I just watched these three films a few days ago and wanted to make sure I got their reviews posted in 2014. TUSK was a film a heard a lot of buzz about but didn’t read any reviews. I didn’t want to know anything about it past the basic premise. I didn’t know or hear anything about COME BACK TO ME until it popped up on Netflix. It sounded decent enough and it wasn’t a found footage or ghost story so I jumped on it. As far as PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES goes, I watched that one just to be a completist with the franchise.
COME BACK TO ME (2014)
Sarah and Josh (Katie Walder and Matt Passmore) are a young, struggling couple. Sarah is trying to finish up her Ph.D. and Josh works the night shift as a dealer in a casino. Things are going well enough for them until Sarah starts to experience night terrors and waking up gasping for air. Something strange is happening to her and as she begins to unravel the mystery secrets are revealed and she slowly realizes that the truth might be worse than not knowing.
COME BACK TO ME was a nice surprise. Director and screenwriter Paul Leyden did a great job translating Wrath James White’s novel, “The Resurrectionist,” to the screen and captured a lot of what made the novel so addictive. The first half of COME BACK TO ME is suspenseful, tense, scary, and expertly keeps the audience in the dark. A lot of weird shit is happening to Sarah and we’re just as much in the dark as is Sarah.
Technically this film looks great. Leyden captures the perfect atmosphere and tension in the first half of the film. We also get enough background on Sarah to care about her and what’s happening to her. Katie Walder is a little uneven in her portrayal of Sarah and at times her acting pulled me out of the moment and made me aware I was watching a movie. But overall it was her performance that helped pull off this film. At least the first half of it.
Unfortunately the second half doesn’t hold up quite as well. Leyden blows his wad a little too early, about the halfway mark of the film, and the carefully crafted mystery that was built up suddenly becomes easily figured out by the audience. Holding onto that mystery and suspense longer would have made this film stronger. Luckily, though, the explanation as to what was happening to Sarah was enough to keep me interested in the rest of the film. COME BACK TO ME isn’t a perfect film but there’s definitely enough here to enjoy and for me to recommend. Definitely check this one out. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
MY SUMMARY FOR COME BACK TO ME:
Director: Paul Leyden (& screenwriter)
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 3 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Wallace (Justin Long) is a podcaster who has a pretty abrasive personality. While in Canada to interview a YouTube sensation he runs across Howard Howe (Michael Parks), an eccentric older man who has lived a full, interesting life. With promises of amazing stories for his show, Wallace meets Howe at his remote home in the middle of Manitoba. There Wallace discovers too late that Howe has other plans for him. Will his friends Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) and Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) find him in time before he’s transformed into something completely new?
I can’t remember a film in recent history that divided audiences as much as TUSK. There was no grey area at all; people either loved this film or hated it.. I couldn’t wait to see it!! I ended up being a part of the former camp of people who loved this film. It’s quirky, dark, funny, and downright disturbing at times. Writer-director Kevin Smith, who developed the idea for this film from one of his podcasts, hits all the right notes with TUSK. From the actors to the pacing to the ending, Smith proves he’s one of the Kings of off-beat, bizarre stories.
Justin Long (Wallace) does a really great job in his role. His character is a total prick (he even has a douchey mustache) who is still a decent man deep down inside. Sure it’s waaaaay deep inside, but it’s there. His desire and drive to be successful led him to creating his podcast persona and most times he forgets that it is indeed a persona. If not for his girlfriend, Ally, constantly reminding him who he really is, he would be unbearable, which most times he is to people.
The character of Howard Howe (Parks) is really the glue that holds this entire film together. Parks is terrific as Howe and portrays him beautifully. The man is batshit crazy but not in the “eyes rolling around in your head” kinda crazy. He’s manipulative, charming, charismatic, intelligent, and downright nuts. Parks’ even portrayal makes this film. Great casting!!
Not everything works in this film. There’s a few subplots that go nowhere and don’t add anything to the overall story. But the pacing is spot on and there’s even a surprise actor in a major role – that of detective Guy Lapointe. Don’t look it up on IMDb … watch it and guess the actor. He steals the movie.
TUSK will definitely have horror aficionados thinking about THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, and for good reason. Their central stories are the same. My regular readers know that THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE didn’t work at all for me. It was over-hyped and under-delivered in every aspect. That film was also gore-less. TUSK, though, completely works. It’s effective and has a point to make beyond creating a monster, which I thought looked great. THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE had a gimmick and tried to build a story around that gimmick. TUSK is a much better made and more effective film than THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE.
TUSK is one of those films where you need to say, “Fuck all the reviewers and critics” and you need to see it for yourself. Many of those who hated it admit to thinking about TUSK days and weeks after seeing it. That to me is a win for Kevin Smith!! Don’t miss this one. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.
MY SUMMARY FOR TUSK:
Director: Kevin Smith (& writer)
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 4.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (2014)
Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) starts experiencing odd stuff after his weird neighbor dies. It’s not long before he realizes he’s been marked for possession by a demon. Can he break the curse in time?
This one hurt, people. It hurt bad. When is this franchise gonna call it quits? I guess as long as these films keep making $90.8 million on a $5 million budget we’re gonna keep getting them. This plot is a little different than the three previous PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films, but somehow writer-director Christopher Landon made it all feel like we’ve seen it all before (and let’s face it we have). The plot is silly, the ending is predictable, and there’s nothing scary going on here. How silly, you ask? Well for starters the demon gives Jesse superhero-like powers, and secondly, Jesse communicates to the demon through the memory game, Simon. If you still want to see this film after those two points, then have at it. I really disliked this film. A lot. There is a fifth film coming from this franchise but I think I’m done with it. A man can only take so much!! Definitely skip this film!!
MY SUMMARY FOR PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES:
Director: Christopher Landon (& writer)
Plot: 1 out of 5 stars
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
All Three Films Reviewed by Scott Shoyer