Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

At this point, I have learned how the word "insidious" applies to the plots of both movies.

Director:  James Wan
Studios:  IM Global, Entertainment One, Blumhouse Productions
Starring:  Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye
Tagline:  "It Will Take What You Love Most"
MPAA Rating:  PG-13
Genre:  horror, terror, thriller, drama, haunting, ghost, possession, family drama, sequel
Scare score:  B
Rating:  A-

Plot overview:  After the terrifying events of the first film, the Lambert family has moved into husband/ father Josh's (Wilson) childhood home.  When the haunting still does not stop, distrust grows strong between Josh and his wife Renai (Byrne), and tensions continue mounting.  With paranormal investigator Elise (Shaye) now dead following the events of the first movie, Renai and Lorraine (Hershey), Josh's mother, reach out to Carl (Coulter), a fellow medium and old friend of Elise.  Together, the family, Carl, and a team of paranormal investigators - Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Sampson) - must return to the family's past in order to save its future, traveling through time, space, and The Further in order to do so.

Aptly released on Friday the 13th, we have here the long-awaited sequel to 2011's landmark Insidious.  Wan and Whannell have teamed up again to bring us this film, which picks up directly where the first movie left off.  In fact, as a warning to all viewers, if you have not seen/ do not have any previous knowledge of the first film, that's a much better place to start than this one.  You will most likely not understand any of this movie unless you see Insidious first.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised with just how much of the first movie is included in this film.  They are very much like two puzzle pieces, with the first one perhaps being written/ shot to set up many sequences of this sequel.  This second one, however, does largely switch from a haunting theme focusing on external terrors to a domestic drama where much of the horror as been internalized.  I said this in my entry on Insidious last fall, and now I can confirm that this movie is very much focused on the family aspect of the Lambert's, with husband and wife now becoming estranged, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) is wide awake, baby Kali (Brynn and Madison Bowie) is growing up, and they have all moved in with grandma Lorraine.  Quick side note as far as the family is concerned: how cute is the other (non-astral-projecting) son Foster (Andrew Astor)?  That kid couldn't be cuter, and he is a talented child actor.  Way to go, kid.  Anywho, there was much less of a barrage of ghosts this time around, and instead we had a huge spike in physical confrontations, domestic violence, and also in dumb humor.  To draw in from fan favorites, in this second film there is much less Poltergeist while allusions to The Shining (daddy problems) and Psycho (mommy problems) become impossible to miss.  The perfect family is deconstructed through various generations, torn apart by loss, separation, and distrust; gender and identity roles become confused, the father is not always the hero and the mother is not always the victim with children saving parents and vice-versa.

What the Insidious movies certainly do right is the soundtrack (Joseph Bishara) and look.  Like yeah I guess the whole eerie violin and strings bit has been done before (Psycho), but it evolves here and the creative team was just not afraid to have that shrill sound up high and then bang the piano way down low.  This creates my favorite "boom" moments, starting with the title sequence of the movie; when they flash that big, red "INSIDIOUS" across the screen there's something truly ominous albeit campy about it.


Where as in the first film the action is centered around the Lambert family and Dalton's coma, this film is split up into multiple, simultaneous story lines with various acts of their own.  These can be described as: physical Josh's situation with him first trying to keep the voices out of his head and later with his attack upon his family; spiritual Josh's situation being first trapped in The Further and then venturing through it (and space and time) to save himself and his family; Specs and Tucker's life post-Elise and their eventual teaming up with Carl; and finally Renai's predicament, her work with Lorraine and Carl, and her protection of her children.

The first big split comes during the exposition after the introduction to the Lambert's current situation when we are suddenly switched to the light-hearted nature of the bumbling comic duo.  On account of Specs being played by screenwriter Leigh Whannell, I couldn't help but dislike some of this stupid humor, which wasn't quite '80s corniness but rather a flat, modern humor.  I can't help but picture Whannell sitting there writing and picturing these stupid jokes, typical of a cliche dumb duo (although both characters are intelligent investigators), and then in reality for audiences we have these two guys who are now 200% more important than they were in the first film, and their strange jokes merely provide an uncertain interlay between scarier sequences.  Admittedly, I did laugh at the "ninja, bear" bit, and I liked both characters very much.  In general, I was not crazy about Whannell's script, which felt very fake and unnatural to me throughout.

