Area 51 (2015)

Area 51 posterIn 2007, writer-director Oren Peli changed the face of modern horror filmmaking with the film, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. The first film blew audiences away with it’s minimalist production values and decent, genuine scares. I enjoyed the first film and looked forward to see what Peli had up his sleeve next. Well… not much. Peli was a Hollywood Golden Boy. The film had an estimated budget of $15,000 and went on to earn $193,355,800 worldwide. I’m sure every studio in Hollywood was writing him blank checks to make the next big film. Instead, Peli went and became a producer for such films as INSIDIOUS, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2, 3, 4, and 5, CHERNOBYL DIARIES, THE LORDS OF SALEM, and THE BAY (to name a few). But what most people don’t know is that in 2009 Peli quietly directed and wrote the film, AREA 51. The film sat on the shelf for six years until it was finally released in May 2015. Why the wait? Was it worth the wait?

No. No it wasn’t.

In direct opposition to his first film’s budget, Peli with a budget of five million dollars (that’s right, $5,000,000) made AREA 51. To give you some background on this train wreck of a film, production originally began in the fall of 2009. But then in 2011 CBS Films hired Chris Denham to do some rewrites on the film and in 2013 Peli filmed some re-shoots. In late 2013, Jason Blum, one of the film’s producers, announced that AREA 51 had finally finished production and Peli had it in post-production. Two years later the film was released exclusively in Alamo Drafthouse theaters for a weekend run and on various VOD platforms. In its limited theatrical run, AREA 51 made a total of $7,556. Ouch.

Area 51 2Enough background. What’s AREA 51 all about? The film opens with three friends getting ready to attend a party. During the party, Reid (Reid Warner) was abducted by aliens and began his months long obsession with trying to find out what happened to him. Reid convinced his two friends Ben (Ben Rovner) and Darrin (Darrin Bragg) to go on a very dangerous trip to infiltrate the mysterious Area 51 in the Nevada desert. Darrin made sure to film everything, and before you realized it, AREA 51 was just another found footage flick. Just wait until you watch these three seemingly jobless twenty-somethings pack up thousands of dollars of electronic equipment they needed to get through the Area 51 security (which we’re told is second to none).

They found this deep in the Area 51 facility ... I have no idea what it is, but it looks pretty cool!!
They found this deep in the Area 51 facility … I have no idea what it is, but it looks pretty cool!!

The entire story is lazy and overly convenient. They easily bypassed the exterior security measures and avoided the Area 51 security team (“The Cammo Guys”). If you’re wondering how they’re going to break into the complex itself, wonder no more. Reid found a girl online, Jelena (Jelena Nik) who’s father used to work at Area 51 and had a high security clearance. Well wasn’t that convenient!! I bet you’re wondering how they bypassed the exterior security, right? Simple. Reid scheduled a meeting with real life Area 51 expert, Glenn Campbell (who plays himself). I’m sure Campbell meets whack-jobs from the internet to tell them how to break into a highly classified government bases all the time!!

Maybe not.

Area 51 1The whole film (unbelievably) builds up to the friends breaking into Area 51 and (hopefully) finding evidence of (violent) aliens. The film certainly took its sweet-ass time as it built up to the break-in. When we finally get to it, the friends broke into the complex easier than Thomas Crowne could break into a gas station safe. Apparently, one of the most secured governmental facilities in the world is protected by three to four guards at most.

They finally penetrated into the lower levels of the facility and discovered … stuff. Some of the stuff was cool looking, but most of the stuff in the lower levels was in complete darkness. Couldn’t see a damn thing!! There were flashes of alien sleep chambers and it was implied that the aliens are carnivorous creatures with a taste for human flesh, but it’s only vaguely hinted at. Everything is just so damned boring and pointless. You’ll know exactly what’s gonna happen within the first few minutes of the film. It’s an extremely lazy script that lacks any kind of suspense or tension. Even the cast looked bored by the end of the film. AREA 51 felt like Peli took the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY script and substituted “demons” and “ghosts” with “aliens.” AREA 51 is the same film as PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.

Area 51 4AREA 51 was a complete mess and was a typical found footage movie complete with annoying characters, improbable scenarios, and a less than satisfying ending. The entire film can be summed up as predictable, dull, and derivative. Now we know why this one sat on the shelf for six years. I’d make some kind of clever comment about how AREA 51 should itself be “abducted,” but I think you all get the point. Avoid this one!!

