Thursday, July 16, 2015

Abandoned Mine (2013)

Number Rolled: 29
Movie Name/Year: Abandoned Mine (2013) [ IMDb page is under “The Mine” ]
Genre: Horror
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Mountainbridge Films
Executive Producer: Mark Victor, Scott Woldman, Steve Zacharias
Director: Jeff Chamberlain
Writer: Jeff Chaimberlain, Scott Woldman
Actors: Reiley McClendon, Adam Hendershott, Valerie C. Walker, Jordan Chamberlain, Cody Walker, Alexa PenaVega, Saige Thompson, Charan Prabhakar, Jeff Chamberlain, Joseph Batzel, Sierra Taylor

It’s Halloween and Brad wants to bring his friends somewhere special to acknowledge the frightful night. They all get dressed up and head out to a haunted mine.

Selina’s Point of View:
Some movies make you sigh halfway through. Others start out that way. This is one of those others.

About five minutes into the film I knew exactly where the story was going. In fact, there’s an 80’s movie that Abandoned Mine was practically modeled after. That 80’s movie is one of my favorite films, but I can’t say the name of it without revealing the entire plot of this film. Although I wouldn’t exactly recommend this movie to anyone, I still don’t want to give spoilers.

Abandoned Mine didn’t only remind me of that 80’s film I mentioned, it also vaguely reminded me of House of the Dead (2003). Not the video game (which is awesome), but the terrible movie directed by Uwe Boll (Assault on Wall Street, Blubberella, Bloodrayne).

The reason I made that mental connection is because of these flashes of unnecessary footage that blinked into the story line and kept me from getting connected to absolutely anyone. There are times when a flashback, or flash-forward, can really help a movie. I feel like this one suffered for it.

That said, I’ve got nothing good to say about this film. I love Alexa PenaVega (Nashville, The Tomorrow People, Repo! The Genetic Opera), but even she wasn’t at her best.

Cat’s Point of View:
One thing I love about these random movies is that it brings me to films that I might not have otherwise seen. I hadn’t even heard of this one before.

As I was watching, I knew that I recognized the actress that played Sharon from somewhere before. Then it hit me – I’d seen Alexa Vega (Machete Kills, The Clockwork Girl, The Devil's Carnival) in lots of things before, usually in Danny Trejo (Machete Kills, Bad Ass, Muppets Most Wanted) movies. She’s come a long way from Spy Kids (2001).

The beginning of the movie was interesting, with the cut scenes of what might be ‘found footage.’ It sets you up rather well to know that something wonky is going to happen to these teens going into the ‘old haunted mine.’

It piqued my curiosity enough to wonder if the recordings were found at a later time or if someone actually survived to replay them later. Other than that, it’s pretty predictable that something was going to go horribly wrong with this Halloween excursion.

The ending left me with the feeling of ‘oh man, that’s messed up.’ Overall, in the grand scheme of horror movies, it was okay. It’s not one I’d be running to watch again, however.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 20%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 1.9/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score 2.5/5

P.S. There’s an extra scene just after the start of the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Beneath the Darkness (2012)

Number Rolled: 93
Movie Name/Year: Beneath the Darkness (2012)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Raincreek Productions, Sunset Pictures, BTDARK
Executive Producer: Scott Mednick, Bruce Wilkenson, Janie Wilkinson, Jenny Wilkinson
Director: Martin Guigui
Writer: Bruce Wilkinson
Actors: Dennis Quaid, Aimee Teegarden, Tony Oller, Stephen Lunsford, Devon Werkheiser, Brett Cullen, Dahlia Waingort, Conrad Gonzales, Wilbur Penn, Amber Bartlett, David Christopher

Travis is a peculiar high school student. He’s had it rough, though. His sister died when he was younger, and things never quite went back to being normal. When his friends decide to check out the strange town mortician, he goes along for the ride.

Selina’s Point of View:
This was not an example of one of Dennis Quaid’s (Vegas, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, The Day After Tomorrow) best acting performances. He got sufficiently creepy at times, but there was no real connection shown between him and his character. In fact, there seemed to be a disconnect between all the actors and their roles. Nothing was believable.

The beginning of the movie took away the majority of the thrills for the rest of the film. The script was predictable and interchangeable for any TV movie thriller out there. Those Bad Lip Reading guys on YouTube could make this movie more interesting easily.

There was only one reason this film got more than a score of 1 for me.

As strange as it sounds, it was comforting. Not good, no, but the feel of Beneath the Darkness was that of an old 80’s horror/thriller. It had less jump scares, subtle horrors, strange observations… in fact, this movie could have been an instant classic if the writer and director had gone in a different direction. If they had played with the mystery more, engaged the viewer.

Instead, they put together the movie version of a grandparent with dementia. At times comforting, but more often heartbreaking.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve been a fan of Dennis Quaid (Movie 43, Legion, Footloose) since seeing him in Enemy Mine (1985) when I was little. I was excited to see what he’d do with the role of Ely, the murderous mortician. The film didn’t keep you waiting for the train to crazyville. Right out of the gate, there’s a glimpse into his malignant broken psyche.

I liked that he was set up as damaged and malicious from the beginning. It added to the sense of dread when he was interacting with others, as the film progressed. When was he going to unhinge again? What was this thing that poor guy at the beginning did to him?

Every town has their ghost stories and creepy citizens. For the small town in this film, it made sense that the two would converge with the mortician that just hasn’t been the same since his wife died. Toss in a liberal dash of ‘meddling kids’ and blend well.

Some of the dialogue between the teen friends felt a little off, but the film did a decent job setting up their dynamic with each other and their individual identities.

I was also happy to see Aimee Teegarden (Prom, Scream 4, Call of the Wild) in this movie. I really enjoyed her in the Starcrossed (2014) TV series, which was cancelled before its time.  She had some really good chemistry with Tony Oller (The Purge, I Flunked Sunday School, Field of Vision).

Quaid’s character was frightening, and there were several scenes that had me on the proverbial edge of my seat. Overall, I enjoyed this movie. I’d watch it again, if I caught it on TV.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 5%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 15%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 2.6/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Movie Trailer: (If you intend to watch the movie, don't watch the trailer. It's got all the pay-offs and spoilers in it.)