Logan (2017)

The Good and The BadHugh Jackman (Logan); Patrick Stewart (Charles); Dafne Keen (Laura); Boyd Holbrook (Pierce, mech man); Richard E. Grant (Dr. Rice); Stephen Merchant (Caliban) 

Who doesn’t like Wolverine? He’s a tough as fuck mutant and behind that loner exterior and perpetual snarl he is compassionate and one of the most complex and likeable characters from the X-Men verse. Logan marks the 3rd (I believe) Wolverine focused flick and there is no doubt that it is also the best.

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The flick is set in the year 2029 and presents an aged, grizzled, depressed Logan who is not well. Aside from being pickled by booze most of the time, he is dying, actually dying. His healing abilities are stunted and pus oozes from his knuckles after he let’s loose the claws. Aside from Logan being nearly human, he has a job like any other normal human as a limo driver for hire. As the movie starts so does the action and extreme violence (which doesn’t let up) as Logan’s limo is in the process of being stripped of its wheels and he is forced to fight back with deadly force, although he seems to hesitate on being lethal…at first. Limbs fly off and blood splatter is everywhere.

Alright so I was basically starting to tell the movie in great detail, nearly scene by scene but I think I will try to condense it a bit. Logan encounters a woman who knows he’s Wolverine and begs for his help – he runs her off. He is approached by a dickhead with a mechanical arm who is looking for that same woman -he all but runs him off. Down to Mexico where Professor X is slowly losing his mind and has to be sedated or he could kill everyone. Apparently there are nearly no mutants left in world and none being born. Logan meets the woman again and a girl, about 10-12 years old, and the woman begs again for help but offers money this time. He takes it, the woman dies, the kid tags along, mechanical hand wants the kid and finds her, Laura, with Logan and Charles in Mexico.

Turns out Laura is a mini version of Logan; genetically created and surgically altered with adamantium just as he had been. She wants to go to Eden in North Dakota where she is to meet up with other kids like her, mutants created by a misguided doctor Xander Rice. The plan is to head to Canada where there is some sort of sanctuary. And off they go – Logan, Charles and Laura while being chased by mech man and his crew. Innocents die and Charles is killed by Wolverine, or at least a Wolverine look a like. I think they call him X-24 where as Laura is X-23. X-24 is pure brute and killer but under the control of Xander Rice and mech man to a point. Logan and Laura continue to Eden after he is nearly killed by X-24 and they finally find the other children from the hospital where Laura was born.

Logan is healing since they gave him a green serum that juices up the mutants and Laura is hopes he will go to Canada with them but he doesn’t and things go bad. Again. Mech man and X-24 chase them through the woods, Logan juices to the max but alas it is not enough and he dies at the hands of his Doppelganger. Laura kills X-24 but only moments before Logan dies. The kids continue to run to Canada.

Final Thoughts: I admit I am not doing this movie justice. It is so much better than described. The acting is fantastic and action is the best. Over the course of the X-Men and Wolverine movies they have been good to awful (X-Men 3) and they have been missing something – the gritty edge and violence that should come with a story that is basically about a war between the evil forces and those trying to be good and help others through the battle. The violence is punctuated so much more by Laura and her rage fueled savagery. And when she and Logan are fighting side by side, the action is incredible. The story brought the end of one of my favourite characters but Logan’s legacy continues with Laura and the new generation of mutants that are more gritty and hard-hitting than their predecessors. Logan gets 5 out 5 Wolverines.

 

 

The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

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SurvivorsSennia Nanua (Melanie); Gemma Arterton (Helen Justineau); Glenn Close (Dr. Caroline Caldwell); Paddy Considine (Sgt. Eddie Parks); Fisayo Akinade (Kieran Gallagher)

SPOILERS

After a fungal based plague plunges the human race into a dystopian world ravaged by rage like zombies (hungrys as they are called in the book and movie), a group of soldiers, doctors and a teacher whole up in a somewhat secure base where they are housing not only themselves but also a group of school age children who are more deadly then they appear. The children were born or emerged after their mothers were infected with the fungus making them hybrids. They are completely normal children but will go all chompy if they smell any sort of human scent. The survivors use a blocker to keep them from smelling delicious to the savage little beasts. Something goes horribly wrong and the base is overrun by the hungrys and what’s left of the humans scatter.