At times the splits made the film more confusing; I wasn't sure if a ghost was about to slap Renai unconscious or if Tucker was going to spill jelly doughnut on his shirt or hurt his testicles.  Am I worried about cross-dressing ghosts in The Further or about physical Josh screaming in the mirror and pulling out teeth?  One thing this divided script certainly did was break up the movie into lighter and darker parts, making it seem less scary in general, less serious, and certainly nowhere near as chock-full-of-thrills as the first installment.  Splitting up the movie this way also let many supporting actors step out of their shells and shine a bit more on screen such as our investigating duo, the children, Lorraine, and our new friend Carl.

In general I was surprised about the role of Renai.  In my post on the first film I comment on how she is depicted because while she is certainly strong, intelligent, and relentless in the protection of her family, she is a victim of her family and household situation.  We can assume that she is a stay-at-home mom by choice, which allows her to write music (when not being plagued by demons) which we can assume is her passion.  (How the family is getting enough money for all these great houses on Josh's teacher salary is beyond me).  Still, during the events of these movies (and even in peacetime) we can see her being stuck at home taking care of kids or doing domestic work.  Even the movie poster here shows her actively protecting her family with a domestic weapon, and the engagement ring is still flaunted.  She is by no means passive when it comes to helping Dalton in the first film and protecting all of the children in this one, but in both movies our main protagonist and then main antagonist, respectively, are played by Patrick Wilson.  Renai is a crucial, strong, and easy-to-like character with a strange balance of shock/ naiveté and just enough mother's/wife's intuition.  Also, she is wise from the ending of the first movie to the entity inside of her husband.  In this movie I was honestly very, very surprised at the amount of physical abuse she takes whether it's at the hand of a malicious spirit or her husband, be it a slap to the face or a teapot chucked at her head (my mouth dropped at that point).  It felt almost wrong to me to see so much realistic, domestic violence in this movie.  I mean we're talking about the writer of Saw so I guess it's no surprise- but at the same time in most horror movies we see supernatural, over-the-top gory violence that seems so unreal to us it becomes less realistically scary.  Instead here we see very real, terrible man-on-woman violence.  The distressed spirit possessing Josh doesn't even distinguish here between children and adults, making us fear for the safety of the baby and the children just as much if not more than the lives of Lorraine and Renai.  In this movie, Renai is ignored, isolated, haunted, hit, choked, and then beaten savagely before locking herself in the basement with her children, left to do nothing more than await her fate.  While the fate of the family is in the hands of the existential Josh, and while he must right the spiritual and physical wrongs (with some help), the role of Renai still feels too "victim-y" for me, and I would like to read a feminist review of the film, which in of itself is certainly heavy on psychosexual abuse and material.

The big star here is Patrick Wilson (who always reminds me of Will Arnett so it's hard for me to take him seriously) in a role that juxtaposes him from his hero status in the first film.  With creepy makeup and annoying smiles, physical Josh is easy to hate in this sequel.  The ending of the first movie tips us off that Josh perhaps hasn't returned from The Further, the realm which I believe the creative team really thinks is their trump card here.  I wasn't entirely on that bandwagon after the first movie, but I was so happy to see how the sequel utilized and even interpreted The Further, making it a timeless, spaceless place where entities are both anonymous and personal; a place of memory and forgotten pasts; a place where darkness consumes light.  Was the first film written with the events of the second film in mind?  Or did the team here just really put together the right amount of overlay, lapsing chronology and terror together?  I really loved all of the allusions to the first movie: the terrible banging on the front door, that alarm system going off, the long-haired fiend stalking the house - and now all of it has an explanation.  I could have done without Elise's "So that's what that was all about" moment, but I think she's the cutest thing (as I assume many viewers do as well; a Tangina Barrons type that we feel safe around and want to trust) so she is forgiven for Whannell's script.  Another question I do have about the time-traveling Further sequence is when spiritual Josh returns to young Josh during his first meeting with Elise, why is it that the Bride in Black "lives" in the basement?  Does every home happen to have a red door leading to The Further, visible to only astral projectors? Just wondering if there was any significance there.

Where as in the first movie I thought the sequences in The Further were over the top and even unnecessary, filling up time with suspense and no scares and then cartooning the red demon, I thought The Further really evolved in the sequel: what can't you do when the laws of physics and time no longer apply?  We saw some great visual stuff (the whole movie I thought was tastefully well done in an unsettling way; from the red stained-glass window of the house to the crowded, dark, Victorian rooms to Elise's cluttered reading room in the basement- beautiful and creepy stuff) with great colors, imagery, family issues, distressed souls, torture chambers... the list goes on.  Luckily the creepy rocking horses and dollhouses and bodies covered in sheets all applied to the plot this time without the need for mannequin, '50s families and other unnecessary frights.  Was that drawing young Parker (Tyler Griffin) makes (and is reprimanded for) also drawn by Wan using his left hand?  Looked like the same artist as Dalton's work in the first movie.

