Cube Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Time for one of those death trap films where you have to survive until the end to win. Of course it won’t be very easy and if you know your genre well then it’s unlikely that more than 2 will survive. In fact, sometimes you can’t even expect 2 to make it. So as you watch the film you will be wondering just when these guys are gonna die. Unfortunately the film is pretty bad and doesn’t end up using the concept to its full potential.

The movie starts with all of the characters waking up in a mysterious Cube. Each room is lit up by the same 4-5 colors and it’s easy to get lost. The place seems to be endless as well which causes the characters to start cracking. Making matters even worse is the fact that many rooms have death traps installed within them. Can the heroes really find a way out of here or is it game over for them?

A movie like this is usually doomed as soon as you see the cast since the characters tend to be unlikable and this one is no exception. The characters always end up being either mean, evil, or complain a lot. They’re not ready for this kind of adventure and it’s why you always wish they would do a film with a group of trained professionals instead. For once it would be nice to see the characters not be panicking the whole time and actually just make the right calls when it counted. This isn’t that film though.

First you have Quentin who’s the worst character in the film. You know how his character arc is going to play out almost as soon as he starts talking. Maybe it’s an escape room type gimmick but you know that you’ve seen this character arc play out before. It’s a shame since the drama should really be focused on the literal death traps instead. Quentin’s scenes just get worse and worse as he film goes on which is a shame since it just drives the film lower and lower.

Granted, the film was always going to be a really low one. It’s a pretty violent film with the death traps everywhere and each death is always rather gruesome. One guy gets his face melted off, others are stabbed. There aren’t really any happy moments in the film. Since the characters started off already in the cube, we don’t even get a happy intro with the characters talking as they walked in an area for a test or something. The film is part mystery as they don’t even know why they are in the Cube in the first place.

Joan is effectively the main character here. She’s a math genius which really comes in handy here due to how the Cube works. The film throws a lot of twists about this but the key thing to remember is that as a trap/puzzle there is a right way to move around. If you find this method then you will end up going far and claiming victory. Of course it isn’t easy though. Joan definitely goes through quite a lot in the film. I wasn’t particularly a fan of hers either though. She complains a lot with the rest of the group and isn’t particularly nice to Kazan.

Nobody is safe from cracking in this film. Kazan is one of the biggest examples as the whole experience basically broke him completely. Unfortunately you feel like he’s just here to make everything more uncomfortable for the rest of the characters. One of the worst scenes is when he has to use the bathroom and it’s crude moments like that which will hold the film back even more. You don’t need anything like that in this film or any other.

David is the cynic of the group who thinks everyone is dead anyway so we may as well not try further. He is hiding some secrets which strengthen his case on why they shouldn’t do much but of course that’s not very helpful in trying to stay alive. He’s really not being helpful to the cast at all. Someone like this is just really annoying to have in the group spreading more negativity.

Helen also can’t stay focused as she talks about the government conspiracies and how someone is always watching. Her theories only serve to aggravate the rest of the characters even more. She seems nicer than most of the other characters at least even if she breaks down a lot. The only character who seemed likable was Wren. He wasn’t panicking and was at least making some moves in trying to get out of here. I can at least respect that.

But yeah this is the kind of film that’s just very mean spirited the whole time. It’s about throwing the cast into an unwinnable situation as you watch them all get bumped off and turn on each other. If the film had stayed about survival and didn’t go down the “Lord of the Flies” route then it would have been better. Likely not good of course but at least it would have been better. The death traps are all you need and everyone turning on each other is always one of the worst plot points.

In fighting is bad enough but the films always have to go way too far with it. If everyone was just upset at each other or snapping with insults that would be fine. It’s when they try to murder each other or go further that we have a problem. That’s most of the second half unfortunately because the characters figure out how to get around the traps reasonably early on and so after that the people are the real danger.

The ending is your classic horror ending so I won’t say how it goes but you aren’t expecting a happy ending here anyway. We get a few jump scares but the last one doesn’t even make any sense. I don’t see how this person would be here given what we just saw. That’s absolutely impossible, it’s just not going to happen and is here for pure shock value. The film simply couldn’t leave well enough alone and it makes the whole journey feel even more pointless.

Overall, This film is just pretty bad. There’s already not much to salvage within the sub genre when you take it to the horror extreme and this one lowers the bar further by adding all kinds of unnecessary plot elements. The only thing I would say for it is that the design of the Cube is rather solid. I liked the various colors and there were some decent background music tracks within. The mystery itself might compel you a bit but as the film goes on you get the sense that you’re not going to be getting any answers to it anyway. You will have your headcanon at least which will have to do. Of course with more films out you may get all of the answers there. I wouldn’t advise checking this film out or any of the sequels though.

Overall 1/10

The Predator Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Whenever you decide to have a bunch of villains be the main characters it doesn’t seem to end well. One of the Alien films tried pulling this off with the prison movie and that wasn’t great. Suicide Squad tried this with super villains and no dice. Now you’ve got The Predator where the main character is surrounded by a bunch of lunatics and unsurprisingly none of them are particularly likable. That’s a bit of a problem because that means the rest of the film has to work that much harder. This one was ultimately not able to succeed.

The movie starts off with McKenna and his squad of army fighters going through the forest when they are attacked by something out of this world. McKenna manages to survive but the rest of his squad is taken out. McKenna quickly mails himself some of the alien tech he was able to grab to prove the truth about the aliens but the government quickly catches up to him and naturally they want to keep this a secret. So they send him to a prison to possibly be lobotomized or just buried there forever. The Predator appears once again to take names though so McKenna convinces the rest of the crew to knock the cops out and escape. Now it’s their turn to hunt the Predator. They were all trained professionals at one time or another before being taken to the asylum so surely they can beat this Predator right? That is McKenna’s hope at least and he has to hurry because the Predator is now after his son since the kid has the equipment now.

McKenna is really the only good character in the film and that’s a shame. He’s not a bad lead or anything but it’s really hard to hold a whole film on your back. McKenna does his best but ultimately you just wish there was a better supporting character. He is determined to help his kid and does get a lot of solid moments as the film goes on. His gun skills are on point and he lives up to the hype that he builds for himself. The main heroine Bracket isn’t bad I suppose although criticizing the Predator’s name along with another one of the characters kinda feels petty considering that she’s just found out that aliens exist on the planet. The name can wait. While it’s played for laughs, she did have the right reaction in going for the gun and firing it when she woke up in an unfamiliar spot the way that she did. You always want to play it safe after all.

The rest of the guys from the truck are just super annoying though. They contribute quite heavily to the poor writing in the film as they just talk like criminals. We get a whole lot of crude dialogue the whole time and they can’t keep their eyes on the prize. They’re easily distracted and also lack reaction times like when one guy started shooting at a barrier instead of jumping. Not a really good move there. I really would have preferred if the main characters would have been McKenna’s squad. I guess that would be a clone of the first film but I can get behind that.

