Chassity’s Hidden Gems: Nine Dead

Oh, the beauty of movies on the internet. While I’m definitely a film geek, I’d like to think that I’m an informed one—with a bounty of knowledge of many different movies and random trivia about them. However, with all the new technology and ways to watch movies, I realize that I don’t know as much as I thought I did about my favorite genre (horror). I also learned that there are a ton of great movies out there that I’ve not only never seen, but never even heard of.

My younger brother, who I’m very close to, got Netflix a few years before I did, and over the past couple of years there’s been many a night where we get together to watch a random horror flick he’s found on Netflix, or Redbox, or some similar option.  Through him, I’ve discovered some pretty great movies that are relatively unknown, or that I never would have heard of any other way. Thank goodness he has a spirit that is much more open to trying new things than mine is.

Before we began having our movie bonding nights, I never liked to go into a movie without knowing what I was getting into. I normally have to have seen at least two trailers for it, have read a plot synopsis on imdb and a few other sites, and so on and so forth. What can I say—I love movies, but since I watch so many of them already, I don’t like to have my time wasted with two hours of something I should have been able to guess was going to be a dud.

I like to think of these “finds” of his as Hidden Gems.

One of these recent Hidden Gems is the movie Nine Dead. As usual, I was skeptical about this movie at first. My brother refused to give me so much as a plot summary before we watched it; his only selling point was that it sort of reminded him of something out of a Saw movie, and of course that was more than enough for me.

While quite a few moments of the acting in this film were atrocious, it wasn’t so bad that it took me out of the movie or made it unenjoyable. And as someone who enjoys a good mystery, I found the plot of the film very intriguing. By the fifteen minute mark I was so captivated by the story that I forgot how reluctant I’d been to watch it in the first place.

So what is Nine Dead really about? Simply put, a group of people find themselves trapped, chained in a room together by a man who tells them that their task is to figure out the reason they’re all there. Until they do, their captor will return every ten minutes and kill one of them until they’re either all dead or they figure out why all of them are there. Not a very easy task.

Granted, the movie starts out quite slow. Right off the bat, the opening segment is poorly done, showing how each of them were kidnapped. Waste of screen time. We get it; they were taken out of the blue. Showing maybe one or two would have been okay, but it became monotonous. And then there was the dialogue. Awful. I don’t normally say this, but I could have done better. Some of the things the characters said, like Coogan’s convenient last words to the killer, most of the dialogue of the rebellious Leon character, and the things the characters yell at their captor when they realize where they are, and after he shoots a victim; it practically made me cringe, to say the least.

The other major problem with the film was how convenient it was that they each live long enough to give out their individual significant piece of information that solves the mystery in the end. I understand that it was necessary to make the film work, but it was just a little too sloppy. Each person’s information came out in a way that was clearly a plot contrivance and not at all natural and realistic.

So there’s all that. But the thing is that Nine Dead did what is was supposed to do as a film: it entertained me and thrilled me. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie for what it was, and found myself just as invested in what was at stake, as the characters. The movie had its intense moments. It’s a good watch because it has horror elements, thriller elements, and has enough suspense and mystery to keep you watching until the end. You’ll hate some characters with a passion, and care enough to feel that some of the characters are treated unfairly in being trapped in that room.

So, I’d recommend this one—as long as you go into it expecting nothing more than a fun, distracting, enjoyable film.

“In Defense Of Dead Silence”: How Chassity Became A Fangirl

You know a filmmaker is good at what he or she does when, in ranking his or her films from favorite to least favorite, even the one that falls in the “least favorite” spot is still not only a great film on its own, but also better than the majority of everything in the genre. That’s saying a lot.

And that is exactly the case with James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s 2007 film Dead Silence. This film was the first post-Saw collaboration for Wan and Whannell, and as such had a lot to live up to, with the popularity and success of their debut film.

fucking doll

If someone were to go into viewing Dead Silence expecting another Saw-like film, they’d be very disappointed. Because that’s not what Dead Silence is at all. But going into it expecting to feel similar emotions to what they felt when they first viewed Saw (scared, intrigued, more than ready to know what’s going to happen next, highly entertained, and creeped out) then that’s an expectation that one might have met.

