Halloween Horror Nights at Midsummer Scream

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One of the biggest attractions at Midsummer Scream is always Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Every year fans gather in a room to hear any bit of news from HHN’s creative team, John Murdy and Chris Williams. This panel always draws an enthusiastic bunch of haunt fans, and this year was no exception.

Before jumping into the new stuff, they provided some background information regarding how they became involved in Horror Nights. Both men painted rosy pictures of their childhood love of monsters, and how it inspired them later in life.  None of this was news to me, but Murdy and Williams were as charismatic as usual, so it was still entertaining.

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As for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, they walked the audience through pictures chronicling the process of building The Shining maze. They promised the Grady sisters, room 237, Danny on his tricycle, “Here’s Johnny”, and of course the famous carpet. Murdy stated that his goal with this maze is to capture the slow burning dread of the movie.

They delved into scare zones a bit, too. One of the scare zones will be Hell on Earth set in New York City. Guests can expect to see an assortment of demons roaming the streets. HHN always creates top notch monsters/effects, so haunt lovers will definitely be in for a devilish treat.

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Finally, for those super fans, Universal is bringing back their VIP tours known as the R.I.P. Experience. This walking tour includes front of the line passes to everything in the park, free valet parking, special entry, a buffet dinner, and reserved seats for shows.

Keep your peepers here for updates about Halloween Horror Nights. Also be sure to follow us on Twitter at @HallowsHaunts. We’ve got lots of spooky stuff in store this Halloween season, and you won’t want to miss it.

 

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Midsummer Scream’s Hall of Shadows 2017

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Hey weirdos! This article marks the beginning of my Midsummer Scream coverage. My weekend consisted of attending panels, buying spooky shit, and of course walking through haunts in the Hall of Shadows.

For those unfamiliar, the Hall of Shadows is a gigantic blacked out, fogged out space where SoCal haunters set up miniature versions of their Halloween attractions. This year’s Hall of Shadows featured 14 mazes of a wide variety.

My favorites included Hyde Street Massacre, Cold Storage, and The Maritime Horror. Hyde Street Massacre felt like an adaptation of Jack the Ripper. This walk-through included enough blood and screaming girls to keep even Leatherface appeased. The gritty slasher atmosphere made it fun and easy to understand. Some of the other haunts tried to cram complicated stories into their very brief mazes, so the simplicity of Hyde Street Massacre was appreciated.

My 2nd favorite was Cold Storage by Terror Trucks. Cold storage is a high tech haunt trailer. Like Hyde Street Massacre, Cold Storage made use of an easily recognizable genre trope. There is a zombie outbreak, and you’re trying to escape. Cliche? Yes, but what made this maze so special, was all of the little tricks and traps. The maze began with a horde of digital zombies banging on the door in front of you. You’re led down an alternative route with a shaky bridge and one of those puffy marshmallow tunnels that squeezes you as you crawl through it. This one was definitely the most interactive of the 14. While none of the effects were anything groundbreaking, I was quite impressed that they could work all of that stuff into such a small trailer.

Finally, there’s The Maritime Horror. The Maritime Horror utilized a Lovecraftian sea theme to add a bit of literary spice to their attraction. Guests were treated to an assortment of aquatic monsters inspired by the master of weird fiction. This one was pretty quick, so I don’t have much to say about it, but I did like the theme.

Other haunts I enjoyed were Gorelesque, Mutation Analysis Center, Apparition Adventure: Terror Twins, Mable’s 6 Feet Under, and Higgins Manor. I didn’t care for last year’s Gorelesque, so I was pleased to see that they stepped it up this year. Gorelesque is basically exactly what it sounds like, horror combined with burlesque aspects. This year’s attraction used a creepy cult recruitment video, and a talented actress to coerce the audience into taking “pills” designed to make you perfect. This one stood out for me, because it was unique. I liked that it was more performance based than the rest.

Mutation Analysis Center was another “viral outbreak” maze. It used a multitude of glowing elements and neon colors to provide a radioactive feel. This maze was a grand buffet for the eyes.

Apparition Adventure: Terror Twins contained a found footage theme. Guests were ushered into a small room and shown a video of a ghost hunter assuring people that the hauntings had stopped. Of course, right at that moment two ghostly twins flashed by on the screen. Then haunt fans were led into the maze full of spirit children and paranormal activity. This one was very cute in a home haunt kind of way. I could tell they put a lot of work into it, and their efforts showed.

