Dead End, Wind Chill, The Children, Saint, and Hide and Seek
Horror Bulletin Week 150
Episode 150 Summary
This week, we’ll be watching our usual line-up of four full-length films and a short film. We’ll watch four more Holiday-themed horror films, including “Dead End” from 2005, “Wind Chill” from 2007, “The Children” from 2008, and “Saint” from 2010. We’ll also watch a brand-new, non-holiday films “Hide and Seek” from 2021.
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Dead End (2003)
• Directed by Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa
• Written by Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa
• Stars Ray Wise, Lin Shaye, Mick Cain
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 25 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
The lesson here is to never take a shortcut on a road trip. It’s suspense scary, with a lot of dark humor while being deadly serious at the same time. Ray Wise leads a strong cast giving performances that make you sympathize for people trapped in a hopeless situation.
Frank Harrington, with his wife Laura, son Richard, daughter Marion, and her fiancé Brad drive to her mother’s house for Christmas Eve. They make a joke about Marilyn Manson being a guy and then credits roll.
They drive the old country road in the dark, and Frank starts to nod off behind the wheel. They swerve, but don’t hit anything. Frank gets out and checks the car. Frank wanted to take the side roads for a change rather than the interstate. They all get on each other’s nerves after a while.
Richard sees a woman in white in the forest and slams on the brakes. The woman gets into the car with her baby, and Marion volunteers to get out and walk back to the cabin they just passed. They drive back to the little cabin, looking for a phone.
Richard walks off into the woods to masturbate to a poster he had hidden in his pants. Frank and Laura go into the shed and find a bunch of axes and weapons. Brad explains to the girl in white that he plans to propose to Marion; meanwhile, Marion is practicing her “breaking up “ speech on her walk.
The woman in white finally speaks, she explains that her baby’s name is Amy and she’s really cold. The baby is dead. He screams, and when everyone returns to the car, he’s gone.
Marion sees a black car on the road, and Brad’s trapped in the back. They all get in the car and pursue the car, but they can’t find it. They suddenly stop and Frank gets out of the car; Brad’s body is in the road. Richard picks up Brad’s cell phone, and it’s got Brad’s ear stuck to it. Laura tries to call 911, but there’s already someone on the phone screaming for help.
They soon figure out that they’re completely lost, heading toward the town of Marcott, which isn’t even on the map. Everyone’s watches and clocks stopped at 7:30. Richard suggests it’s all alien activity. The road goes on and on, it never seems to end.
They see a baby carriage in the road, and Richard goes to investigate. There’s a bay crying on the car radio. There’s more arguing about the family Christmas dinner. They get a blowout and Marion says she’s pregnant. They all get out of the car and split up once again while Frank fixes the tire.
Richard runs into the woman in white out in the woods. The black car drives by with Richard in the back seat. Once again, they can’t catch up. After a bit, they run over Richard’s body on the road - already very dead before they hit him. Laura reveals that Richard wasn’t Frank’s son. Regardless, they put him in the backseat and dump their gifts on the side of the road.
Marion opens up one of the gifts; it’s a shotgun. They drive on and see the Marcott sign again. Frank wonders if they’ll ever reach Marcott or if the woman in white is going to get them all. Frank tells a ghost story about a dead family.
Laura, on the other hand, eats everything in the car— until she has to puke. She cracks up and thinks the gun is a toy and points it at the other two. She shoots Frank in the leg. Marion patches him up and they drive on.
Laura starts seeing people in the woods that Frank and Marion don’t. She jumps out of the moving car. They can’t find the body, and sure enough, the black car approaches. Frank loads the shotgun, ready this time. He shoots the car, and it backs off. Laura walks up, and the back of her head is gone. She falls over, dead.
Marion and Frank drive on, but they’ve mostly given up hope by now. Frank suggests they park the car and walk through the woods; if the road is some kind of endless loop, that might be a way out. They park and start their walk. They hear voices and strange noises. They find a fence and crawl under. Somehow, they get back to their car, but from the other side of the road.
They stop in front of the very same cabin they did in the beginning. Frank runs into the woman in white inside the cabin, but fights her off. He punches Marion and knocks her out. He grabs his shotgun and chases the woman in white into the forest.
Marion wakes up in the back seat next to Laura’s body. There are shapes moving around outside, so she starts the car and drives away. Finally, she runs out of gas. She continues on foot. She passes bodies in body bags. Opening one, she finds Frank’s body. The woman in white and the black car appears; the woman says he’s not there for Marion, gets in, and rides off.