Naturally this movie is super violent so if you’re not up for that then this is a movie that you will certainly want to be skipping. Characters are ripped apart and really taken down a few pegs. The Predator isn’t holding back and then of course you also have the Super Predator running around. I feel like we’ve already done the whole Super Predator thing like in the third film but with all the films soft rebooting or at least taking things to a new location, why not go through it again. It is interesting how they switched up the Predator’s motivations a bit here. So now they hunt in order to improve their species through some kind of spinal fluid. It’s like Attack on Titan I guess.

It’s a reasonable explanation for why they hunt but it doesn’t really add or change anything so I don’t have much of an opinion on that. It’s just there I guess. I will always still prefer Aliens to Predators. As for the kid Rory, he has a few scenes that might stretch your disbelief with how he operates the Predator tech but at least he doesn’t immediately figure it out like the girl from Robocop. I’m not a big fan of kids getting a big role in these things since they always become a hostage at some point like how this kid is inevitably grabbed later on. I guess Rory handles the situation decently enough but I just want to get back to the big battles.

The movie easily has the best ending for a Predator film though. It’s like something out of Skyline or Iron Man. The heroes are finally going to have a way to fight back against the Predators. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like the sequel may be coming at this point but if it does I could see this being the very best entry in the series. I would have a whole lot of hype for that one because it’s just such a good ending. It would really change the entire tone and feeling of the franchise and for the better. This would be more of an action series going forward and I am absolutely down with that.

Overall, The Predator is pretty much what you would expect from the series. The Predator goes around bumping everyone off as he dashes around. I do think it is not the weakest entry in the series or anything like that as it destroys the second film but it does feel like the series is completely stagnated. It makes all of the usual mistakes like being ultra violent and having an unlikable cast. That’s why the ending is interesting to me because it would show that the series is finally about to change things. That would be a massive win for the series. Not sure they would succeed but at least it would give them a fighting chance. If we just go back to basics with another Predator showing up to destroy a bunch of random humans then it feels like the series is just going in circles at this point. I’ll give the third film some props for at least massively changing things up.

Overall 3/10

How to Make a Monster Review


A movie about the villain being a guy who designs the monster suits is very original. I’ll give the film some points there and while it does go into the more classic creature feature kind of story beats, it’s still a different angle to it at least. I thought this was a rather solid film and of course we got to see corporate step in to try and take control. It’s an entertaining film from start to finish even if you have to suspend a lot of disbelief for how slow on the uptake all of the kids are.

The movie starts with Pete working on his horror effects as always. He’s really outdone himself this time as the Wolfman and Frankenstein look so real that everyone will be terrified. Pete knows that he’s done a great job and is rather proud of his work. Not many can say they’ve reached this level of talent. Well, his dreams of the future are ended abruptly as the company is bought by a new studio that doesn’t want to make horror movies anymore. They view horror films are old hits that won’t be popular anymore and tell Pete that this will be his last picture. Pete has no experience with anything else and so even when a bunch of people offer him some new gigs and ideas, Pete turns them all down. He wants to prove that his monsters can still be scary enough to be a success though. So Pete remembers that he has hypnosis powers and decides to turn his two latest stars, Larry and Tony, into malicious monsters that will murder all of the new executives. Can he pull this off?

It’s certainly an ambitious plan on his part and one that only works if he has absolute skill as a hypnotist. If he was just an ordinary makeup guy then he would have been doomed from the start. This way though he is even able to give the kids super strength by commanding it. He won’t stop until everyone’s dead! By the end it also seems like he wants to take their heads to put on his display case which was a really radical jump but I guess we already knew this villain was crazy so it shouldn’t be too surprising.

I don’t think the film intends for you to feel bad for Pete anyway which is good since he would make this very difficult otherwise. The guy resorts to murder almost immediately just because the execs don’t like monster movies. There’s no way you could make a guy like that very sympathetic. He slowly gets more and more unhinged as the film goes on. He’s certainly lost it by the end that’s for sure. He barely even tries to hide the fact that he’s the villain, Larry and Tony just aren’t very smart so they don’t notice.

Pete has an assistant in Rivero but he isn’t very smart either. He practically tells Pete that he will be betraying the guy soon. He says if the cops show up that it wasn’t Rivero who called them but the mind controlled teens. Sure……sure they are the ones who called the cops but Rivero will be out of state visiting family? Rivero must have known how this would play out but since he seems surprising, it makes him one of the biggest suckers in the film. Cmon now, you can’t try threatening the main villain like that or dropping any crazy hints. It is not a good idea.

As for the two teens, well they don’t have a whole lot of character. When they aren’t being mind controlled they are wondering what’s going on and talk to each other about how this might be a trap. Near the end of the film they even try leaving but the door’s locked. Rather than panic or try to bust through, they ask the main villain why he locked the door. Yeah…I wonder why. These kids are really not too bright and they were very nearly destroyed here. They barely even felt like people at times and were just plot objects to do Pete’s bidding. I would have liked to have seen some intelligence and critical thinking from these guys instead. That could have taken them far.

There was one random character I enjoyed a lot though as a mysterious third party. His name was Monahan and he’s a guy who thinks of himself as a detective. To his credit, he did a lot of ground work and even figured out that Pete was a likely suspect. His main mistake was in telling that to Pete though. Don’t tell your suspects that they are a suspect until you’ve reported this to the cops. Otherwise it kind of defeats the purpose and puts yourself at risk. So Monahan may have made a rather obvious mistake there but I did like how confident he was. At the very least you won’t be forgetting this guy anytime soon. I thought he was even more entertaining than the two corporate execs.

Those guys were fun too though. They were definitely not the nicest guys around but at least they were trying to give Pete a severance package. The corporate takeover could have honestly been a lot worse. Ultimately they are here to get the job done though and so they can’t just back off too quickly. They’re here to end the monster films and that’s final. The characters just have to learn to respect that and most did….just not good ole Pete.

Overall, This movie is over in the blink of an eye but it succeeds at what it is trying to do. The Creature Feature setup works well and I liked the whole designing aspect. It helps give Pete a little more control over the monsters than usual and you can’t go wrong with hypnosis. I may scoff every time it appears but at least it explains why these teens were crushing everybody. Otherwise I feel like they should be getting dominated by the execs and corporate. Those guys aren’t going to lose to a bunch of kids. The ending wraps things up nicely and so if you want to watch an old creature feature, this is a good one to check out. The writing is good and the film’s just fun. It’s got a lot of energy to it all the time and I enjoyed all of the characters. The heroes and villains were all properly developed. Some may not be very smart at all…but that’s also why the guy is stuck in a dead end assistant job for this many years under the creature designer. We even get some fun exchanges between the cops and the villains when they are brought in for questioning. It should remind you of Detective Conan with how Pete feigns a ton of outrage at how the heroes would dare suspect him. Works every time.

Overall 7/10

Alien Nine Review


Alien Nine has definitely got a handle on the strange atmosphere that only a few shows I’ve seen like Serial Experiments Lain have pulled off. There’s always a sense that something’s about to happen no matter how happy the scene is and so you’ve got a full sense of danger there right off the bat. That said, as a darker magical girl show, this one doesn’t quite reach the hype and levels of intrigue as Madoka. It ends up being rather twisted for the heroines but not always in a cool way.

