She Will, The Sleep Experiment, Bridge of the Doomed, and Dangerous Game: The Legacy Murders
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 196
We've got four hot new horror films this week. We'll start out playing with the "Dangerous Game: The Legacy Murders," then we'll cross "Bridge of the Doomed," then take "The Sleep Experiment," and finally, who will latch the final movie? "She Will" all from 2022.
In the Bonus reviews this week, over at http://horrorbulletin.com
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"V/H/S 2" from 2013
"Blood Red Ox" from 2022
Three years ago this week...
As a new feature of the podcast, we're going to start revisiting past shows and adding our recent thoughts about those old films. THREE YEARS AGO this week, on episode 45, we looked at: "The She-Wolf of London" from 1946, "The Shadow of the Cat" from 1961, "Grotesque" from 2009, and "The Ghost in the Graveyard" from 2019
Listen to that old episode here: https://www.horrorguys.com/hg045/
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Dangerous Game: The Legacy Murders (2022)
Directed by Sean McNamara
Written by Brian Buccellato
Stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Will Sasso, Jon Voight, Laura Mennell
Run Time: 1 Hour, 36 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Hints of “Saw” and “Clue,” and definitely its own movie at the same time. The Horror Guys really enjoyed it. Excellent effects and acting, with an especially noteworthy performance from Jon Voight. And the house is really cool.
#JonVoight and #JonathanRhysMeyers star in the nail-bitingly suspenseful thriller #DangerousGame, now streaming on #Redbox! A family reunion at a remote mansion takes a lethal turn when they are trapped inside and forced to play a deadly survival game where only one will make it out alive. Stream Dangerous Game instantly on #RedboxOnDemand today. Rated R. From #ParamountPictures.
A woman screams in a room full of photos. “Welcome to the murder castle,” says a distorted voice. Gas pours in through a vent, and she passes out. Credits roll.
The extended family converges at Grandpa’s house by boat and aircraft to celebrate his birthday. It’s a huge gothic house that was custom-built by the old timer on a private island. Grandpa Ellison is in a wheelchair, assisted by his butler Burnham. Son Alec is the first to arrive. Granddaughter Livie falls in love with the place. Three giant guard dogs scare grandson Cameron and his girlfriend Tara. Kyle and Joy arrive by helicopter. Sister Virginia is going to skip this reunion. Kyle and old man Ellison don’t get along.
It’s all going really well until the kitten ends up in the garbage disposal. Ellison laments the accident that left him in a wheelchair. He advises them all to “learn your history.” Kyle is a jerk, and he doesn’t get along with any of the others. They find one more big gift; it’s a board game. It’s getting late, and everyone gets ready for bed. Joy leaves for the weekend.
Suddenly, in the middle of the night, an alarm goes off. All the windows close and lock; it’s a regular security lockdown. Burnham the butler seems to have vanished, but the “Dangerous Game” is all set up and ready to play.
Alec finds a sign on the door to the smart house’s control room warning him not to go inside. He goes inside, and an explosion throws him across the room and blows one of his heels off. They have to stop the bleeding and don’t have any medical supplies, they can’t call for help because there are no working phones. Tara is a veterinary nurse, so she grabs a hot iron to cauterize Alec’s leg. Kyle blames Ellison; Ellison blames faulty wiring. Burnham and Virginia are mentioned as additional suspects. The voice announces that “The game is afoot. Best of luck. There are consequences to not playing the game.”
The game is remarkably detailed, and even includes information about each of them. Kyle and Cam go looking for Burnham, but they find bricked-up doors and hallways that go nowhere. Cameron finds the room where the woman in the pre-opening credits died. The door shuts on him. Could that woman be Virginia, the missing sister? Yes, it is, because he recognizes the body! That doesn’t help, because he’s soon gassed to death too.
According to the game, there have been nine murders 1971 to 2015. There are photos going back as far as fifty years ago. Kyle finds that the house is full of secret doors and passages. Marie mentions H. H. Holmes and the murder castle, and Kyle thinks Ellison is behind all this. Kyle confronts Ellison, who accidentally electrocutes himself with the wiring to his electric wheelchair.