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The movie centres on one of the children Melanie, an intelligent and inquisitive hungry who has become attached to Helen Justineau, the children’s teacher. Justineau knows the children aren’t just kids in her class but the line between innocent and monster becomes blurred as she in turn becomes attached to Melanie. By far Justineau is the only one on the base who seems to have some compassion for the kids. On the side of only seeing the kids as monsters and specimens is Sgt. Parks, the hardened military man and Dr. Caldwell the butcher who is trying to find a cure and will dissect the children to get. This makes up the main players and they must try to find help out in the world that is ravaged by hungrys, fighting the monsters and each other.

I read the book and liked it. I watch the movie and also liked it but as is common with movies made from books there seems to be holes in the story. That comes from someone who has read the book and notices things missing and it seems like things are unexplained. I could be wrong and that didn’t change my enjoyment of the flick. The casting was good, not how I pictured the characters but great acting by all and since Mike Carey wrote the screenplay from the book he wrote, it was well done. The hungrys were gross and the premise of a fungal zombie infection reminded me of The Last of Us.

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Final Thoughts: I enjoyed this movie even with the condensed story line which led to a fast paced flick and kept the story from dragging. The relationships among the characters were straight forward and not weighed down by too much drama. While Melanie is the focus of the movie it felt like she was missing something whereas in the book she is much more developed character. But the best part was the end. I’m sucker for a hopeless ending. Well, hopeless for some but a new beginning for others. 3.5 children out of 5.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

Jane Doe

The Gist: Late one night Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and his son Austin Tilden (Emile Hirsch), a coroner and medical technician in a family run business, are brought a Jane Doe (Olwen Catherine Kelly) found under unusual circumstances. As the pair work to determine the cause of death strange things begin happening around them and even stranger things are found within Jane Doe.

Well, this was definitely a gross but very spooky mood inducing flick. Gross because, you know autopsy. The Tilden family Morgue and Crematorium has been in the family for 200 years and passed down from generation to generation but that legacy is potentially about to end as son Austin has decided that he doesn’t want to continue the gruesome career of a coroner. Heading out to spend time with his girlfriend, Austin decides to stay with his Dad when the local sheriff brings in a Jane Doe late one night. The sheriff looks spooks and wants a cause of the death that night. Thus begins the 4 stages of the autopsy and a waking nightmare neither Tilden could ever believe is real.

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SPOILERS: I went into this flick knowing almost nothing about it and enjoyed the reveals and strange things that the pair unveil as they dissect the woman who is showing no physical signs of trauma and is completely unmarked on the outside. As they work they find anomalies within but not what one expects. Missing tongue, abnormally small waist but going inside reveals more oddities like blackened lungs, a piece of a shroud with Roman numerals written on it and one of her teeth wrapped in that shroud and when they peel back her skin, tattoos where there couldn’t possibly be any. Add to the already unsettling circumstances is a storm brewing outside (did I mention that the morgue is in the basement of the house) and weird sounds, flickering lights and shadowy silhouettes and you have an atmospheric, haunting flick.

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Final Thoughts: This is one of those movies that has a small cast and uses the majority of the screen time to focus on 2 or rather 3 characters including Jane Doe and it works well to create a feeling of quiet unease aided by a somewhat closed in feeling of the basement morgue. There are some gross scenes as mentioned earlier given that there is an autopsy taking place but it wasn’t too bad; there were worse scenes in the TV show Hannibal. Definitely one of the better horror movies to come out in recent months. 4 out of 5 creepy corpses.

 

 

 

Vengeful Ghosts and Witches (Movie Reviews)

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The Gist: A grieving couple (Barbara Crampton as Anne Sacchetti; Andrew Sensenig as Paul Sacchetti) move to an isolated home in rural New England following the death of their adult son. Anne is certain she can feel the presence of her son in the house and invites her friends (Lisa Marie as May Lewis; Larry Fessenden as Jacob Lewis) who dabble in the supernatural via seances to join them. But their psychic meddling ramps up the ire of the houses angry spirits. Throw in some crazy, murderous townsfolk and set it in the dead of winter and you have the potential for a bloody ghost story.

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My Take: I seem to recall lots of good buzz about this flick and that it had the same kind of feel as House of The Devil, which it did but….can’t say I really got into this one. The story certainly is interesting as we learn about the house and vengeful spirits demanding a blood sacrifice every 30 years and the townsfolk who will do whatever they have to, to make sure the blood flows, as long as it is not theirs. The charred ghosts are pretty cool looking, although they don’t get a lot of screen time. I think the acting was a bit of downer. These are not bad actors but there was just something about the way they talked that annoyed me. And once the story got going into the history and the haunting, the movie was at an end. I wanted to know more about the house that was a former mortuary and the townsfolk who treat it with cult like reverence.