Mable’s 6 Feet Under was the only haunt that was an actual maze. Throughout the maze, you think you’re walking towards the exit, but you’re actually being led to a dead end. You’re then forced to turn around and go back towards the front, where there was a secret exit. The maze’s best feature was the confusing signs labeled with the names of the other mini haunts with arrows pointing in every direction.

Higgins Manor was your typical gothic mansion full of Victorian decor and brooding characters with homicidal inclinations. This one wasn’t a standout for me, but it intrigued me enough that I’d be willing to check out a full length version.

As for the ones I didn’t care for, I wouldn’t say there were any I actively disliked. However, there were a few that just didn’t quite measure up. Mazes like The Fleshyard, The Last of Man, and Grimm’s Hallow failed to deliver.

The Fleshyard was a bizarre space themed haunt, that seemed to be lacking in actors. It consisted of a few hallways that all looked the same and a giant pit of packing peanuts at the end. I’ve heard from others that there were more actors in it, so maybe when I went through they were just all on break. Still, this one didn’t impress me.

The Last of Man by Unhallowed wasn’t too bad. I liked the front facade and the characters in gas masks. However, when writing this article, this one was the most difficult to recall which leads me to believe it wasn’t especially memorable.

Then there’s Grimm’s Hallow by Phobia Productions. To be honest, I couldn’t even figure out what the theme of this maze was supposed to be until I checked the program. Apparently, Grimm’s Hallow was supposed to be based on fairy tales and old world horror. The concept sounds amazing, but the talking trees and elves just left me perplexed. I’d like to see this haunt on a bigger scale, because I have a feeling it could turn out well if given more time and more space to work with.

Overall the Hall of Shadows offered a delightful sample of the treats Halloween season has in store. I had a blast going through each individual maze and seeing the tricks each haunt group had up their sleeve. Unfortunately the Hall of Shadows was limited by the same thing that limits all attractions- there are just too many people. The lines were long, due to the fact that each haunt could only allow so many people through at one time. I also thought the entryway theme by CalHaunts was a tad weak. It was supposed to be based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell if I hadn’t already known. Problems aside, I still believe the Hall of Shadows was a necessary addition to an already fantastic convention.

10 Creepy Films About Toxic Relationships – Part 1

I have a deep appreciation for human psychology, especially abnormal psych. A big part of psychology is how we relate to each other as human beings. Human relationships can be beautiful, and complex, and they can also be horrific. Today I’m listing some great films that examine the disturbing results that occur when fate brings the wrong people together. I’m breaking this article into two parts, because I don’t want it to get too long. (Keep in mind these are in no particular order.)

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301/302

301/302 is a Korean film that examines what happens when two people’s obsessions clash. The two female characters live next door to each other in an apartment complex, one is a chef and the other is a writer with anorexia. The chef ends up taking desperate measures to force the writer to sample her culinary talents. This film is weird, and funny, and gross. I like how it shows the histories of both women, allowing the viewer to understand how they came to be the way they are. There is an American remake of this film. It’s called Compulsion, and it stars Carrie-Anne Moss and Heather Graham. The original is by far the superior film, though.

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Silver Tongues

Silver Tongues is one of my favorite films about sociopaths. I’m shocked this movie isn’t more popular. It revolves around a couple that moves from place to place, finding people to psychologically toy with. Unlike 301/302, there is no deep reason for why the main characters do what they do, which makes it all the more troubling. They seem to just enjoy destroying the lives of others for kicks.

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Grimm Love

Grimm Love is one of the horror films released by Fangoria as part of their FrightFest. It stars Keri Russell as a psychology student studying a case that is based on Armin Meiwes, aka “The Rohtenburg Cannibal”. As many of you may know, Meiwes is known for convincing a man to let him eat him. Of course for the purposes of the movie, the names of the characters are changed and the details are scrambled about, but it preserves the shocking nature of the real crime. Russell puts in an excellent performance, and the film raises some interesting questions, like “What is love?”. I’m still saying it’s not cutting off a guy’s penis and eating it front of him, but hey, that’s just me.

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Bug

Bug is the story of the insanity that blossoms between a mysterious drifter and a battered woman. Bug can be considered a textbook example of Folie a deux. Folie a deux is a French term that basically means ” a madness of two”. It occurs when two people share a delusion. In order for Folie a deux to occur, there has to be isolation and one of the parties is dominant, while the other just sort falls in line with the delusion. In this William Friedkin film, Michael Shannon’s character convinces a damaged Ashley Judd, that the government has planted insects in their hotel room. It’s all downhill from there.

