By Tim Petrone
Last year, After Dark and Lionsgate Films teamed-up to present a series of 8 horror films that were released to a number of theaters for one week only, and they called it the After Dark Horrorfest: 8 Films To Die For. The Horrorfest will be back again in November 2007 with 8 new films, but right now it’s last years’ films that are the subject of this review.
The first film of the series that I watched, The Gravedancers, starring Prison Break’s Dominic Purcell, is about three college friends who are reunited when a fourth friend dies. The night of the funeral they all decide to visit their friend’s grave again, where one of them finds a note near the headstone which contained a weird “poem” and instructed them to dance on graves…so they did. Afterwards, the three friends find themselves being haunted by the spirits whose graves they danced on. The premise seems a bit ridiculous, but overall the film was well-written, well-acted and well-directed. I’d give it 3 1/2 stars, due to the fact that “ghost” movies are usually pretty corny and rarely scary. This film was definitely scary and not at all corny.
The next film, Unrest, is about a young female medical student who starts getting strange feelings around the body her and a few of her classmates are supposed to be performing an autopsy on. She becomes obsessed with finding out as much as she can about the “Jane Doe” corpse, and soon realizes that it’s not all in her head when people start dying. This film was unlike any I’ve ever seen! The story was fresh…the acting was very good, and it certainly kept me on the edge of my seat. I read that the bodies used in the film were real, and whether this is true or not, they certainly looked frighteningly authentic. 4 stars…without a doubt.
The third is called The Abandoned. It begins with a Russian-born American woman who had been put up for adoption when she was an infant, taking a trip to Russia to deal with the house her birth-mother had left her in her will. While at the house, she starts seeing strange things, and is soon joined by a man claiming to be her twin brother. This is another “fresh” story with twists, turns and surprises around every corner! 4 stars for this one as well!
Wicked Little Things is the story of a mother and her two daughters who inherit a house in an old mining community, and move there to fix it up and sell it. What they don’t know, is that this mining town has some pretty dark secrets involving an accident in a mine and a group of children…children whose spirits are angry and thirst for blood. Another corny-sounding premise that was surprisingly horrifying and delightfully wicked. I’d give it 3 1/2 stars.
The fourth film is called Dark Ride. It’s the story of an amusement park “dark ride”, where several bodies were found years before, and the ride was closed. When a group of college students heard that it was reopening, they decided to spend a night in the ride before it opened. Needless to say, the psycho killer who had previously murdered people in the ride, escaped and returned to it that same night. Need I tell you more? This film was pretty predictable and not all that original. It was entertaining due to it’s simple “slasher-flick” plot…but I can only give it 2 1/2 stars. The acting wasn’t great, and the story could’ve been better.
Next is Reincarnation. Fans of The Grudge should love this Japanese (subtitled) flick about a haunted hotel. It’s not your average haunting, though. In this film, the spirits aren’t merely ghosts, but reincarnations. When a film is being made about a tragedy at the hotel, the actress who plays one of the films victims starts having strange visions and memories of the killing spree that took place at the hotel. If you don’t mind subtitles, WATCH THIS FILM!!! It’s creepy, intellectually stimulating, suspenseful and terrifying! 4 stars.
The last Horrorfest flick that I watched was The Hamiltons. It follows a family of four young people whose parents were killed, and now had to take care of themselves. The oldest brother supports his younger siblings which include twins (brother and sister), and the films main character, the teenage “black sheep” Francis. Francis tells (through his eyes and camcorder) a story about a pretty twisted family with a dark, deadly secret…though that secret is never fully revealed until the end. This film is BY FAR my favorite in the series (so far)! It’s VERY unique, with a great mix of brutal, bloody horror and heart-wrenching drama. I give it 4 stars plus another 2! Amazing movie!
The After Dark Horrorfest succeeded in it’s goal to bring the world some really great horror movies, and I’m glad I decided to watch them. I’m sure this year’s Horrorfest will be equally as entertaining and even more terrifying! Watch these films, people! You may never look at horror the same way!