Eat Brains Love, Night’s End, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and Requiem
Horror Bulletin Reviews for Week 166
This week, we’ll watch another fun selection. We’ll start with the zom-com “Eat Brains Love,” move on to the deadly serious “Night’s End” and then look at two tellings of the same possession story, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and “Requiem.”
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where this week, we cover:
● “Earth vs The Spider” from 1959
● “Puppet Master” from 1989
Next week, we’ll be back with a new collection of terrors!
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Eat Brains Love (2019)
• Directed by Rodman Fletcher
• Written by Mike Herro, David Strauss
• Stars Jake Cannavale, Angelique Rivera, Sarah Yarkin
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 27 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
A gross-out comedy with horror elements or a horror movie with comedy? This one is kind of in between. It's got buckets of blood, excellent practical effects, a strong cast, and decent script. An overall win.
We are told by our narrator that a zombie virus has spread around the country. A small, covert force was deployed to contain it. They were recruited due to their special skills. No one knows how the virus started. It’s sexually transmitted.
We cut to a pair of young people who are about to have sex. Neither of them looks like a zombie, so it’s OK, right? Jake then eats his girlfriend Amanda– nope, just a dream. Jake wakes up to be tormented by his sister.
He goes to school and we see that Amanda has no real-world interest in Jake, she’s into Chazz. We soon see that Amanda is good at picking locks. They have to watch a “safe sex” video in Health class. The film is called “Jake’s Mistake,” and Jake is the star of the film. What did he smoke this morning? They get notices about a bunch of missing dogs lately. He then watches Amanda tear off another girl’s face with her teeth. Jake gets all red-eyed and does the same thing. It’s a bad day in the school cafeteria– unless you like human meat. Suddenly Amanda sees Jake, and they have lunch together.
Cass is our narrator, and this is where she comes in, part of an elite unit called the “Necrotic Control Division.” Tom is her partner. They call zombies Necros because it makes them sound smarter. Cass’s eyes turn white in a psychic trance, and she watches a flashback of what happened.
Jake and Amanda wake up, covered in blood. They steal a car, but they’re spotted almost immediately by Cass and Tom. Tom shoots Jake, but Amanda bites Cass. Jake asks Cass if she’s OK– he’s not the typical zombie, which confuses Cass. Suddenly, two girls in a car drive up and rescue Jake and Amanda. They are Summer and Grace, and they’re zombies too. They explain that hunger and fear are what usually triggers the zombie-action. Eating live meat puts it into a brief remission. “It just comes and goes like Herpes of the undead?” asks Jake. Yep, that’s it. Summer and Grace explain how it all works, and they have a rapist and pedophile tied up in the closet for snacking on later. The four zombies eat the pedophile like a really messy Thanksgiving dinner.
We see that Cass can read minds, and also make them forget. She changes all the witnesses’ memories to make them think the zombie outbreak was only a school shooting– because that’s OK. When she interrogates Chazz, he turns into a zombie and attacks them. She stops him with her mind. Dr. Alastaire looks her over and says she’s a very powerful telepath. Alastair is dissecting and experimenting on Chazz now. Cass seems to be protecting Jake because she knows there’s something unusual about him. Plus he's cute. Tom warns Cass not to lie to Alastair again.
Alastair explains that he’s developed a way to train and control the Necrotics. He shares DNA with Chazz now to allow him to control the zombie. He offers to do the same with Jake for Cass to use as she pleases. He knows she’s lying to him, and he forces her to divulge Jake’s location. She does manage to warn Jake to leave psychically.
Amanda wants to leave and find her brother, who claimed to know all about zombies in Iowa. She thought he was crazy, but now she’s a believer. The team goes to the house and kills Summer and captures Grace; Amanda and Jake are already gone.
Jake and Amanda have an ethical discussion about who they should be eating. They become zombie bounty hunters, eating pedophiles, nazis, and clowns; only the worst of the worst. Meanwhile, Cass wonders if her crush on Jake makes her a necrophiliac. Jake and Amanda try to have sex, but Cass mentally makes Jake puke all over Amanda.
