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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

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(Minor Spoilers Ahead) The crew of the USS Enterprise is back again, and ready to head out into space in pursuit of a Federation operative turned terrorist, in the sequel to JJ Abrams 2009 Star Trek reboot.  They end up finding him on the Klingon home planet, and he eventually saves them from a squad of those gnarly-headed aliens, so they have no choice but to take him back to the ship; although their orders were to kill him on site.  He tells Kirk that his orders were bogus and that he is the good guy in all of this. He also lets him know that he is a three-hundred year old super powered guy, who used to go by the name of Khan Noonien Singh (sound familiar?).

He ends up tricking the crew into helping him steal a giant Federation warship from a power-hungry admiral who wants to start a war with the Klingons.  Khan then attacks the Enterprise, who also retaliates against Khan’s ship, as both of them plummet towards Earth.  In a last ditch effort to save his crew Kirk takes over Spock’s role in Wrath of Khan, and sacrifices himself to get the engines back online.  Spock’s human side experiences a bit of rage and goes after Khan on what remains of San Francisco after his ship destroys half the city.

Alex’s Thoughts: While never a huge Trek fan, I grew up with the original movies, and I liked them well enough to be excited about the re-boot of this franchise a few years back.  While that movie looked good, I didn’t love it… but I DO love this sequel.  With all of the character introductions and back-stories out of the way, we are able to jump right into the action, and son, there is a ton of it.  From Khan taking out a squad of Klingons to some epic space battles, there is plenty of special effect eye candy for everyone.  There were some nice throwbacks to the original Star Trek II for fans of the series, and you even get a little Tribble action!  While I really enjoyed this movie, it really got me excited to see what JJ Abrams has in store for Star Wars in 2015.  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10.

Tim’s Thoughts: I am a big fan of original series Trek, and unlike a lot of those fans, I really appreciate the update the series is getting. The last few Next Gen films were just as bad as the last few original cast films, so I thought Trek was finished. I was so happy with the reboot, and loved the direction that the movie was taking that I was anticipating this sequel moments after Trek 08 ended. This does not disappoint, now you have to leave your love of old Trek at the door, and be ready to accept new takes on old themes, but if you can manage that, you will get some great Sci-Fi. I am glad to see the genre not only survive, but thrive now with the rise of comic book movies, and nerd culture. Enjoy this as action, Trek, or both, either way, this is a good time. Tim Rates This Movie 9/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

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John Dies At the End (2012)

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Instead of trying to explain this very strange plot to you (it would sound liked jumbled up metaphors and nonsense) I will just tell you this: This movie is nothing but jumbled up metaphors and nonsense, sprinkled with some interesting philosophical questions. Okay, fine, here’s a basic outline: Dave and John are best friends that seem to be paranormal experts, as in they help people with their supernatural problems. They are qualified to do this due to the space/future/another dimension drug they take. It’s called Soy Sauce, and it gives them clairvoyance, and the ability to see things that other people can’t. Dave want’s to tell his story, so he contacts a reporter named Arnie, and proceeds to tell him how he and John save the world with the help of a dog named Bark Lee. An alien by the name of Korrok is going dimension to dimension conquering all in his path, and our Earth is next. Without being too spoilery, not everything is as it seems as Dave, John and a few friends fight off strange leech monsters, weird bee monsters that infest a host then blow it up, and a strange group of topless folks that wear bizarre masks. Needless to say that Soy Sauce is some powerful shit!

Alex’s Thoughts: After ten minutes in I thought this might be one of my new favorite movies, and then after twenty minutes I couldn’t remember what I liked about it. It went from what I thought was a buddy monster-hunting duo comedy into just a strange tale that lost me almost immediately.  Although there was very little that I understood, I thought the acting was still really good and I will watch anything with Paul Giamatti (Fred Claus excluded), and that goes the same for Mr. Eugene Krabbs himself, Clancy Brown.  It was almost too strange to watch, but somehow I thought it would get better if I kept watching, but it got stranger and stranger. I’m not sure what to think of it right now. It’s interesting for sure, but I don’t know if that is enough for me to say that it was good. Maybe it warrants a second viewing, or a reading of the book it’s based on.  Alex Rates This Movie 6/10