I really enjoyed the investigation into the Bride in Black as well as the entire subplot involved there.  I know that the whole forced cross-dressing bit received some laughs from my audience, but I do think it was a creepy and intriguing area to explore considering the psychological condition of old Parker (Tom Fitzpatrick) who I thought was very creepy.  Honestly I think it was great that this freaky old woman turned out to be a man; fun fact: she was played by a male actor in the first film as well.  For me, the abduction and killing of all these young girls in the past (great neighborhood) was really eerie; it employed a further sense of suburban terror.  It was also interesting in comparison that this film focused on two ghosts/ one ghost and one possession rather than the first movie's virtual carnival of souls.  The concept of this possession causing Josh's body to decay was pretty foul, and we enjoyed the strange, Norman Bates-like internal struggle of old Parker inside of Josh.  So many layers of fun.

The last thing really to comment on is the last scene of the movie.  Our dream team (minus Carl?) now seems to be doing regular cases with the spirit of Elise helping ward off malicious, insidious spirits from living humans.  I didn't love her shocked "Oh my God" face with nothing visual on our mere human end- did I miss something, maybe?  Was it a really scary demon only Elise could see?  Because there are rumors that you could heard that red demon making noises (and was he really that hard to defeat the first time around?  Loser.), but I didn't hear anything.  Just seemed like a very big, very obvious set up to a part three that might not happen, and that most likely won't be centered around the Lambert family.

Final critique:  I enjoyed this movie, and I think calling it "Chapter 2" is only appropriate as it is a direct continuation of the first film.  This installment would be very difficult to fully understand without seeing the first one, so go have a back-to-back horror movie night!  There are certainly less scares this time around, but there is more suspense built up in the plot and more (too much) physical violence between characters.  What's interesting to me is that where as in the first film the plot was more focused and the scares were random at time, in this movie the scares are more concentrated but the plot itself is more scattered into the various stories.  I thought the look and feel of this movie was great while the script and acting was on the poor side.  I would still love to see it again should anybody like to spot me $11 for another movie ticket.  Overall, a pretty fulfilling continuation of the events of the first movie.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Horror Blog Turns 1

One year and fifty-four movies ago, our fearfathers brought forth on this internet, a new blog, conceived in Terror, and dedicated to the proposition that all horror movies are not created equal...


Hey Horror Fans,

A year ago today I set out on a new cyber adventure, hoping to put all the time I spend/waste watching horror movies to good use.  All my life I have loved horror movies because even though they can be (and usually are) so weird, I love getting my heart rate up and taking the chance that something might actually scare me or gross me out; (un)fortunately, this doesn't happen very often.  Fear is a strange emotion in our world that many nameless souls might experience every day of their short lives, where as others will never know the true meaning of what terror is.  I personally am afraid of nothing more than ill health or unhappiness falling upon my friends and family, but I have to admit that after taking on this blog I keep more of an eye out for psychotic stalkers and malicious ghosts.  It's easy here in the northeast to get caught up in our busy day-to-day lives, experiencing stress from work, pleasure from free time, excitement during the workday, relaxation at night; yet all the strange and many in-between moments fall into a silent, emotionless drone that is our modern life.  Perhaps fear, then, is an older emotion; a shaking, empty feeling that many of us are lucky enough not to have to feel should we allow ourselves to remain confident and brave.  I am one of these people, but I guess that through horror movies I enjoy seeking the chance to actually get scared, to feel more alive and to question our capabilities as humans.  Then again, sometimes it's nice to just laugh at a dumb plot about hydro-sensitive aliens or pea soup-filled possessions, all of which are, of course, based on a true story.
That being said, thanks for visiting the Horror Blog once, or thanks for visiting whenever it suits your fancy.  I truly appreciate being able to document my thoughts on these horror movies and knowing that other people are actually reading (or accidentally visiting the page) from time to time.  Obviously horror movies aren't for everyone, and many times they are the neglected children of Hollywood.  Hopefully you have found this blog if you are one of the few who is able to appreciate the subtle scares and stupidities that make up our beloved genre of film.
Over the course of this next year I will try to blog more often, although I guess my average of about an entry a week isn't as bad as I thought it was.  Until then,