They soon make it to Amanda’s brother Kyle’s house. He knows a guy who claims to have found a cure in Iowa. Cass finally agrees to help Tom capture Jake. Alistair and Chazz come along to assist. As Amanda and Jake actually finally have sex, Chazz bursts in on them.
There’s a big fight; Amanda kills Tom and is captured; Jake gets away; Chazz gets beat up. Alistair tries to mind-control Cass, but Kyle stabs him in the foot. Cass and Jake run into each other in the woods and team up to save Amanda.
The pair then have to break into the NCD base. Cass uses her abilities to fool the guards. Jakes wants to use one of Grace’s finger bones to pick the lock, but Amanda talks him into using a lockpick instead. They release the other zombies from their cages to battle the NCD guys. Cass turns Chazz against Alastair.
Jake, Amanda, and Cass make plans to continue to Iowa to look for the cure. On the way, they run into a whole zombie gang and– end credits.
There’s a lot of really funny stuff here, but there’s enough action and gore to make it more than just a dumb comedy. It was based on a novel, so I have no idea how that story goes, but there’s certainly room here for a sequel.
The production values are very high, the actors are good, the plot flows well, and the jokes aren’t too cringeworthy. Overall, I thought it was pretty good.
Night's End (2022)
• Directed by Jennifer Reeder
• Written by Brett Neveu
• Stars Geno Walker, Kate Arington, Michael Shannon, Isaac Dees, Felonious Munk, Daniel Kyri, Theo Germaine
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 21 Minutes
• Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38coslSZcWg
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
A guy all alone at home with only online human connections. Wait, was that a ghost in the background of that Zoom call. Naw, it's only in his head, right? This one is a good watch as things get worse and worse. Maybe it's all just in his head.
The camera moves through a house that’s in the process of being renovated. We hear someone counting down numbers as he tries to sleep. He’s Ken Barber, a YouTuber with several different channels. He seems to really try to avoid sunlight; he’s taped paper over the windows and doesn’t go near the front door.
His friend Terry gives him some advice on releasing videos. Terry points out that he thinks he saw a taxidermied bird fall off the wall behind Ken. Ken hadn’t noticed. Ken’s into taxidermy, and he has dead birds in his refrigerator.
Kelsey talks to him online, and she thinks maybe Ken’s new apartment is haunted. He should get that checked out. She says being holed up like that isn’t healthy, and he needs to get out more. She also thinks he should get a real job.
When Ken is done with the call, he does research his history of the apartment. He finds something he doesn’t like, but has to stop researching due to a nosebleed. Back in 1915, a woman fell out of the window; her name was Roberta Wellwood.
Terry suggests that Ken just focus on the ghost angle and give up his other channels. Terry tells him to contact another guy on a site called Dark Corners, and get his story on that channel. He also talks about a “spirit jar.” He runs to the kitchen, and when he returns, there are two dead birds laying on his keyboard. Maybe that “ghost channel” thing isn’t a bad idea. Or maybe he’s just cracking up; he starts to have his own doubts.
We see that there’s more going on in Ken’s apartment than even he’s aware of. He makes a spirit jar and buys a book on ghosts, online of course. Ken reads the Latin from the book over the spirit jar; he opens the jar, screams, and weirdness ensues. Terry explains that he saw the door shut, lights blink, and heard screaming, but Ken doesn’t remember any of that. Later, Ken pukes up a long ribbon-like thing.
He tells Kelsey and her husband, Isaac, about the experience. They’ve already heard Terry’s side of things. They’re both into ghost videos now, and they want him to make more. They’re both big fans of Dark Corners. We learn that Kelsey is also Ken’s ex-wife.
Ken watches the Dark Corners channel. He then talks to Colin Alberston, the guy who wrote his ghost book. Colin tells Ken to open the spirit jar. He explains that ghosts are like smoke; they have no physical power in the world of the living. Ken opens the jar, and nothing happens.
Ken has another nosebleed and dreams of a man with an ax. The dead woman, Roberta, was supposed to have attacked her father with an ax. He starts hearing and seeing things regularly. Or maybe he’s going insane– Ken’s not quite sure which it is. Either way, he’s terrified. His online friends start to worry about Ken. Are Terry and Kelsey conspiring against him? We learn that Ken absolutely has a history of mental issues.