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Proxy

I don’t feel like I can say much about this film without giving plot points away. I guess I’ll just have to tell you something vague, like “No one is what they appear to be.” While, that’s true, it hardly does this movie justice. Proxy is bursting at the seams with well crafted shots, fascinating characters, and gut-wrenching violence.

What are some of your favorite horror/thrillers about toxic relationships. Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @HallowsHaunts.

It Comes at Night… Sort Of

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Theatrical horror releases have been pretty thin this year so far. So when I saw the trailer for It Comes at Night, I couldn’t wait to get out and see it. The limited cast and ambiguous threat had me hoping for something like It Follows, but the film that was advertised wasn’t exactly the film I saw.

It Comes at Night centers around a family living in a post apocalyptic world where infection lurks around every corner. The film opens with the family being forced to kill the diseased grandfather.  It’s an introduction that packs an emotional punch and sets the tone of the movie quite well.

From there on, our young protagonist Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) struggles to come to terms with the emotional reality of the situation. He is overcome by ghastly nightmares involving the sickness and his grandfather. Then one night a man breaks into their home. His parents (Joel Edgerton and Carmen Ejogo) and the intruder, Will (Christopher Abbott) form a tentative agreement to pool their resources. Will retrieves his wife and child (Riley Keough and Griffin Robert Faulkner) and the two families begin living together. At first, things are great, but then suspicion and paranoia begin to propel them all in a violent direction.

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It Comes at Night has a lot going for it. The performances are top notch. I was especially partial to Harrison and Keough. All of the characters are well rounded and they all feel like real people. The relationships between the characters and the mounting tension create a palpable sense of dread. I’d compare It Comes at Night to The Walking Dead. Both rely on characters in desperate situations facing heavy moral dilemmas, where neither party is right or wrong.

In addition to the characters, the architecture of the cabin allows for a unique setting. With its narrow passages, woodwork, and the surrounding forest it presents a wide range of cinematography options.

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The soundtrack consisting of a lot of low key drumming also stands out. It’s a sound I definitely haven’t heard in any other recent horror movie, and its a nice break from the usual orchestral or synth music that seems to pervade the genre.

Unfortunately, for all of its positives, It Comes at Night still doesn’t feel like much of a movie. It was halfway over before I could even figure out exactly where the plot was going. It’s only about 90 minutes, but it feels about twice as long. The supernatural threat alluded to is nonexistent. All of the nightmare fuel imagery is from Travis’s dreams, and those dreams are a rare occurrence throughout the film. In fact, not much happens in the movie at all. The characters are almost enough to make up for this, but not quite.

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I tried to pinpoint why this film felt so lackluster for me, because on paper I should love it. Usually, psychological slow burn films are my favorite, but this one didn’t stick the landing. I think it’s because many of the scenes don’t serve to drive the story forward, so it starts to feel stagnant. When the climax finally came, it was about what I expected. Then it just sort of ends. Everyone in the theater started grumbling, saying things like “That’s it?”. I liked It Comes at Night, and I’m glad it’s out there because it is something fresh in this landscape of Alien and Annabelle sequels. Just don’t expect it to live up to the hype.

Breaking News- Cassandra Peterson a.k.a Elvira will be at Midsummer Scream 2017

As if the Summer couldn’t get any hotter, the team at Midsummer Scream just announced that Cassandra Peterson, a.k.a. Elvira, will be making a special appearance at Midsummer Scream 2017. As of now, she is slated to appear as herself, not as Elvira. She will be at the convention on Saturday July 29th to sign autographs and meet fans.

The addition of the “Queen of the Macabre” has added a level of excitement and awesomeness to what is shaping to be an epic event!

Midsummer Scream takes place Saturday July 29th and Sunday July 30th, 2017 at the Long Beach convention center. Tickets are on sale and can be bought at MidsummerScream.org . You can also follow them on Twitter/Periscope: @MidsummerScream, and Instagram: @MidsummerScream.

Be sure to follow All Hallows’ Haunts here and on Twitter (@HallowsHaunts) for more information on Midsummer Scream as more announcements are made.

Anime For Horror Fans- Part 1

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love anime. I love anime almost as much as I love horror, so it can be difficult to decide if I’m going to binge watch shows on Crunchyroll or watch a couple slashers. Still, there are times when I get really lucky and I manage to find a creepy anime that allows me to have my cake and eat it too.

