Every once in a while I discover a movie in my watchlists is from an indie director whose films I’ve covered in the past. Turns out there were four movies this time from three different directors.
TOOTH FAIRY: THE LAST EXTRACTION (2021)
Director Louisa Warren is back with the third installment of her killer toothy fairy franchise.
As always, Louisa knows how to deliver on the kill scenes, and the gnarly looking tooth fairy is in top form, but there’s nothing much new being introduced here beyond some extra backstory of the tooth fairy legend that doesn’t add much considering we’re really just in this for the slasher action (at least, I am).
After a fun multiple-kill opening scene, we meet the guy who was a kid in the first film, a young man in the second film, and is now an adult with a grown daughter. He still suffers major tooth fairy PTSD.
He takes his daughter and her friends on a trip into the countryside, they get their hands on a book with a ritual involving the tooth fairy, they read the damn thing out loud like idiots, and then the killing begins…55 minutes into this 90-minute movie.
Sure it’s low budget and it’s repetitive if you’ve seen the other installments, but I’m a fan of Warren’s film-making style, so I was entertained as usual.
DOCTOR CARVER (aka: Conjuring the Plastic Surgeon) (2021)
Bonus! There were two from Louisa Warren on my watchlist. This one was originally titled Conjuring the Plastic Surgeon. It’s a clunky title, so I prefer Doctor Carver. While this is a low budget indie and therefore may not appeal to everyone, it’s important to note that just below the fun, cheesy, icky slasher surface is a whole lot of commentary on the predatory practices of the modeling industry, how naïve young women fall victim to it, and how even other women play a part in participating in the damage being done to young females.
After a young model is told by a photographer that surgery will help her career—as will the casting couch—her self-esteem hits rock bottom. She sees an opportunity for free cosmetic procedures and goes for it.
She becomes one of a handful of girls brought together at a house for a spiritual approach to surgery—more like satanic approach. While participating in a “prayer ritual”, they conjure “Doctor Carver”.
As the girls struggle with their body images, the deformed doctor consults with them one at a time, and there’s plenty of Argento lighting to set the tone. In classic indie horror form (and in my opinion), the special effects are much more disgusting than in Hollywood horror. If you’re squeamish, the procedure scenes will make you turn away, because they don’t hold back in magnifying in graphic detail just how horrific plastic surgery can be. Blech.
The pace does tend to be slow at times, and as is often the case with Warren’s films, much of the best horror action with the baddie is packed into the final act.
THE JACK IN THE BOX: AWAKENING (2022)
The Jack in the Box was a fun throwback to early 2000s supernatural slashers, so I was excited to see a sequel has been released. Director Lawrence Fowler delivers once again, nailing the style, tone, look, and atmosphere of that era with a film that not only delivers on slasher action but also, as with many sequels of that time period, delves more into the legend and backstory of the killer.
An elderly, wealthy woman is dying, and her one wish is that her son hunt down the jack in the box that was linked to a series of murders a few years before. Why? Because she knows she can have a wish granted by the box—she wants her health back so she won’t die.
But there’s a catch. In order to get her wish, she has to deliver six victims to Jack. She’s much too frail to get out of bed and do the dirty work herself, so she convinces her son to do it.
The cool part of this sequel is that we see the son struggling with throwing people under the bus…or into the box in this instance. And we watch as his attitude morphs and he becomes evil as well. However, I have to wonder why he even agrees to do what his mom wants. If this old rich bitch dies, wouldn’t that just benefit him?
The slasher elements are fun once again, and the jack-in-the-box is still a fantastically freaky baddie. The director reminds us that he has definitely studied films that make great use of light, shadow, camera angles, and timing. As is often the case with these backstory sequels, the exposition is okay but doesn’t add much to the point of the movie, which of course is kill, kill, kill!
Either way, once I watched this and it reminded me that I’d seen the first film a few years back, I decided to order both films on Blu-ray to add to my collection.
SPIDER IN THE ATTIC (2021)
Scott Jeffrey is the director of The Curse of Humpty Dumpty and a bunch of other indie horror flicks I’ve covered on my site, so I didn’t hesitate in checking out his latest about a killer spider.
This is an interesting blend of subplots. A reporter about to lose her TV show needs a fresh, gripping story. She and her team follow a lead about a Nazi researcher studying generic engineering which leads them to a house with…you guessed it. A mutant spider.
Approximately the size of a cat, this creepy crawler is cool looking and will definitely give you the willies if bugs bug you, but the CGI factor is there. In order to mask the issue of the CGI looking overlaid onto the footage, the film tends to be very dark (therefore, I lightened this still shot so you could get a good look at the little bugger).
The film plays out like a typical creature feature of this sort, with the cast roaming around a dark house while the spider lurks in corners and occasionally snares victims in its web of evil. I’d like to snare this guy in my web of evil…
There’s more than enough drama revealed about the characters through dialogue that doesn’t really add much to the story (and not surprisingly slows down the pace), and I’d say there are too few victims, which also hurts the pacing.
But when it comes down to it, the movie is all about the interesting twist as to the creature’s origins and the pay-off in the final frame. We’re talking hokey 80s horror level zinger ending, and I was so there for it.