Tim’s Thoughts:This movie has a lot of problems, some weird plot holes, and Soy Sauce seems to be able to do whatever the plot requires. That being said, I will watch this again, if not only to try to understand it better, but also because I enjoyed the hell out of it. The strange philosophy, the goofy coincidences, and the odd jokes that seemed to hit all the right chords with me. I really enjoyed this despite all the problems that it has. It’s kinetic stream of consciousness kept me glued to the TV as I kept wondering where the hell this movie was going. Be ready for some really crazy stuff, but I say watch this. Tim Rates This Movie 8/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

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When Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out in 1979, Trekkers were excited to see their beloved franchise made in to a movie. Then they saw it, and that excitement quickly faded.  The movie was less than great.  The studio decided to give it another shot a few years later with a decreased budget and using a popular villain from the TV show in Khan Noonien Singh as the antagonist.   This seemed to work, as Wrath of Khan is regarded as one of the best of the Trek movies by fans and general movie goers.   In the series, Kirk marooned Khan and his flunkies on a remote planet, as they were too dangerous to transport. Fifteen years later, the crew of the USS Reliant is looking for a remote planet for use as a testing site and set down to search for life.  It happens that it is the same planet Khan is on, and the environment has turned hostile, with most of his group dying from the elements.

Through the use of a mind-control worm indigenous to the planet, he is able to gain control of the Reliant; and Khan sets his sights on getting revenge on the man who left him to die. James T. Kirk is now an admiral and is aboard the Enterprise, currently being captained by Spock, on a routine training exercise with a crew of new cadets.  Nothing is routine about a fellow Federation starship attacking another one however, as the two ships severely damage each other.   The battle rages on with Khan using his super-human intellect and Kirk with his tenacity and refusal to lose. Although the crew of the Enterprise wins they day, they lose one of their own. Not to spoil anything, but the sequel to this is called ‘The Search for Spock”, so make your own assumptions.

Alex’s Thoughts: While not the biggest Trek fan, this one is by far my favorite featuring the original TV cast.  After this one, they get either really boring or suffer from too many bad jokes and lame attempts at humor.  There are several important on-going themes in this movie, which include aging, friendship and revenge; all of which get equal screen time.  I think my favorite scenes are when Kirk, through his sheer stubbornness, is able to outwit Khan who is totally revenge drunk and can think of nothing else but Kirk’s death.  If he could pull the Tina Turner mullet wig out of his ass for two minutes and commit to using his super-weapon, the Star Trek universe would have been a very different place.  Comparing this to the JJ Abrams movies is not recommended, as it makes it look like 30 years old crap (which it does indeed look like), but on it’s own, it’s a decent sci-fi flick.  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10.

Tim’s Thoughts: Yeah, this is everyone’s favorite Trek movie, I know, but it should be, because this is by far the best. Even better than any of the Next Generation films, mainly because this is the sequel all sequels are measured against. Wrath of Khan generated 4 more original cast films when the franchise was thought dead.  Plus who know you could use the same Khan all these years later, and he would be just as epic a villain. A hallmark not only for the franchise, but for Science Fiction movies overall. Yes it’s dated but if this isn’t for you, then it wouldn’t matter how old this movie was. I recommend this for fans of the series or if you just wonder what’s the big deal about Star Trek.  Tim Rates This Movie 10/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (2011)

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Eric (Jason Sudeikis) and his friends throw the best summer parties at his dad’s Hampton beach house; all that is about to change though, since his dad is putting the house up for sale.  Eric is bummed out, so he and his pals try to think up a great theme for their last big hurrah.  And as the title would suggest, this close group of friends decide on having an orgy on Labor Day weekend.

As the weeks pass and everyone gets closer and closer to the time when they will be having sex with their long-time friends, naturally some people are a little stressed out. Whether it is the guys worrying about performance, or the girls about their appearance, everyone is a little anxious.  To complicate things even more, Eric has fallen for his realtor, and doesn’t know how to bring up the fact of what’s going on at his dad’s place.  The group ends up having a great time, and it brings them all a little closer together, if you can believe that. In addition to Sudeikis; Nick Kroll, Leslie Bibb, LakeBell, Will Forte & Tyler Labine also star in this raunchy comedy.

