The Awakening (2011)
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton
Directed by: Nick Murphy
Run time: 107 minutes
Synopsis: In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the 'missing' begin to show up.
There were some things about this film that really made me question whether they threw them in last minute to add to the running time as they serve no real addition to the plot. Overall, it could have been a decent thriller about a skeptic learning that there is more to the spiritual world than hoaxes. The plot is too full of inconsistencies to be effective. The love interest/sex scene was entirely unnecessary as was the attempted assault on the main character. There were so many things that detracted from the eventual twist that it was entirely implausible.
Case 39 (2009)
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Bradley Cooper, Ian McShane, Callum Keith Rennie, Kerry O'Malley
Directed by: Christian Alvart
Run time: 109 minutes
Synopsis: A social worker fights to save a girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she ever expected.
This film suffers even with its big name cast. However, Jodelle Ferland is quite possibly the creepiest horror movie kid. Her creepy acting and deadpan delivery can't save this production though. The biggest downfall is the plot never really deciding what Lily is or what she wants. That's an issue with the writing of the script not Miss Ferland's abilities as an actress.
Don't Be Afraid of The Dark (2011)
Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison
Directed by: Troy Nixey
Run time: 99 minutes
Synopsis: A young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend discovers creatures in her new home who want to claim her as one of their own.
I don't care that most people hated this movie. I've seen both it and the original 1973 tv movie. The remake has several key plot points changed; Sally was the wife in the original and the house belonged to her grandmother. In the remake, Sally is the daughter and the house belonged to a reclusive artist. However, the basis for everything else is the same. The scenery is beautiful. The cinematography is what you'd expect from something Guillermo del Toro was involved in. Both films creeped me out. Weird little creatures are crawling around in vents and under sheets. Uhm, no thank you. My skin crawls just thinking about it!
The Ward (2010)
Starring: Amber Heard, Mamie Grummer, Jared Harris
Directed by: John Carpenter
Run time: 88 minutes
Synopsis: A thriller centered on an institutionalized young woman who becomes terrorized by a ghost.
While not your typical John Carpenter fare, The Ward isn't necessarily bad. It's not going to appeal to your average horror fan. The body count and gore are pretty much non-existent. Even as a psychological horror, there are a few jump scares and misdirection present. Once you get to the twist, the rest of the film seems to make sense. This is almost too little, too late. Regardless, I was intrigued by the twist. I just wish it had been explored in a better way.
Red Mist (2008)
Alternate Title: Freakdog
Starring: Arielle Kebbel, Sarah Carter, Katie McGrath, MyAnna Buring
Directed by: Paddy Breathnach
Rating: Not Rated
Run time: 82 minutes
Synopsis: A young doctor in a US hospital administers a powerful and untested cocktail of drugs to a coma victim. But instead of curing him, it triggers a powerful "out-of-body" experience and enables the patient - a depraved and dangerous loner - to inhabit other people's bodies and, through them, take revenge on the bullying medical students who were accidentally responsible for his condition.
Medical students more interested in sex, drugs and drinking get in over their heads cause injury to a creepy janitor and leave him outside of a hospital. While this isn't the greatest premise ever, it's fairly original considering all the remakes we've been expected to enjoy. Arielle Kebbel has an innocent look to her that's easy to sympathize with. There are lots of pretty faces and bloody deaths to satisfy the average horror fan. I couldn't quite get past the plot holes or the weak ending to really enjoy it.