48 posts categorized "Horror"

September 09, 2017


Colesmithey.comThe direction, editing, pacing, and tone are so off in director Andy Muschietti’s filmic adaptation of Stephen King’s child-led psychodrama horror picture that the movie is more of a chore than a source of entertainment.

The film’s by-committee screenplay is at once overwrought and under-polished. Three screenwriters is one too many. 

Gallons of corn syrup fake blood don’t help. Here is a glorified haunted house movie that doesn’t hold a candle to “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” “The Mummy,” or any of the other famous Universal monster movies of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Blame it on a lack of backstory for this hollow clown monster creation.

Screen Shot 2022-03-26 at 4.13.13 PM

It doesn’t help that there are no likable (read reliable or responsible) adult characters to be found in or around the small Maine town of Derry, circa 1988 and 1989 where the action takes place. Blame Steven King for this aspect I suppose. Crucial plot holes abound.


When Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher), the first of our seven shared-child protagonists, loses his little seven-year-old brother Georgie to a whacked out clown living in a gutter drain, not even the woman who witnessed the savage attack from her living room window seems to give a damn. The house cat, however is bothered. Already, our suspension of disbelief is strained over a killer clown with a many-toothed vagina dentata where his mouth should be.

Screen Shot 2022-03-26 at 4.13.25 PM

The Riverdale neighborhood of Toronto subs for Maine. Missing persons signs adorn brick walls in a picturesque small town populated with teenaged reprobates, pedophiles, and racists. Naturally, there is Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs), a token black kid bullied and victimized by Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), the mullet-wearing son of the town cop. The subplot tips its hat to Charles Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep” by introducing Mike as a child slaughterhouse worker tasked with stunning sheep with a captive bolt pistol prior to their slaughter. Henry should know better than mess with a kid whose killer instincts are already awaken.


Gratuitously, our motley collection of nerdy boys enjoy the company of Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis), a local redhead smeared with the scarlet letter of slut. Sexual abuse victim is more like it. Beverly’s dad is the kind of bastard for whom you wish an especially hot version of hell. The kids rally together against all form of everyday and paranormal evil towards defeating the fear that invades their every waking moment. “It” is not an especially scary movie even for its intended youthful audience; for most part the film’s R rating is a ruse.


“It” just doesn’t cut it. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of Frank Darabont’s “The Mist,” based on Stephen King’s novel, and enjoy a genuinely creepy movie that will give you nightmares.

Rated R. 135 mins.

1 Star


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity helps keep the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

June 21, 2016


WailingCannes, France —No other film was repeatedly praised as much on the street at Cannes in 2016 than Na Hong Jin’s “Goksung” (“The Wailing”). Fitting neatly into the festival’s cannibal phenomena (there were five cannibalism-related pictures in the festival), “The Wailing” borrows ever so gently from “The Exorcist” to weave an intricate tale of horror that is part who-(or what)-done-it. The film’s Korean title (Goksung) refers to the filmmaker’s grandmother’s hometown, a place where Northern persecuted Catholics fled to before being martyred. In “the Wailing” a local reliably unreliable shaman stands in for the Catholic priests of William Friedkin’s “Exorcist.” Spewing bloody vomit? Check.

Kwak Do-won

Korean actor Kwak Do-won goes from comedic to terrifying as Jong-Goo, a sometimes bumbling police chief on the trail of bloody communal murders committed under the auspices of supernatural powers acting out through humans in bizarre deadly attacks. One man stabs his wife and children to death without provocation. Blood cover the walls. More such unexplained killings go on; in each gory episode the killer takes on a zombie-like appearance with demon red eyes and dark boiling skin. Grody. 

Screen Shot 2022-03-17 at 10.37.04 PM

The film leverages racial discomfort between Japanese and Korean cultures with a demonically possessed Japanese man (Jun Kunimura) who has a taste for human, and wild animal, meat. This guy is about as far from normal as you could possibly get. Whether or not he is the Devil incarnate, is up for grabs. I'm sure some of the film's political commentary regarding race relations between Japan and Korea will go over the heads of most Western audiences (myself included). Nonetheless, this thematic subtext is available for audiences interested in looking beneath the story's surface for thematic substance.  

An evil spirit takes over Jong-Goo’s young daughter Hyo-jin (Kim Hwan-hee). The disturbing invasion of his little girl sends our personally invested cop on a desperate journey to conquer the evil powers attacking him, his family, and his town.