The 4 part show introduces us to a world where alien invaders are common place. They crash on the school all the time and the local alien defense force takes them out. The defense force is made up of 3 girls from their respective classes. It’s a job that most of the girls don’t want but some don’t mind doing it. Basically each class holds a vote like for a student president and then they send their representative off to go and fight the alien monsters. This year the 3 girls selected are Otani, Kasumi, and Kuni. Otani is really not happy about this while Kasumi is thrilled and Kumi is more ambivalent. In order to fight off the aliens, the girls have to wear symbiotes which protect them as automatic defense weapons and shields. Now since these are symbiotes that at least hints that there is some give and take here. Is this really all above board and why do the aliens constantly attack this school?

I feel like the show drops the pretense of this being your classic magical girl adventure almost immediately. The symbiotes look creepy from the start and the OVA always has a lot of moody music and a dark color scheme. It’s all for that spooky atmosphere I mentioned earlier. Of course, it still does have its share of happy scenes, you’re just always waiting for the catch. Things continue to get more serious as we delve into the show and see more of what makes this school tick. As a short OVA, it does end on a big cliffhanger and doesn’t exactly cover the whole thing but that does make for a hype ending.

You could say the main plot is when the giant alien known as Yellow Knife appears. He claims to be Kasumi’s brother but this is likely mind games on his part. This was an easy way to get Kasumi on his side to fight against the other two. It’s a rather intense climax filled with dreams and inner visions that aren’t real as the teachers try to get control of the situation. You’ll want to stick around to the end as that’s when we get to some of the big cliffhangers. Lets just say that the body count is rising here, one character just can’t catch a break.

So lets talk about what didn’t work first and then get to the positives. Well, Otani is a really bad main character, there’s just no way around that. She is constantly crying and just doesn’t want to be an alien hunter. It is a dangerous job so that’s understandable but if she’s going to be forced to do this you’d like to see her really get tough. That said, she’s so young that it seems awfully mean of the parents to allow this to continue. We know the teachers will try to keep her in it as part of their nefarious schemes but unless the parents are in on the take, I’d like to see them try to help her get out of this a bit more. It’s really like Otani is being tortured by staying here. With one host getting eaten and another one murdered, you feel like Otani can only survive for so long.

With the main characters being so young, they’re effectively trapped in a lot of these decisions because they just aren’t old enough to get out of it. Having a character as reluctant as Otani is more tragic than funny the whole time. She really has to put up with a lot and will almost certainly be traumatized by the time she’s an adult at this rate. Otani has to see creatures get blown up right in front of her on multiple occasions after all.

The symbiotes themselves don’t really seem good or evil so much as they’re just there to help their owner. They’ll destroy any threats as they deem necessary although the teachers ask the heroines not to let that happen. Their having to lick the characters after the mission seems completely unnecessary though and just another creepy part of being an alien fighter in this world. It definitely gives Otani even more of a reason to want to quit right away. There are no noticeable upsides to being an alien fighter, especially when it seems like the group never actually makes any progress on this.

Kasumi is the only member of the 3 who actually enjoys the role and she is the most entertaining character as a result. All of the skills come naturally to her and she can even fight off opponents personally without having to rely on her symbiote. I like that at least someone came ready to fight here and so it’s a shame that she has to miss out on most of the climax.

She is rather obsessed with her brother who moved away though which starts to get to some almost disturbing territory with Yellow Knife manipulating her and some of the visuals that we get. It’s not cut and dry like Wixoss so you could make the case that it’s normal but it did feel like the OVA was getting there. Either way, the whole alien merging into her like a Chest Burster was one of those weird scenes that isn’t weird in a good way. The show even squeezes in a chest burster scene early on as the characters watch some kind of alien film.

The creatures get blown to smithereens during each of the fights. It’s monster blood so it isn’t quite as drastic as if they were normal creatures. It’s green and all although it can be a bit excessive, reminded me of Planet Hulk in a lot of ways. It’s less of an action context when Otani is going around slaughtering them all when she’s being mind controlled which may be why it feels more intense but it’s just another check on the list of reasons on why Otani would like to get away from this job as soon as possible. At least no real animals appear here which is always a good thing.

Now on the plus side, the main theme song here is catchy. It’s definitely got a more classic magical girl feel to it. From the theme song at least this appears to be your standard adventure. The rest of the themes within the show aren’t quite as memorable but it’s a decent soundtrack that works well enough in the moment. The animation’s definitely not as high budget but you do get some cool scenes like when the characters block attacks using the symbiote. Having an automatic defense which can also transform into anything is incredibly handy.

In a lot of ways it should remind you of the symbiote from Marvel. These guys can do pretty much everything that Venom can and can also talk. They allow you to resist illusions and generally seem helpful. Now, like Venom it may be hard to trust them at times but since the girls have to put their lives in the symbiote’s hands every day I guess you have to hope for the best. If it’s a true symbiotic relationship where the creature needs them too then it should balance out and they’ll keep you alive.

The final girl from the trio is Kumi and she’s nice enough. She’s always been helping students who couldn’t keep up or just helping everyone at large as student president. It’s why she wanted to join the group so she wouldn’t have that burden anymore but it ended up not working out perfectly well for her. She’s too nice for her own good and still tries to help Otani out. It makes her a well balanced character and definitely the natural leader of the squad. She may not be as powerful as Kasumi, but Kumi is definitely the person you would want to have at your back.

Hisakawa is the main teacher here and she’s as corrupt as they come. As one of the people in charge of the whole alien situation to trap these kids, she is really the main villain if you think about it. The disturbing part is how nonchalant she is about the whole thing. She doesn’t really seem to care for the girls’ safety at all so when she appears you always know she’s about to make some more unreasonable demands. She even wanted Kasumi and Kumi to leave Otani alone. Fortunately they realized this wasn’t quite right and stayed to back her up.

Naturally the Principal is another big villain here since she’s one of the head honchos. You certainly can’t trust her and will want to keep your distance as much as possible. Interestingly, the adults seem to have the symbiotes perfectly merged within them. We see that their hair can turn into drills which is how the symbiotes fight. So either they mastered the control as part of the symbiote bonding or the symbiote just took control. Either way it doesn’t spell a great picture for the kids who have to wear these symbiotes every day.

So lets talk a little more about the setup here. What seems to be the case is that the teachers raise a bunch of aliens in their labs and also create the symbiotes out of some kind of water substance. They then pick a few kids every year to wear these symbiotes. Aliens are strategically let loose within the school to be summarily captured by the kids although they sometimes end up being slaughtered. Rinse and repeat so of course this begs the question of why the teachers are doing this. It has to be for an evil reason or they would just let the kids know that the aliens are being manufactured to test their skills or something.