Alec wakes up and tells the others about the Murder Hotel and Holmes. Burnham pushes Kyle into a trapdoor and ends up in an operating room. On the table is Joy, who has been cut open. Way open and reassembled. The whole room is a giant oven that switches on; he’ll be cooked if he doesn’t agree to play the game. The key to getting out of the room is literally inside Joy. He cuts the stitches holding her together. He gets the key, but Joy doesn’t survive. The key turns out to be a dog whistle, not the literal key to the door.
As he lay dying, Kyle admits that he knew about Ellison and tried to stop him. There was no accident; Kyle hit his Dad in the back and broke it. Alec figures out the cipher that unlocks the box in the game.
Inside is the complete confession of H. H. Holmes– No, it’s in Ellison’s handwriting. He describes his long career of serial killing. Murder is his legacy. Ellison is a copycat killer. Ellison explains that Holmes is actually Ellison’s grandfather. There’s quite a story involved. He even took Alec with him to some of the murders when Alec was a boy. Sometimes he was just a prop while Ellison did his stalking, and sometimes Alec was waiting in the car oblivious to his dad actually killing.
Alec gets angry and drags the old man upstairs and hangs him. Suddenly, the windows and doors unlock. This whole thing was arranged to get Alec to be the fourth-generation murderer. The voice on speaker says that only one of the four remaining survivors is going to get out alive.
They decide they’ve had enough of the game. Tara goes down into the incinerator room to get the dog whistle from Kyle’s corpse so they can get past the guard dogs. Tara, Alec, Marie, and Livie make a run for it while Burnham shoots at them. The group hides in a boathouse except for Tara, who is killed by the dogs. Suddenly, Livie kills Alec. She was in on it the whole time, well aware of grandpa’s story, and now it’s the fifth generation! After a bit of monologuing, Livie kills Marie with a gun.
Livie leaves the boathouse, and Burnham drives up in the car to pick her up. He works for her now, but he’s also family. She calls him “Uncle Burnham” as they drive away back to the main house.
I’ve never been much of a Jon Voight fan, but he’s “a hoot” in this.
The story develops quickly and is really entertaining. The game all makes sense; the backstory all makes sense, and the characters are interesting. The acting is all good, and we had a lot of fun trying to figure out exactly what was happening.
That said, a lot of the plot is too intricate to be realistic. How would Ellison (or Burnham) know exactly how each player would die to make the game pieces match up so precisely? Alec could have killed old man Ellison a dozen different ways, so why choose hanging? How could they know Tara would be the one chased by dogs? If Livie was in on the plot all along, that would pretty much invalidate the whole “contest” aspect, and if she wasn’t, then some of these choices would be impossible.
Ah well, don’t think too hard— it was still a fun watch!
#game #murder #mystery
Bridge of the Doomed (2022)
Directed by Michael Su
Written by Adrian Milnes
Stars Michael Pare, Robert LaSardo, Sarah French
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
A group of soldiers is ordered to hold a bridge during a zombie outbreak, but what lives underneath the bridge proves to be even more deadly.
It takes a while to get going, but it does, and it’s really good. A horrifyingly realistic situation of what it might be like for a decimated military trying to hold the line and keep things from getting worse.
Soldiers hear something in the darkness. Is it a rabbit? No, it’s zombies! The zombies soon overrun the base, but there are some survivors. General Vasquez is in charge, and he tries to get things put back in order, but there’s a good chance that many of the soldiers have been infected.
Meanwhile, three civilians fight for their lives in the zombie-infested streets of the town. The news is still reporting, but the military is telling people to stay inside, as everyone is doing their best.
General Vasquez asks the doctor about the men, and it’s not promising. They’re expecting reinforcements in 48 hours, but in the meantime, they have to make do. A small group is sent to hold a bridge to cut off the zombies, they are to blow it up as a last resort. The lieutenant orders the bridge to be wired up and prepared for demolition.
Colonel Charon arrives and reports to General Vasquez. It’s just Charon and his driver, there won’t be any more reinforcements. There’s only one way the enemy can cross the river– that one bridge. They find a group of civilian survivors in the woods, but they don’t want the soldiers’ help. By the time the soldiers return, the bridge is ready to expode on the general’s command.
