Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Ella (Mischa Barton) is mistrustful of her fiance. Having been screwed over by men before, she thinks she’s found evidence that he’s been unfaithful. But when the evidence suddenly vanishes, where else can it be but his storage unit, located way out in the middle of nowhere. Ella enlists the aid of her friend Molly (Emily Atack), because that’s what best friends are for, right? Especially friends who know how to get into places they shouldn’t.
The two young women bullshit their way past the clerk on duty, Stephen (Andrew Buckley), and take the elevator down to the fourth level. Seems as though everything is underground. And not only is this level dark and creepy, but it has an unfinished look to it. Undeterred the girls find the fiance’s unit and, with some difficulty, open the door, only to be confronted by… what was that? Something just snatched Molly and dragged her inside, shutting the door securely behind!
An alarmed Ella runs back to the elevator as the lights, which are on timers, go off around her. But
something is in pursuit and she barely makes it inside. The elevator refuses to move, though, and she climbs out the top and up the cable to the next floor where her cries for help draw the attention of Vince (Robert Knepper), who helps her out. He’s skeptical of her tale, but luckily he’s a cop, and willing to help. Soon they run across Willow (Valene Kane) and then Ian (John Sackville). Ian was in the process of splitting the contents of his storage unit with his soon-to-be ex Sarah (Charlotte Salt). But Sarah disappeared and he’s looking for her, which makes him suspect in Vince’s eyes.
The group tries to make its way up the stairs, but the doors at each level are locked. And there’s something in the dark that’s killing people…
This film was made in 2015. I’ll admit the big reason I was drawn to watch it is because I really like Robert Knepper. To some extent it’s a character-driven horror film, as we met the protagonists and hear their stories. Ordinary people leading ordinary lives. But it soon develops into true horror as a… creature… begins to claim more and more victims. There is a certain amount of tension, not knowing where this thing is or what it wants… or even something as basic as how to survive and get out of this death trap. The premise isn’t bad, the acting is fairly decent. And of course, Robert Knepper plays his role very well. Naturally, he isn’t necessarily what he appears to be, but would you expect less of him?
My biggest problem with this lies in the finale, once we learn who is behind everything, because there really is no why, no explanation of what we’ve been watching. Of course, based on certain stereostypes that aren’t exactly new in the genre, we can extrapolate the reasons. But I have to believe there is more to it than that, and the film misses the mark on that score. Plus it’s rather one-dimensional in that regard. Like Escape Room, but without the clever twists. It wasn’t a bad film, but it could have been better. Mischa Barton’s acting is less than spectacular but because of Robert Knepper, I am giving this 3 Stars.
Return of the Living Dead 3
Some things never change. Even after the fiasco involving the walking dead, the military can’t get enough of playing around with these new playthings because, of course, they know best. Colonel Reynolds (Kent McCord) is no exception to this rule, as he and his group work at re-animating the dead. His son Curt (J Trevor Edmond) and his girlfriend Julie (Melinda Clarke) use dad’s pass to sneak onto base, and they become unwitting witnesses of what transpires. The experiments lead to the colonel’s reassignment. But when he tells his son, Curt rebels, and runs off with Julie on his motorcycle.
Julie gets a little frisky on the motorcycle, distracting her boyfriend, which results in an accident which kills Julie. The griefstricken Curt is beside himself and sneaks her body back onto the base, so he can revive her with the same stuff his dad and his group were using. This can’t possibly go wrong, can it?
Julie begins to show symptoms of being dead, and experiences intense hunger pains. Curt takes her to a convenience store where she gorges on junk. Meanwhile a local gang is there, and trouble ensues, resulting in the shop owner’s death, and one of the gang being bitten by Julie. Curt and Julie escape and make their way to the area of the sewers, where a homeless man unexpectedly aids them. But even he realizes there is something off about Julie.
The gang members are pissed at what happened and follow the young lovers, determined to have
revenge. Curt’s father is also looking for his son, having been relieved of his command. He’s determined not to come back until he finds him.
This is the third entry in the Return of the Living Dead franchise, and it is by far the weakest link so far. It possesses none of the humor or fun of the first two films (maybe because it’s lacking James Karen and Thom Matthews, just a thought). Different director and different writer result in a different film, and the change is definitely not for the better.
