The original Riddick adventure, 2000’s ‘Pitch Black’, was a serviceable ‘Alien’ clone, as Vin Diesel’s muscular convict held off an army of darkness-loving beasties with only the galaxy’s most gravelly voice as his weapon. ‘The Chronicles of Riddick’ (2004) was a misfire, placing our hero at the centre of a tedious ‘Dune’-like intergalactic conflict. Now, unheralded, comes ‘Riddick’, a return to the Vin-kills-slimy-things template of the first movie. In parts it’s almost a remake, the only difference being that these nasties come out in the rain, rather than the dark. There’s a whole lot of previously-on-‘Riddick’ backstory to get through – a gang of bald chaps with names like Lord Siberius Vaako tried to bump him off, apparently – before we reach the meat of the story. When we do, it’s flavourless: the aliens are unscary and easily despatched, Vin’s too silent to be interesting, and the other characters – a gang of bounty hunters on Riddick’s trail – are either dull or offensive: Katee Sackhoff’s lesbian character appears to exist purely so the male characters can threaten to rape her. Nice.
It's no wonder that screenwriter Miguel Larraya cites 'Saw' and 'Thesis' as two of his favourite horror films. The former gives him the setting of the claustrophobic space – in this case, a hermetically-sealed labyrinthine villa – and a game of cat and mouse with unlikely surprises at every turn. From the latter, he takes the spirit of the condemnation of the use and abuse of images nowadays, the indifference to violence that it creates in adolescents and teenagers, the lack of distinction between private and public, blah, blah, blah. (more)
The director of 'Sleeping with the Enemy' must think we're still in the '90s, when psychological thrillers didn't need to be full and complete, when it was all about the tension and the details could be neglected. His new film, 'Penthouse North', starts off with a decent premise: a photographer goes blind during an ambush in Afghanistan, and, some time later in New York, she finds her partner dead in their flat. (more)
The Nutmeg State plays no part in this perplexingly titled—and thoroughly dreadful—sequel to 2009’s horror film; this in-name-alone follow-up sets its mumbo-jumbo ghost story in the rural Georgia home of some nondescript pretty people who see dead people. The mystery of these spooks involves an old ghoul in a suit and slaves seeking freedom via the Underground Railroad, though the story is ultimately nothing more than a decrepit vehicle for the moldiest of scary-movie clichés: screechy specters, inane character behavior and jump scares that a toddler could anticipate minutes ahead of time. (more)
Getting a blood transfusion of molten steel is possibly the only way you’ll stay in your seat all the way through this haunted house movie. No blood is spilled, but American censors rated it R (equivalent to our 18) anyway – reportedly for being ‘too scary’. I’ll confess to letting out a yelp during one scene, like a puppy being strangled, as an invisible hand tugged at the leg of a sleeping child. It’s directed by James Wan (the man who started the ‘Saw’ franchise) and claims to based on ‘true case files’. (more)
A family reunion becomes a bloodbath in this American home-invasion horror. Arriving at his parents’ holiday house, Crispian (AJ Bowen) and his Aussie girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) make tense small talk with the siblings over dinner until a bigger problem emerges: an unseen assailant firing deadly arrows at them from outside. While most members of the family fly into a panic, Erin remains level-headed and in control, and turns out to know a surprising amount about weaponry. (more)