Marion wakes up in the hospital. A strange man in black visits to check on her, talking to the doctor. He says he’s the one who found the scene. All the others died in the accident when Frank fell asleep. They ran head-on into a car with a woman and her baby. He thanks Dr. Marcott and leaves, offering her a lift in his big, black car.
That was a lot of screaming and arguing and airing of grievances. It’s a real Christmas movie! There’s a minimal amount of gore, but the scares here are more suspenseful than anything else.
It has a lot of dark humor and good comedic lines, but it’s all deadly serious. It’s pretty apparent what the deal is; that they’ve been dead from the start and stuck in a loop, but the fun is watching them figure it out. It gets bleaker and bleaker until the end.
It’s barely a Christmas movie, but I liked it a lot. The building tension and growing hopelessness is really well done. Plus it’s got Ray Wise, which is always a win.
Wind Chill (2007)
• Directed by Gregory Jacobs
• Written by Joe Gangemi, Steven Katz
• Stars Emily Blunt, Ashton Holmes, Martin Donovan
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
It starts out strong, stalls in the middle, and has a stronger finish that almost but not quite makes up for the slow center of the movie. It’s cold and sad and pretty grim. If you’re a fan of ghost stories, you may want to check this one out, but it’s not one of the best we’ve seen. An interesting touch was that none of the characters have names.
A girl gets out of class after a test and walks to the rideshare bulletin board. She sees a note asking, “Anyone need a ride to Delaware on 12/23?” She takes a number and calls them. On December 23rd, she meets the guy at his car for the ride. His trunk is full of stuff. He says he was just thrown out of his apartment. The windows don’t close properly and the door often sticks.
They drive down the highway through the snow; it’ll be at least another five hours. After a while, they start to talk, but it’s awkward. He seems to know a lot more about her than she would have expected, just over the line into creepiness. They stop at a gas station so she can pee, and she can’t get the door open to get out. She gets a little panicky until she gets the door open all on her own.
He turns off the road, wanting to take a shortcut, but she doesn’t like it. She’s also figured out he’s not really from Delaware, and he’s creeped her out. It starts to get dark. Before long, they run off the road and hit a tree, knocking them both out. She wakes up first and tries to call 911, but there’s no signal. They can’t find the other car’s tire tracks. It looks like they were alone on the road, but they both saw the other car coming right at them.
She blames him for driving her out in the wilderness and crashing. She thinks this was some kind of scheme to get her alone. She thinks he lied about everything. It’s all very paranoid.
He starts walking for help, and she tries to duct tape the broken window shut as the temperature plummets. She sees something moving outside; did he go for help, or come back? Or is this someone else entirely? She runs out after the person, who doesn’t respond.
The guy comes back; the gas station was closed. She doesn’t really believe him but doesn’t have much choice but to get into the car with him. They notice their watch and car clock stopped during the crash. He admits he did put up that sign just to be with her for a few hours. His intentions were innocent and sincere, but he used stalker tactics to arrange their ride together.
They look under the car and see that the gas tank has a leak; it’s empty now. She gets out to pee again and this time sees several people walking around out there. The two chase after the men, but can’t find them. The guy starts coughing blood, which is never good. He finds and explores an old, ruined house; it’s full of frozen corpses.
Meanwhile, back at the car, she sees several walking dead men. One of them spits out a snake at her. When she touches him, he burns a hole through her mitten.
A cop comes to the window, and he wants money. The guy whacks him with a crowbar, and they both suddenly are back in the car, only his hand is frozen to the crowbar and frostbitten. They battle the cold for a while. She reads an old newspaper article about a highway patrolman and two others who were killed on this spot fifty years ago. We get a flashback/vision to the patrolman pulling a woman out of her car and manhandling her as a bunch of retired priests watch.
She finds that the guy has been peeing blood. He’s had internal injuries since the crash, but didn’t want to scare her. She finds an old telephone and wants to climb up onto a phone pole and jack in to call for help. She climbs up the pole and breaks the box open. She plugs in her phone and gets a dial tone. She calls 911, but it’s a bad connection. For some reason, she doesn’t try to call back.
When she comes down from the pole, she finds a dead woman waiting for her. She runs back to the car, and the guy inside is dead.
A snowplow truck drives up and takes her away, along with the guy’s body. The driver tells her about the bad cop in the 50s who killed some people. Several people had frozen to death in that very spot over the years. Then in 1961 a bunch of priests were found frozen to death in their beds up on the hill. A car appears out of nowhere and drives them off the road; they roll over.
The driver goes out to help the other car, and sees that it’s a 1950’s police car. The car starts to burn, and a bunch of priests come down and pull out his radio. They watch as the cop burns to death. He jumps out of the car and touches the snowplow driver, who freezes solid on the spot.