I have been asked multiple times by other horror nerds why I’m such a fan of Wan and Whannell, and why I like this movie. One of the things that I love so much about seeing movies by James Wan and Leigh Whannell is that they are really, really good at the hitting the ground running in their films. Not a moment is wasted; they jump right into the story. Dead Silence is no exception. We meet our main character Jamie Ashen, and the ventriloquist dummy, the center of our story, promptly appears. It takes less than 15 minutes to know that the dummy and the story that comes along with it really are something to worry about. It’s very easy to love this film from the beginning because it gives us and shows us what we need to know and see, and ONLY what we need to know and see.

The most common complaint I hear about this film is that the characters are boring; I couldn’t agree less. Every time I see the film, I’m impressed by how believably Ryan Kwanten, who plays Jamie, is at balance: he’s angry about his wife’s death without overacting, and he’s not stoic about it either (it’s always troubling how little concern people show for the death of loved ones in most horror movies); nor does he seem whiny as the neglected son. He strikes the perfect balance. Then there’s the hilariously irritating Donnie Wahlberg character. The way Wahlberg plays Detective Jim Lipton as someone who thinks he’s trying to find the truth, but really just wants to prove what he already believes to be true, and how irritating and cocky he is in every interaction he has with Jamie; it not only provides a sort of almost comic relief, but it just makes you more able to relate to Jamie because, as a viewer one, will feel just as burdened and annoyed by Lipton as Jamie is.

Non-fans of this film also review it by saying that it has very little action. Not only do I disagree with this, making the argument that it moves at a speed that is “just right” for the tone it’s going for; but I’d go so far as to say that even if I did agree, the movie wouldn’t be as good as it is if it moved any faster. This isn’t a Child’s Play, a killer doll movie, it’s almost a haunting film, a ghost story. It’s supposed to have slow-building tension. To the point where it’s almost agonizing. These kinds of tales aren’t supposed to be sped through. Every scene starts with a feeling of “what’s going to happen next?” and ends with a vibe of “ok, now what’s he going to do?” And anyone who’s seen a Wan and Whannell film knows that no matter the speed, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride because it’s all leading to something, and something big.

Which brings me to my final point. The twist ending. As is the case in most films with twists endings that get discussed, there will always be those who say “that was so stupid” or “I knew that was going to happen.” My response is always the same “Yeah, it’s easy to claim that after the fact, just like it’s easy to do some good old Monday morning quarterbacking.” I don’t buy that the twist was predictable. I know I didn’t see it coming. It actually made a lot of sense, when you go back and think about how twisted the entire story is. It tied the movie together nicely, and was a very solid way to wrap things up. Given that this was, again, the duo’s sophomore film after Saw, it’s natural that some might not appreciate the twist for what it is, because it wasn’t on the grand scale of the twist in their first film.  But it didn’t need to be. I doubt they had any intention of topping that twist, anyway. Dead Silence just has a different kind of twist. At least for me, it left me with the same kind of reaction that I had when I watched Saw for the first time: it left me sitting on the floor, in front of my DVD player, with my mouth hanging open and my eyes wide with fear. At the very least, to the twist’s detractors, I say this: wasn’t it at least better than the played out, more-than-stereotypical horror movie endings of 1) the hero or heroine killing the villain, breathing heavy, and then walking out into the sunlight, or 2) the hero finally managing victory, after which the police show up, and we close on the hero wrapped in a blanket in the back of an ambulance, staring into the abyss?

So there’s all that. At the end of the day, Dead Silence is an enjoyable, even great, film that, for all it’s being the least popular film of the duo (at least among those I know), still manages to beone that scares me enough to make me watch it at least once a year. And for as much as I loved Wan and Whannell’s debut, this was the film that solidified me as a hardcore fangirl of theirs and made me determined to see everything that they would ever make.

dead silence 2

Chassity’s Best/Worst of 2013

Worst Movies of 2013

Mama: Scary Movie 5 didn’t need to parody this film. It was a joke on its own.

