We like to take upcoming horror releases and guess the plots of the films based only on the titles. These are our plot guesses from zine #6, along with an actual description from IMDB for each film.
Zine #7 will be available around June 1st and will include another round of plot guesses.
Rusty: A girl named Judy has created invitations to her birthday party for every kid in her class, but — at the urging of her racist friends — the invitation she created for the one black kid in her class is not delivered. After the party, as she is going to sleep, the undelivered invitation begins glowing and starts whispering to her. Unfortunately, this promising film premise is wasted, since the script was not completed due to monetary restraints. Instead, a full 37 minutes of dance sequences from another unfinished film was spliced into the movie in order to fill it out to feature length.
Josh: When Jessica gets an invitation to join a new secret sorority, she jumps at the chance to finally fit in. But it turns out that this sorority is secret for a reason, and that they might have more than a passing connection to the sounds she’s been hearing in her room late at night – and the frequent disappearances on campus. What follows is a blood-drenched journey into madness, and a horror film that’s going to probably do awfully in theaters but will win over fans who love its Argento-like style and Raimi-like excesses. It’s a wild ride, but not for the faint of heart.
Mike: In one of the most frightening films of this decade, Barry is settling down for a nice Sunday afternoon of football, beer, and wings, until his wife informs him that he must bring his daughter to a birthday party instead. “Where am I going?” he asks. “Check the invitation,” his wife replies. “It’s an invitation,” Barry tells himself. “How bad could it be?” But as he approaches the refrigerator, he sees it: Chuck. E. Cheese. Is the invitation really a symbol for eternity in Hell? (This is probably a really short film.) (OK, this isn’t a film, it really happened to me on Sunday.)
IMDB: Will and Eden were once a loving couple. After a tragedy took their son, Eden disappeared. Two years later, out of the blue, she returned with a new husband… and as a different person, eerily changed and eager to reunite with her ex and those she left behind. Over the course of a dinner party in the house that was once his, the haunted Will is gripped by mounting evidence that Eden and her new friends have a mysterious and terrifying agenda. But can we trust Will’s hold on reality? Or will he be the unwitting catalyst of the doom he senses?
Rusty: A man, whose name happens to be Christopher Columbus, is haunted by a ghost named Santa Clara. After doing some research at the public library, Chris discovers that Clara was better known by her nickname, “La Niña.” As it turns out, this is no regular ghost: it is a ghost ship! A tense, slow buildup that lasts 45 minutes eventually dissolves into a huge mess. You should definitely rent it.
Josh: An unauthorized sequel to Dracula, Nina Forever follows the adventures of Nina Harker as she continues on throughout life in an effort to vanquish all vampires, using her own vampiric talents that were passed on by the Count. (If you’re saying to yourself, “Hey, that sounds like they ripped off Blade but made it about a white girl,” well, you’re right. There are boobs, though, so that’s something.)
Mike: Michael J. Fox and Shaquille O’Neal star in this supernatural thriller about an artist named Gary (Fox), who paints a picture of a child and names the piece “Nina.” When Jojo (O’Neal), his neighbor in the apartment across the hall, laughs at his efforts, Gary burns the piece in a furious rage. However, he begins to see the child from his painting everywhere he goes, and he soon believes that she is after him. Will he paint the picture again, or will Nina haunt him forever?
IMDB: After his girlfriend Nina dies in a car crash, Rob unsuccessfully attempts suicide. As he begins to overcome his grief, he falls in love with a coworker, Holly. Their relationship is complicated when Nina, unable to find rest in the afterlife, comes back to life to sarcastically torment them whenever they have sex.
The Disappointments Room
Rusty: A group of British gentlemen form a tea and supper club that they name The Disappointments Room, after their tendency to air their many perceived failures to each other during their weekly meetings. Eventually a buildup of negative energy in the room accumulates enough mass to break through as a physical manifestation that threatens to destroy them all. Anthony Hopkins stars as himself, with special appearances by Andy Serkis (as the motion-capture monster) and Dame Maggie Smith as the monster’s disapproving mother.