I think a large part of the problem is the script, which isn’t very good. Also, I think the film takes itself too seriously but lacks any heart. We have no emotional ties to any of the characters, so it’s kind of hard to care what happens to any of them. Like dispassionately watching a science experiment to take note of the results. But in this case, these are (or were) living breathing human beings, now the re-animated dead.
Another thing that irked me greatly was that they changed the rules of the universe in which they were playing. Julie becomes a zombie early on but she still retains her full ability to speak, although she does display many of the classic symptoms of the other walking dead. Tortured by the changes, she hurts herself in order to keep the hunger at bay, but she thinks that won’t work forever and she’s afraid she’ll end up hurting Curt. She ends up making a weapon of herself (see above). So there’s that. I think that’s more of an excuse to show her half-naked body, but that’s just my opinion.
Kent McCord… well, I loved him in Adam 12, but he doesn’t really come across here as the classic father who was never around and doesn’t know how to show his emotions. His portrayal is too cold and too rigid to get a real feel for this character, especially after seeing the experiment he was involved in.
All in all, this was a disappointment. I’m going to give it 2 Stars.
In the sleepy little town of Hayesville – one of those blink and you miss’em communities – sits the locked and abandoned one-time children’s play place known as Willy’s Wonderland, named after Willy the Weasel, one of its animatronic attractions. Liv (Emily Tosta) knows what evil lurks therein and intends to burn the place to the ground. But she’s caught in the act by Sheriff Lund (Beth Grant), who is also her foster mother, and placed in handcuffs inside their home… for her own good.
Speed traps in small towns are not uncommon, and Hayesville is no exception. A sports car driven by Nic Cage runs over a set of spikes that blow out all four tires. As he stands by his car, a tow truck miraculously appears. When the driver tows Cage to his garage and assesses the damage, including the tow it will come to a thousand dollars. They have no Internet, so can’t pay by credit card. He doesn’t take checks, and the ATM doesn’t work. Cash on the barrel head. Of course the silent Cage doesn’t have a grand in his pocket. So the tow truck driver offers him a deal. He knows a place that needs help. He can spend the night there, cleaning, and in the morning, his car will be ready to go. Cage has no choice but to accept.
The place turns out to be Willy’s Wonderland.
Meanwhile, some of Liv’s friends are looking for her and find her handcuffed and help her to break out.
She is intent on finishing what she started, especially since she saw the man with the tow truck driver and she knows where he’s being taken and why. And she is determined that is not going to happen.
Meanwhile, Cage goes to work to do what he’s agreed to. He’s been told to remember to take breaks, so he sets his watch as a reminder to do so. Willy’s is creepy, in large part due to the animatronics which seem to move… and more. But Cage is more than a match for them and dispatches a couple quite handily. When he tries to throw their remains outside, he learns for the first time that he has been locked in.
Liv knocks on the window to tell him he has to get out of there, before they set the building on fire, but he turns and ignores her. Exasperated, she decides to find a way inside and tells her friends to wait for her. But Fate has other ideas, and all the teens find themselves inside Willy’s.
I am a huge Nic Cage fan, so when I found out about this film, which just came out in 2021, I had to see it. What got me really hooked was a line in the preview, when Liv says “He’s not trapped in there with them. They’re trapped in there with him.”
This story was very original, sort of a Chucky Cheese meets Psycho. Nic Cage is a character known only as The Janitor. We never learn his name or his story, and he never speaks. Even so, his actions speak volumes as we watch him do battle with the evil animatronics without batting an eye. And the story is told with a certain amount of humor, which I love.
Liv is a great character, who has personal reasons for wanting this place to go. The town has its own reasons for doing what they do as well. Liv is the leader among her friends, the alpha if you will, and a very strong character. I was pretty well riveted to the screen the whole time. I’d call it very bloody, except the animatronics don’t have blood. But then again Liv’s friends do. Nuff said.
I enjoyed this movie pretty much. My opinion of Nic Cage hasn’t changed a bit. He’s good in whatever he does. I would recommend this movie, and I will give it a solid 4 Stars.