The Possession of Hannah Grace Doesn’t Possess Its Viewers

Most possession flicks end with the exorcism: a mostly triumphant banishing of the thing that’s been bumping in the night and swaying innocent girls away from Puritanical gender norms. (Are there possession films where the demons inhabit boys? Evil Dead and The Amityville Horror are all that come to mind for me, but let me know any I’m missing in the comments.) The Possession of Hannah Grace flips that, opening with the title character’s exorcism. Things go south. She drives one priest’s head through a spike and before she can kill a second, her father smothers her.

From there, our main character enters. Megan (Shay Mitchell) is an ex-cop fighting alcoholism and the traumata of her partner’s death. She’s taken on the night shift in the morgue to avoid drinking. The film follows the exorcism and the opening credits with Megan’s first day. Director Diederik Van Rooijen sets up a terrifying setting. The lights are on motion detectors. The alarm that signals the arrival of the freshly deceased is loud enough to scare Megan and the audience out of their collective seats. Best of all, Megan is going to be there alone. It’s a terrifying setup.

Keep reading at Wicked Horror!

Rules of the Road

In Shannon’s blog post on the rules of writing, he made a great metaphor: a driver who “doesn’t mind going five miles per hour over the speed limit, but they always use their turn signal and wear their seatbelt.”  I won’t go slower than five over, but not only do I use my turn signals, I curse out anyone who doesn’t. Maybe it’s because my wife and I are gutting out an eight-hour drive from Tulsa to Houston, but I’ve been thinking of how else the rules of the road parallel the rules of writing.

Roads dictate how you drive. Signs posted every few miles tell you the speed limit. The cars around you show you how fast you actually can, or should, drive. More fundamentally, highways are designed for speed: guard rails, cement medians, and overhead lights keep drivers safe. Country roads, like the ones we’re driving on as I write, have no lights, hair pin curves. Farm lands stretch for miles in every direction. Bugs hover over the road, too slow to dodge our car, splattering on the windshield. We don’t want to slow down. We have to.

Keep reading at A Murder of Storytellers!

4 Dead, 5 Stabbed: Who Else Survived Hell Fest?

Gregory Plotkin’s Hell Fest came out a month before Halloween last year, telling the permagold story of a murderer on the loose at a Halloween festival. Is it a real dead body or a prop? Only the smell will tell! The film effectively mixes in the jump scares of a Trail of Terror with the actual danger of the slashing “the Other.” Plus horror icon Tony Todd hams it up as the Barker! It’s a lot of fun, but in the end [spoilers ahead] observant viewers will notice that the newscast voice over says that there were four killed while five characters were stabbed in the present day story.

We did some digging (tweeting at Plotkin late in the evening counts as investigative journalism, right?), and found out who the survivor was!

Find out who it was and read the rest of the article at Wicked Horror!

Haunted Hospital (Heilstätten) Needs the Infirmary [Blu-Ray Review]

Originality is overrated. The best stories are the ones that execute well. Wes Craven’s classic Scream is a pastiche. With the exception of the Billy/Stu reveal at the end, it borrows every blood-soaked moment from other slashers. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve seen a masked killer charging with a raised knife before, because Craven does a masterful job building suspense and thinking through the most minute details. Sydney doesn’t just hide in a closet halfway through the film, she hides in the closet that Craven painstakingly showed the audience twenty-minutes earlier. Those small things, not original concepts (which can help), separate a great film from a good one. Haunted Hospital would’ve been okay if it were only lacking in originality, but the execution isn’t spectacular either, leaving it too good to be so-bad-it’s-funny and not good enough to really make an impact on its own.

The premise is archetypal. Six young adults spend a night in the titular haunted hospital. Three are established digital content creators, one is an up-and-comer, and the other two work as tour guides at the sanatorium during the on season. The trappings are original: the Prankstaz.tv bros play with corpses a la Logan Paul; the hospital was used for Nazi experiments; and director Michael David Pate tries to manipulate the material to fit his hatred of vloggers, but when all of that boils off, it’s still a found footage spend the night in the haunted house film.

Continue reading at Wicked Horror!