Beautifully photographed and full of brutal imagery, “The Wailing” strikes a sophisticated balance that encompasses action, character, plot and thematic elements with impact and style. While far from a perfect film, this unconventional exploration in horror sends cinematic chills right through you. Its open ending seems to allow for the possibility of a sequel. Yes, please.


Not Rated. 156 mins.

3 Stars


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Every bit helps keep the reviews coming.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

October 22, 2015


Crimson-peak There’s a reason that Guillermo del Toro has felt the need to defend his latest film with the excuse that it is a Gothic Romance, as opposed to the ostensible horror movie, that the film’s trailer, and poster, indicates. Why would your "romantic" movie poster say "Beware?" Is there a danger of STDs? Genre confusion, however, is not this tedious film’s only fatal flaw. A protagonist breaking character is another egregious error that sends this visually appealing movie down its melancholic, if gory, path to entropy.

Screen Shot 2022-03-21 at 1.54.07 PM

Guillermo del Toro’s long-awaited return to his signature phantasmagoric style (see “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”) arrives with an unexpected thud. On first blush it seems possible that del Toro’s experiences making Hollywood films, has eaten away at his creative powers. Directing “Pacific Rim” might not have been the best career decision after all.

Screen Shot 2022-03-21 at 1.54.15 PM

“Crimson Peak” is an exquisitely lush movie to look at, but it lacks suspense. Regardless of whether you go into the film expecting to see some preconceived notion of a gothic romance or a horror movie, suspense is a key element that should be there. For a movie that del Toro says is not a horror movie, sudden outbursts of vicious bloody violence play out in deadpan counterpoint to the mundane narrative at hand.

Mia Wasikowska’s Edith Cushing is a shrewish author of ghost stories living in Buffalo, New York during Europe’s Belle Epoch. From her writerly perch Edith prefers Mary Shelley to Jane Austin. The subtext here is that she may be searching for her own Lord Byron. Edith’s naughty-librarian appearance (hair up with glasses) disguises a sharp wit, and lusty loins seething to tempt the town’s latest mystery man, Thomas Sharpe, a baroness earnestly portrayed by Tom Hiddleston.

Thomas earns Edith’s respect when he notices one of her ghost stories sitting on her desk in her industrialist father’s office. The charming baroness is dutifully impressed at the pages he peruses before discovering that Edith is the story’s author. More importantly, Thomas is in town with his not-right sister Lucille (unconvincingly played by Jessica Chastain), on a mission to find financial backing for a mining machine he has devised to remove the red clay upon which his British mansion is sinking. Naturally, Edith’s business-savvy father Carter Cushing (note the Peter Cushing reference) is the wealthy would-be investor that Thomas must convince. Is the love that blooms between Edith and Thomas to be trusted?

Screen Shot 2022-03-21 at 1.54.26 PM

In spite of her instincts about the kind of “toxic” man he might be, Edith marries Thomas after her disapproving father’s murder. Edith manages to act against the resolute instructions of both of her deceased parents when she moves across the Atlantic to live with Thomas and Lucille at “Crimson Peak,” a place her mother warned her never to go.


Edith’s writing aspirations go out the window after she moves into the gigantic snow-covered “Allerdale Hall” (aka Crimson Peak), whose land glows bright red. Allowing Edith's primary character trait (as a fiction writer) to vanish into thin air just when she should be using her ghost-infested surroundings for novelistic inspiration, removes a key part of Edith’s identity. It is as if del Toro is reneging on his female character’s intellectual promise in favor of a weak emotional bond with a man who is clearly not what he presents himself to be. It doesn’t help del Toro’s goth-romance gambit that Hiddleston and Wasikowska share an utter lack of romantic chemistry. A secret that Thomas and his sister share, explains the coldness Thomas exhibits toward Edith. Del Toro isn’t as daring in the realm of sensual expression as he is at showing sudden bloody violence.

Screen Shot 2022-03-21 at 1.54.35 PM

The Mexican filmmaker has fun borrowing elements from films such as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (see the decrepit mansion’s elevator) but the overall effect is overwrought and underwhelming. “Crimson Peak” isn’t an awful movie; it just isn’t a very good one either. Come back Guillermo del Toro. We need you.

Rated R. 119 mins.

2 Stars


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Every bit helps keep the reviews coming.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos



Throwback Thursday

Podcast Series