Movie Reviews

Wes Craven, the famed director of Nightmare on Elm Street and The Hills Have Eyes, fails to conjure up the terrifying magic of his earlier films in his latest horror movie My Soul to Take.

People would be better off watching the trailers, which did a much better job of explaining the plot than the film itself, than wasting their money on a movie that does more to confuse the audience than to scare them.

It's hard to imagine how seeing the film in 3-D would have been enough to make up for the incoherent storyline, not to mention the ridiculously-named characters like "Fang" and "Bug" who appear just as interested in their boring teenage melodrama as in the violent deaths of their classmates.

At least the movie has no shortage of graphic murder scenes, kicking off with a gruesome stabbing and then intermittently killing off a character every 10 minutes or so. The movie is supposedly about a dead serial killer - who was also a schizophrenic, how typical - who comes back to life to terrorize a small town in Massachusetts. The film's main flaw is that it is so concerned with keeping viewers on edge of their seats and wondering what happens next that the plot is so erratic, it's actually boring.

The movie focuses on the seven teenagers who were born the same night of the death of the "Riverton Ripper" and are now the unfortunate targets of the reincarnated killer. Most of the time that they aren't being chased through the woods by a madman with a knife, the teenagers are confessing things that might have been relevant to the plot. Or not.

Go see My Soul to Take this Halloween weekend if you found five bucks on the street and feel like wasting an hour and a half in the movie theater not being scared. Otherwise, you'd be better off just renting Scream

Paranormal Activity 2★★★★by Shea Frazier

The first Paranormal Activity was the master of well-placed surprises, but one surprise audiences and critics never thought Paranormal Activity would pull off was a decent sequel.

Paranormal Activity 2 came as a shock to all. A tightly-controlled, tension-filled feast, this installment takes everything that made its predecessor successful, throws in a toddler and an endearing canine and proceeds to horrify everyone with two eyes and too much pride to close them.

The movie follows the Rey family, comprised of father, mother, stepdaughter, nanny and baby boy Hunter. About a year after the family happily brings Hunter home, a strange break-in leads the Reys to install security cameras throughout the house. Through these and a handheld camcorder, audiences get a prime view of that initial happiness's heart-twisting death when the family is mysteriously plagued by progressively worsening supernatural occurrences.

Set 60 days before the events of the first movie, Paranormal Activity 2 smoothly ties the films together, smartly weaving interesting layers into both narratives. Though the second movie could stand more-or-less on its own, nothing gives knowing audiences the shivers quite like being forced to watch Katie - possessed protagonist of the first Paranormal Activity - greet her sister Kristi and her new nephew.

Katie isn't the only throwback to the first film. Everything - from the filming style to the slow suspenseful build-up of psychologically oriented scares - is the same, but sleeker, better-paced and ultimately more terrifying.

Paranormal Activity 2 has no gore or pea soup-spitting girls. Its scares are subtle, playing on humans' fears of helplessness and of the unknown. This may not frighten fans of blood-fests like the Saw sequels or dismemberment-mad movies like Jeepers Creepers, but Paranormal Activity 2's chilling nature, superior acting and cruel premise is enough to make most others sleep, at least for one night, with the lights on.

Hereafter★★by Laura Savary

Clint Eastwood's new film Hereafter details the journeys of three individuals who have been affected by death and try to make sense of the afterlife. It poses the question, "What happens to us after we die?"

Matt Damon plays George Lonnegan, a psychic who has difficulty dealing with what he calls a "curse." Marie Lelay (Cécile de France) is French television journalist who becomes obsessed whether or not there is "life after death" after having a near-death experience, and Marcus - played by brothers Frankie and George McLaren - is a young British boy who wants to know what happened to his twin brother after he died.

Of the three, the film primarily focuses on Lonnegan, who after using his "curse" as a career for years is now reluctant to aid others in their quest to communicate beyond the grave. In time, Lonnegan decides to travel to Europe to try to forget about his abilities, and the stories of the three characters finally come together at a book fair in London.

The performances by all three of the actors are commendable. It was refreshing to see Damon play a softer, more emotional character than the action-hungry Jason Bourne in the Bourne series. In her role, de France does an admirable job of communicating her character's desire for answers, and both Frankie and George McLaren effectively display the strife of a grieving boy.

The overall idea of the film was interesting in theory, but was not successfully brought to the screen. Since the plot centers on the life of not just one, but three characters, the movie becomes more about the journeys themselves than what the characters actually learn about death. Eastwood also introduces subplots into the film - such as Lonnegan's love interest Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) and his cooking classes - that have no noticeable resolution.