My Summary:

Director: Oren Peli (& co-writer with Chris Denham)

Plot: 1 out of 5 stars

Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

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The old "alien autopsy" footage that aired on Fox in the 1990s was more compelling and believable than this film!!
The old “alien autopsy” footage that aired on Fox in the 1990s was more compelling and believable than this film!!

Oren Peli’s Area 51 Finally Being Released

Area 51 posterOren Peli, the creator of the beyond-explanation success of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise, is finally going to get to see his film AREA 51 released. Peli is the guy to blame for all these low budget, found footage films that are trying to become ‘the next big thing.’ Peli made PARANORMAL ACTIVITY for $15,000 and the film went on to gross $107,918,810 domestically. Let that sink in for a second!!!! Most people don’t know that shortly after PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, Peli wrote and directed another film titled AREA 51 (in 2009). The film stars Sandra StaggsSuze Lanier-BramlettRoy Abramsohn, Jelena Nik, Nikka Far, and Glenn Campbell. Check out the plot crunch:

Three young conspiracy theorists attempt to uncover the mysteries of Area 51, the government’s secret location rumored to have hosted encounters with alien beings. What they find at this hidden facility exposes unimaginable secrets.

I love these types of films and am eager to check this one out. The last news I heard about AREA 51 was that Peli was messing around with the film’s final edit, but in early April 2015, producer Jason Blum announced that AREA 51 was soon heading to VOD outlets and Alamo Drafthouse theaters on May 15, 2015. Check out the trailer and let me know what you think.

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Area 51 1

Area 51 2

Insidious: Chapter 3 Drops New International Trailer & the Possibility of a Shared Universe?

Insidious posterAnd the INSIDIOUS franchise keeps trudging along!! INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 is a prequel to the previous two films. This installment is written and directed by Leigh Whannell, who wrote the first INSIDIOUS as well as the first three SAW films and DEAD SILENCE. INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 stars Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie ScottAngus Sampson, Lin Shaye, Steve Coulter, Hayley Kiyoko, Ashton Moio, and Ele Keats. Whannell also reprises his role as Specs. The film is slated for a June 5, 2015 release date and is starting to kick the promo wheels into high gear. The film recently released the official international trailer.

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 takes place before the haunting of the Lambert family, which was the focus of the two previous INSIDIOUS movies, and will introduce and explore the mysteries of the otherworldly realm, “The Further.” Check out the plot crunch:

A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.

Now dig on the new German trailer:

In other INSIDIOUS news, Jason Blum, Executive Producer and founder of Blumhouse Productions, recently hinted that the INSIDIOUS and SINISTER franchises may be creating a shared horror universe. When Eric Eisenberg from Cinema Blend, asked Blum if the shared universe model was something he was interested in doing, Blum responded:

Insidious blumhouse

Be like Marvel, you mean? Yeah! I want to do that. We’ve been putting Easter Eggs in movies in different things. There’s some in Insidious 3. There’s some in Sinister 2. So yeah, we’ve been doing that. I would like to do more of that.

With INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 coming out in June and SINISTER 2 being released in August, Blum suggested  that at the very least some strides will be made to show that these two franchises may exist in a shared world. The studio is also, according to Blum, in the process of putting together a bigger picture. As Blum explained:

We’re not close to an AVENGERS, but I do like the idea of having the worlds collide in the different franchises we work on. That’s a really cool idea… I want to continue to do that.

Insidious blum
Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions


What do you think about a shared horror universe? Think it would work? Think anyone would really care about it? A shared Marvel Universe works because there’s all these heroes that need to come together to fight a bigger threat than any single superhero could handle. Think the same kind of idea will work with these franchises?

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Blumhouse to Launch New Horror Trilogy, Creep

Creep posterThis is kind of a ballsy move. And my “kind of” I mean “what are they, fucking crazy”!! According to Yahoo Movies, Blumhouse Films are banking heavily on their upcoming release CREEP and are already planning on making two sequels. And all this before the first one even hits cinemas. CREEP is directed by Patrick Brice, written by Brice and Mark Duplass, and stars Brice and Duplass. You may know Mark Duplass as Pete in the funniest show on TV, THE LEAGUE. But here he’s taking on a more sinister role. CREEP premiered at the 2014 SXSW Festival in Austin and was described as a “microbudget two-hander.” Check out the very brief plot crunch:

When a videographer answers a Craigslist ad for a one-day job in a remote mountain town, he finds his client is not at all what he initially seems.