Alex’s Thoughts:  This was one of those movie that was in and out of the theaters in a week, so I was pretty sure that it was either A) awful, or B) the name just put most people off.  After watching it, I would say it was probably the fact that people were too embarrassed to ask for a ticket to “that orgy movie”, because it is a pretty decent flick.  It has a good cast, especially the guys, all of whom are some very funny dudes.  There are some great lines back and forth between Eric and the realtor, and it seems like it was kind of forced at points, but was still really funny.  You can’t help but share in their awkwardness when it is orgy time, but you also sort of grown at the cheesiness of the whole thing once it gets going.  If you are in the mood for a good comedy with a bit of naughty in it, give this one a try.  Alex Rates This Movie 7.5/10

“I never thought I’d say this, but I need a break from watching this girl-on-girl… on-girl action. I need to check the Yankees score.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here, or add it to your Netflix queue.

Until last year’s Wizard World Chicago, I had never really had any interest in cosplaying. The idea of dressing up and having people ask you for pictures all day wasn’t really appealing; after all, there are c-list celebrities to gawk at. Worse yet, what if I spent the time and money on a costume and it was so awful no one would know who I was supposed to be dressed as?   I’d noticed that there were a lot of people in costumes that were either fantastic or, to be polite, NOT fantastic.  While I wanted so badly to judge them, I just couldn’t; they were passionate about something and were trying to show the world.  I felt like I needed to look at things through their eyes for a change, so I decided that C2E2 2013 was going to be my cosplay debut and I would see what life was like as a costumed player. But like any sassy young lady, I looked in the mirror and wondered… ‘what to wear’?  I wanted something geeky, TV or movie related and unique.  Some girls might be fine dressing as Harley Quinn, or guys wanting to dress as Spidey still knowing that there will be dozens of others dressed the same way, but that’s not me.  As a huge Firefly fan, I thought that something from that fandom would be something fun to do, and decided on dressing as an Alliance EMT from the Ariel episode. That was geeky enough where fans would know it, but obscure enough where I didn’t think anyone else would be wearing the same thing.  After amassing the required supplies, I ended up with a finished near-screen-accurate costume. It wasn’t too shabby if you ask me.

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The day of the con had come, and after having my friend Shaun join me in a matching costume, we head to the back of the queue to get in.  It isn’t long before we see a guy across the room dressed like Malcolm Reynolds who gives us an excited smile and an approving nod.  Over the course of the day, there were lots of people who recognized the costume and asked for pictures, and some who had no idea who we were supposed to be, but still asked us for pics because they appreciated the effort we put in to out costumes.  While that was exciting, the comments we got from the hardcore fans were the best; things like “where can I get a costume like that” to “that is so perfect” were heard more than once. A knight from the Medieval Times booth had one of my favorite comments; while still in character he asked – “How fares life in the Core planets, space travelers? I hear Ariel is beautiful this time of year.” While that was near perfect, a simple two-word acknowledgement made everything worth it, when a guy smiled at us and simply said “keep flying”, the motto of Browncoats the world round.

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I now feel a bit of a connection to the guy dressed like the Ninth Doctor, or the girl wearing a Dark Phoenix costume or one of the Stormtroopers of the 501st Legion. I flaunted what I loved for the whole world to see. I let my geek flag fly high and proud, and it might have been the most fun I have ever had at a con.  For 98% of the people who cosplay, it isn’t about showing off your sewing skills or trying to get attention from strangers, It‘s showing those strangers that you are passionate about something, and hopefully they can appreciate it. If not, so what? You keep on doing what any passionate fan does: you keep flying.