Josh: My teenage bedroom! Get it? Get it? I was very unpopular.
This mockumentary follows Jason Voorhees back to his residence where we see the souvenirs and memories he’s made and kept throughout the years. The titular room is dedicated to the final survivors of each film – the ones that got away, so to speak. Turns out, Jason is pretty well-spoken and thoughtful – it’s just that his mask keeps him from sounding as erudite and intelligent as he is. Not much gore or violence, but Jason does share a great recipe for his special green tea blend that you’ll be dying to try out.
Mike: Memphis police detective Buck Martinez is tracking a serial killer, when he realizes the victims are not randomly selected and that each is chosen for a reason. They are all failures. Jerry Underwood couldn’t keep a job, Lisa Curry owed all of her friends money, and Keith Rogers hadn’t paid child support in months. Like in most movies, Buck hangs all of the evidence on the walls of his small office, which his co-workers jokingly call the “disappointments room.” Will Buck discover who is killing these deadbeats in time to prevent another murder? And if he fails, is he then a disappointment himself? He knows he must act soon, before his own picture is added to the wall.
IMDB: A mother and her young son release unimaginable horrors from the attic of their rural dream home.
Rusty: A lowly editor for a TV news show notices, by accident, that when the audio of a popular local politician’s speeches is played backward, his message is one of evil. Namely: if elected, the country you love will be taken over by everything that you fear. It is difficult to say whether the film is a satire or not.
Josh: Basically ripping off Memento and adding a slasher, Backtrack is a slasher that begins at the end, slowly ticking backward through each death and stalking until we see where it all begins. It’s an interesting gimmick, but one that never quite works or has much point; does anyone really watch slashers for their complex storylines? Still, there’s some good kills, and the movie has some fun misleading you and using your assumptions against you along the way.
Mike: Hard rock band Backtrack escapes to a cabin in the woods with some friends to record their new album, “Up Here, Down There.” Things run smoothly, and the group is encouraged when the track “Stabbing Stones” is quickly finished during their first night. But when keyboardist Clark steps out for a smoke and is stabbed to death in the darkness, the group realizes that someone is out there, killing them based on the titles of their songs. Should they pack up and head home, giving up on years of hard work and dreams? Or should they power through the session and hope for the best? And what happens when they get to tracks like “Machine Gun Heartbeat,” “Raise Her Razor,” or “Light Me on Fire, Burn Me Like Toast”?
IMDB: Psychologist Peter Bower’s life is thrown into turmoil when he discovers that the patients he has been seeing are ghosts. Risking his own sanity, Peter delves into his past to uncover a terrifying secret which only he can put right. Backtrack is a spine-chilling story from the acclaimed writer-director, Michael Petroni.
The Girl in the Photographs
Rusty: You know how, in some horror movies, the characters don’t notice something very noticeable about their photographs (like how one character’s face is always blurred or a child’s shoes are always on the wrong feet or there’s always a hovering devil in the background) until the climax of the film? This is one of those.
Josh: Don’t get fooled by this one. The trailer promises a Hardcore/8mm-style film about a man who immerses himself into the porn industry after he becomes obsessed with a girl he sees in a photo gallery online. As you’d imagine, he gets exposed to the seedy underbelly of the industry real quick, and finds his way to “snuff films” way more easily than you’d think. (Small spoiler: does Google really list them in their own category? That seems unlikely… but I ain’t googling that.) But the fact that this one turns out to be secret Christian anti-porn propaganda and ends with a literal ten-minute sermon is likely to anger any serious gorehound, even if the fact that the movie uses a literal deus ex machina to wrap up its story is pretty hilarious, as is the choice of actor as Jesus (it rhymes with Smirk Smameron).