Duplass and Brice are hoping to create a new PARANORMAL ACTIVITY-like franchise and they definitely have the ‘micro’ part down.

It’s very much a two-man show, as the actors also co-wrote the script, whilst Brice directs and Duplass produces, along with horror hit-maker Jason Blum.

The creative team behind CREE. Jason Blum (far left), Mark Duplass (middle), and Patrick Brice (far right).
The creative team behind CREE. Jason Blum (far left), Mark Duplass (middle), and Patrick Brice (far right).

Just like with the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films, it’s hard to imagine how such a basic premise could spawn a trilogy. I’m assuming that there’s gonna be some pretty big surprises and twists along the way. In an interview with, Blum talked about CREEP being shot in the found footage format:

“Our movies are scary if they feel real. I had the same relationship to ‘Creep’ as I did with ‘Paranormal Activity’ – these guys went off and made the movie and showed me a rough cut, and I was compelled by it…

“And found-footage movies now, not true 5 or 6 years ago, are very tough to pull off because there have been so many of them. I’ve been pitched every found-footage movie ever, and 99 out of 100 of them I go back to them and say, “Don’t shoot it found footage.” The concept these guys came up with couldn’t be made any other way.”

There’s been no release dates announced yet for CREEP but I’m assuming it’ll be soon. I think it’s worth checking out. Duplass is a talented, creative guy. What do you think about CREEP?

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Dimension Films Plans on Being a “Pest”

dimension_films_logo_a_lDimension Films has announced today plans to bring a new terror to life in conjunction with Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions.  Check out the press release below for the announcement of PEST:

Dimension Films and IM Global announced today that Dimension has acquired U.S. distribution rights to the horror thriller PEST, directed by Mark Tonderai (HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET), from IM Global and Blumhouse Productions. Octane, the genre division of IM Global, a subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Reliance ADA, will fully finance the film which will be produced by Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions (SINISTER, INSIDIOUS, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, THE PURGE) and Sherryl Clark of Busted Shark (CLOVERFIELD). Blumhouse International is overseeing foreign sales. BHI has a worldwide distribution and servicing deal with IM Global. IM Global CEO Stuart Ford, Charles Layton and Matt Kaplan are executive producers. PEST is based on Barbara Marshall’s original screenplay, which appeared on the Black List, the Blood List, and the Hit List in 2012. Discussions are underway for the lead roles with some top talent in consideration.

In PEST, when a deadly virus invades their hometown, a teen documents her family’s new life in quarantine and tries to protect her infected sister as society begins to crumble outside.

“I was captivated by Marshall’s screenplay. There is a complicated family drama amidst a terrifying and tense story of an outbreak that is unleashed. I’m excited to be working with Jason Blum and Stuart Ford again to bring this terrifying thriller to audiences,” said Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company.

Said IM Global CEO Stuart Ford, “We’re delighted to continue our long-standing and successful relationship with both Jason and Bob Weinstein. We couldn’t ask for two more savvy and prolific partners on a smart, elevated genre piece such as PEST.”

Blum said: “We are excited to work with Bob, Stuart, Mark and the entire team on bringing Barbara’s terrifying world to life.”

The deal was negotiated for Dimension Films by David Glasser, COO, The Weinstein Company and Michal Steinberg, EVP Business/Legal Affairs and Acquisitions; on behalf of the film by IM Global’s Ford, SVP of Business Affairs Florence Larsonneur and Jason Blum.

I was kind of hoping for something a little different than the standard “deadly infection” storyline, but I’m always up for some new blood being injected into this sub-genre.  What do you think?

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Sequel to Sinister is in the Pipeline … Shocker!!

sinister-movie-poster__130301195419When a little film grosses more than $87 million worldwide off of a $3 million budget, you can bet your ass that a sequel won’t be far behind.  The PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise is still cranking them out (for better or worse) and now it looks like SINISTER will be the new sequel on the block. has reported that Jason Blum‘s Blumhouse Productions is moving forward on its third micro-budget franchise with SINISTER 2.