The Purge: I hate it when a trailer introduces me to a film with a very promising concept, but the actual film never really delivers. I was totally let down by this one. 

Curse of Chucky: I’m still trying to figure out why they bothered making this waste.

Dracula 3D: Horrendous garbage 

Texas Chainsaw 3D: So atrocious, so formulaic and cliched.

Paranormal 4: My hatred of these movies knows no bounds. Someone explain to me why people ever liked these movies, please.

Lords of Salem: I may be a little biased here. I’ve loathed this filmmaker since he decided to perform destruction on one particular classic horror film.

The House At The End of The Street: So, technically this one came out last year, but I’m including it because after seeing it again on DVD, I realized that this movie was, at best, “meh”.

Dracula 3D: Again, just awful.

Dracula 3D: What could possibly deserve the number one spot more than this. 

Best Movies of 2013

You’re Next: What an amazing final girl. Suspense is plentiful in this one.

Insidious Chapter 2: Even better than the first one. James Wan and Leigh Whannell show their brilliance yet again.

Warm Bodies: Just a cute movie. And a great message. 

Maniac: My favorite actor in an extremely gruesome horror movie? Yes, please. 

The Collection: Actually from 2012, but I can’t recommend it enough. Its protagonist, Arkin, may be my favorite new anti hero. (It also comes from the filmmakers behind the last 4 Saw movies, which is a selling point as far as I’m concerned.)

You’re Next Movie so nice I chose it twice. 

The Conjuring: So good, it’s just one long case for why I love James Wan.

Devil’s Carnival: Very little creeps me out anymore, but this sure does. It may be Darren Lynn Bousman’s best non-Saw work. 

Best Albums of 2013

The Strokes: Comedown Machine 

Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City 


Kings of Leon: Mechanical Bull 

Ra Ra Riot: Beta Love

13 Top Moments In Horror Movies by Chassity

I love Friday the 13th. It’sa chance to pretend it’s October for a day and indulge in horror. For most people, that means a marathon of all the Friday the 13th movies. But I say there is no need to limit horror to this one franchise just because it shares the same name as the day.

In fact, this month I decided to celebrate Friday the 13th by enjoying the 13 possibly best moments in all of horror. Definitely my personal favorites.

13: Mrs. Voorhees Is Beheaded.  Definitely one of the best Final Girl moments. And it’s only right to start off with an actual Friday the 13th moment. I certainly remember being shocked, the first time I saw this film, that such a moment was able to be in a movie back then. As a woman, it’s easy to be torn watching that scene. Torn between wanting such an awesome, psychotic female villain to survive,and wanting sweet Alice to show some strength and courage enough to get rid of Mrs. Voorhees.

12. The Call Is Coming From Inside The House.   This one has been used in a few, but the one that seems to be the most memorable is in When A Stranger Calls. I’d go so far as to say it’s pretty much a perfect horror movie moment. I can’t even begin to imagine anything creepier than being told someone is stalking you and is inside the house you are in, where you’re supposed to be safe.

11. Mother Bites Off Penis. Okay, as a horror movie fanatic, sometimes it feels like I’ve seen it all. Like nothing can scare me. But then I sat down to finally watch The Last House On The Left. It is one of the few movies to truly scare me in my entire life, and the revenge scene where the mother of the victim bites a man’s penis off still haunts me to this day.

10. Arkin is Caught . If movies are supposed to make us relate to characters and take us on the protagonist’s journey, then what could be more torturous than going on said journey with a relatable “guy with a problem” like Arkin in The Collector and watching him go through hell and then some to to try to save the family he came to rob, watch him finally escape the house ,having successfully saved someone, finally get help and be on his way to the hospital, only to THEN be caught by the villain in an intense, panicky, draining, emotional scene that turns him from a hero into a victim.

