Trigger Warning: This movie deals with themes of suicide, child death, kidnapping, and miscarriages. Please don’t read this review if those things bother you, there are plenty of other terrible movies reviews to read in the meantime!
Synopsis: A movie about a family dealing with night terrors, sleep paralysis, racism, and monster/demon/ghost things.
Year Released: 2017
Director: Drew Gabreski
Rating: Hell No
Director: “I really like monsters zombies, and ghosts. I think sleep paralysis is creepy and I know a lot of people are triggered by miscarriages, kidnapping, and racism. So let’s combine it all into a movie!”
Favorite Death: Only two people die in this movie. One is a suicide and the other is off screen. They’re both boring and not worth mentioning, but the one off screen was a little bit funny because the guy who lost his best friend was sprayed with his blood before he left, then totally disappeared for the rest of the movie. After the fact, the police chief got all skeptical about their being blood at all. So basically, that kid died and no one cared.
Funniest Part: There are a few in this movie, but the cream of the crop happen within a few moments of each other:
There’s a very confusing ritual at one point, at least, that’s what I think it is. One of the characters runs out into the middle of the road and just so happens to meet the main character family as they’re running. Her husband, the guy from the beginning of the film, is about to kill himself, so naturally she runs away leaving him with a loaded weapon, suicidal thoughts, and what I assume are demons. There were candles littered around his feet, so I can only assume he was trying to summon a demon to see his daughter again, but they never really go into this even though it seems like an important plot point. I assume that scene was set up like this:
Wife: “Honey, why are you lighting all of those candles?”
Husband: “Oh, I just want to see our daughter one last time before the demons I summoned come get me. Then I’m going to kill myself!”
Wife: “Oh no!” *runs out of the house and down the road with no cell phone*
Best lines in the whole movie:
Jimmy: “Listen, Jim”
Jimmy: “Right, I’m Jim.”
I really want to know if this was intentional or just so well covered up they used it to insinuate he’s drunk.
Second best line in the whole movie:
Jim’s friend (straight at Nikki’s face): “oh no she didn’t.”
Best part in the whole movie: when Ben is so overwhelmed with emotion that he head butts Nikki’s boobs for comfort.
The list could go on and on because this movie is a train wreck, but those are the highlights I thought were worth mentioning.
What they did right: There was one mediocre actor in the bunch that I truly liked; Ben. He was great with his role, delivered it believably, and if he had just been acting his actual age instead of an angsty teen, he would have made a better father character than the one they chose.
Special effects and lighting: Essentially nonexistent. The best it gets is an occasional glimpse of a rubbery monster arm or a Freddy Krueger-esque face/body. Rather than use actual effects, they use shaky cam, blurred images, and small portions of larger monster/demon/ghost things.
What I thought would happen: All I knew about this movie prior to actually watching it was that it had to do with sleep paralysis. When it started, I assumed it was going to be your typical haunted house story. It wasn’t but, so much happened while this movie was going on, I lost myself and my sanity while I watched it.
Thoughts from Interviews: The only interviews I could find were from the same event, an indie film award show. Apparently they won “Best Horror Feature” so I would have loved to see their competition and/or the judging panel.
The first one I found was with the director. He claims there was a massive script that he sized down due to budgets and only 18 days of filming. This explains a lot about why the movie was so fast paced and seemed to have so much more than it needed. He also claims the characters are well-rounded and believable, so…there’s that. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPuoTAerooE).
I also found one with the producer of the show but he just goes on about how happy he is to be at the awards show.
Trivia: The trivia for this movie is so boring it consists almost entirely of where actors in this movie have appeared before.
The very first scene of this movie is rife with shaky cam, blurred images, and terrible acting. Two parents, Dean and Christine Booth, are fighting about something and as their daughter, Emms (yes, that is her real name according to the IMDB page), is sitting in her bed, wide awake and terrified. There are some mysterious dark figures lurking around the cornfield these people have in their yard. The husband, Dean, goes to hunt them down with a shotgun, but before he can, one of the creatures steals away his little girl.
At least, I think that’s what happened.
After this scene featuring a nice African American family, everyone in the movie proceeds to be white. We meet the police chief, a “teen” that was 23 at the time of filming, and a family with two kids and one on the way.