I think we can read into it based on the adults who have merged with their symbiotes. Most likely what this means is that they are feeding the Symbiotes. So I think the best explanation here is that the symbiotes did take over the principal and by extension they also took control of all the teachers. My only question would be why they don’t take over the whole school. Just have every kid wear the symbiote. With Otani it’s mentioned that some kids have better fusion rates than others so perhaps most people don’t mesh well with the symbiote. I suppose that would work and either way they’ll continue to spread even if it’s slower.

The whole Yellow Knife appearance is what threw a wrinkle into everyone’s plans since this wasn’t something the teachers predicted. They respond incredibly slow to the new threat though so it doesn’t seem to concern them a whole lot. I thought at least the teacher would be super concerned since she already failed once and can’t afford to lose the kids but you never see much of a sense of urgency. Not like the teacher is all that tough though as she was still overwhelmed by the alien’s illusions. Only Kumi really seemed to be able to break through the illusions quickly thanks to her symbiote.

The OVA has a twist ending at the very end so make sure you stay all the way through. It should raise a lot of questions while also leading you into the next act if you ever check out the manga. As mentioned earlier, the body count rises as someone dies but the problem is there are too many suspects to really figure out on who did it. It could be anyone who is being mind controlled, any of the symbiotes, teachers, principals, aliens, etc. Part of the danger in this school is how anybody can be an enemy. You can’t trust anyone, Otani probably can’t even trust her parents since they could be aliens.

In a way it’s like the Secret Invasion in Marvel. If fully realized symbiotes like the teachers don’t even appear anymore and just merge into your hair (Similar to what Otani did during her rage mode) then there’s no way to track them at this point. Any person can be part alien and you would never know it. I think this would have a lot of potential if you wanted to turn this into a mystery thriller or something as a group of humans try to stop the alien invasion. Thing is, it’s probably already too late to stop them. The feats that the symbiotes perform would make it a simple matter to destroy dozens of opponents in an instant. They can block any attacks including bullets and wouldn’t break a sweat. Not that the symbiotes can probably sweat but the point is that there are no threats to them. Humans wouldn’t stand a chance.

Overall, Alien Nine is not an OVA you are likely to forget. It’s got a very spooky aura right from the get go and the fact that the main girls are so young means there aren’t a whole lot of ways to escape. In effect that’s part of why the show can be so unnerving because most Shonen Leads can punch their way out of this but the girls can’t realistically do much. By the same token, that’s what holds the OVA back. The characters can only passively follow along with what is happening. They’re effectively all victims of a much grander scheme. It’s like they’re strapped into a rollercoaster that they can’t get out of. It can all be rather tragic at times and it’s sinister enough where you won’t have a great time here. Almost every scene is someone crying or yelling because of all the trauma. I’d like to see a sequel to this with older main characters trying to fight back against the aliens. Time to uproot the society they’ve built here and turn this into a Shonen. This is the kind of show where there is always a lot to talk about and theorize though. Still, if you’re looking for a very creepy alien invasion story, it would be hard to beat this one. I’d say it’s even spookier than Lain in some ways.

Overall 5/10

House of Frankenstein Review


The House of Frankenstein is a big crossover with Dracula, The Werewolf, and Frankenstein’s monster. Once again I found myself impressed at the continuity here with the same settings reappearing and the movie actively acknowledging previous ones. It’s definitely a fun film and really my only issue here is that none of the 3 monsters get to interact at all which is a shame. Dracula shows up in the first act, the Wolfman makes his move in the second, then Frankenstein acts in the climax. Seeing them all duke it out would have really been a blast but the story is strong enough where you don’t need the monster action to have a good time. With good writing and solid characters, the movie was in a good spot from the start.

The movie starts off with Niemann finally getting out of prison along with his loyal sidekick Daniel. (The guard looked awful in the first scene when he got close enough to the door to be choked though. Doesn’t even seem like this was the first time that happened and the scientist is surprisingly strong to do that considering he doesn’t look like he has lifted weights for a day) The villains want to find Frankenstein’s journal for different reasons. Doctor Niemann so that he can finish the research and do some body swapping and Daniel so he can shed his hunchback form and look like a normal person. They murder the guy who got Dracula’s body and head off to the caste where the monster and wolfman were last seen.

Now you have to give the scientist Niemann a lot of credit here. He is extremely well informed to the point where he knows the wolfman’s whole life story. This guy knows the plot of the last film and what the wolfman was doing at the castle. Furthermore, he is able to threaten/blackmail Dracula himself. Now Dracula fans won’t be thrilled at his appearance here because he looks utterly disgraceful. I would go as far as to say at the worst a Dracula has ever looked in a movie, even worse than his slipping and falling off a cliff in an earlier film.

This Dracula is terrified of Niemann and doesn’t have enough strength to overpower him either. What happens is Niemann awakens Dracula by taking the stake out and then threatens to put it back in of Dracula doesn’t obey his every move. It seems like Dracula considers trying to overpower Niemann but then realizes this would not work. Niemann sweetens the deal by saying he will guard the coffin and Dracula is very quick to swear his undying allegiance. You’ll probably be dying laughing instead at how this guy has fallen. It’s even worse when you see how quickly he is dispatched.

One of the strengths of the film though is how each villain brings his own cast in. For the Dracula part of the film we get to meet a group of characters who even seem like they would be the leads. You have the main heroine who is ready for a good adventure, the skeptic who doesn’t believe in vampires and such, the police chief who thinks something fishy is going on, and the heroine’s husband who is cracking lots of jokes. Once Dracula is gone these guys are quickly written out to the point where we never know exactly how their situation ended up. You will have to imagine how all of the reactions were.

Once we get to the Wolfman, Larry Talbot then we are at the emotional part of the story. Larry is still cursed with being a werewolf so he’s hoping to die at this point which is a really dark plot for such an old film. The problem is this is very difficult since it’s like the Hulk where the werewolf has some regen and can’t die easily. The only way is with a silver bullet from someone who loves him. Larry agrees to work with Niemann since the guy promises to give him a new body. Of course that guy is more interested in running other experiments so he takes his time with him. I really question Niemann’s decision making though since each full moon runs the risk of Larry murdering him. I feel like Niemann never even considered that possibility though which is odd.

I always liked the Wolfman so it’s cool to see him appear here. He is certainly the most heroic of the monster group although I suppose that really isn’t saying a whole lot. He is just cursed to transform against his will which is really a rough fate. As for Frankenstein, there isn’t much to say about him because he’s pretty much a mindless monster. He does true to protect Niemann so perhaps he sees the guy as his creator. Either way he still has his weakness to fire though which is always tricky. It was satisfying to see him take down Daniel really quick though since that guy was the new super strong monster and I was rooting for the original to take that round.

Daniel is a character with an emotional backstory too of course. He can’t find anyone who loves him with the hunchback appearance so he follows Niemann in the hope that the guy will cure him at some point. At the end of the day he is still a villain who will murder anyone in his way though. There is a brief romance plot with Ilonka who goes around leading on Daniel and then crushing on Larry. It’s safe to say that this plot was never going to have a happy ending in this monster film. Particularly as she only helped to put Daniel on the darker path a lot sooner than he would have otherwise.