Colin calls back, and he’s looked into Roberta’s death a bit more. Roberta’s mother actually murdered her after her failed ax attack on her father. The mother then confessed and comitted suicide in the asylum. Colin says that by using the spirit jar, “You may have inadvertently harvested her deranged soul.” Colin has made a real spirit jar that may solve the issue. We see that Colin may not be entirely on Ken’s side, but Ken missed that.
Ken gets notified from Dark Corners that his video will be featured. He starts to feel better now that things are coming together for him. Various experts chime in on Ken’s videos as the YouTuber “Dark Corners” interviews them. They unveil the spirit jar that Colin sent, right there on the livestream; they hope to exorcize both of the Wellwood ghosts.
Inside the jar are various artifacts, including Colin’s thumb. What!? Yep, hand-bandaged Colin walks him through the instructions for the ritual, and they begin. They livestream the ritual to everyone. The lights go out in Ken’s apartment. Things go downhill fast, but Colin only smiles at the developments. Everyone sees “Roberta” come up behind Ken with an ax. Colin welcomes the demon he’s just tricked Ken into summoning with glowing red eyes. Colin then bursts into flame right in the middle of the livestream as he apparently busts the gate to Hell wide open. Terry, Isaac, Kelsey, Lyden, and Dark Corners himself are possessed next. Ken picks up the ax and waits.
Lastly, Ken’s door bursts open and the red-eyed demon comes in. Ken gets out and goes outside for the first time in ages. He watches as all the neighboring apartments light up as everyone becomes possessed.
Huh. I guess Ken wasn’t crazy after all.
It’s clear from the get-go that Ken has some mental issues, but we aren’t sure whether what’s going on is real or delusional. The counting, the very-organized foods, and eating the same thing every day are all very much to show us his OCD or whatever it is.
This is super-obviously a “Covid” movie. Literally everyone but Ken “phones in” their performance. Characters appear on Skype, Twitch, YouTube, and the like. The only actors who appear together are Michael Shannon and Kate Arrington, who are married in real life. It actually works here, as the story is obviously written around this limitation, so it’s not like this was a substitute for real acting; it’s all part of the story.
The acting from Geno Walker, as Ken, is quite good, but it’s a little hard to judge the others, as they are all just on the computer screen. The special effects are pretty minimal overall, but what is here is very well done.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first “seance by Zoom” that we’ve reviewed here, but it’s certainly the best… so far.
Short Film: This Must be the Place (2022)
• Directed by Merlin Camozzi
• Written by Merlin Camozzi
• Stars Sarah Lyddan, Lila Gavaras, Brigid Abreu
• Run Time: 8:46
• Watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1gQLBXwmYw
A pair of girls gets into a car and another runs up behind them. “I want to do what you do,” she says. They do some kind of magic and kidnap the woman. They play some mind games with her and then throw her out, but she’s not giving up so easily…
Looks like someone watched “Dune” too many times. Other than that, I have many questions, but the film doesn’t offer much in the way of explanations.
No one speaks in this film, but whether it’s because that’s the way witchcraft works or because the filmmakers wanted an international audience is up to you to decide.
It looks good, it’s well filmed, and nicely paced. It’s absolutely worth the eight minutes.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2013)
• Directed by Scott Derrickson
• Written by Paul Harris Boardman, Scott Derrickson
• Stars Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Shoreh Aghdashloo
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 59 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Told in flashbacks heavily as a courtroom drama, this one combines moral questions with uncertainty about what really happened. Was it a supernatural possession, mental problems, or a combination of the two? The acting is very good from everyone, and this one is well done.
The Medical Examiner arrives at the old farmhouse. The family is all depressed, but the M.E. goes upstairs to find Father Moore leaving Emily Rose’s bedroom. Inside, he looks over the body. Afterwards, he refuses to state conclusively that the girl died of natural causes. The sheriff arrests Father Moore, who performed a fatal exorcism on Emily Rose.
Erin Bruner is asked to defend Father Moore. The prosecutor offered the priest a sweet deal, but the priest refused. She goes to visit Moore in jail, but all Moore cares about is telling the story about what really happened.
The prosecutor sends Ethan Thomas to run the case. He’s very religious, but he has no problem sending a priest to prison.
