1 out of 3 ain’t bad…even if it’s not entirely a horror movie

I guess I have myself to blame for watching horror films that include casts of people you’ve actually heard of, but this foursome wasn’t exactly my idea of a good horror time. Here’s my rundown of The Divide, The Abandoned, Hotel of the Damned, and Don’t Sleep.

THE DIVIDE (2011)

The director of Frontier(s) once again delivers a film that isn’t quite a horror movie. And it clocks in at a little over 2 hours long!

This is still a rather fucked up and well-acted film with some disturbing moments. Tenants in an apartment building lock themselves in the landlord’s basement shelter after a nuclear apocalypse.

Over time, they begin to lose their shit, in part because some of them become infected by the air outside. They begin doing awful things to each other in order to stay alive—like killing each other for food and raping each other.

The film stars the likes of Michael Biehn, Rosanna Arquette, Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney B. Vance, and Lauren German of Lucifer, so the performances make everything feel quite disturbing and realistic. Plus, the final battle to the death is intense. But damn, this shit is 2 hours looooooong.

THE ABANDONED (2015)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before—young woman takes night security job in an empty building and begins to experience supernatural occurrences and encountering spooky figures.

Well, I’ve heard it before, in movies like Last Shift and Abandoned Dead. My advice—watch either of those films instead of this more polished, mainstream version.

There’s plenty of creepy atmosphere in this slow burn, but it is so agonizingly safe that I just could not get into it. A young woman with emotional baggage and issues (she is known for seeing things that aren’t there and takes pills for the problem) starts her first night at an empty apartment building. She’s on duty with a partner, played by Jason Patric, who is a total dick to her.

It just unfolds as predictably as you can imagine. She has conflicts with Jason Patric. She roams the halls, sees barely scary things you’ve seen in the shadows and flashlight beams in dozens of other movies, finds dolls, drawings, and other “creepy” signs of life in the building, etc, etc.

Eventually, she gets her whole character development redemption moment with a ghost.

YAWN.

HOTEL OF THE DAMNED (2016)

Peter Dobson of The Frighteners plays a dude who picks up his buddy (horror regular Louis Madylor) after he’s released from prison. They go to find Madylor’s daughter, beat up her boyfriend because they don’t like him, then take her and the boyfriend for a car ride. They get into a car accident, take shelter in an abandoned hotel, and spend the rest of the movie trying to run away from a bunch of bald cannibals instead of just leaving the hotel.

I can barely comprehend how a well-oiled production could have such an absolutely abysmal plot and deliver no believable moments. To make matters worse, it doesn’t even bother to go for super gore or torture porn. It’s just BLAND. There’s one scene of the guys first discovering the cannibals feasting that shows promise, but then rest of the film basically has the group repeatedly cowering in a room until the cannibals break in, then moving to another room to await another invasion.

Not to mention, there are numerous unnecessary flashbacks showing what criminal punks the two lead guys are. Yet they continuously run in terror, even when they are almost always facing off against just ONE cannibal and they have GUNS!!!

Really, as much as I’m a fan of both leads, just skip this one. Nothing scary, nothing gory, no suspense or tension, ridiculous dialogue, unlikable characters…

DON’T SLEEP (2017)

I’ll be the one person who talks about this film without using the title against it in the form of some sort of snarky quip. Besides, I did manage to stay awake…and lost an hour and 40 minutes of precious sleep in the process.

I don’t even know what to say. It’s got hottie Dominic Sherwood of Vampire Academy, Jo Polniaczek’s dad Alex Rocco, the sister from failed Friends spinoff Joey, and Cary Elwes of Saw.

Despite the poster art showing just how male-phobic horror promotion can be, the film actually focuses on pretty boy Dominic Sherwood. He’s a guy who had really scary nightmares as a child, with a witchy looking old lady, robed creeps with scary faces, and more.

Now he’s seeing visions of all the creeps from his past in the real world, and they begin killing his neighbors. Alex Rocco gets sort of possessed (never thought I’d see that happen). The best part, which should have been the ONLY part, is that one nightmare baddie is a little boy creep in a hooded robe. Sometimes, simpler is just better.

Simple this was not. But all that complexity didn’t make it any less boring. It finally reaches a pretty far out conclusion that took it out of the realm of horror for me and into La La Land. Definitely just not my thing.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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