Got a chance to check out some upcoming horror titles covering a variety of subgenres, so here’s a brief look in case they show up on your radar.
LANDING LAKE (2017)
I have no idea what I just watched. The trailer looked pretty good…because it’s one of those cases of all the good parts being crammed into a 1-minute teaser.
A group of satellite technicians goes into the woods. One dude brings a totally rad boom box that another asshole fricking tosses through the woods.
A plane crashes. They go help everyone out of it. I quickly couldn’t remember who was a technician and who was a crash survivor. They camp. They hike. They argue. They all split up and starts seeing weird things—as in electronic alteration of voices and digital flicker effects on the film to give the illusion of some sort of alien presence.
The cool parts? Every once in a while, someone morphs into a gooey mess that looks gross and painful.
There’s some lesbian stuff, everyone is obsessed with the lake because it’s believed that’s where the threat is coming from, some people turn monster while others just melt and die, there seems to be a secret club for those converted, there are native tribal men for reasons I couldn’t follow—or just didn’t want to because this was just really boring. If 100 minutes had been trimmed to 80 and the film made sense, maybe I would have liked it.
If the cast includes Dee Wallace and indie horror king Thomas Downey, of course I’m going to watch it. And I’m always up for a good hokey killer doll movie, which is exactly what you get here.
Personally, if I were making a killer doll movie, I would really come up with a more original title—especially since Dolls is the name of one of the best killer doll movies ever from back in the 80s.
But who cares? You get killer dolls no matter what the title. Thomas Downey plays a children’s book author who moves into his recently deceased mother’s house with his teen daughter, who quickly becomes convinced three creepy dolls in the attic have minds of their own.
And of course they do. Horror queen Dee Wallace shows up, but has been demoted to crazy old lady ranting about the dangers to come.
And neither do the dolls. Nor do they really move around. They mostly just stand there. And the biggest disappointment is that they barely kill anyone—but they’re quite creative with a Christmas tree stand and gardening shears.
I actually think the scariest scene in the film is….argh! A dream sequence.
Hey, at least the gardener is cute.
THE DARK WITHIN (2019)
A guy who is messed in the head goes to get some recovery time at a cabin in the woods, where he is haunted by his own demons—memories, nightmares, delusions, hallucinations.
Honestly, horror filmmakers need to stop making films like this OR make them so that we aren’t clued in from the very start that NOTHING terrifying that’s happening is actually real. It simply kills all sense of fear or tension because we know the person is just losing their shit and not in any actual danger.
Here’s a perfect example that sums up the problem with this film. The guy’s woman comes to visit him, he envisions her turning demon, he’s attacked by a demon, he stabs it, it turns out it was actually just her so now she’s dead, now she’s a demon again, now she’s just herself again and perfectly alive, and now she’s not even there at all and never even came to the cabin.
Rinse and repeat throughout the film with no clarity as to why all of this is happening, especially once he steps through time and back to his childhood. My disappointment at not feeling scared at all left me with no interest in trying to figure out the deeper meaning of the film, but if that’s your thing, you might want to check it out, because the imaginary demons would be awesome in a different film.
CLINTON ROAD (2019)
Richard Grieco co-directs this supernatural film with slasher elements, but not even two directors can make it work…or maybe that is the reason it doesn’t?
The desperation begins virtually from the start. Ice-T appears briefly at a club to warn the main cast of characters away from the supernatural road. Then we see Eric Roberts playing Eric Roberts trying to get into the club, but the girl at the door thinks he’s lying and is not really Eric Roberts. And that is all we see of Eric Roberts for the entire movie. Makes sense, because why should played out actor cameos be integral to the plot?
The group of friends heads to the scary road, where one guy’s woman went missing. They bring a clairvoyant along with them hoping he’ll see the truth of her disappearance, and he has one messed up eye so we know he’s creepy.
They sit by a fire. They talk. They all split up. There’s a bearded dude in goggles who could have been a pretty good killer if this film committed to being a slasher. It doesn’t, so he just appears when there’s a need to kill someone to trim the cast.
There are also several different ghosts, both adult and children. Some are implied to be dangerous, others are there to scare us, I guess?
The final couple ends up encountering some problems in a house they hide out in, and things get trippy to remind us this is a supernatural road, but it all falls apart even though it never came together to begin with.
Honestly, a final scene of another random couple stopping on the road is more effective, with some sex and more promising horror than anything that came before it.