Maniac (2012) 

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Meet Frank (Elijah Wood), he’s a nice young man with scrapped up hands and a van full of mannequin parts. He’s a perfectly normal guy that likes to drive around at night, watching girls leave nightclubs, follow them home, then scalp them lovingly. Or maybe you can meet him on J-Date, where he will take you to a nice dinner, then strangle you while you are giving him a blowjob. What an ungrateful punk! Don’t worry, Frank took a scalp to remember her by.

When Frank gets home he slaps the scalps his mannequins and proceeds to talk to them and see them as real people. All is well and good until Frank meets a beautiful photographer named Anna, she also has a thing for mannequins and is enamored with Frank and his mannequin shop. She rents a bunch of them for her upcoming art exhibit, and invites Frank to the show, but poor Frank doesn’t fit in very well. Anna’s agent belittles him, and Anna’s boyfriend accosts him in the bathroom. So Frank deals with this by following the agent home and scalping the shit out of her. The next day Anna calls Frank distraught over the loss of her friend and he heads over to comfort her. As they are hanging out, Anna starts to put the pieces together and realizes that Frank probably killed her agent, and she locks herself in the bathroom. Frank kills her gay neighbor and eventually subdues Anna as well, but not before she inflicts some serious damage to him. Frank can’t seem to catch a break as Anna gives him a hand, literally, a mannequin hand through the chest as she makes one last break for it. Does Frank catch up to the love of his life? Well that would be telling, wouldn’t it…

Alex’s Thoughts: I always thought the original Maniac was a pretty unremarkable horror movie, released when the slasher genre was ramping up to its peak. I didn’t have high hopes for the re-make, but I do like Elijah Wood, so I figured I would go into it with an open mind. I am happy to say that I really enjoyed it.  The dominate use of first-person perspective was interesting; and from the first kill even before the title card, the audience was hooked. There was a nice mix of everything a horror fan could want in a slasher flick: gore, tension and a bit of crazy (which Wood pulled off nicely).  If you are a fan of a well-made serial killer movie (and who isn’t), give it a look see.  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10

Tim’s Thoughts: This is a very solid entry into a tired and usually badly done genre. I love horror movies, but honestly 90% of them are garbage. Maniac does something that a lot of horror aspires to do and fails miserably, it’s artistic and it’s creepy. Usually these adjectives are reserved for 70’s Italian horror flicks, so to see a new movie pull it off is great! Maniac has it’s flaws, and it’s far from perfect, but screening this with a distracting, and loud audience, I was still able to enjoy it immensely.  If and when this gets nationwide release, do yourselves a favor and give Maniac a chance. Tim Rates This Movie 9/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

Evil Dead (2013)

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This re-imagining of The Evil Dead 1 & 2, finds the typical group of twenty-somethings out at a remote rural cabin. They are not there for the stereotypical reasons of getting trashed and fornicating, but instead to help young Mia kick her smack addiction. She quits her habit cold-turkey and it isn’t long before she is freaking out; and as before, further complications arise when one of the friends recites some passages from a book made of skin and wrapped in barbed wire with clear instructions to not open it.  Such foolish behavior results in evil forces attacking Mia while she is out walking in the woods.  Let the possessions begin!!!

Mia starts attacking her friends, and they are sure it is from the detox; but typically people going through withdrawal don’t shoot their friends and try to burn themselves alive.  After puking blood on another friend, she is relegated to the cellar where she taunts the others with promises of consuming their souls. One by one, the group falls under the control of the evil, and try to kill those still human, all as the illustrated book of the dead has foretold.  When the evil gets control of a set number of souls it will take form and destroy the world.  Can Mia’s friends fill the shoes left by Bruce Campbell and send this evil back to hell?

Alex’s Thoughts: I was worried about this re-boot from the minute I heard about it, as The Evil Dead is one of my favorite movie franchises.  I found that my concerns were indeed warranted, as this movie was very disappointing and downright awful.  The book clearly shows what is to be expected with those possessed and exactly how to stop them, but these dinguses choose to ignore it, and assume their friends can still be saved.  With the story quickly veering out of control and the plot clearly contradicting the rules it established earlier in the movie, it just gets worse as it goes on.  The ease with which this ultimate evil being is dispatched is laughable, as is just about everything else meant to be taken seriously.  While it does have some good practical effects, it isn’t enough to stop me from being disappointed to the fullest.  Alex Rates This Movie 3/10.