The ending of the film is actually pretty funny. While the film is taken seriously the whole time and I can only assume this is for the ending as well, it’s just the way that it all happens will make you chuckle. Niemann certainly had quite the ending, that’s for sure. In fact, you could say that each of the villains really paved the way to their own demise without the heroes having to do a whole lot.

Overall, this was a really fun film. I still think it loses some energy by not having any of the 3 monsters interact though to the point where the Dracula part feels like a completely different movie with different supporting characters. The pacing is solid though and the film goes by in a flash. Also, I do like the fact that Niemann is quite strong both verbally and physically despite being an old scientist. Choking out the guard was still incredibly impressive and then of course threatening/blackmailing Dracula has to put you up there as well. I would go as far as to say this might be the best evil scientist in these creature features. If you like seeing these supernatural monsters then this is a film that you can’t miss!

Overall 7/10

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Halloween 3 may have decided to let Myers off the ride but he’s back in business in this film. In a lot of ways Halloween 4 is really just about showing us how dangerous Michael Myers is and that the guy hasn’t lost his touch after 10 years. He certainly wastes no time in taking the heroes for a spin. They just can’t keep up with him in the slightest. There really isn’t anything more to this film than just being a classic slasher though so unless you’re a fan of the genre it’s probably game over.

The film starts off with Myers about to be transferred from his current asylum. It’s been 10 years and his muscles should have completely deteriorated at this point. Just look at how tough it was for Kirito to go through rehab and that was only 3 years. Well, the cops are satisfied that Myers won’t be any trouble and put him in the van. The issue is that in their overconfidence they didn’t really strap him in or keep a close watch so he takes them down for the count and escapes. His target is now his niece Jamie who is still just a little girl. Can the cops and good ole Loomis manage to stop him or is it going to be game over for them?

You definitely have to give Loomis credit for being so persistent over the years. To think that it has been 10 years and he still visits the asylum to check on Myers? That’s not bad and of course the only reason Myers escaped is because nobody took the old guy seriously. You’d think that they would after such a massacre but I guess that wasn’t in the cards. Being complacent is a must in these kind of things. I don’t blame them for doubting the supernatural element of this but you should still have the guy chained up when moving him.

Myers also seems to see Loomis as a rival of sorts given that he goes out of his way to have a few confrontations with the guy. Loomis is lucky that he lives through their encounters although on the other hand it could be that Myers intentionally spares him to ensure that the rivalry goes on. I wouldn’t doubt that this is the case since he usually murders everyone else on sight with no mercy. Loomis is a solid character and one of the most memorable ones in the movie. He may not always win but at least he is doing his best to make sure things go well.

Myers himself is really just a mindless monster at this point. I mean he plans things out and all but there isn’t any personality to him. He’s just a walking murder machine that will stop at nothing to take everyone down. He makes for a tough obstacle to overcome but there really isn’t anything interesting about him. The mask is iconic at least but that’s really all you can say about him. Given some of the horror villains that we do have maybe having one with no personality is better than giving him a bad one. I dunno, maybe that’s the case but it doesn’t make him very interesting.

As for the human characters, well they’re slasher protagonists so you can guess that most of them are not going to be very likable. First you have Rachel who is in charge of looking after Jamie but isn’t very happy about it. I’ll grant you this, at least she doesn’t try to ditch Jamie and sneak off to a party. Once the decision has been made she does stand by it and tries to be supportive. She can be rather petty during serious moments though like when she spills coffee on her rival. Keep in mind that at this point everyone is barricaded in the house since there is a crazy serial killer on the loose. Not the best time to be pulling stunts like this and she could have seriously burned her. 

There’s also one scene where Myers is coming up the stairs and she’s just distracting Brady the whole time as she yells and yells for him to run or something. He was telling her to run and she was just staying there. Either you stay and help for real or you run off but you really can’t have it both ways. Once she buys enough time for Myers to finish Brady off then she runs away. It definitely is not her best appearance.

It’s not a great look for Brady either. I don’t care if she started playing the drums in the background, he is face to face with a dangerous criminal who has already murdered many people. He should have had complete focus here as he loaded the gun. Instead he allows Myers to get within an arm’s distance of him which is a massive mistake on all fronts. You just can’t allow that to happen under any circumstances.

The Sheriff was solid though. He did a good enough job of looking after the community and did take Myers seriously by the end. (Not like he had much of a choice if we’re being perfectly honest here) He really did want to do right by his town and there wasn’t really anything to dislike about him. Then you have Jamie herself who doesn’t get a lot to do here. She’s just old enough where she can run and at least knows what is going on but is ultimately too young to actually fight back or really plan things out with the adults. That really makes her a character who has to be protected at all times but also one who can’t really fight back.

I wasn’t a big fan. She’s not too bad or anything and means well but just isn’t very interesting as the protagonist. Most of the jump scares here are really because Myers is toying with her since he knows he can win at any time. He’ll just jump out and do the equivalent of yelling “Boo!” and then vanish away when the grown ups appear. He could probably beat them as well especially since his durability is so high but I suppose he wants to draw the whole thing out.

The main thing I’ll give the film credit for is when we get a group of guys from town who decide to hunt Myers down themselves. That makes a lot of sense. It’s rare to ever see the town fighting back while everything is going on, they usually just stay home and get bumped off one by one.

Unfortunately the execution isn’t great as they end up just picking each other at one point and panic too easily. The idea was a good one though, if there’s ever a time to be a vigilante, it’s when there is a serial killer on the loose. By this point he had also taken out the police station so something had to be done. The scene where Myers inevitably takes them out is more annoying than anything because it just doesn’t make sense.

There’s not much else too it as the rest if just Myers murdering everybody. He certainly wants to make sure that nobody ever wants to move to this town again. Or at the very least, just take a vacation around Halloween so you’re not around when things get messy. The crazy thing is that Myers may not have even known who to target if not for the cops happening to mention Jamie’s name at the wrong time.

Overall, Halloween 4 is very much just going through the motions at this point. As soon as you see Myers being transported you can probably just close your eyes and still follow what’s happening in the movie very well. There’s just no escape from this guy and the whole movie is about him tracking everyone down. It’s as violent as you’d expect and the cast isn’t the best. You also feel like they should easily be crushing Myers in many cases if they weren’t all panicking the whole time. I will give the film credit for having the town actually fight back for a change. Now that’s rare to see.

Overall 1/10

The Devil’s Own Review


Get ready for a lot of rubbish with this film folks. Films about cults or ones where the villains turn out to be from a cult tend to either be suspenseful as thrillers or just plain bad as we have to sit through long sequences of what they do for fun. This one falls into the latter as the film completely falls off the rails and I would have preferred if something really supernatural was going on. Of course with a title like this you expect the villains to be rather loopy.