The girl wakes up in the car next to the dead guy. The sun has come up. She sees the guy walking off into the woods; he’s one of the ghosts now. She staggers off into the woods and eventually finds the gas station, where she gets help.
I found this incredibly boring. It was all going well until the car crash, where the film literally and metaphorically comes to a screeching halt.
I don’t care how innocent and nice he actually was, the guy arranging all that stuff to get her to ride with him was a stalker and more than a little creepy. The story about the cop, the priests, and the others isn’t told until the very end. It might have been more effective if we had known more about what was going on earlier in the film.
Overall, it’s dark, moody, and very cold. It was too little, too late by the end, and I found it tediously slow at times.
Short Film: New Year’s Scary Story (2020)
• Directed and Directed by Seon
• Run Time: 7:15
• Watch It:
Every year, her family puts on a New Year’s Eve party. This year, she decided to do something else. She went to a party with three of her friends. Instead of the party, they decide to go into an isolated cornfield to set off New year’s fireworks.
Two of them decide to walk deeper down the path, while our girl stays behind with a boy. They all see one of the fireworks going off. Soon after, the two who went into the cornfield return, but they’re different now.
It’s more of a narrated slideshow than true animation, but it’s all nicely drawn and has a fun style, with tons of scenes. The story has a “campfire” feel to it; not anything outrageously innovative, but it’s well=told, and the animation is fun.
The Children (2008)
• Directed by Tom Shankland
• Written by Paul Andrew Williams, Tom Shankland
• Stars Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy sheffield
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 24 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
If you hate children, you’ll love this. If you love children, it’ll creep you out. Either way, it’s thoroughly… OK. It’s not great though, as the children are really annoying, and the parents are really stupid. .
Two families are spending Christmas together. Casey is a moody teenager who doesn’t want to be there, but she has to deal. Little autistic Paulie pukes all over, apparently carsick. There are too many little kids, and it’s all obnoxious and annoying. The parents are less annoying, but only a little. Little Leah coughs up something nasty and wipes it on the pillow. Casey goes outside to find cell phone reception and hears something in the woods. Everyone goes to bed.
The next day is bright and sunny, and everyone heads outside to play in the snow and do some sledding. They can’t find the cat. Little Paulie won’t stop banging on his damned xylophone.
The two fathers try to talk about business and medicine as the kids have a snowball fight and it doesn’t go well. Jonah wants Robbie to invest in his Chinese drug import venture. The kids start feeling sick at lunchtime. The mass crying begins. Miranda goes berserk and hits her mother in the eye.
Everyone goes back outside, and Robbie gets impaled in a sledding accident that’s not quite an accident. Paulie, who has a thing about cutting people with knives, picks up a knife and cuts his father’s arm then runs off into the woods. Robbie dies, and Elaine sends Casey off into the woods to find the little kids.
Elaine goes out to cover up Robbie’s corpse, but it’s gone. There are red sled marks on the ground. Paulie then lures Elaine up onto the jungle gym and that goes badly for her. Then a whole bunch of stuff happens all at once, accompanied by excessive screaming. Finally, that evil little shit Paulie gets what’s coming to him, but his mother isn’t at all pleased.
Chloe accuses Elaine of killing her child, which she did, but at least he had it coming. Chloe thinks the whole family is insane and runs off looking for her remaining children. Casey thinks it’s a disease since she’s been finding puke puddles all over. She figures out that the little kids are murdering psychopaths.
Chloe finds Leah and Nicky in the woods, but they stab her eyes out. Meanwhile, Miranda is upstairs beating the cat to death with the phone. Jonah thinks Elaine murdered Paulie and Casey has attacked Miranda, but it was the other way around. He takes Miranda and drives away.
Soon, it’s Leah and Nicky against Elaine and Casey. Casey kills Nicky and wants to stab Leah, but Elaine makes her stop.
The two get into the car and leave her behind. There’s nothing but static on the radio. Soon they pass Jonah’s car on the road and find Jonah buried in the snow. Elaine runs Miranda down with her car on purpose.
Casey pukes up yellow stuff. Is it nerves or is she infected? Soon, there are a dozen children surrounding Elaine’s car. It wasn’t just her kid, it’s some kind of plague. Casey gets in the car they drive on.
And I thought our family Christmas get-togethers were messed up!
If you didn’t hate children before this film, you will afterward, even ignoring the horror elements. These kids are just annoying as hell from the get-go. Thirty minutes into the film, and I was ready to go in with a chainsaw and solve all their problems before they began.