9. The End of Psycho. Obviously there are scenes in this one that are much more popular. But this ending was just so subtle and simple, yet ominous and bone-chilling. The way the camera closes in on Norman’s face during the mother’s closing monologue, and that ending look on his face are unforgettable. So is that creepy voice saying “she wouldn’t even harm a fly.”

8. The End of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Truly a nightmare of an ending. The implication of Leatherrace standing there swinging his chainsaw in the air aimlessly is that the boogeyman, the things that are out to get us, the things that haunt us, will always be there, and when we escape, these things will still be lurking and haunting us.

7. What’s In The Box.  Brad Pitt in Se7en going into that open field only to find his dead wife’s head. That whole scene is a lesson in how to do suspense right, and what a horror movie climax should look like. It’s one of those rides that takes you through every emotion.

6. Halloween Opening. Classic. The movie hits the ground running, and the reveal at the end of the opening scene that this is being done by a little boy eliminates the false sense that youth always equals innocence. A great classic opening to a great classic film.

5. Freddy’s Monologue In Freddy vs. Jason. Any writer or aspiring writer knows that one of the greatest struggles is handling exposition. This partiular horror film handles this well. Hearing Freddy talk about how he can’t go back to Elm Street to kill the children unless they’re afraid of him, and how he had to search the bounds of hell for Jason is a great and entertaining way to get information across cleverly, and it makes for a great opening to hear Freddy’s creepy voice in a refreshingly chilling and serious manner as opposed to his usual, typical wisecracks.

4. Aidan Tells His Mom The Mistake She Made. This one is from The Ring. This film gave us one of those “just when you think it’s over, it’s not” moments. Just when it seems like Rachel has saved the day by freeing Samara Morgan, and all is back to normal, Rachel’s son Aidan, who’s already been a totally creepy kid throughout the entire film, becomes way creepier as he reveals that she has actually made things much worse; she wasn’t supposed to free Samara, and all hell is about to break lose. I remember that I practically had goosebumps the first time I saw that scene, dying to know what would happen next.

3. Samara Comes Out Of The TV.  Anyone who has seen this film will never forget this moment. There has never been another like it. We don’teven see much of Samara’s face in it, but that doesn’t even matter. She’s coming out of the television, for goodness sakes!! Very slowly. With a one track mind to kill. And she moves at an insanely unique speed and manner.

2. The First Two Ghostface Killers Are Revealed.The ups and downs with Billy being the killer and then not being the killer (rinse and repeat) finally came to a conclusion with him indeed being the killer, and the fantastic reveal that there were actually TWO killers. As I’f this weren’t enough, the entire final act has one twist/reveal after another, yet never manages to be ridiculous. That final act, and the reveal of the killers , incorporates the world of horror movies ( and horror movie fanaticism) in a very real way.  There are so many movie references in that scene alone, but it never feels like watching a horror movie; it feels very much like watching two actual psychos.

1. The Ending of Saw. You didn’t really think I’d do an entire list about great horror movie moments without mentioning Saw at all, did you? This one is obvious. An assumed-dead person turns out to be quite alive, the presumed villain revealed to be just another victim, and the reactions of Adam as the whole thing is playing out are all part of the reason I say if it weren’t for this mind-blowing ending being what it was, there never would have been a Saw franchise.



Top 7 Moments in Saw Franchise

7) The Audiolab Massacre, Saw VI: Known to hardcore fans as the “right now you’re feeling helpless “ scene.  Before this, Hoffman was just a monster, and Eric Matthews was the most badass character in the Saw universe. But in this one scene, he proved why there’s only room for one top dog, and why he deserved for it to be him.  Agents Perez and Erickson discover that Hoffman is the new Jigsaw, and Hoffman  snaps, killing three people in a very few quick smooth moves, And the he proceeds to stab Perez over and over again. The lengths he was willing to go to protect his secret were insane. Some people say that Hoffman was becoming too much like Jason Voorhees or Michael Meyers, but I just think this served to show how paranoid Hoffman had become, how desperate he was, and how much Jigsaw had miscalculated. He created a monster in Hoffman.

