PRIME TIME: found footage, a haunted whore house, and baby killer killers

A streaming session of indies brought me an assortment of subgenres, which is never a bad thing…as long as the movies aren’t bad. So let’s see how these three turned out.

CHAR MAN (2019)

I’ll get right to it. The best thing about Char Man is the cutie with the gay porn stache.

Otherwise, this is yet another generic found footage flick topped off with an absolutely ridiculous final scene that makes The Blair Witch Project actually seem scary.


Stay in that position and let’s see what kind of face
you make when I help you really go the wrong way.

Some guys stay in a house in an isolated location to make a bogus documentary about a vampire legend.

For most of the movie, they can’t shake a doll that seems to keep coming back and have to deal with faucets that turn on whenever they’re asleep. A real watershed moment in found footage films…

Eventually there’s a home invasion segment with a bunch of kids playing a game of The Strangers. No adult supervision, which means there’s no Char Man, so I don’t know where the film got its name.

A few creepy moments of the masked kids appearing in shadows and windows don’t make up for this one delivering one of the most anticlimactic and cliché endings I’ve ever seen in a bad found footage flick. To be honest, the fake vampire story the guys were creating sounded much creepier than the real, underdeveloped horror they get. If the filmmakers make that movie, I’m so there.

THE SLEEPING ROOM (2014)

There’s a nice and nasty premise to this film that ends up restraining itself for a more conventional supernatural experience. Running only 78 minutes long, this feels mostly like a series of teasers promising to get to something major that never quite transpires.

Conveniently, a prostitute lines up work at a former whorehouse, where she meets the very hot handyman who is renovating the place.

Their relationship begins to grow and face some (sexual) obstacles that play well against the story that unfolds…

They discover a secret room with a scandalous and disturbing past. It’s such an old mystery this whore has to go to the library and whip out the microfiche!

But a good amount of the answers she seeks are on vintage film footage they find that reveals just what happened in that room. There’s something very Sinister about it all. It’s definitely creepy, but because it’s supposed to be an old silent film, it’s weirdly more like some sort of vaudeville comedy act with a hint of tame murder thrown in. Only the killer—both masked and unmasked—gives it an edge.

There’s plenty of atmosphere and intrigue, as well as good jump scares, but considering the sexual nature of the back and present stories, it’s a huge disappointment that there is only one truly freaky sex moment when the main girl encounters a hooded muscle dude while he’s jerking off.

That scene is seriously the main thing I took away from The Sleeping Room, so either that’s saying something about the movie…or saying a lot about me.

BLESSED ARE THE CHILDREN (2016)

The title and artwork for this film are somewhat deceiving, suggesting that this is some sort of supernatural film about a mom giving birth to a demon baby.

Instead, it’s a low budget throwback indie slasher from director Chris Moore, (I’ve interviewed him previously here).

It’s also my favorite of this triple feature. No surprise since for me it’s usually slashers, demons, or zombies that get my ghost. And they can keep it because ghosts just don’t do it for me.

The music during the intro credits will have you convinced you are watching an old 80s VHS tape. Awesome. Also, there are some fantastic practical gore effects—super brutal and once again bringing to mind 80s goodies.

Having seen other Moore films, it’s no surprise to me that he nails the old school atmosphere during kills.

The plot is pretty simple—a young woman has an abortion, and then she and her friends are slaughtered one by one in what amounts to a home invasion film as what appear to be protesters from outside the clinic come for them. We never see them without their masks on, which makes this the second film in this triple feature that gives me The Strangers vibes.

While the film seems like it will take this plot somewhere deep, it’s straightforward, which means it also creates for me the same question as other…abortion/revenge films? Is that a thing? Because there sure are enough of them out there.

Films of this type are about a woman who has an abortion, so…the killer simply takes down anyone who wanders in front of the camera? These morality police sure have a coat hanger up their butt. It can be argued that they can find some sin each victim has committed to justify their kills, but that waters down the whole abortion premise. On the other hand, the film Hellions did focus specifically on the abortion girl, and it pissed me off because it was such a piece of anti-choice propaganda.

But why think so deep about it when the film doesn’t? The kills are really what matter in slashers. The killer baby mask and red hoodie remind me of the baby from Dead Alive wearing the clothes of the children in The Brood. There are classic slasher tropes: disturbing phone calls, the killer marking off victims in photos, chase scenes, shower scenes, sex scenes, nudity, and dad bods from heaven.

There’s also an unexpected turn of events that breaks the slasher plot mold. Cool twist on the one hand, but it also makes the plot feel a bit disjointed…the friends gather together to support the main girl after her abortion, but then suddenly they’re all off doing their own thing, causing the thread that held the story together to come undone.

Finally, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention that I got a bit fidgety because of the run time. Blessed Are The Children clocks in at 97 minutes. There’s a lot of dialogue, and while some of it is quite funny and some cleverly shadows the themes of the film, much of it has one of two opposing effects; it either does nothing to develop characters or gives lesser characters unnecessary development. There’s no need to pad a movie to 97 minutes when you can score a tighter, faster paced flick that only runs 85.

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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