The horror sub-genre of anime seems minuscule when compared to categories like mecha and high school romance. However, there are some spine-tingling shows out there that are bound to appeal to fans of horror. Ok, let’s list some!

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Shiki

Shiki is like Salem’s Lot, if Salem’s Lot was anime and set in rural Japan. I like Shiki, because it takes its time, developing characters and letting the dread build. It’s slow moving, but it never feels stagnant.

The particularly interesting thing about Shiki is that morality is not black and white. The humans have solid reasons for what they do, but the reasons of the vampires are just as valid. Both groups are desperate to assure their own survival. In this tragic vampire story, no one is good, no one is bad, and no one is safe.

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Hell Girl

Like Shiki, Hell Girl, or Jigoku Shoujo has an overall somber mood. The protagonist is Ai Enma, a young servant of the underworld who helps people get revenge, in exchange for their souls. Of course this plot is nothing new, but Hell Girl is unique because of the details.

Each person’s reason for forming a contract with Ai is different, and the viewer is able to observe a variety of characters and the situations that lead them to selling their souls. Then of course there’s the character of Ai herself. She struggles with understanding human emotion, and often spends time pondering the ways people think and act. She may be scary as hell, but she’s more sad than evil. If you want to see a new take on the underworld, give Hell Girl a watch.

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Another

If you want pure J-horror, Another is the way to go. Another follows a boy who starts at a new school, only to meet a girl that no one else seems able to see. He quickly comes to learn that his class is cursed, and the other students believe that his presence has set the curse in motion.

Another comes complete with ghosts, creepy dolls, and gory deaths. Some of the deaths are pretty spectacular, too. One girl manages to trip on the stairs, and impale herself on her own umbrella!

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Higurashi no Naku Koro ni/When They Cry

If someone asked me which horror anime is the best, I’d have to go with Higurashi. Higurashi is so special in terms of structure and plot that nothing compares. Like Another, Higurashi revolves around a teen boy who moves to a small village that may be cursed. The more he learns about the town and the curse, the more he begins to suspect that his friends are out to get him.

Higurashi is intriguing, because the story is told in arcs that span 4 episodes. Then, things reset and we’re presented with a new situation. Though, every arc is different, the story keeps some things consistent, so the plot is able to keep moving forward. Something that seems insignificant in one arc, may be a huge aspect of a different arc. In that respect, Higurashi forces you to pay attention, and try and put the pieces together. If you’re looking for a complete mind screw, here you go.

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Paranoia Agent

Paranoia Agent is one of the creepiest, most psychologically intense animes I can think of. I’ve often heard creator Satoshi Kon’s works compared to those of David Lynch or Darren Aronofsky. While it’s a fair comparison, Kon has a style that is all his own.

I don’t want to give too much away about Paranoia Agent, but I will give you a brief overview. The 13 episode series follows a young animator who created a popular “Hello Kitty” type character. She begins to suffer severe anxiety over her efforts to spawn another hit mascot. Then, late one night she is attacked by a mysterious rollerblading boy who carries a bat. Her assailant is dubbed Lil Slugger, and reports start pouring in of people being attacked by him. If you’ve ever secretly wished for something bad to happen in order to get out of a tough situation, then you need to see this anime.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to horror anime. Even if you hate anime, I hope that you’ll give these shows some attention. I promise they’re well worth it. I’ll be doing a whole series of anime articles like this one, so be sure to follow us right here (AHH Blog) and on Twitter (@HallowsHaunts) for more.

The Shining announced at HHN Hollywood

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As we creep towards Halloween, we’re beginning to get some great news about upcoming haunt events. The best news so far, comes from Universal Studios. Universal Studios has just announced that The Shining will be a maze theme at Halloween Horror Nights. Guests at HHN in Orlando and Hollywood will be given the chance to wander the dizzying corridors of the Overlook.

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Universal promises to include many iconic scenes from the film, while adding their own creative flair. Those brave enough to enter will encounter a crazed Jack Torrance as well as the spirit of room 237. While not explicitly stated, the maze is also expected to include the eerie little girls Danny encounters in the famous hallway scene. Hopefully, we’ll also be treated to the blood gushing elevator and the guy in the bear suit blowing another guy. Seriously, it’s the weirdest part of The Shining.

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Click the link above to view the official maze teaser. Also follow us right here on All Hallows’ Haunts and on Twitter @allhallowshaunts for more Halloween updates.

Midsummer Scream Schedule of Events!

It’s just over two months before the return of the Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival. Now, the team behind Midsummer Scream has announced its schedule of events, and it certainly looks exciting!