Final Thoughts: I wanted to like this movie more but there was just something off about the acting or the dialogue or both that didn’t appeal to me and I was simply expecting something more from the scares. I’m all for setting up atmosphere and slow burn horror but this one was just too slow to get to the goods. 2.5 charred ghosts out of 5.

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The Gist: 15 years after the disappearance of Heather Donahue, her younger brother James (James Allen McCune) receives a video showing what appears to be Heather at the Rustin Parr house in the Black Hills. Along with his friends, one of which is filming the events as a project for her film class and 2 Burkittsville locals, they head into the Black Hills in search of answers to the mystery of what happened to Heather and the Blair Witch.

My Take: Minor SPOILERS – Why does James think that after 15 years his sister is still alive and trapped in the Black Hills? I don’t get it. Could it be hope or is this merely a way to get a new group into the trap of the witch and connect it to the original 1999 movie and story. Whatever it is, I’m disappointed. The creepiest moment was the scene in the tent with the injured girl. I won’t get into details but it’s gross and makes you think twice about taking your shoes off to cross a stream. Other than that, there wasn’t much to breed fear. And the friggin’ high pitched screaming again. It’s the same thing that irritated me in the original. It’s just grating. As far as the actual witch goes, I don’t think they should have shown what she/it looks like. Revealing the witch, even minimally, removes some of the eeriness of the story. The way the flick is shot with mini personal cameras that hook onto the ear, is great. Much better than most of the found footage movies that are out there. Yep, can’t think of much else that I enjoyed.

Final Thoughts: While this chapter of the Blair Witch certainly looks great the story behind the flick is odd to me. Ok, so James is hoping to find his sister but it’s a weak story line. There is a good story in the Blair Witch somewhere. The mythology is there but getting that into a found footage flick just doesn’t seem to be a great platform for it. And now I’m going to say it and it’s a very unpopular opinion I’m sure – of the Blair Witch flicks, Book of Shadows is my favourite. Yep, there it is. It takes the mystery of the folklore and puts the witch into the story without screeching or showing too much. So there it is. Blair Witch 2016 get 2 stick men out of 5.

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Southbound (2015)

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Southbound takes a trip down a lonely desert highway where winged skeletal creatures hover in the distance, watching and waiting. The flick is a horror anthology that uses that lonely highway to tie together 5 stories where the beginning is end and the end is the beginning…that does eventually make sense. But not all the stories in the movie do. Here is brief synopsis each segment with no spoilers (at least nothing obvious).

The first segment starts with 2 men driving down the highway covered in blood and bewildered, the floating creatures seemingly tracking them. Arriving at a diner, they fall into some sort of time loop but escape is impossible.

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Up next are 3 young women on their way to a gig when they get a flat tire on the highway but eventually a kind middle-aged couple shows up and suggests the women go home with them where they will be able to get help with their van in the morning. One of the women is hesitant but the others are eager to get off the road. What follows is a dinner that no one in their right mind would touch followed by some lovely black vomit. Hesitant girl doesn’t trust the couple and their creepy neighbours and with good reason. southbound

The second tale flows into the third as a man on his cell phone driving down the nighttime highway runs over a woman in the middle of the road. Seeking help from 911 is not a good idea in this instance and the situation devolves as the man enters a deserted town and an empty hospital in disarray. This segment was pretty gory and unnerving as the man tries to save the woman.

Again, there is a flow from the previous tale into the 4th one as we stay in the deserted town and head to a bar where a man is looking for his sister but in his pursuit to save her from the town she is voluntarily in (is it hell?) he takes her away against her will and pays the price for trying to be a good brother. This is the one that is somewhat muddy but that could have been from the beer.

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And finally to wrap it up and bring the movie full circle, a couple and their college bound daughter have rented a room at a roadside inn next to the highway. They are the perfect loving family until masked men start an assault on their room, terrorizing them. But there is a reason that isn’t made quite clear. The husband has done something unforgivable to one of the men however, it’s also muddy as to whether or not the viewer is supposed to infer what he did or if they actually say it (beer bad, when watching movies). This is where the first story ties into the last one but you’ll have to watch it to understand.

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Final Thoughts: This was an OK horror anthology. Using the highway as the connection between tales worked but there was a bit of a feeling of being lost as to what was going on with each segment. The third tale was felt the most complete and was enjoyable because of that. The creatures were interesting too and certainly got creepier by the last story. All in all, a decent flick with some weirdness and winged baddies. 3 winged demons out of 5.

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The Houses October Built (2014)

Houses October

The Houses October Built follows 5 friends (this is a found footage flick filmed by the main characters Brandy, Zack, Bobby, Mikey, Jeff) on a road trip in the Southern US as they search for the most extreme haunted attractions and one in particular called Blue Skeleton which is so exclusive that it moves every year and participants must be personally invited.