Mike: Burt flips through his Instagram photos one night, and he starts to notice something: there is a random stranger, a girl, in the background of every picture. Is she real, or is she a ghost? It’s up to Burt to find out, and he quickly discovers that the girl in the photographs may not be exactly who she seems. Look for a bonus feature on this straight-to-DVD release that shows how director Jimmy Anthony painstakingly photo-shopped each of the pictures used in the film. (I mean, unless you have anything else better to do. It’s 2016. Even my mom can edit photos.)
IMDB: A bored young woman in a sleepy community called Spearfish starts receiving photographs of brutally murdered young women. Are they real or staged? The culprit is either a serial killer or some creep with a sick sense of humor.
Rusty: “You don’t understand. I might need this one day.” These are the words of Dax Denning’s demented grandfather, who will never let his grandson throw anything in his cramped house away. With heavy sighs, Dax lives in the cluttered house, taking care of his grandfather’s every need. Until one day, an alien or ghost or something attacks the house and Dax’s grandfather, with complete lucidity, uses every single item in the house to defeat the ghost or monster or whatever it is. There is heavy-handed Christian imagery on the screen as the grandfather dies, having completed his task. Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Josh: Not for the claustrophobic, The Hoarder takes place entirely within a single apartment filled to the brim with magazines, posters, and other detritus. Think of it like an updated Wait Until Dark, but using the stacks of garbage everywhere to provide shadows, hiding places, and more. The film uses its single location pretty well, and there’s a twist halfway through that involves the realization that the house doesn’t have just one occupant, but two – and that second one is handy with a machete – that keeps it moving. A neat low-budget gem.
Mike: Harrison is a hoarder. Of bodies. They’re all over his house, the garage, the shed, and even the back yard. Still, the multiple angles and obvious voiceover work on this “found footage” film slightly hinder its authenticity. You can catch horror vet Ken Foree (credited here as Koree Fen, for some reason) as Bathroom Body #5.
IMDB: When Ella discovers her Wall Street banker boyfriend is renting a secret storage unit, she suspects he’s using it to hide an affair. Enlisting the help of her best friend Molly, she breaks into the facility, only to discover something more terrifying instead. Now trapped in a darkened building with a group of neurotic strangers who start disappearing one by one, Ella soon uncovers even worse horror in the dank depths. Her life or death battle to escape eternal enslavement is about to begin.
Rusty: An experimental horror film only available on streaming services, the entire film consists of a voice saying — over and over, on a black screen — “Turn out the lights. Turn out the lights. Turn out the lights.” The movie is already famous for the YouTube videos posted of teenagers watching the film in the dark until one of them freaks out, the cell phone they’re recording with getting all shaky and stupid.
Josh: Ever watched a slasher film and thought, “Gosh, that was fun, but I wish I didn’t have to see so many kills and so much pointless, gratuitous 80’s nudity!” Well, is Lights Out the movie for you! Think of every bad, low-budget slasher you’ve ever seen, but this time, the killer only works when the lights are out and it’s pitch black. Every kill takes place on a black screen, meaning that all we see is bodies left behind, or sometimes not even that. Good idea for a suspense film, but bad idea for a slasher. The fact that the movie tries to get around by having characters narrate their fates makes it hilarious (“OH NO! NOW HE’S GOT A CHAINSAW! AND HE’S CUTTING ME WITH IT! NOW MY INTESTINES ARE CAUGHT IN THE CHAIN! NOW HE’S SEPARATING MY BONES! OH, THAT HURTS SO MUCH!”), but not in a good way. Avoid.
Mike: A group of middle school girls at a sleepover decide to play “Lights Out,” a new game that everyone at school is talking about. To play the game, the girls pair up, turn out the lights, and chant the game’s song: “Lights out, lights out, 1-2-3/I kill you, or you kill me/Turn the lights out, count to three/Who gets killed? I guess we’ll see.” But unlike Bloody Mary and other similar games, where nothing good ever happens, this is an absolute bloodbath, and the girls really do kill each other! Who will still be alive when the lights come back on?
IMDB: A woman is haunted by a creature that only appears when the lights go out. A feature adaptation of the 2013 short film “Lights Out” by David Sandberg.