Look: ‘Devil’s Due’ trailer and image

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A Christmas miracle has arrived early for Horror fans…

 20th Century Fox has just released a chilling new “Silent Night” video for their upcoming film, “Devil’s Due,” starring Allison Miller and Zach Gilford. The film is set for a January 17th, 2014 release.
After a mysterious, lost night on their honeymoon, a newlywed couple finds themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy. While recording everything for posterity, the husband begins to notice odd behavior in his wife that they initially write off to nerves, but, as the months pass, it becomes evident that the dark changes to her body and mind have a much more sinister origin.

 

Tonight on TV: ‘Grimm’ Wesen, vampires and ‘troubles’

DRACULA — Episode 2 — Pictured: (l-r) Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Alexander Grayson, Victoria Smurfit as Lady Jayne Wetherby — (Photo by: Jonathon Hession/NBC)

Thank goodness for DVR, or horror fans would find themselves in a real bind on Friday nights. We’ve got “Grimm,” “Dracula,” and “Haven” all in one night. Of course, I know I have my certain preferences on which are must-see TV in which… not so much, but your mileage may vary.

“Grimm” premiered Season 3 last week, picking up where we left off at the end of last season with Nick (David Giuntoli) being zombified on a crazy toxin, along with a whole horde of other people. But Nick found himself in the control of the evil Royal family and on the verge of flying off to Europe, sealed in a coffin in full zombie coma.

Now you know this is where the spoilers start, right?

So the Scooby gang tries to stop that airplane, but it takes off. But here’s the thing: because Nick is a Grimm, he doesn’t react to the toxin like most people, and is able to fight back and come out of his coma. Apparently he also has superhuman strength, and is able to punch his way out of the coffin, going berserk on the airplane in flight.

Crazy, zombified man + airplane in flight equals= crash. And I think that’s pretty much where we left off at the end of last week’s cliffhanger episode, although there were some new developments with Adelinde (Claire Coffee), as well. I’ve actually seen the second episode already, so I have to be careful not to give too much away, but suffice it to say Nick is going to wreak some serious havoc on the ground, as well as in the air.

And speaking of crazy, let’s talk about last week’s episode of “Haven.” Whoa there, Audrey/Lexie (Emily Rose.)

Or actually, I guess that was Nathan’s dream, with his favorite fellow officer going all dominatrix on him in a dream sequence. You know those dreams where you’re naked? Well, it seems Nathan (Lucas Bryant) had one of those naked dreams, but in a schoolhouse with Audrey/Lexi as a teacher. A hot teacher with a paddle.

Did I detour into “Fifty Shades of Haven?” I don’t remember seeing this in “The Colorado Kid.”

In other developments on “Haven” last week, the Ice Truck Killer just doesn’t fare well with brothers. (Surely you all have watched “Dexter.”) He was done in by his brother again on this show, which you should know was Duke (Eric Balfour.)

And Audrey’s performance as Lexie — supposedly forgetting who she really is — is starting to fail as the townspeople are wising up to her game to keep Nathan alive (She has to kill the man she loves to stop the troubles, but if she pretends to be Lexi and not in love with Nathan, The Guard won’t try to force her to kill him.) She’s just getting a little too good at that police work thing to keep up the façade much longer. Although she has that part about keeping poor Nathan at arm’s length down pat.

It sucks to be you, Nathan.

Speaking of sucking, NBC has debuted its new series “Dracula.” Because God knows, the Dracula story has not been done enough. I saw a screener of this a couple weeks ago and absolutely hated it, I have to admit. But, in its defense, seeing the fully edited version improved my opinion somewhat. It happened to occur to me that the special effects had not been put into it yet, influencing my opinion.

Unfortunately, some of the bad writing was still intact. I realize is the first episode and you have a lot of information to set up, but please ease up on the info dumps. Please.

I still find it full of clichés, and sort of silly in the ways that it tries to break from the clichés, but some people may dig it. And they do have beautiful styling, and beautiful photos of the episodes, which they are very generous with sharing. So there’s a gallery of photos from the upcoming episode below, which is certainly eye candy at the very least.

So Friday nights, tune into “Grimm” and “Dracula” on NBC, and “Haven” on Syfy. Work that DVR.

“Haven” Photos

 

 “Dracula” Photos

“Grimm” Photos

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