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The trip starts out full of drinks and fun times as the group heads to Texas and hits up the first haunt but they soon attract the attention of a group of scare performers they piss off and things start to get a little off kilter. As the trip continues the group has more unnerving encounters with clowns and performers from various haunts they visit. At one point the only woman in group Brandy is cornered in a restroom by 2 performers. It’s an uneasy scene as she pushes past the lecherous men and calls to her friends; no one wants to be in a situation that like.

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So that happens followed by even more creepy and invasive clown stalking when the group finds a video posted online of them sleeping in their RV and someone walking silently among them, touching Brandy and then leaving. Again, this is a very unnerving situation and terribly violating. Eventually the group receives the invitation to the Blue Skeleton haunt and heads to the designated gathering spot, Bourbon Street in New Orléans on Halloween night. By this point two of the crew, Brandy and Mikey, are not into it anymore but reluctantly follow along ignoring their own apprehension.

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The group is abducted, split up, left in a house with nothing but a camera and then each one is knocked unconscious. The ending shows 4 of the 5 (Jeff is apparently beaten, possibly killed in an alley in New Orléans) being buried alive or are they? The 3 men are in silk lined caskets while Brandy is in a wooden casket lying on top of what looks like bloodied meat. It appears that only her casket is actually being covered in dirt as the perspective shifts to show clowns burying Brandy and filming it. Finally they zoom in on one of the masked figures and it is unclear why or what is significant about that one. So a good base but not the greatest ending by leaving too much open-ended or up for interpretation unless I missed something.

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Final Impressions: For the most part this was a good flick and it was quite enjoyable. One thing about haunted houses is the way they can make a person feel claustrophobic, walking through the dark with flashing lights and having no idea where you are going or how to get out and being purposely jump scared the whole time. What a horrible feeling of being trapped. You can kind of get that sense from this movie when they are going through the haunts and especially in the last scene. It was a good quality found footage flick with not too annoying shaky cam. Decent acting and a fun Halloween/spooky story line. There were a couple of things that threw it off a bit. As the flick nears the conclusion it somewhat falls into cliché as part of the group insists on continuing while the others hesitate but go along anyway and it ends badly as expected. And that is the other part that didn’t work – the end. It’s a personal preference to have the movie tie up and conclude without any questions (sometimes admittedly a cliff hanger works) but with this movie the ending was disappointing. That being said, it leaves the viewer to decide if the end is part of the haunt or really the end for these thrill seekers. The Houses October Built is a good start to the Halloween season. 3.5 clown masks out of 5.

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The Girl in the Photographs (2015)

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In a quiet community a young woman is stalked by an unknown assailant who leaves photographs of brutally murdered young women at her workplace and on her car. Contacting the police leads nowhere as it is unclear whether the photos are real or staged.creepers

The movie opens with a young woman returning home unaware that a half naked man in a weird mask is hiding in her living room. After being abducted she is tied up and photographed before being brutally killed. One of the photos is left for the main character Colleen (Claudia Lee) to discover. Apparently this is not the first time she has received such a picture but the police don’t react, not convinced that the photos are real despite some of the women having been reported missing. Jump to elsewhere and professional photographer Peter Hemmings (Kal Penn) is reading about the photos which is being taken/found in his hometown. This prompts him to go back there and recreate the photos with models to cash in on the stunt. Colleen eventually runs into Peter and his crew and ends up giving into his requests to go back to L.A. with him and be his muse. All the while Colleen is being stalked by the murders who are revealed right from the start.

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Final Impressions: To begin or end with I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the majority of this flick was filmed in my hometown. I had to look it up after seeing a bottle gin in the store they were shopping at called Victoria Gin (local) and then seeing a familiar grocery store logo (Wellburns). Aside from that, the movie was kind of just meh. I wanted more info on the killers as there motives seemed to be steeped in something deeper that would explain the photos and I was curious about their relationship. There were a couple of cringe worthy kills but it felt like the movie had plucked bits and pieces from other movies and put them all together making it seem somewhat disjointed. Overall, great scenery, creepy killers but lacking depth of story and character. 2.5 developed photos out of 5.