That night, something pulls the detonator wire under the bridge and kills the man who went after it. It’s not a zombie, it was some kind of animal. The animal comes back later for the dead man’s body. The lieutenant is killed, and Sergeant Hernandez takes over the unit.
That night, the creature kills another soldier. It grabs him right off the bridge. There’s some more drama with the civilians the next day, and the following night, they run into the creature again. This time, it takes their supplies. The charges under the bridge are partially ransacked as well.
The zombies finally attack the bridge, but the detonators don’t work, so they can’t blow the bridge. The soldiers win pretty easily, but they don’t have much ammo left. They rewire the detonator so it’ll have to be exploded manually, at close range. Things also go badly at the civilian camp. The civilian explosives expert gets taken by the creature, and Hernandez goes off looking for it alone.
Privates Lin and Sanders want to help the civilians, but Sharrock is a jerk, so they fight with each other. Hernandez fights with the monster in its cave; it looks like the thing from the “Jeepers Creepers” films. She’s out of ammo, so she kills it with a knife. She is wounded in the fight, however.
Lin, Sanders, and three women from the civilian camp get in the car and drive off. Hernandez staggers to the road, and they find her. She still wants to detonate the bridge, cause she’s going to die anyway. The others drive off and leave her behind. The car gets stuck on the safe end of the bridge as the zombie horde approaches.
It’s all looking very grim until Colonel Charon comes out of nowhere with reinforcements. Vasquez also arrives, and he tells Hernandez that she has completed her mission well. She’s obviously infected, so he shoots her.
The trailer didn’t do this one justice; it takes its time, but it’s not boring. It does really well for being a fairly low-budget film. The zombie makeup is excellent, and there’s a good variety of zombie types here.
It’s weird not seeing Robert LaSardo playing a lunatic or gang-banger. Michael Pare is here, but he doesn’t do very much. I didn’t recognize anyone else.
It’s well done, and we both liked it way more than we expected.
Short Film: Behind (2022)
Directed by Kendy Ty
Written by Kendy Ty
Stars Caroline Fauvet, Sophie Martin, Lorene Devenne
Run Time: 4:55
The story of a regression therapy session diving a girl deeply into her distant memories. Cold, strain and fear soon materialize as well as disease and melancholy, past, present and future. It’s Yog-Sothoth, the Lovecraftian cosmic entity who knows the gate, is the gate, is the key and guardian of the gate.
A magic circle, an arcane book, an old VHS taking back in 1980: the death tolls of the Iran-Iraq War that cost more than a million lives. The girl is the key to the other dimension, while archival footage shows us horror and destruction. Shivers down your spine.'
An old book in the mail. A videotape. Hypnosis regression. It’s all pretty mundane—until it’s not.
The atmosphere and the music really make this one. There’s nearly nothing in the way of special effects, but you know what’s behind that door.
She Will (2021)
Directed by Charlotte Colbert
Written by Kitty Percy, Charlotte Colbert
Stars Malcolm McDowell, Alice Krige, Amy Manson
Run Time: 1 Hour, 35 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
An early trauma can affect a whole lifetime, and we get to see that here as an aging actress struggles to recover physically from illness and surgery. The performances are great. It’s a slow seeping kind of horror from witchery and Earth magic. Kind of gentle, slow, and quiet. Very different and entertaining.
Veronica Ghent talks about putting her mask on everyday. She’s an aging film star. She’s had some recent surgery, and she plans to return to her home in Scotland to recover. She takes the train with her caregiver, Desi, and it’s a rough trip. They’re going to a “solitary retreat” instead of a hotel. Veronica wants to get away from everyone, and this is the way to do it. Desi doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but she can’t tell the grumpy old woman anything.
When they arrive, they learn that there are other guests. It’s not as solitary as she expected. Many of the guests are fans of hers, so forget the whole privacy thing. She once starred in “Navajo Frontier” back in 1969. There is a planned remake, and it’s getting a lot of media attention. There’s no cell signal, and the land lines are down, so they’re stuck there, at least for tonight. They are offered a small cabin on the grounds to get away from the crowded main house.
Mr. Tirador is an artist, and he runs some kind of weird performance art ritual thing. It’s a once-in-a-hundred-years storm, and they are expecting some bad effects from the weather. On the way across the moors, their guide Lois, tells about how many of the locals died here in the last burning.