6) William Realizes It Isn’t His Game, Saw VI: This is the big twist of the installment. The whole film had implied that the main game was to teach William a lesson about the value of human life, at that the woman and boy (Tara and Brent) who’d been watching him on the t.v. monitors were William’s wife and son. But here we found out that the game was in fact Tara and Brent’s; their game was to sit and observe William and then make the choice whether or not to exact their revenge for William not granting Tara’s husband health coverage that could have saved his life, or to forgive him and let him live. The other piece to this puzzle/game, is the reporter, Pamela. At this point, we discover that she is William’s sister and the whole point to her being held captive in the game is so that she can plead her brother’s case and try to convince Tara and Brent to spare him. This was a nice touch, especially when fans were becoming concerned that victims in the franchise were becoming too arbitrary and not given enough of a chance to survive. Pamela’s whole point as a character were to give her brother a fighting chance.

5) John and Hoffman Set Up the Gas House Trap, Saw V: This particular film is among the least popular among fans. But this scene was one of the best things about Saw V . Seeing the backstory  of Hoffman being involved with this trap was a great easter egg, but more than that it, addressed the issue of how Jigsaw was so good at what he did. He talks about predicting behavior, and understanding how people operate. Not only was it great to get a better understanding of how Jigsaw thinks, but to see him working with Hoffman as far back as Saw II explained many plot points.

4)  Hoffman Escapes the Reverse Bear Trap, Saw VI: Again, just further proof of how awesome Hoffman is. The whole theme of this installment had been  “the will to survive”. And when he is finally given his test, he doesn’t even hesitate. He breaks his hand, does whatever he has to , to get out of that trap. And when he does, he is ANGRY.  He is no longer just trying to cover his tracks and get out of the world that Jigsaw brought him into; he is now out for blood. His escape is a turning point, and a fan favorite.

3) The Return to The Bathroom, Saw III: Talk about a major easter egg for the fans! After the original film, there are a total of only 3 returns to the set of the first film- where everything started. Not only was this the last one before the final movie, but it was perhaps the best return to the bathroom, because we got to see John and Amanda setting up Dr. Lawrence Gordon  and Adam Faulkner/Stanheight’s game. This was a fantastic moment for the hardcore fans, and it reveals how far back Amanda’s involvement with John goes. To know that she was in on Jigsaw’s games since before the opening scene of the original film—that Jigsaw seemed to recruit her the very same day the Saw cops had her tell the story of her trap to Dr. Gordon—is an important piece of information. This entire sequence was simple, yet sop well done, and the remix of the Hello Zepp theme (this time, it’s called the Shithole Theme), just made the moment more intense.

2) Amanda’s Tape to Eric, Saw II: The hatred between Eric Matthews and Amanda Young was one of my favorite elements of the early installments. This is why I consider the tape Amanda left to Eric when she left him trapped in the bathroom, to be a very important moment in the franchise. The fact that it’s the only tape that has her voice instead of John’s, is so meaningful. Jigsaw later talks a lot about how the games can never be personal, but this one clearly is. Eric wronged Amanda, and this is her chance to get revenge. Everything that Amanda says on that tape makes Eric angrier and angrier, and when she finally shows her face at the end of the tape and locks him in the bathroom, you just know that the battle between them is not over.  Her one and only tape is definitely one of my favorite tapes.

1) The Twist Ending in Saw: Do I even need to elaborate? This moment is my favorite moment in any movie, and it’s definitely one of the greatest twist endings of all time. The reveal that Zepp, the man we thought was responsible for the bathroom game, and all the other Jigsaw traps, is just another victim was so unexpected. It’s one of those “holy crap” moments. And then when the dead guy on the floor gets up off the ground and reveals that HE is actually Jigsaw…Well, let’s just say I’ve never believed anyone who says they saw that coming. This moment alone turned a movie that was really good, into something really great. Without that twist, there’s a pretty good chance this film would have fallen into the oblivion and there never would have been any sequels. That twist is what kept people talking about Saw.