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The Blair Witch Project (1999)

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This was the movie that brought together found footage and horror. I watched it years ago and didn’t care for it and after another viewing, can’t say it has made a better impression. The film isn’t a total bust. What it has going for it: an interesting story and a premise that would make a great haunted tour – out in the woods, isolated with only 3 people being stalked by an unseen, unknown presence. Terrifying. Add to the isolating environment an urban folk legend about a witch and people disappearing in the woods, being found dead and you have a good idea for a story. Even the found footage elements were ok as the shaky cam didn’t hinder it but while the acting was fine, it was the screaming and shrieking of Heather that put a damper on the movie. There was something so annoying about her running around and yelling. It was over the top and detracted from the atmosphere of eeriness and building tension of watching the 3 film makers wander lost, cold and hunger through the forest. Right near the end when the horror is ramping it is the endless shrieks of Heather that ruin the flow.

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Final Impressions: When this movie first gained notoriety it was unclear why. Perhaps because the initial viewing I had was poor quality on a small screen could explain my disappointment. Nope. Watching it again after about 20 years on a big screen and good quality didn’t improve my opinion of it. Good premise, atmospheric setting, potentially fascinating story brought down an annoying lead character. I was hoping with the release of the new Blair Witch that the story might finally get a decent telling. From the reviews that have come out I don’t think that is going to happen. 2 stick men out of 5

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Autumn Movie List

 

Halloween

Autumn is quickly approaching (Thursday marks the Autumnal equinox) and I feel like getting in the mood for all the Fall goodness. The pumpkin goodies are starting to come out and 1 of the pumpkin beers is available so far. Part of the way to get into the season is watching horror movies. Of course Trick ‘r’ Treat and The Crow will be watched on Halloween but there are several movies I’ve been meaning to see but haven’t gotten around to, so what better time to revive the horror bug then at the start of Fall. Here is the list I have comprised thus far. Recommendations for any good horror related documentaries are welcome. Reviews to follow each one I watch. Happy (almost) Autumn.

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Houses October-The House October Built (2014) – Reviewed on October 3

Crimson Peak (2015)

-Kill List (2011)

-Southbound (2015) – Reviewed October 17

-Baskin (2015) 

 

-We Are Still Here (2015)Baskin

-Blue Ruin (2013)- not really horror in the traditional sense but I’ve heard it’s good

-The Girl in the Photographs (2015) – high ratings for this one…not really but I’m try it – Reviewed on September 22

-A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)- not too sure if I can find this one to rent anywhere

-The Neon Demon (2016)

 

The Neon Demon

-Friday the 13th (1980) – I have never seen the original so it’s about time

-I Saw the Devil (2010)

-Extinction (2015)

-Hellions (2015)

-The Hunger (1983)

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-Rec 4: Apocalypse (2014)

-Wer (2013)

-Lights Out (2016)

-Goodnight Mommy (2014)

-The Blair Witch Project (1999) – Reviewed on September 22

Leaves

The Invitation (2015)

The-Invitation

Party Guest: Logan Marshall-Green (Will), Emayatzy Corinealdi (Kira), Tammy Blanchard (Eden), Michiel Huisman (David), Lindsay Burdge (Sadie), John Carroll Lynch (Pruitt)

After a mysterious 2 year absence and no contact with friends and family, David and Eden return to Los Angeles and throw an elaborate dinner party inviting a small group of their closet friends, including Eden’s ex-husband Will who believes their intentions are less than friendly.

Minor Spoilers

The story is told from Will’s perspective who has not been able to fully recover from the accidental death of his and Eden’s son 2 or 3 years earlier (can’t recall the timeline). The repercussions from the child’s death included Eden trying to kill herself and then meeting David in a grief support meeting. Shortly after their marriage, David and Eden disappear, re-emerging 2 years later in a state of euphoria having dealt with the pain of losing their loved ones and moving forward.

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From the start the mood is one of quiet unease and suspicion boarding on paranoia as Will is seeing odd behaviour everywhere he looks in the home that was once his. But is there something sinister afoot or is Will projecting his grief and the difficulty he feels being back in a place that was once happy but now only holds ghosts of a better time. Adding to his suspicions is the free-spirited woman Sadie who returned from Mexico with David and Eden and is living in the house and another new friend, Pruitt who reveals later that he killed his wife but is no longer a threat or dangerous after serving his time and being reborn through the cult that David and Eden joined while in Mexico. Yeah, that’s where the euphoria and eerie cheer are coming from.

Thoughts and Conclusions: This is a slow, slow burn but there is a definite pay off and the pace ramps up in the last 20ish minutes. The climax was not completely unexpected but the final scene was and I liked it. I won’t say what it is but it defiantly could have been left open to a sequel. Overall, if you can be patient and enjoy the paranoia and slow build to the intense end, I would recommend this one. If you don’t enjoy the more psychological and subtle horror and want action and violence skip it.

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