Veronica takes a bath, and something weird seeps into the tub from the spigot. She gets a vision about Hathburne, the man she worked with on the Navajo film. Late at night, she watches the peat from the bog gush around her feet. She has another vision of witches and burning. In the morning, she wakes up, and everything is normal.
Desi wakes up, and the peat from outside has oozed into the living room. She steps right into it. Veronica doesn’t want to do any stupid group activities, but Desi talks her into going to the painting class. Tirador suggests not “to draw the landscape; let the landscape draw you!” He says that a hundred years ago, this remote location was all industrial. The Earth was thought to have healing properties from the high number of women who were burned to ash in the area and decomposed here.
Suddenly, Veronica grabs a handful of mud and starts painting with it as if she’s possessed. On the walk back, she has a vision of herself as a young girl, face bruised and beaten. That night, she dreams of the burning witches again and goes back outside to the muddy woods. Back in the city, Hathborne walks alone at night, and he senses something as Veronica watches him in her vision.
Eric Hathborne appears on the late night show; he’s not “sir” Eric just yet, but that’s coming. He’s an acclaimed director. The interviewer says Hathbone thrives on controversy. Does he ever feel like he’s gone too far? Has he ever done anything unlawful in his films? Veronica was 13 when she made “Navajo Frontier.” But that was OK, because it was a completely different era, and they had a special bond. He then gets sick right there on camera.
Veronica, back at the retreat, also gets sick. It looks like she’s been eating the mud. When one of the men in the art class gets critical, his hand bursts into flame.
That night, Desi goes to the pub in the village for WiFi, where she meets a guy who offers her some mushrooms, “The peat makes them special.” She dances under the influence while Veronica floats above her bed back at the house. Veronica has more visions out in the woods. Black snow starts to fall, and Owen calls it “witch feathers.” Owen, the guy with the mushrooms, follows Desi home through the woods and tries to rape her, but he’s attacked by flowing peat mud.
When Desi wakes up in the morning, Veronica is gone. She’s out in the woods, covered in dirt. She says her pain is all gone. Desi says she feels like she’s losing touch with reality as well. Desi wants them both to leave, but Veronica wants to stay. Veronica orders Desi to go back to town and leave her there. Desi goes to town, gets a car, and comes back for Veronica.
The art group is out in the woods, and today they celebrate the witch burnings; there’s a big bonfire and chanting. Veronica is both in bed and at the bonfire. Meanwhile, she also watches Hathbourne in his apartment. She demands that he tell the truth. He says she knew exactly what she was doing and hits her. When he hits her, she dissolves into “witches feathers” and throws him over the staircase.
Desi returns for Veronica and finds her body covered in black dust. Veronica is also wandering out in the woods. She wakes up in the car with Desi, heading back to civilization. That’s OK, she got what she wanted.
They see on the news that Eric Hathborne has committed suicide. Veronica has had her revenge for what he did to her so many years ago. She’s healed and reinvigorated in the process.
We’re told early on that there’s something in the water. There’s something in the peat. Yes, there definitely was.
Alice Krige and Kota Eberhardt are both very good here. Malcolm McDowell still gets top billing, but he’s barely in it, with what seems like five minutes of screen time.
It unfolds slowly, but the atmosphere is so good you don’t really notice. The music is really good, epic, but still “witchy.” The supernatural, or witchcraft, or magic mud is all very subtle for the most part and is really well done.
The Sleep Experiment (2022)
Directed by John Farrelly
Written by John Farrelly
Stars Gwynne McElveen, Barry John Kinsella, Sam McGovern
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Just think how much you could get accomplished if you didn’t need to sleep. Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, this unfolds showing that it’s not a good thing at all. It’s a good film though, other than a music soundtrack that was a little overbearing at times. It’s interesting watching as things fall apart more and more.
It’s 1961. A bunch of guys are on a truck with burlap sacks over their heads. They’re led downstairs into the basement of the place and hosed off. They’re clearly prisoners, and they are led into a room. A voice comes over the loudspeaker for them to remove their sacks. These five men have been accepted into the sleep experiment. All charges against them will be dropped if they follow the rules:
They must stay awake for the next 30 days
They must do physical activities when instructed
They must obey all orders
There will be no physical contact with each other.
