Tag Archives: Oren Peli

Review: Chernobyl Diaries

Thanks to the Paranormal Activity franchise and Insidious, with Oren Peli’s name, comes high expectations. Bumps in the night, innovative concepts, fun scares and perhaps more importantly than anything, situations that feel real are all elements that are now expected from a Peli film and while each and every one is present and accounted for in Chernobyl Diaries, they’re all achieved on a subpar level.

While on an overseas trip, Chris (Jesse McCartney), his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Dudley) and their friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) make a pit stop in Russia to visit Chris’ brother, Paul (Jonathan Sadowski). They enjoy a night out on the town and the next day, their itinerary has them hitting Moscow. However, Paul makes a new friend, Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko), and convinces the group to take Uri’s extreme tourism trip to Pripyat, the city which once housed the Chernobyl nuclear reactor employees and their families. At first they’re all thrilled, as the abandoned city is certainly a site to behold, but when they’re ready to leave and their van won’t start, they come to realize they’re not alone.

Inklings of Chernobyl Diaries‘ simple and clever premise are present throughout the film, but are rarely expanded upon. Rather than have each scene lead to a new discovery or propel the narrative forward, the characters merely run in circles. We get a lot of dog chase sequences and quite a few instances where they wrestle with whether or not to go back for a missing group member, and all the while you never get the sense that the group is making any progress. They may get a gun and find a friend, but ultimately, that trapped and helpless sensation never dissipates in the least, bathing the feature in too much dread.

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Review: Paranormal Activity 3

With the Saw franchise over and done with, Paranormal Activity finally has the holiday all to itself. If you’re like me, you were rather used to Saw’s Halloween splash, spending the holiday watching helpless victims get ripped limb from limb, blood splattering everywhere and a puppet ride around on a tricycle. No, it wasn’t quality filmmaking, but it was tradition and holiday appropriate. Well, no more settling necessary. The Paranormal Activity franchise has not only continued to deliver quality material, but now, with three films under its belt, shows it has the potential at being a viable and worthy long standing tradition.

Round three picks up just before the events of the first two films, in 2005. Sisters Katie and Kristi (Katie Featherston and Sprague Grayden) are in incoming baby Hunter’s freshly painted room. While there, Katie also takes the opportunity to unload some unwanted keepsakes, an old box of VHS tapes. Next year, Kristi’s house is burglarized and the only item missing is that very box of tapes.

Jump back to 1988. Young Katie and Kristi (Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown) are doing the usual for girls their age – having tea parties, celebrating birthdays and getting dressed up for picture day at school. However, little Kristi also has another hobby, talking to her invisible friend Toby. While her mother, Julie (Lauren Bittner) writes the behavior off as mere child’s play, Julie’s live-in boyfriend, Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith), becomes obsessed with Toby and the strange and inexplicable bumps in the night. In true Paranormal Activity form, he arms up with video cameras and sets them up around the house, determined to find out what’s going on while they sleep.

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The Best And Worst Of 2011 So Far

Who’s ready for round two of our “Best and Worst of 2011 So Far” series? Yesterday Melissa kicked things off with some noble choices in the drama and comedy departments, but now it’s my turn and my affinity for the horror genre is as blatant as ever.

Take a look at where my top and bottom lists stand thus far and be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of the Shockya.com crew’s picks as the series continues tomorrow night with Karen’s choices.

BEST SO FAR

Super 8: J.J. Abrams did it back in 2008 with Cloverfield and now, he’s done it again, built an incredible amount of hype around a new feature film and actually made due on it. While Abrams’ methods of promotion may be fun for us, it could be detrimental to his films. After drawing so much attention to Super 8 via its viral marketing campaign, had the film not lived up to expectations in the slightest, it would have been shot down hard. However, the opposite is true and the combination of Abrams’ endlessly intriguing clues and then the impressively powerful final product manifested into an overwhelmingly enjoyable experience. Without resorting to the shaky cam tactic, Abrams manages to tell the story in a way that makes you feel as though you’re in the middle of it with Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) and his friends. It’s exciting, suspenseful, heartwarming – everything I hoped it’d be and more. Click here to read my full review of Super 8.