The movie starts with a teacher named Gwen being attacked by some of the natives at the village she was working with. They even burst into her house wearing masks and she ended up leaving to work at a small village instead. This at least seems like a reasonable place to work, however the place is not as it seems. Two kids are trying to have a romance but it is forbidden by the adults and supposedly one of them is even a witch. This may seem to just be some pesky adults at first but then one of the kids falls into a coma and it seems that anyone who defies the old lady may get punishments as well. Is there really a witch in town and if so…is Gwen safe?

While I think the film’s pretty awful from cover to cover, I will give it some points for pulling off a really surprising move. At one point in the film we get a several month time skip which is a crazy long period of time. It comes out of nowhere and you wonder what the villains were doing this whole time. One thing leads to another and Gwen gets temporary amnesia for a while. So keep this in mind….the villains waited months to plan out their big move.

I mean it’s part of the prophecy and they had to wait but that was really convenient for Gwen. It’s heroic of Gwen to head back to stop the cult considering how dangerous it was, but she really got lucky there. Gwen wants to be a good teacher so you are rooting for her the whole time. I would just be upset at Alan since he’s the guy who gave her the position. He really didn’t give her much of a heads up about how crazy this place is.

As the film goes on, the body count grows with Ronnie being knocked into a coma, his father getting taken out, and ultimately the mother has to flee town. You’d think people could stand up to one old lady but I guess witch abilities are just too much for everyone. There is a fairly small cast of notable characters as a result.

Of course you have Granny Riggs herself, the lady known to be a witch or at least suspected of it. She talks tough and is extremely stern with Linda. She is really set on the old ways and while I agree with her that Linda is far too young for any kind of romance, the method she uses to get this point across is obviously wrong. Never any excuse for being nasty to such a small child.

Linda appears to be suspicious the whole time. She does claim that nothing is wrong at home and does her best to de-escalate each situation but whether you believe her or not will be the real question. Then you have Stephanie who appears to be nice enough and is the one person Gwen can count on. On one hand there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with her but on the other hand, that alone is a bit odd eh?

The first half of the film is really more of a slow burner. Gwen walks through the town and gets to know everyone but it takes a while for things to take a turn. At first everyone just seems to be a little quirky and there’s nothing wrong with that. Where there’s smoke there is fire though and that’s usually a very tried and true lesson in these things. If the film kept it up like this then it really would have been quite all right.

The problem is the climax. Once we have the cult and we get to the usual human sacrifice angle, we have to sit through a very long procession with the characters acting like fools. They’re throwing mud at each other, babbling on about stuff, chanting, and doing everything you’d expect at a cult festival. It would seem that the whole town was under a spell so none of them had any strength of character here. The whole scene is so long though and incredibly gross.

It’s such a shocking departure from the rest of the film both in content and tone. It really comes out of nowhere and while it may underscore how depraved all of this is, the level of detail was wholly unnecessary. Cut that out of the film and this would at least jump up several points but with it the film was absolutely doomed to oblivion.

The film had such an easy out too. When Gwen got her amnesia and woke up at a happy little place, they could have hinted that it was all a dream. Perhaps her experience in the village during the opening scene just really messed her up and she imagined the rest. It may have felt like a bit of a cop out but at least then we wouldn’t have had to go back to the place. The townsfolk weren’t exactly grateful for her efforts either.

Ronnie’s mother is antagonistic to Gwen for no reason when the lead is trying to figure out what happened. She just seems to be jumping at shadows and is completely unreasonable. Then you have Alan who wants to convince people to leave the school but won’t clue Gwen in and gets upset at her for not picking up the nonexistent clues. If the people would talk more then this would be so much easier for Gwen. Of course this also depends on how much they actually know about the situation. They seem to know that the place isn’t a safe one to stay in at least so just tell this to Gwen straight up.

Overall, The Devil’s Own is definitely a very poorly made film. I’m still not totally sure why the name was switched from The Witches but I suppose this sounds like a more attention grabbing title? Both titles work for the film in different ways as the former describes the first half of the film while this one jumps you into the climax. Not like any version of the title would make the actual film any better though so I suppose it barely matters. The moral of the story here is to always watch out for cults no matter where you are or you may find yourself in trouble like the lead here.

Overall 1/10

Fright Night (1985) Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Time for a classic film about a vampire and they even throw in a werewolf and a zombie creature for good measure. As you may or may not know, I’m not typically fond of vampire films. The whole drinking blood aspect is always really iffy at best and they just aren’t my kind of villains. I wouldn’t say this film is really able to escape that. It has its moments to be sure but on the whole it really just devolves into a standard title in the genre. The main characters could have definitely handled some things a bit better as well.

The movie starts with Charley getting some next door neighbors. He’s initially excited about this but this turns into terror as he realizes that his next door neighbor is a vampire. See, people have been dying recently with their blood drained and as Jerry (the vampire) isn’t very subtle, he tends to take down his victims by the window. Additionally, Charley sees him store a body in the basement. He tries to tell the cops but this doesn’t work out and now Jerry is planning his revenge. Charley will need the help of his two school friends Amy and Ed as well as the TV vampire expert known as Peter to stop this guy. Will they be enough to stop Jerry or is it already too late for them?

I do have to say that while Charley started out decently with his explanation to the cop, he really fumbled towards the end. See, when you’re accusing someone of murder, it’s best not to start talking about vampires and such. Charley seemed to know that initially but Billy (Jerry’s right hand man) goads him into talking about the vampires. This makes Charley look crazy of course and so now all he has done is let the villains know that he is on to them. It’s not a great moment for Charley in the slightest.

In general the only thing I will give Charley credit for is believing his own lies and not being fooled into thinking that Jerry is normal. He knows Jerry is a vampire after all so it would have been crazy if someone had convinced him otherwise. There are limits to what he can do as a kid but he definitely should have warned his mother Judy ahead of time more about the neighbor. By the time he does, it’s far too late and the guy has broken in the house.

Charley’s romance with Amy is also rather sub par. I don’t think that element really needed to be in the film. Amy tends to get upset at the drop of a hat and Charley is way more interested in what’s going on outside than hanging out so it’s just not the right time for either of them. Amy’s loyal as she helps Charley out even when she doesn’t actually believe him. So at least she has that going for her there, but otherwise she’s a bit forgettable and she makes it too easy for Jerry to catch her at the party. Splitting up is never a good idea even if it wasn’t intentional there.

As for Jerry, well he talks tough but his abilities aren’t quite as tough as you would expect. Charley was able to wound him with ease and the guy has so many weaknesses that he would be doomed if not for Billy. Jerry’s motivations are also the kind that I don’t like for a villain in that he wants Amy as a bride. It’s not one of the more ambitious villain plots out there, that’s for sure.

He really gets outshined by Billy who ends up being the best character in the film. I like how completely sarcastic he is to Charley right from the first scene. He openly threatens the lead and always has a big grin on his face. Considering that Jerry has to hide throughout the night, Billy is really the one doing all the work. At one point the heroes get the upper hand on Jerry only for Billy to show up and toss them to the side. After all, he isn’t a vampire so the crosses and holy water don’t work on him. It was an intense moment to be sure and he even gets a plot twist by the end.

