Posts made in November 2018

The Possession of Hanna Grace – A Crimson Screen Collectibles Film Review

Westley Smith

Possession films are a hard sell to horror audiences and there is one reason for that: 1973’s The Exorcist. The Exorcist is the pinnacle of demonic possession films, and most films dealing with demonic possession made after The Exorcist pale in comparison to William Friedkin’s landmark film.

There have been dozens of rip-offs over the years like The Rite, Deliver Us from Evil, and The Last Exorcism, just to name a few from the last decade. Still none of these films were memorable, nor are they talked about in today’s horror community.

Still there are even fewer films dealing with demonic possession that were decent: The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Conjuring, just to name two.  But even these films cannot come close to the pure terror and raw emotional power of the original Exorcist.

The Possession of Hannah Grace falls into the latter category; there isn’t anything new to this film that we haven’t seen before to make it feel fresh or unique. In fact, not only does The Possession of Hannah Grace not bring anything new to the table, it borrows elements distinctly from three films: The Exorcist, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and Nightwatch (1994 or the 1997 remake).

The film follows former cop Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell) who takes a job working for the hospital’s morgue unit during the night shift. Megan, who suffers from PTSD and is dealing with a drug addiction and in rehab, is trying to put her life back together after the death of her partner  while on the job. The stress of working with cadavers is hard enough while alone, but things take a turn for the worse when the corpse of young Hannah Grace arrives.

Director Diederik Van Rooijen does a serviceable job telling the story, though the plot is paper thin and never really resolves itself and leaves a few glaring holes that are hard to overlook. Most of the scenes have been washed out and dimmed to give the film that cold dreaded feeling but a lot of them come off too dark and it’s hard to tell, at times, what’s going on. Rooijen never really elevates the atmosphere nor plays off it to enhance the creepiness. The scares (even the jump scares) come off stale and uninspired with the normal horror clichés that have been done to death. There isn’t really anything shocking in the film that could raise the hair or gooseflesh on one’s arms, except for the way Hannah Grace (Kirby Jonson) can contort her body – it is rather unsettling to see this young lady move the way she does, but the best part of this contortion show is shown in the trailers.

There was some time allotted to character development, mostly with Shay Mitchell’s character, Megan Reed, as she is on screen for almost the entire film (but even some of her character traits are stolen – she boxes, just like Father Karras in The Exorcist) as well as the paramedic Megan befriends. But outside of these two characters no one is memorable and only serve as bodies for the demon to consume.

The Possession of Hannah Graces isn’t the worst film in a long line of possession films, but it is as forgettable as films like The Rite, The Possession, or The Last Exorcism.

3 stars out of 10

Overlord – A Crimson Screen Collectibles Film Review


Westley Smith

Overlord follows a group of World War 2 paratroopers on the eve of D-Day (hence the name of the film as Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy). Trapped behind enemy lines, a rag-tag group of soldiers must take down a radio tower in a small town in Nazi occupied France before the beach invasion on June 6th 1944 can proceed, but what they find is far more horrifying than just Nazi soldiers.

(L-R) Jovan Adepo as Boyce, Dominic Applewhite as Rosenfeld in the film, OVERLORD by Paramount Pictures

There is nothing really new to see with Overlord that hasn’t been done countless times before, whether it be in a war film or a horror movie with crazy Nazi experiments  – think of Overlord as Saving Private Ryan meets Re-Animator meets Frankenstein’s Army.

Jovan Adepo as Boyce in the film, OVERLORD by Paramount Pictures

The film is filled with cliché war and horror movie moments, jump scares that sting with a loud music cues, and characters that are not likeable or fleshed out, making everyone forgettable. Though the acting is strong from the entire cast and everyone is working hard to deliver the material, there just isn’t enough character development to become invested in these men and women to care about them.

Overlord also suffers in tone, swinging wildly from a hard hitting war movie one moment to a balls-to-the-wall horror film the next.  It never really knows what it wants to be: a war film or a horror film? Pick one!

Mathilde Ollivier as Chloe in the film, OVERLORD by Paramount Pictures

One of the films biggest problems is that it presents itself as a horror film first, set during the darkest days of World War 2, but it takes more than an hour for the horror to start.  Sure there are some hints that something is going on around this town where the radio tower is, but it focuses so much on war drama and war suspense that you begin to forget Overlord is a horror movie and it comes off like you’re watching just another World War 2 film – and not a very good one at that; a platoon of soldiers would not be chatting while walking through heavily Nazi occupied France in the middle of the night (ON THE EVE OF D-DAY) like they were strolling through Central Park, but with the hard of hearing Nazi’s in this film, (they don’t even hear gunshots in a town they patrol and occupy) they’d probably be fine anyways.

(L-R) Iain de Caestecker as Chase and John Magaro as Tibbet in the film, OVERLORD by Paramount Pictures

With the added horror element of Nazi experimentation there’s no explanation why they are doing these experiments other than one line: “A thousand year reich, needs thousand year soldiers”. So are they trying to create super soldiers from the dead soldiers? Yes? No? Then why experiment on the town’s people, who all look like they were melted for some reason? Why are certain re-animated dead acting like crazy zombies, while others act pretty much normal just with super strength? So many unanswered questions.

There is just too many head-scratching moments in this film for it to be taken seriously as either a good war movie or a good horror movie – though there are some good suspense and action sequences the film still fails on both fronts.

4 out of 10 stars.