Now, I’m going to get this out of my system before I start to rant about it. The wife, Heather Chambers, is pregnant at the beginning of the movie and has a miscarriage closer to the end. In the tiny interview I found with the director, he claimed the movie was chopped down from what they had previously intended. I think this pregnancy was either an unfortunate casualty or used to cram a huge chunk of emotion into an already packed movie. It was sad, yes, and it was an unfortunate thing to have happened, especially because one awkwardly worded line stated that this was not her first. However, I feel as if this unfortunate event is the sole reason for this character to exist. She’s only seen checking on her son (that she for some reason lets roam the woods alone) or talking to her husband about her children. She’s very surface level and has no point in the movie except to add stress to the main character, the husband.
The miscarriage itself, in my opinion, is to cover up this fact and show the audience that she cares deeply for her children. She is therefore stuck in this maternal cycle of losing children and being devastated, then really happy when they return. Guess what movie people? This is how all parents work, even those that haven’t lost babies and aren’t female. She isn’t involved in any scene in which her children are in actual danger. She’s also wearing a really strange hairpiece. I’m not sure if this is a wig or really weird extensions, but her IMDB page features her with a pixie cut and I can therefore surmise that they made this poor woman wear a bad wig and then become irrelevant.
Our “getting to know the family” scene happens at the dinner table. Somehow the conversation veers into their son asking where babies come from. Of course the writers took this opportunity to include a few cheap laughs and no actual content is made.
The father of the white family is Dr. John Chambers. Coincidentally, Christine (the wife from the family in the first scene) is his secretary/assistant at the hospital. Definitely no undertones of white supremacy here, not at all. John has been having these terrible nightmares for some reason and keeps pretending they don’t exist. We, as the viewer, don’t know where these nightmares are coming from. As a matter of fact, there’s no real explanation for why these creatures are appearing to the Chamber’s family at all. In the beginning of the movie, we see Emms kidnapped by the strange demon/monster/ghost thing but there is no connection, besides the fact that Christine is John’s assistant, between the two families.
As we see more of the Chambers family, we learn that they have a young son named Nathan and an older son named Ben. Nathan likes to play in the woods alone because his parent’s let him, even after the day they find him chatting up a strange man they don’t know (Dean Booth). This kid never watches TV and his only toy is a three wheeled trike that is clearly out of his age range. Was this an attempt at a Shining reference? Maybe the first time we see it, but after the fifth scene featuring this as his only mode of transportation and enjoyment, the theme wears off. He also doesn’t turn out to be possessed, so there’s that.
The movie is toted as one about the horrors of sleep paralysis, but that doesn’t actually start happening until the middle of the movie. The first half is blurred camera angles and Nathan claiming to see Emms run around the small swath of woodland behind their house.
The monsters in this movie are just as, if not more, confusing than the ones from The Descent. They are tall, dark, sinue-y, have very fake rubber hands, and remind me of Freddy Kreuger. We never learn why they are giving these night terrors to these families or why they are kidnapping children. They don’t harm the children, yet seem to always need one or two to lure in the next child. There seems to be some kind of exchange program going on. At one point, we learn that Nikki, a “high school student” that was 23 when this movie was shot, had been kidnapped as a child. Her father, who just happened to be the police chief, did the unthinkable and sacrificed two little boys to these monsters to get his daughter back (though we’re not sure where he got the two boys or how they came to be walked off with a monster). It is unknown why two boys had to go when the ratio for the rest of the movie is clearly 1 for 1.
For some reason the monsters need to kidnap children, so they use the children they have previously kidnapped to lure in their next victim, right? The police chief saved Nikki in exchange for the two boys. While those two boys are never seen again, we can assume what’s happening to the Chambers family happened to the Booths. I assume Emms made friends with the two boys and they allowed her to be attacked by the fake Freddies. The issue I have with this is that when Nathan is taken, Emms should have been exchanged. To me, the drama this would have caused between the families would have offered the director a chance to prove to the audience that this was not a black vs. white movie and that it all comes down to how much you love your family. But no, that didn’t happen. Emms is never seen again, and even in the kerfuffle of John entering the mysterious cave to save Nathan, all that can be heard is Heather crying. I don’t even think the Booths are present for that scene.