Stay scary,

-Horror Buff

An American Haunting (2005)

Director:  Courtney Solomon
Studios:  Allan Zeman Productions, Midsummer Films, Remstar Productions
Starring:  Rachel Hurd-Wood, Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek
Tagline:  Possessions Knows No Bounds
MPAA Rating:  PG-13
Genre:  horror, terror, thriller, drama, haunting, possession, surprise ending
Scare score:  D+
Rating:  D

Plot overview:  In present day Tennessee, a mother wakes her daughter from a nightmare, and then gets to reading a long note written by an ancestor.  Back in the early 1800s, the respectable John Bell (Sutherland) loses his good reputation after being accused of breaking church law by means of usury against his scornful neighbor, the supposed witch Kate Batts (Gaye Brown).  Kate then warns Bell to enjoy the health and happiness of his family, specifically his daughter Betsy (Hurd-Wood), while they still can.  Shortly thereafter a series of strange noises, moving objects, and other poltergeist-like behavior begin to both the Bell family.  Worse yet, Betsy begins suffering from night terrors and unexplainable, evil forces in the night, causing her to lose sleep.  As the situation grows worse, mother Lucy Bell (Spacek) and even the schoolteacher Richard Powell (James D'Arcy) try finding logical reasons to the happenings until they can only accept that this haunting has been brought on by some curse.  But is Kate Batts behind the terrible plague, or are sinners simply being brought to justice?

I was really rooting for this movie, but at the end it just didn't deliver.  While watching, I even realized that I had seen this movie or at least parts of it years ago on TV or something; not too memorable I guess.  Not much to say here, but here we go:

The whole movie is set up to appear to be a haunting coming from a curse placed upon the Bell family by the bitter neighbor who is also a witch.  There is some fun American superstition and history built in here - leave it to slaves to know details of how curses work I guess... - but I also found myself questioning some of the activities and items shown to be around in 1817 or whatever year this movie takes place.  What might draw a viewer to this movie is that good, wholesome, frontier setting.  The costumes and sets were interesting, but then the whole period issue really starting affecting the movie in my book.  I think what perhaps most prevents this movie from being scary is the fact that the characters in their bonnets and cravats become almost too cartoonish to really allow any terror to set in.  I liked Sissy Spacek as the mother, but everyone else was too weird, too ridiculous, even.  At times, it truly felt as though even the actors weren't buying it.  I was especially bugged by Sutherland, and I can't tell you why- other than the fact that his hair was really bizarre and if that was a wig/ supposed to be a wig it made him look over the top.  The speech and dialogue became awkward sometimes even when they weren't trying to imitate 19th-century speech/ not doing a good job imitating 19th-century speech.  I kept wanting to be scared, but it was impossible with these kooky settlers running around.

I'm torn about how the ghost/ spirit/ (nothing) was portrayed as we were so often set behind its eyes and allowed to see the happenings in black and white.  Part of me says "okay this is cool" where as the rest (and maybe majority) of me is like "stop trying to do cool effects and focus on actually making the scary scenes scary."  Every incident started becoming the same; I fell asleep at one point and couldn't tell which sequences I had seen and which ones I had not.  How many times can we sit through Betsy's sheets being pulled off, her arms and legs being held to the bed, whispering getting louder, then Betsy being pulled into the air and slapped around, which some tell-tale blood on her nightgown at the end?  Do we ever even seen any sort of spirit or is it always invisible - and then if they've wasted all this time with some 'spirit,' the surprise resolution of the haunting (which I admit I sort of liked) still remains almost frustrating, because what was real and what was not and how did supernatural things occur if everything only came from a suppressed, psychic source?

I really felt that the filmmakers here wanted to get some sort of message across, but in order to do so a lot of the actual happenings of the film were ignored or left unresolved.  This film also relied heavily on horror motifs, repeating images, returning scares that keep us questioning 'why?' without really explaining anything until the end.  The whole, "You brought this upon yourself" bit was good though; I enjoy movies where we are re-shown scenes from a different and revealing angle.