Some of the panels include presentations from The Queen Mary’s “Dark Harbor”, Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Halloween Horror Night’s”, Knott’s “Scary Farm”, and much more. They also announced the return of the Winchester Mystery House, as well as a thrilling panel discussing the sadly now gone Disney’s California Adventure ride “The Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror.”

This is only the tip of the iceberg folks, as Midsummer Scream has additional shows, the “Hall of Shadows”, and numerous other events and panels booked for that weekend. Plus, more is on the way.

You can check out the 2017 Midsummer Scream event schedule by clicking on the the following link- http://midsummerscream.org/2017-schedule/

The entire AHH team is anxiously waiting for Midsummer Scream to get here!!!

Midsummer Scream takes place Saturday July 29th and Sunday July 30th, 2017 at the Long Beach convention center. Tickets are on sale and can be bought at MidsummerScream.org . You can also follow them on Twitter/Periscope: @MidsummerScream, and Instagram: @MidsummerScream.

Be sure to follow All Hallows’ Haunts here and on Twitter (@HallowsHaunts) for more information on Midsummer Scream as more announcements are made.
(Midsummer Scream Poster by Midsummer Scream.)

Lola Tarantula Earrings

I’ll admit it, I’m not above a little shameless self promotion. I just started my Etsy account, and I’ve been making a wide variety of earrings. I’ve pulled inspiration from many different places to create some cool stuff. I make all of these by myself and every pair is unique. I’ll be adding things frequently. Enjoy!

Lola’s Etsy

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White/Turquoise Day of the Dead Earrings

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Green Man Earrings

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Pumpkin Earrings

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Blue and Pink Coffin Earrings

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Yellow Day of the Dead Earrings

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Orange and White Coffin Earrings

Thanks guys. If you liked this be sure to follow the blog and on Twitter @allhallowshaunts.

What to Watch on Netflix- May 2017

It occurred to me recently that there are a lot of great movies streaming that get overlooked. It can be difficult when you’re browsing through Netflix and you’ve seen almost everything. Keeping that in mind I’ve decided to do a monthly round up of films that are worth watching. Bear in mind that my picks are only applicable to the American version of platforms. This week I’ll be focusing on Netflix. Ok, let’s do it.

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Para Elisa

This is a super short and sweet movie from Spain. It’s only about 75 minutes and the plot is fairly straightforward. I first saw this film at Screamfest and I was impressed, but since then I haven’t heard much about it. Like many festival favorites, it seems to have skipped the hype and gone straight to the oblivion that is Netflix. I recommend this film to anyone that digs creepy dolls. Just know this isn’t your standard creepy doll film.

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Mine Games

I’d be lying if I said I totally comprehended what occurred in this movie. Still, it’s weird and enjoyable. The story is about a group of friends that go into an old mine, and bizarre events ensue. I’m a big fan of films that are more about atmosphere than plot. To me horror is more effective when it’s not one hundred percent explained. This movie is for those that dig films like Triangle, Southbound, and Coherence.

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Almost Mercy

This indie film features appearances from horror favorites Bill Moseley and Kane Hodder, but it’s lead, Danielle Guldin that steals the show. The story follows two teen psychos who fight back against those that have abused them. The movie makes you think it’s going in one direction, and then swerves and goes the other way. If you like revenge stories, or character studies of sociopaths, then this is the one for you. Think American Psycho, the teen edition.

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Baskin

I don’t know if I would say that I like this movie, but it’s definitely worth the watch. This film from Turkey follows a group of corrupt policeman who venture into an abandoned building and discover Hell. There are many cool elements in this movie. I’m a fan of its depiction of Hell, and there are some awesome scenes of depravity. Some of the concepts are bit too literal for my liking. For example, one character has an actual lock on his head that another character must stick a key into to gain knowledge. Still, this Turkish gore fest is a safe bet for those looking for something on the extreme side of the genre.

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Mockingbird

If you check IMDB, you’ll notice that viewers hated this film. I actually found it to be quite entertaining. It’s a sloppy mess, and the ending is one of the WTF variety. Yet it’s captivating in the way it weaves together a couple different found footage perspectives. The story revolves around a couple that are forced to follow an anonymous set of instructions or else someone will die. Across town a man puts on a clown outfit after being informed that he could win a large sum of money if he plays along. There’s a sense of dread wondering how these two stories will overlap. Although, the resolution is a let down, I’ll still vouch for this found footage film by the director of The Strangers.