This is a really difficult movie to nail down. There is a loose plot that includes monsters stealing children and giving their parents nightmares, but aside from that there are a few things that make no sense in the grand scheme of things. Maybe they were cut down, like the director said, because of time constraints, but hey, he had the ultimate choice in what to include in this movie, so….*shrug*
The first subplot I want to talk about is the one with Ben and Nikki. These two offer the necessary sexual tension we all (apparently) need in a horror movie. However, because this was made as a lifetime movie, the most intense their relationship ever gets is a nice chat the have in the middle of the woods.
These two actors are in their 20’s but are playing 18 year olds. To reinforce the fact that these are supposed to be “youngins,” the two attend a high school/college party. This party is hosted in the same woods behind the Chambers’ house. You know, the one with the creepy tunnel. What’s funny about this is that Ben was invited to this party by Nikki, but it essentially takes place in his backyard. Anyway, the funniest part of the whole movie happens, and the best lines in the movie are uttered (see bullet points for clarificaion), and then the two frat boys, Jimmy and the other one (Darren I learned thank to IMDB) dare Ben to walk into the deep dark cave. For some reason, he does this, even though Nikki has just asked him to take her home.
So, Ben walks into the cave and is then beaten up by Jimmy and the other one. They are then interrupted by a monster who is, for some reason, defending Ben. Clearly the monster wasn’t after the boys because they were kids, he was 18, so why did the monster protect Ben and eat Darren off screen? I have no freaking idea.
The second scene I’d like to talk about is the scene where Dean is trying to kill himself. This is a complex scene and really needed more context. However, the fact that there is little to no context makes it hilarious at times.
I don’t remember why, but the Chambers family is driving down the road at one point. They suddenly see that Christine is in the middle of the road crying for help. They stop and she asks them to come quickly back to her house.
Now, I realize this movie lacks all normal technology. Nathan is riding around all day on a plastic trike, no one has a cell phone, and the only computer we see is at the police station. But this movie was made in 2017. There’s no way that you can mask the fact that no one has a cell phone by including a corn field ONCE. So this woman has no phone, is running through the streets, and has left her husband alone with a shotgun, a lot of lit candles, and suicidal thoughts.
When the car arrives at the house, John and Christine do their best to convince Dean to put the gun down. He then starts talking about how he just wanted to see his daughter one last time. Emms can be seen hiding behind a curtain at one point here, but we’re unsure if anyone can see her. It’s insinuated that Dean can see her, but she’s not visible when he says he can. There is also a monster/demon/ghost thing outside and the camera blurs every time it pans to it.
Dean unfortunately cannot be convinced and ends up killing himself, but that’s not the most pivotal part of this scene. What I think is interesting is that Dean is sitting in a dark room full of lit candles. This usually insinuates that a ritual has just been performed. With the fact that a wannabe Freddy lurks right outside the window and Emms is present at all, it’s my assumption that something he did worked. If that’s the case, Dean is the only character with any information about what is happening and could be the only one to fix it.
There’s also a woman who is apparently Nikki’s mom and the ex-wife of the police chief who knows what’s going on. She even has sketches of the creatures in a notebook. She, however, is never questioned, even after the Chambers find out that the monsters are real. She kinda just fades out of the movie.
Finally, I’d like to note the doctor visit John goes on when he thinks something might be wrong and he might be experiencing sleep paralysis. Although John claims to be a medical doctor himself, he doesn’t say anything when the only examination he gets is simply two different lights shone into his eyes. I thought this was absolutely hilarious, so I just wanted to mention it.
The movie doesn’t end with the monsters being defeated or the fact that something happened to appease them, rather, John walks through the tunnel to the other side and is rendered invisible on a spiritual plane, only visible from the corner of your eye like the movie would have you believe the dark creatures are. Was this supposed to make us feel bad for John or for the monsters? On one hand, John is essentially dead to his family. On the other, these monsters are now revealed to be actual people that have passed on. If that’s the case, how do you explain the creepy Freddy look-a likes? Why are they monsters if they’re essentially the same thing?
This movie is a mess and the more I analyze it, the more I hate it.
Last Week’s Review: The Descent
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