Slashing in the woods, at the water, and from beyond

I needed a hack ‘n slash break, so I rounded up a couple of sequels to movies I’d already blogged about…and then tossed in a mainstream flick that was on cable. So let’s see what I got out of Axeman 2, Lake Fear 2, and The Bye Bye Man.

AXEMAN 2: OVERKILL (2017)

It’s back to the cabin for this sequel to slasher Axeman, which I blogged about here. Director Joston Theney, also the star of the first film, is back, considering this film smoothly picks up exactly where the first one left off…after cleverly introducing us to a bunch of new characters that end up at the cabin just as things from the first film are wrapping up! Awesome.

A group of hiking religious extremists comes to the cabin to help one of the survivors from the first film. But before the Axeman can even get his hands on them, they are terrorized by a gang of criminals being led by a gender fluid fellow…with a partner. Both director Theney and actor Craig Partamian demonstrate how you can encompass gender identity and sexual orientation in fully realized characters rather than mere caricatures, even within the midst of a crazy slasher comedy.

Meanwhile, the local deputy, whose law enforcement family has a history with the Axeman, is determined to hunt him down herself.

Compared to the first film, the sequel has amped up kills, less sex, more comic quips (even the previously ominous and silent killer drops one-liners), and more chaos. Much more chaos.

There are so many characters that the plot isn’t quite as cohesive, so you’re sort of left just waiting for all the random people who have branched off in numerous directions to be killed off. There are also a whole load of twists thrown in even as an attempt is made to flesh out the legend of the Axeman.


This dude just got an unhappy ending…

In order to juggle everything that’s going on, the film runs 100 minutes long. Personally, in between all the fun moments—and there are plenty of them—I would have preferred if the film had lost at least 1/3 of the cast and if the story had been a bit more streamlined and simplified.

Now that it has gotten much more complex, there’s a third film on the way. And based on the ending of this one, it looks like it could be a prequel!

LAKE FEAR 2: THE SWAMP (2017)

      

Originally titled The Everglades Killings, this one was obviously renamed to ride the coattails of Lake Fear. However, the stories are completely unrelated, so you can watch it without having seen the “first” film.

This is a gruelingly deceiving movie. A good chunk of it is agonizing. After an opening kill scene, we head to spring break.

Along with hot man bod, there’s an eye-rolling, in-your-face female twerking contest, and a cameo by Linnea Quigley as a bartender.

I can’t believe what I had to sit through for at least the next half hour. Virtually free of actual written dialogue, the movie takes us on a journey on a boat to the everglades with a group of kids that can’t even be considered a cast because there are so many of them I couldn’t tell them apart.

Not only that, but all the talking is literally a cacophony of indistinguishable chatter between them, like the mash-up noise of every private conversation going on at an overcrowded public event.

And it doesn’t stop there. The boat dies, their driver dies, and they have to trudge through the swamp, again with barely any actual written dialogue. It’s constant shrill chirping of fear that feels like it’s never going to end. As a result, there’s a lack of any specific characters to connect with, which does a disservice to what comes later.

The kids arrive at what is basically Camp Crystal Lake on the water. They party, they have sex, there are boobs. And yeah…the boat driver is still dead back at the boat.

46 minutes into the film the killing begins. The tone completely shifts and it feels like an actual gritty “backwoods” horror flick (on a lake) as kids are terrorized and killed by the usual suspects—sleazy psycho hillbillies.

While it’s a little rough around the edges, this final half hour does deliver some nasty scenarios you wouldn’t have expected based on the cheesy spring break shit that came earlier, including a brutal head bashing, a surprise encounter with a force of nature, and some, um, Deliverance .

Plus, plenty of odd twists lead you to go from, “It’s just your usual backwoods psychos,” to “Oh! It’s those types of backwoods psychos…”

The messed up ending seems to come out of nowhere, but it definitely speaks to the issue of what kind of fucked up shit you can walk into in this world if you’re dumb enough to ever leave your house.

THE BYE BYE MAN (2017)

    

This one comes from Stacy Title, who has been directing a film once about every 5 to 10 years since the mid-90s. I get it. Filmmakers not only want to make films, they need jobs. This mainstream horror film is pretty much Stacy’s first since directing the trashy horror anthology Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror in 2006.

I’ll put it to you this way. I own Hood of Horror on DVD. I have no interest in ever seeing The Bye Bye Man a second time. What am I supposed to say that you haven’t heard before about every paint-by-numbers tween supernatural slasher that has been released in theaters since the beginning of the new millennium?

The Bye Bye Man

3 college kids, a straight couple and gorgeous Lucien Laviscount (Scream Queens)—you can literally spell “luscious” using the letters in his name—rent a house together off campus.

The, “Hi, hi, man!”

They find an old piece of furniture with the message “Don’t think it, don’t say it” inside, along with the name The Bye Bye Man. What the fuck? If you don’t want me to think it or say it, why the hell did you write it?

They have a séance. They say his name. They all start having weird visions. They research the history of the house. They run all over town in an effort to escape The Bye Bye Man, because that’s what always happens in these movies to keep the plot moving forward and give the illusion of excitement and action. You’ve seen it all before. Except, perhaps, this.

Oh, and the cameo by Faye Dunaway.

 

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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