There will be an experimental gas administered to help keep them from falling asleep.
Chapter One: The Investigation
Two policemen go to see Christopher about the top-secret documents that were leaked to the papers. They put him in the interrogation room and ask him about the sleep experiment from fifteen years ago. Why did it go so wrong? The police seem to imply that one of the prisoners was a serial killer or psychopath. According to reports, Christopher is the one who designed the project.
On day 1, the men get used to the room they’ll be in. Eric is one of the prisoners; he’s there for murder, and the others lie about why they’re there.
On Day 2, the men talk more about their backgrounds, and Luke and Sean argue with each other. Each of the men then has to do some physical workouts, in order, one at a time. Luke is a bit odd, Sean is a jerk, Eric is the quiet one, Patrick doesn’t have much to say either, and Edward is the older, bald man.
On day 3, they share more personal details with each other.
On day 4, the men start showing signs of sleep deprivation. The gas they’ve been breathing doesn’t remove the need for sleep, it just doesn’t let them sleep. Eric complains about the loud eating and breathing of the others. Patrick has some kind of seizure, and he’s removed by the guards.
Chapter Two: The Impostor
Patrick is returned to the group. He had a reaction to the gas because of his asthma. Luke seems to know a lot about medicine and asthma.
Back in the interrogation room, Christopher thinks one of the police officer’s fathers was involved with the experiment.
On Day 5, Luke admits that he’s killed people. They talk about justified murder. Luke tells his story about killing a little girl, and Edward gets ready to kill him before the guards intervene.
We get a flashback where Patrick is told to fake an asthma attack on certain days. He’ll be allowed to sleep during those times.
Chapter Three: The Diary
Christopher explains that by day twelve they all had experienced extreme hallucinations. Patrick has another seizure and is once again removed from the room. Eric continues to write in his diary. Eric freaks out and vomits blood on the door. Sean hears his mother’s voice. She comes to him with a noose around her neck; she killed herself because he left her. We see that Luke switches books with Patrick’s diary and reads it.
Day 13, Patrick is returned to the group again, but he doesn’t seem as messed up as the others. Are they letting him sleep outside? Luke knows that Patrick is a fake.
Chapter Four: The Yellow School Bag
Edward hugs his daughter, and he notices her yellow school bag. That bag ties in with Luke’s story about killing the girl. Luke basically admits it and then spills the beans about Patrick and his diary as a distraction. Edward threatens to kill Luke someday, but he won’t do it now, because he wants the promised pardon. Luke doesn’t let it go, so Edward kills Luke with a toilet lid. Edward then covers the see-through mirrors with blood, which blinds the scientists.
On Day 14, the researchers flood the room with sleeping gas and go in to rescue Patrick. Edward then turns on the researchers and tears them apart.
Back at the police station, Christopher winds up his story and goes home.
Chapter Five: The Missing Tape
Robert and David, the two policemen, continue their investigation. One woman talks about some atrocities in a different experiment, and she mentions that Christopher had designed more than just that one experiment…
David goes back to Christopher’s house that night and finds a room in the basement that contains a tape; the one missing tape from the experiment.
Day 24, and Edward is the only subject remaining. Christopher asks Edward if he feels guilty after killing Luke and the two soldiers. “Alive,” Edward replies. Edward wants to know if Luke really killed his daughter, and Christopher explains that he didn’t.
Christopher admits to Edward that he’s a psychopath with no qualms about killing at all. He took this job, designing experiments that would always go wrong so he could kill people without being discovered.
Turns out there was a psychopath involved in the experiment– Christopher, the lead researcher.
This is based on a more-or-less true story– no, not really. The original story was a “creepypasta” that became immensely popular. There was never a real Russian Sleep Experiment. The original story had monsters, and this one didn’t.
The music is a little too loud, and it makes some of the dialog hard to understand at points, especially Sean, who has a pretty thick Irish accent.
It’s definitely creepy, but not supernatural in any way; it’s just a bunch of people with madness lying just below the surface. The acting is fine, except maybe for Christopher, who is a little over-the-top evil, especially at the end. The cinematography and directing were good; the main set was appropriate, the sound was good, except for the too-loud background music at times.
Overall, we liked it.
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