The move to build the Sinister franchise follows in the footsteps of Blumhouse’s successes with theParanormal Activity and Insidious series of ultra-low-budget genre hits. further reports that:

[A]ll of the major behind-the-scenes players are back for Sinister 2, including creators Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill. They wrote the original, which Derrickson also directed. Thinking is that they’ll write the sequel, and I hear director conversations are in the works. Blum will produce as will Derrickson. (Blumhouse and Derrickson are also working on a screen adaptation of Stephen King novella The Breathing Method.)

The cast and plot for the sequel are so far being kept under tight wraps.  More on this one as it comes.

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Mark & Jay Duplass Sell Their Found Footage Horror Flick, Peachfuzz, to Blum

Jay & Mark Duplass

I’m loving Mark Duplass more and more. First off he’s brilliant in FX’s THE LEAGUE, which is the funniest show on the air right now. Now I’m learning that he’s a horror fan and has been writing some horror scripts. One script, PEACHFUZZ, that he wrote with his brother Jay, has been bought up by Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions. According to The Wrap:

Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions have acquired distribution rights to “Peachfuzz,” a found-footage horror film produced by Mark and Jay Duplass. Blum and his company, producers of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, have invested an undisclosed sum in the movie and will work with the Duplass brothers on the film, its distribution and marketing. Patrick Brice directed “Peachfuzz,” which follows a young man who encounters unforeseen surprises after answering a Craiglist ad.

No other plot details are available right now, but what really excites me about this project is that PEACHFUZZ is said to put a “new spin on found footage horror.” I am game for that!!

“We’ve been wanting to do something with Jason and Blumhouse for a while,” Mark Duplass said in a statement. “Our love for the absurd and uncomfortable combined with his horror experience is the exact fit we wanted for our vision for the found-footage genre.”

Bring it on, Mark. Bring it on!! No news yet on when PEACHFUZZ will be available.

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Daniel Stamm to Helm Angry Little God for Dimension

I’ll be honest … I have mixed feelings about filmmaker Daniel Stamm. Stamm directed THE LAST EXORCISM (which apparently wasn’t the last one, because there’s a sequel scheduled). I didn’t care for THE LAST EXORCISM, but I do recognize that it was a well made film. Well Stamm is back in the genre with the upcoming ANGRY LITTLE GOD. This is essentially a remake of the Thai horror flick, 13: GAME OF DEATH. The original went out of it’s way to gross out and disgust the viewer (I did appreciate that), so it’ll be interesting to see how far Stamm takes the f/x here. Check out the press release:

Dimension Films has announced its acquisition of U.S. distribution rights to the psychological thriller ANGRY LITTLE GOD from director Daniel Stamm (The Last Exorcism). IM Global will finance and produce the film, an English-language remake of the Thai thriller 13: GAME OF DEATH, alongside Brian Kavanaugh-Jones of Automatik and Kiki Miyake. Jason Blum of Blumhouse (SINISTER, INSIDIOUS, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY) will executive produce with Somsak Techaratanaprasert.

Stamm and his writing partner, David Birke, adapted the script from the original film, which follows a bright but meek social services coordinator who’s drowning in debt and desperate as he’s about to marry the love of his life. He receives a mysterious phone call informing him that he’s on a hidden camera game show where he must execute 13 tasks to receive a cash prize of over $6,000,000. He accepts the challenge, but even with thousands of dollars suddenly appearing in his bank account, he realizes he’s in over his head. Trapped into the horrors manipulated by unseen spectators, his need to complete the game escalates as the tasks grow more extreme to a devastating point of no return.

“I was blown away by Daniel Stamm’s direction in THE LAST EXORCISM and have wanted to work with him ever since,” said Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company. “We look forward to bringing his suspenseful ANGRY LITTLE GOD to American audiences.”

“Dimension is the perfect distributor for this kind of edgy genre material in the hands of a proven talent like Daniel. We’re looking forward to the ride,” said IM Global CEO Stuart Ford.

The deal was negotiated for Dimension Films by David Glasser, COO, The Weinstein Company, and on behalf of the film by IM Global’s Ford and President of Sales Jonathan Deckter.

Sounds like an interesting story. We’ll see what they do with it.

What do you think? Sounds good?

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