Jonah was continually harping on Chinese medicine early on, so I guess we’re supposed to assume that this is some kind of Chinese virus that the kids picked up on one of his trips. But there are signs throughout the film that it’s not just their house. Lisa on the phone mentions someone got sick. The ambulance calls promised to arrive later and later, and the radio stations don’t seem to be working.
It’s effective. It’s creepy. The kids are ultra-annoying, but at least they die in entertaining ways. Wait, am I allowed to say that about little kids?
• AKA “Sint”
• Directed by Dick Maas
• Written by Dick Maas
• Stars Egbert Jan Weeber, Bert Luppes, Caro Lenssen, Huub Stapel
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 25 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
“Your parents only told you he doesn’t exist…”
Sinter Claus/Saint Nick attacks Amsterdam, which happens every 32 years on the full moon. Only one man remembers that last time he came, and he wants to do something about it. Only no one else believes anymore.
We liked it; it’s fun and a little exotic as well.
A bishop, dressed in red, rides a horse into town, surrounded by an entourage. The villagers pull their children inside and hide. His men raid the village, crawling down chimneys and eating their food. They place a note on the door of things they want delivered before the next full moon: gold, meat, treats, and servants. They take away a child in a sack as well.
The peasants are, as always, revolting, so they turn on the bandits. They kill the guards and torch the bishop’s ship. They watch him howl at the moon as he and the ship burn.
December 5th, 1968 AD
Children watch a TV show about Saint Nicholas. The father yells at young Goert to go out and check on the pigs. The pigs are spooked, and Goert talks to calm them down. Meanwhile in the house, the fire goes out and the children are sucked up the chimney. Something jumps up and gets the father. Goert watches as Saint Nick, on his horse, flies off the roof and leaves the scene. Inside, Goert finds his family.
Amsterdam, Present Day
In class, it’s St. Nick Eve day. Six of the girls get dildos as gifts. Frank opens his box to find a box of junk returned by his ex-girlfriend Sophie. His girlfriend talks about how he cheated on her. Of course, she was cheating on him as well. There’s a full moon tonight, which only happens on the holiday every 32 years. That’s when St. Nicholas is out to get you. Laura’s dad is with the police, and he has stories!
Grown-up Detective Goert walks into the police station, sees a gift on his desk and shoots it, destroying the four bottles of wine inside. His colleagues know about his anti-Christmas obsession, and it’s all a joke to them. His boss, Chief of Detectives, is not amused suggesting that Goert needs to get therapy. It’s been 32 years since his parents were killed, and he wants to cancel everything. “December the 5th will never be the same if we do nothing!” He yells.
Night falls and the fog rolls in. The harbor patrol smells something burning. There’s a large boat on radar heading straight toward them, and BOOM! No more harbor patrol.
Frank talks to Lisa on the phone and then goes out to play St. Nicholas. Goert tells the bartender that St. Nick is coming back for revenge tonight. Funny, but no one believes him.
Sophie is at home babysitting and decides to light a fire in the fireplace. Her little brother yells that something is on the roof. She explains to him that St. Nicholas and Black Peter don’t exist. Sophie’s fire goes out and the screaming starts. Lisa was on the phone with her and runs to her house to see what was the matter. She finds her body hanging upside-down in the chimney.
Frank and his friends in blackface, dressed as Saint Nick and Black Petes, have to stop for a pee and they run into the real Saint Nick and his real helpers. Frank kills several of them, mostly by accident, and then drives away. He’s almost immediately arrested for Sophie’s murder.
Lisa sticks up for Frank, saying he would never have killed Sophie. The investigator tells the facts to the chief of detectives, the same guy Goert had been talking to about Saint Nicholas. The Chief wants Goert brought in— quietly; he’s a suspect now.
Meanwhile, at the hospital, the nurse checks out the children’s ward. The children are asleep, all snug in their beds as dark shapes skulk around the corridors. The power goes out, and Saint Nicholas arrives. Bad things happen.
The police pursue Nick, riding on a horse across the rooftops. One of the cops shoots Santa’s horse, which then falls on top of the police car. Frank gets out of the car and watches as the horse comes back to life and walks away after crushing the policemen in the car. Goert comes after Nick with a flamethrower, and Nick rides away.
Goert explains that last, time, the government covered up the hundreds of murders, but he knows the truth. Goert and Frank team up. The Chief of Detectives and the mayor are already trying to keep it all quiet. Goert wants to blow up St. Nicholas’s boat, which will remove the curse. Frank calls Lisa and warns her to stay inside.
Frank and Goert are picked up by a police boat, who find their explosives. They head towards the old harbor, which is where Goert was going in he first place. They pick up St. Nick’s boat on the radar. They hear the crying children on board the other ship.