Then there’s Charley’s friend Ed but I use the term loosely. It doesn’t actually seem like they get along very well at all. Ed also seems really unhinged from the beginning. Finally, the guy makes one of the classic horror movie blunders when he decides to go into a dark alley by himself. Keep in mind that this is a bad idea under any circumstances. Even if Ed doesn’t believe in vampires, why go through this alley? It’s an incredibly long one due to how long he was walking so this was just a bad idea all around.

As for Peter, it takes longer for this guy to show up than I would have guessed. Initially he goes through the motions of not wanting to help the characters and being scared all of the time. Finally he steps up and does well once he gets into the swing of things. The guy is an adult so it makes sense that he could actually fight a bit. Peter was definitely a fun character and the best of the heroes but you do wish that he would have acted a bit sooner. The guy just hides in his house a lot until we get near the climax.

Finally you have Charley’s mother Judy who seemed like she would be a big character initially and then sort of vanished for the whole second half of the film. The reason was she had a late shift but because of that she misses out on the movie. Too bad since now she really won’t believe anything that went on. The film has a twist ending though so make sure you stick around. It ends things off on an epic note.

Fright Night isn’t really a film that you’ll find very memorable by the time you finish it. Billy was the most iconic part with how he changed up the usual vampire storyline. It’s rare to see a main villain that actually needs a bodyguard after all. The actual vampire scenes are still net negatives with the classic blood draining. Never was a fan of that. The final Werewolf transformation back into the human form was also way too drawn out pretty much as an excuse to make the whole thing even grittier. I’d prefer a streamlined transformation myself.

The characters also just aren’t that good which hurts. Even ignoring that the romance wasn’t handled well, Charley is easily distracted by a lady he sees through the window and it’s clear that he doesn’t think about Amy at all. This isn’t exactly the reliable guy you want to have by your side and that hurts him even more as the main character.

Overall, Fright Night is a title you’ll want to skip. I’ll give the film credit for snagging this title though, it’s catchy and memorable. The kind of title you figure must have a film at this point and so a lot of people will probably end up checking this out at some point or another. That being said, it just never grows out of the shadow of being a vampire flick.

Overall 3/10

The Prodigy Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Whenever a film has a kid as the main villain it doesn’t tend to end well. I’ve seen quite a few horror films in my time and all of the ones in this particularly sub genre just tend to be awful. Well, this one is no exception and the main character makes a really awful choice at the end of the film. It all adds up to the point where you’re just waiting for the film to breeze by.

The movie starts with a serial killer finally being caught and destroyed by the police. Before dying he is able to quickly throw his soul into the unborn baby known as Miles. Sarah gives birth to him that day and at first Miles appears to be normal. Very quickly this shell begins to fade though as he shows a lot of violent tendencies. He talks in different languages and even eavesdrops on his parents using some equipment. John thinks they should send Miles away but he can’t have that. Can the two main characters figure out what is up with Miles before he tears their marriage apart? Also, does he have any big plans aside from general violence and mayhem?

For the plans bit, in the opening scene we find out that the cops stopped the killer right before he could get the final victim. So naturally he wants to even out the score. Fortunately as a kid it should be difficult to get close enough stop her. It goes without saying that he makes for an awfully petty main villain though. The guy doesn’t have much in the way of motive either, he just wants to destroy a bunch of women. This makes him a lousy villain by all accounts.

As for the kid himself, well it’s hard to tell when Miles is even around. Based on how the killer was there since the beginning, I’d make the case that Miles was probably taken out a long time ago. You just don’t know how long this guy may have been faking it or what lies he could have told. As a result you would have to assume Miles has been a plant for a very long time.

Meanwhile, I definitely did not like Sarah as the main character. Yeah it’s a tough spot having a kid who is being mind controlled by a serial killer but she goes way too far with her big plan. See, she is told that often times the spirit will move on if his goal is accomplished. This guy’s plan is to murder the final survivor so Sarah figures if she murders this victim, then the spirit will leave. This is messed up on a lot of levels.

For one, Sarah is helping out a serial killer and 2, she’s actually targeting a victim who is completely innocent in all of this? That’s just awful, one of the worst protagonist decisions I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s just disgraceful and there’s now way to like her after that. She reacts very slowly in the climax and there’s a lot of damage that is done because of her. That’s why in the end I just have to give her a thumbs down. There are some mistakes and decisions you just can’t make.

Meanwhile John handles the situation better. While he doesn’t believe in the supernatural elements of this, his decision to get Miles out of there at least made more sense. At this point Miles was even lying about the parents and trying to frame John. Depending on how far Miles would go (I’m using the name Miles in place of the killer. I forgot that guy’s name) John would even end up in prison at some point. We see from how Miles blackmails the psychologist that he is willing to go to any lengths so I’m sure it would have happened at some point.

The Prodigy also ends on a really sour note. It has the usual horror twist to an extent as things happen quickly in the last segments, but it’s certainly not in a cool way. You don’t really expect a horror film to end on a happy note but this just felt mean spirited in a lot of ways. It really should not have gone down like this and so you’ll walk away from the movie just feeling disappointed.

There aren’t a lot of things that the characters could have done differently to stop Miles. Part of the tricky thing about having a kid as the main villain is you can’t exactly beat him up or anything like that. I would have liked them to have at least tied him up though and call in some psychics. Usually I’d disregard most of them as quacks but in a world where spirit possession is possible then that should cause you to reconsider all of the magic practitioners in the area.

Unfortunately in these things there are never any heroic ghosts out there so the main characters can expect no backup. I’ve always said that this kind of film doesn’t work and this film just furthers the notions. None of the characters are likable and it’s hard to take Miles seriously as a villain. The “suspense” in the film is really just about seeing how he’ll mess everyone over next but as they can’t do much about this, it all just feels futile.

Overall, I’d give this one a hard thumbs down. There really just isn’t anything engaging about The Prodigy. I’ll give the film props for the stylistic cover but that’s about all I can say for it. Miles gives himself away quite early on as he yells obscenities in a foreign language but even that wasn’t enough for Sarah to do anything until it was too late. Then she made the wrong call in the climax so ultimately I guess there was never any hope. The best way for the franchise to recover is a sequel where Miles is now an adult and is being hunted by some kind of spirit detectives. Now there you would have an interesting premise to get behind.

Overall 1/10

Jacob’s Ladder Review

This review’s of the TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Jacob’s Ladder is one of those films where you know something is off with the main character from the start and you have to decide exactly what is going on before the film starts to connect the dots. It’s a pretty interesting film with some fun ideas but one that is ultimately held back by the main character who is…sub par to say the least. Get ready for a lot of panicking!

The movie starts with Jacob and his team in Vietnam getting ready for their next mission when some kind of invisible weapon appears to hit them. His allies start having seizures and are seemingly destroyed by sound vibrations. The ones who escape are taken out by bombs and gunfire. Jacob is injured but seemingly lives as we cut to the present where he’s on a train. He must have fallen asleep and missed his stop but he’s seeing some rather odd things and when he leaves the train there is no exit. He’ll have to cross to get to the other side. Everything appears to be rather dim and the colors aren’t of this world. Fortunately he does make it home to his girlfriend Jezebel.

