Justin Price, director of Dark Moon Rising and The Cloth (who apparently likes playing extreme dress-up as much as me, but looks much sexier doing it), keeps popping up on my radar—and in my watchlists—so it was time to focus one blog on several of his films. While some are actually hard to follow, I love that he takes on various subgenres and knows how to deliver intense horror situations that are visually captivating and often creepy as hell. And I have determined a personal fave of his films, so read on to find out which one.
This one was apparently going to be The Cloth 2, but I can see why that idea was scrapped, even though both are about possession. This is a much darker, more serious film than the demon hunting action flick The Cloth becomes.
Forsaken doesn’t get much love online, probably because it’s more a story about humanity than possession when it comes down to it. I’ll admit, it is hard as fuck to follow—it’s all over the place in terms of plot and many scenes are shot extremely dark, so you can’t even see what’s going on half the time.
However, the general point is clear. A holy man is beyond desperation as his wife is dying, so he goes against his religion and welcomes possession and exorcism into his life in hopes of saving her.
There’s plenty of possession and demonic scares—the scenes show off Price’s talent for delivering the horror, and there are even some rather mainstream elements, like teens using a Ouija board and dabbling in cult rituals.
Personally, the leading man’s encounter with the demon in a rundown building is the stuff of my nightmares.
What most likely turned viewers off is the emotional levels this film reaches as it shows the downward spiral of a man wrestling with his faith and the loss of love.
To me, this film really is more about a man than the monsters.
THE ELF (2017)
Price takes on the slasher/killer doll genre and holiday horror all at once. And he does what seriously needed to be done…exposes the real horror of the dang Elf On the Shelf. Wahoo!
The disturbing intro scene feels like it belongs to another movie, because what is happening doesn’t quite carry over into the rest of the film. It depicts a toymaker doing something awful to a human child when something comes in and takes a Christmas wish list from him…
The rest of the film is as straightforward as killer doll movies get. A couple inherits a toy store. They also move into a new home…where they find a mysterious elf doll sitting on a shelf.
The guy hates Christmas, hates the doll, and won’t commit to marrying the girl.
She tosses the elf and springs it on him that she invited her family for Christmas.
And they all show up to get slaughtered! The kills themselves don’t particularly standout from all the slashers we’ve been watching since the 80s, and even the doll isn’t all that interesting as a killer character, but there’s a scene with Christmas carolers that is definitely a highlight.
Plus, the family is kind of messed up, and it soon becomes clear how much they despise the girl’s boyfriend. The twist at the end of the film is also a goody, and helps explain a whole lot of odd behavior throughout the film.
Definitely in the tradition of Chucky movies, The Elf more notably seems to pay homage to the classic Trilogy of Terror Zuni doll segment, including the way the doll talks, it wielding its knife under a door, and using the knife to saw out of a box.
THE 13TH FRIDAY (2017)
We’ve arrived. It’s my favorite of Price’s films. The title alone speaks to what I think is an intentional practice on Price’s part to infuse staples of the horror genre into his own creations. But don’t be fooled by the title—this is not about a masked killer hacking up summer camp counselors.
The general premise is that a bunch of kids enters an old house infamous for having a tragic history.
When one girl finds a mysterious orb on the floor of a bedroom and accidentally opens it, she unleashes a sinister force that damns the entire group to being killed off one by one.
Sadly, most will probably see certain scenes as “rip-offs” of other films, but it’s pretty dang clear to me that Price is essentially throwing a wink-wink to dedicated horror fans since the presentation is always so obvious. For me, it feels like he’s saying directly to us, “This is the horror I love, and I know you love it, too.”
There’s a straightforward plot here reminiscent of films of the early 2000s, with a bunch of teens being stalked by a supernatural entity, but while Price delivers total popcorn movie chills, thrills, and perfectly executed cheap scares throughout, he also adds a dimension of what-the-fuckery to the narrative.
Literally, there’s another dimension. It’s a trippy side plot that’s somewhat confusing but is so hellishly presented that again…I ate it up. Like I want to eat this guy up…
Even the pacing of the general plot is almost surreal and hallucinatory, feeling at times like it’s going in slow motion like that damn creepy episode of Bugs Bunny when he’s being chased by that evil scientist. “Come baaack here, youuuu raaaabbit!” EEK!
Aside from The Elf, which is pretty much a must-own because it’s a holiday horror flick, The 13th Friday is definitely the Justin Price film I want on my shelf of movies.