Tim’s Thoughts: I knew I was in trouble right from the start. The opening scene is pointless, and from then on the movie proceeds to treat us all as idiots. The original Evil Dead movies were funny, creepy, gross, and a lot of fun. We get not of that here, okay, it’s gross, and most of the effects are really good. The problem is that while the movie tries to separate itself from the original films, while paying homage, instead it comes off as redoing the better parts of the first two, without any of the charm or humor.  The new Evil Dead also treats us like idiots, over explaining even the most obvious references to earlier events that will no doubt show up later. And last but not least, A Cabin In The Woods ruins this movie. It points out all the flaws in typical trope filled horror films and hilariously rakes them across the coals, and Evil Dead falls right into that category of unoriginal, and uninspired garbage. I have no problem with this movie being made, after all, Raimi himself gave it his blessing, but I do have a problem with a lump of crap being pitched as the scariest movie I have ever seen.  Save your money, and if you really want to see this, rent it. Don’t give them any more of your hard earned money.Tim Rates This Movie 1/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

Sightseers (2012)

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A dating couple decide to get away for a nice little holiday. Chris brings his mother-oppressed girlfriend Tina out for a trip in his caravan on what he says will be a sightseeing trip and a sexual escape.  A few days out, Chris gets irate at a litterbug who repeatedly refuses to pick up his trash. Not on Chris’ watch, as he backs over him with the RV.  Everyone assumes it is an accident, and they go on about their trip. A few days later Chris kills a guy at their RV park just for being dickish.

Soon Tina realizes that her boyfriend is a murderer, but doesn’t seem to mind, as it makes England a better place.  After catching Chris smooching on another girl, Tina tries her hand at murder, but Chris wants to wear the killing pants in this relationship.  Chris goes over the edge when Tina begins killing for fun and taking out joggers and cyclists left and right. Will the killing stop here, or is this a murdering match made in hell?

Alex’s Thoughts:  We recently saw this at a screening at Horrorhound Weekend and were pleasantly surprised by this one, as most movies screened there are either really good, or just God awful. While billed as a horror flick, I think it’s more comedy that horror, though there are some gruesome deaths with plenty of gore (think Shaun of the Dead). Though slow at times, there were a lot of really funny parts, with the actress who played Tina just nailing that great dry British humor.  It isn’t side-splitting comedy, but the jokes are well thought out and are plentiful.  If you have the chance, I would think most people would enjoy this flick even if you aren’t into horror.  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10

Tim’s Thoughts:I keep going back and forth on this movie. It’s good, and it’s funny, but there were a few things that bothered me. The Chris character kind of made me nuts, I had a hard time caring about him or his motivations, while his girlfriend Tina is amazing. She is the highlight of the movie by far, and without her it would be nearly a complete loss. The director tries a bit too hard with lingering shots of landscapes, I know this movie is about sightseeing, but for me it constantly brought everything to a standstill. Despite my gripes, I strongly suggest that anyone who enjoys British humor, with a splash of violence. I think it gets a bit ponderous at times, and that will alienate casual viewers, but if you want to see something unique, definitely watch Sightseers. Tim Rates This Movie 7/10

View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

FDR: American Badass (2012)

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While out in the woods on a hunting trip, New York governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt is attacked by a werewolf, and suffers a bite to the leg before dispatching the beast.  As any good doctor will tell you: werewolf bites give you polio.  FDR is now confined to a wheelchair with his ‘shriveled little polio legs’ (don’t worry ladies, his dong still works fine), but that isn’t going to stop him from saving the US from future werewolf attacks.  With the support of the American people behind him, he is elected president, and learns that the werewolf that attacked him was a Nazi. In fact, all members of the Axis Powers are werewolves including Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito

He has no choice but to get involved in WWII, but he isn’t content to send soldiers into battle against these monsters alone; he will be joining them!  Equipped with a machine gun laden and rocket-firing wheelchair, and joined by his trusty sidekicks General Douglas McArthur (a.k.a. Dougie Mac) and the ghost of Abe Lincoln, he takes the fight to NormandyBeach. Much hilarity ensues with foul language aplenty, gratuitous nudity, horribly racist jokes and the lots of things you wouldn’t expect to hear from a bunch of old men.