The trial begins. Ethan says that Emily had a medical condition that led to her death, and Father Moore neglected her. Moore convinced her to undergo an exorcism rather than medical treatment.
Emily had gone away to college, which was a new thing for her family. One night, she woke up and something invisible came into her room and attacked her. The university doctor did some tests on her and found her drug free, but with some unusual electrical activity in the brain. He thought she was having epileptic seizures. He put her on epilepsy medication. She stopped taking the drugs since she believed her condition was spiritual, not medical. Father Moore suggested she stopped taking the drug.
Father Moore warns Erin about being attacked herself, even though she doesn’t believe any of this stuff. Soon after, Erin gets the bad news that the defendant she got off last year has killed again. That doesn’t make her look good. And for some reason, her clocks all stop at three a.m. each night.
We flash back to more stuff with Emily having terrifying hallucinations, or maybe visions. She went to boyfriend Jason for help, who also talks to Erin about the trial. The psychologist suggests that Emily may have also been psychotic on top of the epilepsy. The prosecution rests.
For the defense, Erin argues that Emily was actually possessed, and that Emily didn’t have any medical condition. Boyfriend Jason testifies about finding Emily asleep in a weird twisted-up position. He drove her back to the family home, and they contacted Father Moore shortly after that. He has no problem being convinced of possession.
Erin brings in an expert on the scientific study of possession cases. She thinks that Emily was “hypersensitive” to the supernatural world. She thinks the exorcism failed because she was under the influence of the psychological drugs from the doctor. She thinks the drug locked Emily into a possessed state of mind.
Dr. Cartwright contacts Erin. He’s a doctor that Father Moore called in to watch over Emily during the exorcism. He said Emily was perfectly healthy during the procedure.
Father Moore finally gets to testify and tell his story. He explains some spooky stuff he saw the night after he decided to do the exorcism. A demonic entity appeared to him to intimidate him from proceeding. He made an audio recording of the actual rite. We then get a flashback to the exorcism ritual itself, which goes badly. The tape shows two voices at the same time, both coming from Emily.
Dr. Cartwright refuses to testify at the trial; he says the demons are real right before he’s hit by a car. Something got to him. Moore does an interview with the newspaper, which really riles up Erin’s boss. Moore has a letter from Emily written the day she died. She believed the whole thing happened because she was touched by God personally and that she had accepted her fate. The defense rests.
Father Moore is found guilty and sentenced to time served, so he’s free to go.
Erin sleeps through the night for the first time since this all began.
The main focus on the court trial makes this one much more interesting than just another story about an exorcism. It’s more of a courtroom drama than a horror movie, but of course, the horror elements are all over this in flashbacks and testimony. The thing is, there’s testimony and evidence on both sides, and you are left to wonder if Emily was really possessed or if there was simply something wrong with her mind. It’s filmed in such a way that it could go either way really. Nothing we see affects anyone other than Emily personally, but enough other oddness goes on that there could be supernatural forces at work. It’s up to us to decide.
This was based on an actual true story of a similar case involving a German woman in the 1970s. In that case, the priests were found guilty and sentenced to jail with a suspended sentence.
It drags a bit in the middle, surprisingly in the part where we see the possession. Still, it’s a unique spin on a fairly tired trope, so it’s definitely worth a watch.
• Directed by Han Christian Schmid
• Written by Bernd Lange
• Stars Sandra Huller, Burghart KlauBner, Imogen Kogge
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 33 Minutes
• Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brRQf48QRQg
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This wasn’t really horror, but was closer to the true events that the horror movie “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is based on. It’s more of a descent into madness from the look of it, medically induced rather than supernaturally. But religion plays a big part in it, and not in a good way. It was interesting, and definitely worth a watch if you’ve seen the Emily Rose movie
Michaela Klingler goes into the little church to pray. She gets the mail, and we see that she’s been accepted into the university. Her parents aren’t so sure about the idea, “How can you go with your thing?” “The pills aren’t for fun; I haven’t had anything for six months,” Michaela replies. She goes to see her new dorm, and everyone is very nice. Her father leaves her there, and everything is great.
