Friday, November 30, 2012

Jump Scares

Ah, the jump scare. Even the most seasoned horror fan will occasionally fall for them, but they’re most effective when used sparingly. All too often, this advice falls on deaf ears. Characters are constantly subjected to cats springing out of cupboards (How do they manage to close the doors behind them?), sneaky buddies popping up out of dark alleys, split-second shots of spooky faces in bathroom mirrors, etc. It's all about balance. You can't have your ghost/monster/killer to appear in every scene that requires tension or else they'll lose their effectiveness. There's nothing wrong with a quick, cheap scare, just stay away from the same old cliches. Put a new spin on them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Moth Diaries

As the body count rises, a teen (Rebecca Bolger) begins to suspect the fetching new student (Lily Cole) at her all-girl boarding school is a vampire.

With a blurb like that, The Moth Diaries sounds like it could be one of those trashy, late-night cable movies brimming with bad acting and over the top titillation every ten minutes, but that’s hardly the case here. For the most part, it’s a decent attempt to tell a story about a girl doing her best to deal with a loss...

I didn't say it was totally devoid of titillation.

I can’t say the film held my attention throughout, a bit dull in some spots and too artsy in others, but the third act resolution wasn’t half bad. Most thrillers settle for the twist ending or see-you-in-the-sequel. What we get here is a protagonist with a legit arc. Her peculiar journey/adventure suddenly makes more sense. While I don’t do spoilers, mentioning the film was directed by Mary Harron (American Psycho) should be a big enough clue. Not a great film, not a lot of fans on the either, but I have to give it credit for trying something different...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

All You Zombies

After vampires and werewolves had their run, aliens were supposed to be the next big thing, then somebody decided that angels were definitely it, but the undead dragged their rotting corpses under the radar and managed to infect Hollywood before we knew what was happening. You could make the argument that they’ve leapfrogged werewolves in terms of mainstream popularity.

Zombie films are the ultimate pressure cooker stories. Throw together a bunch of people from different backgrounds in a confined space, give them a looming threat, then watch the magic happen. Big budgets, multiple locations, or lots of special effects are not required. Their biggest Achilles heel is often a lack originality. The Romero films are cool, but no one wants to see a rehash of the same story with only minor cosmetic changes. Two upcoming films don’t seem to have this problem.

The World War Z trailer brings a whole new meaning to the wave. More of a tease than insight into the story, it seems like The Walking Dead on steroids. Still, I’m intrigued.

Horror comedies can be iffy with audiences, but Warm Bodies looks like fun. Zombies regaining their humanity. Clever.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Blood List (2012)

The 2012 edition of The Blood List is upon us! Behold, loglines from the top 13 most liked, unproduced, dark genre screenplays of the year:


Logline: A man begins an investigation into his wife's mysterious death, only to find that it goes much deeper than he imagined.

STEPHANIE by Ben Collins & Luke Piotrowski

Logline: A young girl has strange powers that doom her to a world of solitude. PAPERHOUSE meets CARRIE.

LOCKDOWN AT FRANKLIN HIGH by Joe Ballarini and Gregg Bishop

Logline: A straight-laced teenage girl tries to save her socially outcast, rebellious brother during a high school lockdown due to a terrifying alien attack.

STORY OF YOUR LIFE by Eric Heisserer

Logline: When alien crafts land across the world, a linguist expert is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. As she learns to communicate with the aliens, she begins experiencing vivid flashbacks that become the key to unlocking the greater mystery about the true purpose of their visit.

FEBRUARY by Osgood Perkins

Logline: An unidentified young woman makes a pilgrimage to the site of a demonic possession at an all-girls boarding school in the dead of winter.


Logline: Based on true events, the story follows an Inspector during his forty year search for three siblings taken from an Australian Beach in 1966.

INTERSTATE 5 by Seth M. Sherwood

Logline: The son of an infamous serial killer and the daughter of one of the victims go on the road in hopes of tracking the killer down only to find themselves haunted by demonic forces intent on driving them mad. JACOBS LADDER meets NATURAL BORN KILLERS

SOMNIA by Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard

Logline: A couple who recently lost their son take in a young boy as a foster child. They soon discover that the boy's dreams manifest themselves in the real world when he sleeps.


Logline: A group of residents must survive the night in their apartment complex as they slowly learn that DARKFALL (the rising of demons to take over the Earth) is upon them.

VIRAL by Dustin T. Benson

Logline: Told from the 1st person point of view via the helmet camera of a bio-safety suit a female scientist searches for her missing daughter in a quarantined area of Manhattan. I AM LEGEND meets OUTBREAK.


Logline: The mute servant of a modern-day vampire returns home to her estranged family twenty years after her disappearance. As she grows closer to her family, her loyalties to her master are finally tested.

SHUT IN by T.J. Cimfel & David White

Logline: An agoraphobic woman must fend off a home invasion while she protects a dark secret.

PESTE by Babarba Marshall

Logline: A 16 year old girl begins to record her life for her high school media class just as a terrifying virus begins to spread.

Not familiar with the titles, except for THE DISCIPLE PROGRAM. It was one of those rare six figure spec sales that made headlines back in May. THE IMPORTANCE OF BLOOD sounds like it has an interesting POV -- don't think I've seen it before. The loglines for VIRAL, SOMNIA, and STEPHANIE all sound like excellent concepts.

BTW, you can follow The Blood List on Twitter


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