Final critique:  This film isn't very scary although it is filled with plenty of confusing and loud haunting sequences.  The plot can be interesting if you pay enough attention to follow, and the resolution (and ending) do add a kick to an otherwise droll film (droll but with a lot of action... it's confusing).  I guess more so than actually scaring some viewers, the loud and 'violent' haunting scenes might sort of frighten you, if you can understand the difference, or at the very least make you uncomfortable.  I wouldn't really recommend this film, but it's not bad to leave on in the background if you're having a half-hearted scary movie night.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Possession (2012)

Director:  Ole Bornedal
Studios:  Ghost House Pictures, North Box Productions
Starring:  Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Madison Davenport, Kyra Sedgwick
Tagline:  Fear the Demon that Doesn't Fear God.
MPAA Rating:  PG-13
Genre:  horror, thriller, family drama, possession, exorcism, religious occult
Scare score:  B
Rating:  B+

Plot overview:  After buying a strange, antique wooden box from a yard sale, young Emily Brenek (Calis) begins to become obsessed with the item.  As her health, mood, and personality all begin to alter, her recently divorced parents - father Clyde (Morgan) and mother Stephanie (Sedgwick) - grow more concerned although only Clyde realizes that Em's problems might stem from the mysterious box.  After investigating into Jewish folklore, Clyde learns that the box was inhabited by a dybbuk that is now taking over his daughter.

Just in time for the high holidays, I stumbled upon this good picture late last night.  Although I know I've seen bits and pieces of it (or otherwise psychically predicted the fork scene), I had never seen the entire movie.  Let's start at the very beginning:

"Based on a true story."  The 5 words I hate most at the beginning of any horror movie.  The poster proudly displays it, and the opening credits of the movie boast it, too.  The length filmmakers will go through today to say that their movie is based on a true story is really astounding, but I guess it must be worth it in the market.  As far as my research tells me, the "true story" behind The Possession is that the 'dybbuk box' actually exists, has been bought or sold on ebay on at least one occasion, and is now hidden in a secret place because the it gave the various owners nightmares.  Now I'm not going to lie, it's pretty cool that this box exists - a major plus for the movie was this beautiful prop; I especially loved the size and detail.  BUT the fact of the matter is that there never was an Emily, nor a Clyde, nor a Tzadok (Matisyahu).   Looks like I just debunked that dybbuk.


Truth or fantasy aside, I enjoyed the plot once it finally developed.  What we have here is a tale of divorce and how the children are reacting to it.  While the older Hannah (Davenport) has already learned to suck it up and cope with the fact that mommy and daddy aren't friends anymore, Em is still naive and remains hopeful that somehow they will get back together.  Which brings about my theory: the family simply experienced a group hallucination while Emily faked everything in order to mend her broken family - and it worked.

But what I really thought this movie had going for it was the Jewish folklore instead of our typical, washed up Christian possession - and I mean that.  If you've read this blog before you know that Horror Buff pretty much hates all religious possession/ exorcism movies because they are overkill and rarely bring us any new creative or intellectual material.  That being said, I walked into this movie as a skeptic, even though I knew the co-producer here was the versatile Sam Raimi.  From the get go we know that this box is haunted somehow by something, and we realize the victim will be Em (especially when she wears that ring that no one ever mentions and it turns her hand green... like okay Dumbledore).  What we don't expect is that all of the sudden it's not just your average ghost and not even your average demon but a dybbuk - and not just any dybbuk but our dear friend Abyzou, the childbirth demon AND a female (girl power!)  I mean yeah, we've seen dybbuks in I think in The Unborn so this isn't an entirely new concept in modern horror, but it's still a different one which makes way for new plot and a different kind of exorcism.

The acting was fine in this movie.  I didn't think Morgan was really anything special even though there's tons of good stuff written about him online.  He never bothered me and I rather liked him, but in the scene where he pleads to that Jewish council asking them for help I thought he did a really poor job.  Calis was a real pleasure to watch in this demanding role, and I enjoyed her being sweet, normal Em just as much as I did her screaming, angry possessed side.  Davenport in the role of the older, no BS sister Hannah was really talented, and I enjoyed her performance quite a bit.  Together, the girls made convincing sisters.  Then again I don't have a sister, so what do I know?

As far as the haunting/ possession goes, that's where most of this movie's thrills come from.  We have a smorgasbord of creepy happenings like the terrible bugs, the fingers in the back of the throat (ah!), and the eyes rolling backwards or sideways or any which way that was pretty nasty on several occasions.  Seems to me like all these spooks would freak out your general audience.

