Double Feature: Haunter (2013) & The Innkeepers (2011)

It times for the next double feature!

This time I’m digging into the Shudder categories. I honestly need to either watch more films there or just cancel the thing. The latter is definitely something on my mind lately but so many titles I still want to look at that I can’t find anywhere else. With that said, I’ve been looking for one of these films since its release so was looking forward to checking it out and hoping it’ll live up to my expectations. While the other is one I’ve heard mixed reviews on so wondering how that will turn out.

Let’s give it a go!

Haunter (2013)

haunter

Director: Vincenzo Natali

Cast: Abigail Breslin, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden, Stephen McHattie, Peter DaCunha, Samantha Weinstein, Eleanor Zichy

A teenager is stuck in a time loop that is not quite the same each time. She must uncover the truth but her actions have consequences for herself and others. – IMDB

I love Abigail Breslin. Perhaps its one that I’ve had because she’s done some great roles in her younger days like Little Miss Sunshine and Nim’s Island. As she got older, her roles got a little more scattered. I was okay with the Scream Queens role and then I hate the Final Girl but I thought The Call was a decent role. Haunter was one that I had my eye on. It didn’t get particularly stellar reviews but I honestly liked it quite a bit. The scares are quite generic and predictable however the atmosphere and the story itself along with the whole thriller-esque aspect works pretty well. If that doesn’t appeal to you either, the cinematography here created with a rather older home setting works along with a warp into an older time where it adds something of a static-y old film filter that works incredibly well for the setting it was trying to create.

haunter

Haunter might not be anything particularly special but somehow it worked for me. There was some pretty unsettling moments. It worked hard to give it a more psychological twist and a story behind to figure out who is behind all this and what is going on because Abigail Breslin’s character is one of the few who notice the revolving day that she goes through. There are some obvious pacing issues and some generic content here. If its scares you are looking for, its actually more of a couple of jump scares but works more as a suspense/mystery/thriller and that works for me. Perhaps for the experienced and hardcore horror fan, this might fall really short.

The Innkeepers (2011)

the innkeepers

Director (and writer): Ti West

Cast: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis, Lena Dunham, Alison Bartlett, Jake Ryan

During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel’s haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay. – IMDB

In some ways, I can see how The Innkeepers gets its credit. I had a decent bit of scares and there was genuinely some creepy moments whether it was jumpscares or atmosphere related. The setting in a creepy hotel is quite generic however, it does work in its favor. The camera work and the limited amount of characters also works well here. Ghost-hunting and many other horror themes are absolutely going to show up here and it has its predictable moments. There is nothing that breaks the genre including the fact that our main character Claire, played by Sara Baxton is not only clueless but makes a lot of really dumb decisions.

innkeepers

What Innkeepers does really well is just setting up the mood and the shots. There are some really effective parts, even if it felt slightly pointless. But it also focused a lot on the unseen. What we can see will get our imagination going and I remember when I went to see the Before I Wake premiere (review) at Fantasia Festival a summer or two ago, during the Q&A session Mike Flanagan made a comment about how our imagination for Absentia (review) was far more effective than anything he could have created with the budget he had for that movie. It goes to show the power of our own imagination and how I appreciate it when directors know how to leave certain things to the viewer’s interpretation and imagination. For that, The Innkeepers did a decent job. In fact, you don’t see a whole lot of creepy ghosts or anything like that for a good portion and its really little subtle things that happen and they all build up the atmosphere as it takes you for a ride to the big finale.

While I can appreciate the great technique here and looking at Ti West and how he was behind Scream TV series, I can see how he has grown and this definitely shows his ability to have a voice in horror and am curious to check out some of his other directorial efforts. The Innkeepers wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking horror experience. It was pretty average with some cool ideas and executed moments.

Horror Marathon: Shark Night (2011)

Welcome back to the horror marathon 2017!

If you’ve noticed, I tend to avoid the main headliner over the weekend so we’re taking a look at a random movie pick. I have some boring days that I just need buffer movies and I decided to give Shark Night a go. For one, the cast are a lot of younger actors and actress that I’ve seen over a few teen TV shows. I can’t say they are great but hey, why not, right? Usually silly shark movies are right up my alley and I tend to be incredibly forgiving of them or I just laugh at them. Its all around a cool time.

Let’s check it out!

Shark Night (2011)

shark night

Director: David R. Ellis

Cast: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Katharine McPhee, Joel David Moore, Donal Logue, Joshua Leonard, Chris Zylka, Sinqua Walls, Alyssa Diaz

A weekend at a lake house in the Louisiana Gulf turns into a nightmare for seven vacationers as they are subjected to shark attacks. – IMDB

I have to admit that I used to take more chances on shark movies or just you know, abnormal ones. It might be the fact that Piranha DD in particular made me hesitate on choosing more of those so pardon me when Shark Night 3D didn’t quite make it on my radar. And man, its rightly so. Shark Night does have a lot of familiar names if you are into those TV series like I am. Dustin Milligan and Chris Carmack was in 90210 (the reboot series that ended a few years ago) and Katharine McPhee won some Idol or was runner-up maybe. Sara Paxton seems more familiar and I still can’t peg where she’s from. While we have Chris Zylka who plays in a lot of series that don’t seem to last too long like The Secret Circle and he was in that dreadful Piranha 3DD that I was mentioning before. I get that movies like this one isn’t really expected to be good and overall, it really does suck, especially when Donal Logue is Harvey in Gotham now and he’s part of this horrible film that had so many dumb moments.