He works a normal job at the post office but his troubles aren’t over just yet. He begins to see more and more odd things like horns growing out of people, strange visions, dreams that keep on going, people that he thought he knew the other day are dead, etc. Jacob will need to get to the bottom of this quickly because there are also people trying to murder him in hit and run attempts but nobody will believe him. Something’s fishy about all of this.

I actually thought the opening scene where Jacob wakes up in the train was the most powerful moment in the entire film. Mainly because it does feel like a dystopian moment from a video game. Everything just feels off from how the train itself looked to the old lady that wouldn’t say anything, to even the color that the camera was using for the shot. It had an elseworlds feel to it and that worked really well. With the movie being called Jacob’s ladder and all, it also made sense that he likely died at Vietnam and was now in some kind of purgatory realm.

Depending on the rules of purgatory that the film would be following, this meant that it would be almost a complete replica of Earth, but with a few added twists to make Jacob’s life a real struggle by the end. The film slowly starts to show what is actually happening by the end of the film and it’s not exactly what I thought based on the opening scene but it was a great way to open things up. Unfortunately the film just couldn’t maintain that level of success.

It slows down a whole lot once Jacob gets back home. I wasn’t nearly as interested in the whole government conspiracy angle for once. I love that stuff ordinarily but I don’t see why Jacob assumes this is from the government. I mean, as the film plays out this does start to get more and more likely but it doesn’t really connect with what he’s seeing. Jacob literally sees people with no face, people growing tails, demonic imagery, horns on people’s heads, etc. How could the government be pulling all of that off?

I think his first guess should have been that something is wrong and he should also be connecting why he can’t remember how the Vietnam mission ended. Shouldn’t that start giving him some different conclusions? Well, no matter how he got to the result, he does make some headway but of course if the government is on this then you can bet that he won’t be able to get far.

My issue with Jacobs is that he’s really not a likable main character. You feel bad for him with all of the nightmares that he constantly has, but he doesn’t help his case either. For one thing, he has dreams where his first wife is alive and of course he starts bashing his new girlfriend and being happy it was all a dream. So does he really like her or is she truly a rebound only because his wife is dead? Seems to me like the film is heavily implying that this is the latter.

My issue with Jacobs here is that he’s perfectly content in either life, whether it be the “real world” or the dream world so no matter who he is married to, he’s cool with it. Seems to me like he’s a very indecisive main character in that respect and on the whole the romance here is extremely weak. Then he just doesn’t seem very grateful to Jezebel considering how much she is helping him out. When he’s sick she quickly runs to the neighbors and gets everyone ready to help him. She puts in a ton of work and never gets any real gratitude from Jacobs.

He’s just too busy sulking or being fixated on the whole conspiracy angle and he should really be including her in all of this instead of pushing her away. If he thinks she may have been replaced with one of the demons then just get out of the area entirely but you can’t be half on the fence and half out of it on something like this. Even by the end I would make the case that Jacobs makes the wrong call in the very final scene.

As mentioned, Jezebel is a solid heroine. She has to put up with a lot from Jacobs but always seems to make the best of it. She is at least trying her best through these tough circumstances and just seems like a likable person. Then you have Louis who is a good chiropractor whose techniques seem extremely painful. He seems to be one of the only guys that Jacob really trusts. Louis seems like a good man though and does help Jacob whenever he is in a pinch.

The final main character here is Michael who shows up out of nowhere to an extent to give all of the revelations on the conspiracy plot. Honestly Jacob got really lucky with this because when he got that random phone call to go meet with him one on one that seemed like a trap under any circumstance. I would even say Jacob wasn’t smart in going there since there’s no way that should have ended well. Jacob doesn’t tend to think ahead like that though.

The film is mainly a psychological thriller as opposed to a physical one but it does tend to get a little violent when we get the Vietnam flashbacks or Jacob’s tough venture in the hospital room. Lets just say that you don’t want to find yourself being operated on my some monsters. I could do without the romance scenes as well and really the film’s biggest drawback is that it didn’t live up to the full potential. Now while the film’s end result is different from what I imagined, it still could have used a little more activity. Cut some of the scenes where Jacob is convinced that he is still in a normal world and keep up the suspenseful atmosphere of the opening scene.

Okay spoilers time. I’m going to discuss what my theory was and then what I think the film went with. It’s a little subjective and open to interpretation but this is what I got out of it. Skip the next three paragraphs if you have not watched the film yet.

So after the opening scene my theory was that Jacob died in Vietnam. His soul was sent to purgatory and he has to hopefully find his way out instead of being dragged to hell. Louis was his guardian angel who went to Purgatory to save him. An unspoken agreement in most purgatory settings is that neither the angels nor demons can tell you that you’re in purgatory and the lead must ultimately come to that revelation by himself. It would explain why the world was so weird and of course Jezebel was one of the demons with the whole party scene. It would have been interesting if the film kept this up as opposed to a more grounded explanation and all of the set up was there.

Now as to what the film actually did. So at the end of the film we learn that Jacob hadn’t actually been dead yet and was just gravely injured. So instead of purgatory it seems like the whole film was just in his mind. It wasn’t so much a battle of angels and demons as it was a battle of Jacob’s will to live and will to die. Presumably the whole government conspiracy about the team getting injected and turning on each other may have been true although I don’t think we can say that for certain. It would explain his flashbacks though and honestly its a better explanation than not having it so I would include that. As to the demon heads and flashbacks, well that could just be the drugs invading his dreams or his soul was sent to purgatory prior to death. The first explanation still works but it’s just a lot messier. Honestly I would just cut out the scene of him dying to show that he was dead the whole time. It’s like the film missed an easy layup there. The plot works perfectly if he was already dead. Him dying at the end…I mean it’s not like it can’t work but it overcomplicates the example more than necessary.

Both sides fighting over a soul when he’s near death is an established concept so it’s not bad per say I just find it far less interesting. Of course by following the kid up the stairs that meant Jacob chose death over life. If he was already dead, it would be him choosing heaven over hell. A much more powerful choice and in that case going up the stairs would be the right choice. In this case, I think life is the right choice so he should have picked that. You could make the case that the choice wouldn’t have been life, but staying in purgatory but my pushback would be that the film showing he had been alive up to that point hints that he would have stayed alive. It’s an interesting scenario to ponder and maybe it doesn’t make a lot of difference in the end. The film just could and should have been a lot more exciting than how it turned out.

End spoilers

Overall, Jacob’s Ladder is a unique film. While the first half destroys the second, I wouldn’t say it completely falls down the stairs. It has to be the first time where a government conspiracy plot wasn’t one of the best parts of the film though. It just feels like filler here and almost unnecessary. I suppose Jacob would have had less to do otherwise but I would have just thrown in some more demons and chase scenes to keep things interesting. If you want to watch effectively a darker version of Inception then this would be the one to pick but I would just say to watch Inception again instead.

Overall 3/10