Final critique:  I'm making this a short entry because Horror Buff needs a nap.  Again, the best thing this movie has going for it is the whole Jewish mysticism bit; for once it isn't satan, it's my dybbuk in a box!  The scares are plentiful and diverse with good effects, which would definitely freak out your typical alone-at-home-in-the-dark viewer.  So go check out this film, which isn't so much "based on a true story" as it is "based on a true box."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Awakening (2011)

Director:  Nick Murphy
Studios:  BBC Films, StudioCanal UK, Creative Scotland
Starring:  Rebecca Hall, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West
Tagline:  All the Children Are Gone... Except One.
MPAA Rating:  R
Genre:  foreign film, horror, thriller, drama, ghost, surprise ending
Scare score:  B-
Rating:  A

Plot overview:  In this classic English ghost tale, Florence Cathcart (Hall) is a paranormal investigator who has dedicated her professional life to disproving hoaxes and supernatural cons following the terrible loss of WWI.  After being called to a Rookford boarding school to investigate the death of one student and the possible haunting of another, Florence's logic will be tested as her emotions and memories are challenged by the living and the dead.

I thought this film was so great, but as you know by now I am a sucker for ghost stories.  This is a lovely period piece, basically your classic English ghost tale (which I am a huge fan of), so in my book it was a recipe for success from the beginning.  I have to admit I wasn't blown away by the film, and a few times it had me worried that it was taking some odd or bad turn, but it certainly kept me on the edge of my seat (er, bed) right up until the open (and confusing?) ending.

The setting, indoor and outdoor shots, and cinematography are all beautiful.  The Manderston House was a beautiful backdrop to this ghost story, and the aftermath of WWI was a somber setting - I liked at the beginning when it was called "a time for ghosts."  The entire film had a sort of pale, green lighting, like being underwater or just in the grey English countryside, so wouldn't you know that worked perfectly with the plot.  The interior shots were really great; the furniture and details really beautiful, the tools used by Florence intriguing and spooky, and all the chase scenes through dark, twisting hallways and tunnels made the film more suspenseful.

The characters were really great, too, like characters in a story you might read instead of just a movie you're watching.  I was surprised to see the talented Miss Staunton in the role of Maud, the school matron/ housekeeper I was suspicious about from the beginning.  It drove me wild the entire film as I couldn't place where I knew the young and really talented Hempstead Wright as Tom - after the film I was reminded that he is, of course, Bran Stark in Game of Thrones.  I'm sure we'll see more of him.  I like Rebecca Hall a lot, and I thought she made for a nice character, although her acting job wasn't the greatest thing I've ever seen.  She was, however, certainly appropriate.

The best thing about this film aside from the setting was that the plot kept twisting and turning, even if it was with extra/ unnecessary plot just to throw us off.  Ever since I was little I couldn't really enjoy a horror movie because from the first scene I was already solving who was the killer and how and why, which horror movies almost aways make easily apparent for anybody used to your typical plot.  (One problem with the horror movie industry, I suppose, is that we've seen all this stuff before so what is new and what really grabs our attention?  Today, unfortunately, movie makers - and audiences - have turned to that gore-porn to keep them satisfied.  I'm much happier with a good plot.)   Well as hard as I tried, I overlooked a lot of hints that this movie was - or was not - throwing at us.  To be honest I wasn't paying tons of attention to the film what with dinner and my family about, so I think that if I had watched it in the dark and alone without distractions it would have ranked a higher scare score.

Of course as with any ghost movie we're expecting some sort of plot twist.  I was hoping this wasn't going to pull a The Others (these two movies are like siblings - PS I was supposed to blog about The Others a few months back... sorry), but I really wasn't sure who was going to be dead or alive or sane or crazy or what.  We knew Florence's opinions and logic were going to be tested - we've seen the whole non-believer deal before - but I wasn't ultimately expecting what was revealed to have happened.  It really made for a cool twist ending and a cool plot in general.  This movie played with the blurred lines between the living and the dead, and who is capable of what, and I truly enjoyed that.

Again I admit the ending had me confused, which I'm sure was on purpose as a few things are left open, and I know my opinion although I'm not even 100% I believe in it!  Understandably I'm being confusing, so you'll have to watch the movie for yourself to decide.

Final critique:  I highly, highly recommend this film.  It is enjoyable, and there is so much more to it than jumps and screams, therefore making it a horror film that more general audiences could appreciate.  This is a great gateway film for those viewers who find most horror movies too scary as there is some great suspense but only a few truly scary moments; otherwise there is a lovely English ghost story making up the rest of the plot.  A real gem that I'm glad to have stumbled upon!