Soon, it’s a battle between the police and the Black Peters, and the police mostly lose. Soon, it’s just Goert and Frank against the servants of the evil bishop. Goert gets the detonator ready; they’ve got five minutes until midnight, when they can destroy the ship and end this mess. He shows Frank what to do and then Goert dies from his wounds.
Frank launches the boar and gets ready to explode the bomb when the police alive. They all watch the Black Peters reboard the ship— except for the ones who attack the SWAT team. More fighting commences. Saint Nicholas himself arrives just as Frank blows up their boat. The Black Peters all fall over dead, but Nick rides away.
The Chief tells the mayor that around 300 people died; that’s worse than the previous time. They’ll try really hard to cover it all up. They pin a lot of the murders on Goert. The chief’s goon visits Frank in the hospital and offers him money from the mayor to stay quiet. And all expenses paid for medical treatment for his ailing mother. Lisa comes in, and Frank says he’ll tell her all about what happens… in 32 years.
In Amsterdam, the big Christmas holiday, Saint Nicholas Eve is on December 5th and the 6th is Saint Nicholas’s Name Day. Half the fun of a film like this is seeing how differently they treat the holidays there.
It’s really neat. I don’t know much about the St. Nicholas story from the Netherlands and Northern Europe, but it sounds a lot scarier than Santa Claus. This is well done; Nick has cool makeup and the visuals are fun as well. The CGI with the horse isn’t great, but it works for a laugh or two.
This one is definitely worth seeing if you can keep up with the very wordy subtitles.
Hide and Seek (2021)
• Directed by Joel David Moore
• Written by Jung Huh, Joel David Moore
• Stars Mustafa Shakir, Joe Pantoliano, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 23 Minutes
• Trailer: •
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s a slow-burn psychological thriller showing a stark contrast between the haves and have-nots. When the two worlds start to overlap, it causes some deadly problems.
A woman goes home to a condemned building. She tells her mother that knows an artist who’s going to help her move out. Someone’s been in her apartment and taken all her money. She plays back the security footage and finds the guy standing right behind her, hidden in a motorcycle helmet. He beats her to death as credits roll.
Noah has taken over his father’s hotel business, but he doesn’t have the old man’s confidence or smarts. He’s also not the legitimate heir, says the interviewer. He needs to make peace with his estranged brother to be fully accepted. Noah’s got OCD and can’t stand things being out of place or disordered.
The lawyer shows Noah photos of Jacob, his brother. He’s living in some derelict building downtown; there’s a girl who went missing in the same building. Noah goes to the building and has his phone stolen. He chases after the little girl who took it and gets his hand cut by a crazy homeless guy. Soo Mi, the lady who bandages Noah’s hand, freaks out when he shows her a picture of his brother.
Noah finally gets into Jacob’s apartment, and it’s a mess. He finds a note, “I am not a ghost.” We get a flashback to Jacob and Noah finding their mother’s suicide. She also left a note saying, “I am not a ghost.” He runs into the man in the motorcycle helmet, and he thinks it’s Jacob, but they don’t speak.
Noah does some research on the building Jacob lives in and then has a nightmare about his brother that night. His daughter, Hannah, literally bumps into a man in a motorcycle helmet that night. Could he be following Noah’s family?
Noah goes back to Jacob’s place, but his apartment has been cleared out. This time, somebody beats him up for being there, thinking he had something to do with the missing girl. Noah’s wife rides in an elevator with the helmeted man, and his kids get a good scare when he comes to their apartment.
Noah clearly has a mental break, but his wife thinks they can deal with it. Noah thinks Jacob wants to take over his life. She seems to have dealt with this before; she asks if he’s actually seen Jacob. Noah starts to think Jacob is hiding inside their walls.
Noah goes back to Jacob’s place, this time armed with a golf club. He attacks some innocent guy, thinking he was Jacob. He gets on the dead girl’s computer and plays back the security footage; he finds a secret passageway. Another guy in the building plays back the footage, and we see who the killer really is.
Noah rushes home to save his family…
The first hour is suspenseful and creepy, and you don’t know what’s going on for a long while. It’s actually really good.
But then the reveal of the killer is pretty much out of the blue, and we were given no real foreshadowing or explanation of why this might be the case. Actually, nothing after the reveal makes much sense. In the final scene, we do get semi-ambiguous closure on Jacob, but a lot of it still doesn’t make sense.
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Get ready for next week, where we’ll be watching some more classics. We’ll watch four more horror films, including “Dead End,” from 2003, “Wind Chill” from 2007, “The Children” from 2008, and “Saint” from 2010. We’ll also talk about the brand new non-Christmas film, “The Deep House” from 2021.
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