New Releases for Tuesday, June 4, 2019
The Possession Diaries
Directed by: Juan Frausto
Run time: 93 minutes
The Lowdown: Rebecca has a problem.
The seemingly sweet, definitely naïve, blonde waif, who can’t be older than her early 20s, at best, believes she’s possessed. By the devil. Not a demon, but the actual devil with a capital “D.”
“It all started when I was messing with this,” she says, sitting in front of her webcam, holding up a Ouija board. “Big mistake!”
Rebecca also has a solution, or at least she thinks. She’s going to live-stream her every waking moment to an audience that might exist online, depending on how many friends she has or how popular of an influencer she is.
“This is the only way I can prove to people that demonic possession is real!”
And, so begins The Possession Diaries, the latest horror movie to try and capitalize on our collective global obsession with the Internet and our own shallow desire to be watched and heard.
The problem with writer-director Juan Frausto’s film is that it refuses to abide by its own rules. Possession Diaries opens on a different woman sitting in front of a different computer sharing a similar experience, but the camera angle quickly shifts from a webcam POV to a traditional point-of-view, completely undermining Frausto’s intentions.
The same thing is true of Rebecca’s pledge to live-stream her own experience. One minute, viewers are watching Rebecca from her webcam. The next, they’re watching her from behind as she stares into her webcam. And pretty much every time something creepy starts to happen, Rebecca suddenly exclaims, “I’ve got to go, guys!” and shuts her laptop.
Wait, what happened to her live-streaming her entire experience to convince the world that demonic possession is real?
Another big problem is that no one believes Rebecca, yet she does very little to try and convince them of her truth, which again completely undermines the basis for Frausto’s film.
When a friend comes over and asks her what’s wrong, Rebecca replies, “It’s a long story. I don’t want to bother you with it.”
What? Then why are we bothering to watch this damn movie?
I swear, I tried, mightily, to stick with The Possession Diaries to the bitter end, but it was just too much.
I knew I wasn’t going to make it about the time Rebecca got her umpteenth prank call, which was followed by this exchange:
“Hello Rebecca, it’s me, the devil.”
“What do you want from me?”
“Why don’t you go back to hell where you came from?”
The Stuff You Care About: Hot chicks – No.
Nudity – No. Gore – Minimal.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Old Scratch himself.
Buy/Rent – Neither.
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The Andromeda Strain
Now on Video-on-Demand:
Hallowed Ground (Uncork’d Entertainment, 117 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): Hallowed Ground, the latest film from writer-director-actor Miles Doleac, is a mixed bag of conflicting social opinions, extreme idealism and, oh yeah, a little horror sprinkled in to justify the fact that this is supposed to be, you know, a scary movie.
Honestly, I have no idea exactly what Doleac hoped to achieve here, but I can’t imagine he walked away happy with the end result.
Following a decent cold opening with a Native American tribal leader/demon cursing some Podunk ranchers by cutting off the head of their only son, Hallowed Ground leaps forward to present day.
Vera (Sherri Eakin) and Alice (Lindsay Anne Williams, who is Doleac’s wife) arrive at a Native American burial site and vacation retreat. Vera is an archeologist who wants to study tribal culture. Alice basically mocks her field of study. Oh, and they’re lesbians and married, but not happily, which Doleac spends the first 25 minutes of his film exploring with the heavy-handed, bone-headed clumsiness of a heterosexual Neanderthal trying to understand why fire is hot and water is wet.
Seriously, if the point is to depict current social norms, and celebrate the sanctity of marriage and love, in whatever form it takes, then why make one of your two lesbian characters bisexual and throw in an unnecessary illicit affair with a misogynistic brute stalker who uses a cell phone app to track them down for no good reason other than he’s convinced Alice can’t be a real lesbian because she also likes penis and he thinks his misguided love for her should be enough to break her same-sex curse.
Even more offensive, Doleac wants to have it both ways, so he introduces a backwoods groundskeeper who waxes poetic about how he’s “progressive” because he smoked weed once and liked it, so therefore he’s okay with two women being married.
Did I mention Hallowed Ground is a horror movie? Yeah, I almost forgot that too.
Finally, about 30 minutes in, Vera and Alice go for a walk in the woods to the burial site and accidentally breach the property line that separates the Native American land from property owned by descendants of the Podunk ranchers, who are basically backwoods extremists that believe they can lay claim to anything that dares cross over to their land, and do whatever sadistic shit they want to that “thing,” whether it’s a domestic house cat or a person.
Doleac plays the lead extremist, who also happens to be the local sheriff.
You see where this is going, right?
At about the 41-minute mark, all this gets explained by a Native American tribal lady who runs the retreat who stands, talks and blinks as if she was made out of wood.
After that, there’s a bunch of running through the woods, and screaming, and extremist ceremonies meant to summon forth destruction, or some shit, but I had already checked out mentally and was more focused on the clock because every second that passed meant I was that much closer to being done with this interminable mess of a movie.
Not to be Overlooked:
Redcon-1 (Epic Pictures/Dread, 118 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): If you’ve ever watched an action movie about an elite fighting force and thought, ‘Man, this would be so much better with zombies,’ then Redcon-1 might just be the movie for you.
For everyone else, Redcon-1 is just the latest attempt to wring any ounce of originality from the desiccated corpse of the zombie genre.
It also follows, basically, the same plot as most of the lackluster sequels in the Resident Evil franchise, minus the star wattage of Mila Jovanovich, once it explains that the elite squadron has 72 hours to enter a quarantined containment zone and rescue the last remaining scientist who can cure the zombie plague.
What Redcon-1 lacks in originality it tries to make up for by presenting zombies capable of doing all the things that humans can do, from running, jumping and fighting parkour-style to driving tanks, shooting guns, taking drugs, watching porn and engaging in some light BDSM.
Oh, and these zombies bleed, which makes no sense whatsoever.
I hate to say it, but unless you thirst for mindless, derivative entertainment, avoid at all costs.