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Interview: Insidious’ Rose Byrne

Knowing was kind of creepy and 28 Weeks Laterpretty suspenseful, but you’ve never seen Rose Byrne handle horror as she does in Insidious. She stars as Renai, a loving mother and wife who moves into a brand new home with her family. While exploring their creepy new abode, their eldest son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), falls off a ladder and winds up in an inexplicable coma. With no sound reason for Dalton’s condition, he’s sent home from the hospital and that’s when the truly horrifying events begin.

Not only is Renai bearing quite a bit of emotional baggage at the start of the film, but the pressure continues to build throughout. Look at this from Byrne’s prospective; not only does she have to take her character through an intense arc, but she also must envelop herself in this supernatural world all while under the pressure of having just 22 days to shoot the film. Tough stuff, right? Maybe, but not for Byrne.

Byrne only had the best to say about this project from working with stellar co-stars to her top-notch team of horror filmmakers which includes Saw vets James Wan and Leigh Whannell as well as Paranormal Activity’s Oren Peli and Jason Blum. For any actress looking to dive into the genre, Byrne certainly surrounded herself with the right people. The only downside to that? They’re quite eager to throw you into some pretty horrifying situations. Hear all about Byrne’s experience makingInsidious in the interview below and, if you don’t mind losing some sleep, be sure to check out the film’s bumps in the night firsthand when the film hits theaters on April 1st.

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Review: Insidious

It’s taken three months, but we’ve finally got a 2011 horror film worth seeing; something overwhelmingly unnerving with the power to keep you up at night, Insidious. It’s got a little Nightmare on Elm Street, a part The Exorcist and a hint of Paranormal Activity, too and the results certainly honor genre expectations all while delivering an exhilarating, unique and horrifyingly unpredictable experience.

Josh and Renai (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) are a pretty happy couple. They’ve had their issues, but are leaving them behind by moving into a beautiful new home with their three children. All is well until their eldest son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), opts to do some exploring and winds up falling off a ladder in the attic. The next morning, Dalton won’t wake up. Josh and Renai take him to the hospital, but only to find out that he’s inexplicably in a coma.

Three months pass and now, not only is Dalton still in his state, but Josh and Renai have a new problem on their hands, strange and downright terrifying bumps in the night. When Renai comes to the conclusion that their new abode is haunted, unlike in any other film of the genre, the family actually moves. However, house swapping doesn’t rid them of their ghostly guests, rather intensifies the situation.

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Interview: Insidious’ Patrick Wilson

After the success of the Saw franchise and Paranormal Activity, who passes up the opportunity to work with James Wan, Leigh Whannell, Jason Blum and Oren Peli on a horror flick? Certainly not Patrick Wilson and who teamed up not only with the best of the best in the horror genre, but a talented cast too, for Insidious.

In Insidious, Wilson stars alongside Rose Byrne as Josh and Renai Lambert, a generally happy couple with promising careers and three cute kids. Problems arise when one of their kids, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), falls off a ladder and winds up in a coma – or so the doctors think. You think that’s bad? Just wait until a little while later when Dalton’s still in this state and the bumps in the night begin.

After having done big budget action films like A-Team and Watchmen, this independently run experience was a nice change of pace for Wilson. The team may have had just 22 days to film the entire feature, but between Wilson’s natural chemistry with Byrne, his existing relationship with Simpkins and enthusiasm for the unique script, making Insidious was a wholly natural and successful process. Hear all about it straight from Patrick Wilson himself in the video interview below.

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Review: Paranormal Activity

ParanormalActivityPosterSeeing helpless victims face a brutal serial killer is terrifying, but after watching Paranormal Activity, I’d much rather be hanging out with Jigsaw than the demonic force haunting Micah and Katie. Experiencing this movie with an unruly crowd definitely diminished the horrifying effects, yet I still walked out terribly frightened and dreading turning out the lights and going to bed. The film’s scare factor precedes it but Paranormal Activity isn’t just a cheap thrill, it’s an honorable production that easily trumps other films, even those not of its genre.

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