Horror DVD review: The Pact, Monster Brawl, The Victim and The Aggression Scale
Round-up of new horror DVD releases
It’s Halloween so the perfect time to check out a few horror DVDs. Kicking off with The Aggression Scale (Anchor Bay) ●●● which is being punted as ‘Home Alone meets First Blood’ which is a pretty accurate description of this home invasion thriller. Thugs gatecrash a family home only for the disturbed mute son to step up to the plate and tackle the villains head on. It starts well, is nicely unsettling for a while then seems content to remain average, even if a teenager dealing death is vague disconcerting, but by the end you want Owen (Ryan Hartwig) to go proper nutzoid.
Monster Brawl (Momentum) ●● is another film that you wish was as bonkers as it’s premise. There’s no real story just a succession of famous monsters (a zombie, Frankenstein’s Monster, a werewolf, a vampire, etc) wrestling. Yup that’s it, 89 mins of fiends fighting. If it had embraced its inherent stupidly and lathered on lashings of blood, guts and mania it could have been a cult classic in the making, unfortunately it’ll probably slide into obscurity (which is a real shame, from watching the extras you can tell a lot of love went into this low budget fight fest).
War of the Dead (Momentum) ●● joins the burgeoning ranks of Nazi zombie movies (see also Dead Snow, Nazis at the Centre of the Earth and Outpost) as a platoon of Finnish and American soldiers stumble on a bunker full of undead fascists. Not bad but just very ordinary and in desperate need of more gore.
Things take a turn for the spooky as for the first 15 minutes The Pact (eOne) ●● looks like it’s going to be a super creepy ghost story but as time goes on plot holes come to the fore and all suspense is lost with a barrage of wannabe plot twists. More ghosts but this time it’s a Thai double bill. The House (MVM) ●● is a boringly predictable haunted house movie that over labours all it’s interesting ideas until they become boring and bland. The same director (Monthon Arayangkoon) also gives us The Victim (MVM) ●●● which centres round an actress who plays murder victims in crime re-enactments. There’s a big plot twist about halfway in that should be a massive game changer, in reality it just plods along.
Which mustn’t be confused with The Victim (Anchor Bay) ●●●, cult hero Michael Beihn’s (The Terminator, Aliens, Planet Terror) directorial debut and it’s a pretty solid effort. He also stars as a loner who unwittingly gets dragged into a world of corrupt cops and dead strippers. It goes for grindhouse but is perhaps a little tame to really earn that moniker.
Vampires (Axiom Films) ●●●● is a rather clever and blackly comic pseudo documentary on vampires living in Belgium full of bickering and the domestic life of everyday bloodsuckers.
Which nicely bridges the gap to our found footage section. The Amityville Haunting (Revolver Entertainment) ● starts off as just another Paranormal Activity rip off then actually seems to try its best to get worse with every passing second. Not scary, not interesting, not worth seeing. The father’s death scene is particularly poor and would shame most amateur dramatics societies. A Night in the Woods (Vertigo Films) ●● is a bit better as things go bump in the night on a camping trip to Dartmoor. However for too much of the runtime nothing happens then once it does you can’t really tell what the hell is going on. Finally Apartment 143 (Momentum) ●● so almost works but pulls every cliché in the book as psychic investigators try to explain the weird goings on in the eponymous apartment, it would be genuinely terrifying if you haven’t seen a horror film since 1985.