Alex’s Thoughts: Here is the thing; this movie as just as insane as the plot suggests, but sometime that’s a good thing. This is the type of flick where you go in not expecting a lot, so if it is halfway decent, you come out feeling alright for having spent your time watching, and if it’s awful you shut it off… no big deal.  I knew about 5 minutes in that I was invested for the entire movie.  There is something about old men cussing and quoting 90’s rap songs that just makes me smile.  I am actually looking forward to seeing this again, if you can believe it.  It’s stupid for stupid’s sake and knows exactly what it is, and it is perfectly done in that regard  Bostwick is awesomely funny with both dry and over-the-top humor, and the three-way call between the werewolf Axis leaders made me laugh the entire time it was on screen.  Probably not a movie for everyone, but if go in with an open mind and just want a laugh, you should have a good time.  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10

Tim’s Thoughts: This movie is completely asinine and terrible. The effects are awful, the plot is ridiculous, and worst of all it is the least historically accurate movie ever made, that being said, I laughed my ass off. Not all the jokes land, but between the shock value and the comedic performances from the leads, this movie is a lot of fun. I can’t recommend this to everyone, mostly because it’s pretty offensive consistently, but to those inclined toward this type of humor; have at it. The same director also made Poolboy 2, and it’s just as silly. I will be keeping an eye out for his next project, because while these movies are terrible, they are my kind of terrible. Tim Rates This Movie 8/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

Grave Encounters 2 (2012)

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A film student posts his online review of the horror movie Grave Encounters, denouncing it as an awful piece of trash and something that should be avoided.  A few days later he gets an anonymous email from someone living near the asylum telling him that the movie was real and those people who died on-screen in that flick really are dead; killed my the ghosts inside the old hospital.  The kid calls bullshit, but decides to do a little research; and sure enough, those people are missing. After traveling to LA and meeting with the producer, he tells the kid to leave it alone and not get involved as he thinks it’s real too.

The student gets another email from this stranger telling the kid to meet him at the hospital and the truth will be revealed.  Sounds sort of ominous, huh? The guys brings a group of his film school friends and they recreate the first movie while they wait for the mystery guest to appear.  When they get to the agreed upon meeting spot, there is only a Ouija board. It goes off on its own and tells them to ‘film everything’. Just like in the first one, the ghosts materialize and chase them all around, killing a few in the process.  Unlike the first one, the survivors find the front door and escape back to their hotel room, but this haunted place isn’t going to let them go so easily. They find themselves trapped again in this cursed place that would give M.C. Escher fits, but find help from an unlikely source.

Alex’s Thoughts: The first movie was pretty good, and they should have left well enough alone, as this thing is a complete turd in so many ways. The first half of the movie is full of pointless college jabbering and parties shot on shaky hand-held cameras that do nothing for the story, except for you wanting these kids to die a horrible death. Once they finally get in the asylum it is more of the same stuff from the first one, but with effects that are laughable at times. The twist (where their hotel turns into the hospital) didn’t make any sense at all.  I was extremely disappointed the entire time I was watching this, but most of all that fact that (SPOILER ALERT) the asylum was the one sending the emails; what the shit was that? If you liked the first one, leave it at that and keep your fond memories of this franchise there. Alex Rates This Movie 1/10

Tim’s Thoughts: There are a few bright spots in this otherwise uninspired movie which borrows endlessly from better films, including it’s predecessor. I enjoyed the shiftiness of the asylum, and some of the things they did with that, but when they run into a character with the worst wig I have ever seen in a movie, I am out. Especially when combined with a lame climax, that is completely ripped off from Chronicle, and don’t get me started on some of the laughable effects. The attempts to be self aware are lame, not to mention the lead’s desire to revolutionize horror films, while his magnum opus is also just a series of bad horror tropes. Lame. Tim Rates This Movie 1/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.