Shark Night

I’ve been known to also like dumb shark movies, you know, like Sharknado. But I think the difference I always talk about is that this movie tries really hard to be serious. The other one was meant to be bad and its perceived as bad and yet, they  make some ridiculously great moments that are pure over the top and goofy in so many ways. Shark Night tries really hard even for a college party film gone wrong. Sure, there’s the whole mystery of how did a shark (or wait, sharks) get into the lake but its really expected considering they opened with a shark kill. Shark Night does nothing different with its formula and in fact, it doesn’t even really take the time to get to know these characters other than the fact that you have the nerd and the jock and the girlfriend and the mystery girl and the slut. You know, the normal group that gets picked off one by one. Its not really like you can cheer for anyone of them in particular even you kind of already expected who would make it out.  Of course, we always meet the creepy weirdos of the town at the gas station who you know right away are the bad guys and yet, these crazy college group just trusts them after their surprise appearance after the first attack. Like I said, nothing revolutionary. I didn’t quite expect the twist they had but it wasn’t really executed in an effective way either.

Shark Night

To be fair, these films aren’t any pieces of art and I understand that so I don’t think its fair to expect it to be a masterpiece. My point is that even in this realm, it takes itself far too seriously and has a lot of pacing issues and there’s not really anyone you want to fight for. But its main issue is that its just boring. So boring. I predicted when everything would happen and even with a cast that has made some decent stuff here and there regardless of the big or small roles, I definitely appreciated seeing everyone of the familiar faces somewhere else. Shark Night isn’t my fave. I guess, its back to Sharknado for me. The 4th Awakens is on this year’s horror marathon to-watch list so that’s coming up. For newcomers, I never get away with horror marathons without at least one or two predator films and this year apparently lands on 2 shark films.

Have you seen Shark Night? If you saw it in 3D, did it make it a better experience?

Sydney White (2007)

I did a little research on those Snow White adaptations and apparently this modern day flick called Sydney White is also a spin-off.  Amanda Bynes may not be all that right now but in her She’s the Man days, she was quite fun to watch on screen.  With that said, I turned on Sydney White, got myself a glass of fizzy sparkling juice from Ikea and sat back to relax. My expectations aren’t high so all I ask for is some form of entertainment.

Let’s see if they can pull it off 😉

Sydney White (2007)

Sydney White

Director: Joe Nussbaum

Cast: Amanda Bynes, Matt Long, Sara Paxton, Jack Carpenter, Jeremy Howard, Crystal Hunt, Adam Hendershott, Danny Strong, Samm Levine, Arnie Pantoja

Every fairy tale eventually gets retold in the modern day high school or college environment.  Sydney White is set in university and fraternity houses and all that jazz.  When Sydney White goes to college as a freshman through a scholarship, she is following her mom’s footsteps.  However, Rachel, the president of the house doesn’t like her and when her initiation/pledge tasks is over, she was left outside with nowhere to go.  Luckily, the Vortex, housing a bunch (seven) of dorks/nobodies on campus takes her in.  As she tries to get them to rebel against Rachel and all the oppression they get by becoming school council, she leads them by changing their abilities a little bit by bit and hopefully gain back some rights for their “house”.

Sydney White

I’m not going to lie.  Sydney White is a rather ridiculous retelling of the Snow White story.  Maybe its so ridiculous that I ended up laughing a lot, probably at the movie.  Still, entertaining level very much there.  This time around, we don’t have an evil stepmother but rather some evil girls/”sisters” who want to destroy her.  Instead of the seven dwarfs, we now have the seven dorks.  Campus is the “castle” and the king is not royalty but a common plumber. There’s quite a bit of twists and sometimes these modern reimaginings are a little crazy and out there and the puns are kind of eye-rolling worthy but the effort to entertain through absurdity is always there.  Some might think its lame…and there definitely are some of those parts.

Sydney White

 And well, the prince, right up there, is okay.  He’s a good enough looking guy to carry the part.  He was pretty funny also. His part worked out good.  Like most Snow White princes, he didn’t have to do much, right? I guess.  Okay, enough about the prince.  all he has to be is a pretty face with a little personality and I was alright with it.

What I’d like to discuss is Amanda Bynes.  I haven’t seen a bunch of her movies, not that she has all that many but after this movie, I’d confirmed one thing: Amanda Bynes has one sort of acting thing and if you enjoyed her in She’s the Man, then you might enjoy her here because its pretty much an extremely similar version.

Sydney White

However, the most entertaining is always the seven dwarfs or dorks or whatever version you want to call them here.  These guys have all different personalities and their own little issues and its kind of a secret we learn bit by bit just like Sydney does and they  make the movie pretty funny at times.

As with any of these college things, its about change.  Our heroine in modern times is always someone who fights for change in some sort of status quo.  So look, Sydney White is the modern version of Snow White set in university and there’s some entertaining bits and some creative little play on the original and there’s a good looking prince.  Amanda Bynes does her thing and its all rather predictable and even some kind of lame puns.  Its a mixed basket.  I probably won’t go and watch it again but for a one time thing, its okay.  I didn’t hate it but I’ll probably forget it a few days later (as I have because I’m finishing this up on the cruise and I can’t seem to remember the Prince’s name and its charging me per minute here so I don’t want to bother to look it up.)

Have you seen Sydney White? What are your thoughts on Amanda Bynes?