She meets a girl she knew in high school Hanna, but Hanna doesn’t seem too thrilled to be re-acquainted with Michaela. They eventually become more friendly as time passes.
We see that the whole Klingler family is very religious. They go as a group on a pilgrimage to some old church. Marianne, Michaela’s mother, really doesn’t approve of the whole going off to university thing, even though Michaela is 21. We watch Michaela have an epileptic seizure on the floor. She says she heard voices this time.
She goes back to school and to a party with Hanna, where she meets a boy, Stefan! Kissing and dancing ensues. She goes back to her dorm after having a fun time.
The next morning, Hannah finds Michaela freaked out hiding under a desk. Michaela tells her about her epilepsy, which has a sketchy diagnosis; it’s more diagnosis by elimination than anything else. Hannah wants her to see a university doctor.
Michaela goes to see Gerhard, her old priest. She says something was keeping her from touching her rosary. Last night, faces called her a slut all night. She keeps seeing the faces. The priest says the devil is just a story, and maybe she needs to see a psychiatrist. She gets a 1970’s EEG, which looks terrifying in itself. She ends up with a new prescription for a new drug.
The priest verifies that Michaela is seeing a doctor, and he introduces her to Father Martin, a younger priest. He talks about how the world makes our souls sick. They pray to avoid evil thoughts.
Her father arrives; his insurance contacted him about her doctor’s visit. He’s worried. Time passes, and she and Stefan continue to go out and have more good times.
Christmas comes and Michaela and Hannah go back home to their town. Things go great on Christmas until her mother throws out all her clothes and they have a big fight. Getting so upset, Michaela soon has another episode. She thinks she’s not allowed to pray anymore, which means another trip to the young priest. This time, she’s not having it and walks out.
Michaela goes back to school and finds that Hannah had a bad week too. She tells Hannah about hearing voices. Hannah mentions that Michaela might want to see a psychiatrist. She goes to see Stefan, and this time, they finally have sex; Michaela’s first time.
She has trouble with her hands. There’s a big essay to write and she has a hard time concentrating, so she dumps all her pills down the drain. Stefan then comes over and helps her type the paper. He helps her cut up her food. Afterwards, they go out dancing. She’s pretty wild, and he wonders why she’s so different. “What’ll you look like after four more years of this?” he asks. “Maybe it is too much,” he adds. He goes home.
Both of her parents, along with both priests come to visit. They’ve talked about her, making decisions without her input.. She’s hostile, but they’re insistent. The young priest has approved an exorcism and the old priest is very much against it. Michaela’s father is on her side, but her mother is all about the priests.
Hanna and Stefan talk about how much weight Michaela has lost. He didn’t know about the epilepsy, but Hanna fills him in. Hanna tells her to shut up about the stupid saints and go see a doctor. She really doesn’t see how a hospital can help her; she can’t touch the cross anymore. She can barely even walk.
Stefan doesn’t want to have her committed, so he takes her home to her parents. Her father pulls out the medical records that say Michaela needs to be institutionalized. She’s angry and obnoxious and throws a fit, so mom thinks she’s possessed.. “You belong in a clinic!” shouts her father.
And then the priests arrive. She’s hostile to them, so it must be demons. There’s lots of praying and screaming. The next day, she goes for a walk with Hanna, and Hanna offers to take her away from all this. Michaela says this is her life now and doesn’t want to leave.
Then the film ends. We read in the text that following a few dozen exorcisms, Michaela died of exhaustion at her parents’ house.
The true story this is based on happened in 1976, Anneliese Michel in Klingenberg, Germany. She died of starvation after an exorcism. This film is far more of a drama than a horror film, but it’s based on the same story as “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” That film has much more of a horror focus than this one, but it’s the same story. It’s well acted, realistically done, and flows pretty well. It doesn’t get boring, but it is a slow-moving drama.
The first hour is a pretty common story of someone from a small town going off to university, but in this case, she’s hiding, and apparently recovering from, a fairly severe medical condition. Michaela’s religious fanatic mother makes everything stressful for the rest of the family, which only makes Michaela more likely to have seizures. The bad behavior after that is probably just some kind of psychotic breakdown due to losing physical control of herself.
The next time you hear someone say that religion is harmless, show them this film.
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