Entries in Horror (99)


Creep 2- review


“Creep 2” (2017)

Directed by Patrick Brice

Starring Mark Duplass,  Desiree Akhavan

Running Time 80 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

2014’s experimental indie “Creep” was one of my SXSW highlights.  A very talented filmmaker/actor in Mark Duplass gave horror a go and did it alongside the film’s co-star and director Patrick Brice in a way that specialized in uncomfortableness rather than jump scares.  Unsettling is a word that describes the found footage film well as it got you to laugh but in the way that startes with a giggle but finishes with a marker of trepidation, and that’s a compliment.


Duplass is back as the egotistical and pathological liar slash serial killer Aaron who this time around has lost his love for the game.  When he enlists Sara (“Girls” Desiree Akhavan) who is an aspiring internet documentarian that specializes in trying to find out what makes lonely men tick, Aaron feels like there might be a little left in the tank yet.  Duplass has a blast with this character, and you can feel the script giving into Duplass’ improv which is very strong for the most part.  Creepy moments thrive here because Duplass and Brice let them marinate and Akhavan more than holds her own.  I will say that the original brought more ‘scares’ for me, and this time around the ending felt very rushed as the film is a very quick 80 minutes in total, but this sequel is able to use what worked the first time around and expand in different in directions as well.

Proverbs 16:5


It (2017)- review


“It” (2017)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Starring Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard

Running Time 135 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


In Stephen King’s “It” Derry, Maine has more missing persons, especially missing children, than any other city in America.  Set in the 1980’s, a group of kids known as the “Loser’s Club” dig deeper into the mystery only to unravel that “It” is a malevolent killer clown known as Pennywise (a deliciously off his rockers evil Bill Skarsgard) who feeds off fear.  People look back at the old 1990 NBC miniseries with joy but besides Tim Curry stepping up to the plate, it’s pretty tame and a bit silly for rewatchability sake.  

Cut to Andy Muschietti’s (“Mama”) version which goes hard R and earns some pretty big scares.  What sets this film apart is the brilliant casting with Skarsgard already mentioned, but it’s the youthful actors who really take this film to a higher level.  The mixed tone of comedy, which is really funny at times, with the horror aspect works most of the time.  I will say the film got less scary for me as it went along, but the characters never got less dull.  

It is totally worth watching “It” (I worked a lot harder on that pun than I should have).

Romans 8:18


Annabelle: Creation- Review


“Annabelle: Creation” (2017)

Directed by David F. Sandberg

Starring Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman

Running Time 109 Minutes, Rated R.

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


The Jason Blum horror Blumiverse continues without a bang in “Annabelle: Creation”.  2014’s “Annabelle” was a box office smash and a surprise to me in effectiveness.  “Annabelle: Creation” gives us a prequel and lets us in how that creepy looking porcelain doll earned its creepiness.  When the Mullins, played weirdly lacklusterly by the usually solid Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto, are struck by tragedy losing their daughter to a car accident, they look to the dark side to bring her back not realizing that making a deal with the devil doesn’t usually work out.  Twelve years later the Mullins open their big country house to the failing Saint Eustace Home for Girls, and then all Annabelle breaks out.  


A few good jump scares here and there, and don’t underestimate the power in the simplicity of having a still camera on a darkly lit doll sitting in a rocking chair, but ultimately I was bored.  There are heavy handed character beats with the older girls in the orphanage being snotty that are supposed to make it easier to have them as kill fodder, but they are just weak. Also, the setting up of devices in the house like a dumb waiter and a scarecrow by the shed are underwhelming time bombs, and when they do go off, they don’t pack much of a punch.  

For me it’s time to put this doll to rest.

Luke 22:31



Little Evil- review


“Little Evil” (2017)

Directed by Eli Craig

Starring Evangeline Lilly,  Adam Scott,  Kyle Bornheimer

Running Time 95 Minutes, Rated R.

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


There’s this trend of opening the film with a scene much later on in the film and then working it’s way back to it, I am not a fan.  It’s doesn’t do much except for tell the viewer where we’re gonna end up, so much so that I’m trying to figure out when that scene will come up.  “Little Evil” does that and by doing so starts the film off with a sour taste.  I love the premise; Gary, played very well by straight man extraordinaire Adam Scott marries the love of his life (a pleasant Evangeline Lilly), and becomes the stepfather to her young boy.  It just so happens that the little boy is the antichrist.  Every person who has taken parenthood over a child who they didn’t create must feel like at times they are the spawn of evil so you’d think there’d be so much comedy to mine.  Turns out not so much.


Eli Craig can’t replicate the duality of scares and laughs that he achieved in “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” with many scenes falling flat on their face.  “Little Evil” has its moments, but it’s too little too late.  

John 8:44



It Comes at Night- review


“It Comes at Night” (2017)

Directed by Trey Edward Shults

Starring Joel Edgerton,  Christopher Abbott,  Carmen Ejogo

Running time 91 Minutes, Rated R

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


If minimalistically bleak is considered a film genre or at least a sub genre, then add Trey Edward Shults “It Comes at Night” to that list.

It appears to be the very beginning of the apocalypse, but we’re not given much deets.  A deadly disease that kills within 48 hours has broken out in major cities, and we’re only seeing the perspective of a family of three that was able to make it out and is literally walled up in their remote woodland house.  There were four, but the opening scene shows grandpa infected and therefore his daughter Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), her patriarch husband Paul (Joel Edgerton), and their 17 year old son Travis (David Harrison Jr.) provide a mercy kill by putting him in a wheelbarrow, shooting him in the head, and kerosene torching him in a 6 foot ditch so as not to spread the disease.  


We see through the perspectives of Paul, the rigid rule setter trying to keep his family safe above all else and the emotional core from Travis whose nights are haunted by horror induced visuals.  One night an intruder comes along, which Paul intercedes and leaves bound to a tree for a few days.  The intruder, Will (Christopher Abbott), says he was just looking for supplies to take care of his own family.  Eventually Will brings his wife and their toddler son back to their house, and they share commune; under Paul’s strict rules of course.  Some of the best tension in the film comes from Shults’ making it so there is always just a sliver, and I mean sliver, of doubt about Will and what his intentions are.  We really know just as much as Paul, Sarah, and Travis do, and that’s where the film’s real horror comes from.  

By being so minimalistic, we eventually catch on that Travis’ vivid nightmares aren’t presented as such and are really nothing more; as a result I was never really scared from such scenes.  The cinematography really pops in this film, the red door at the end of the hallway isn’t just red, it’s dangerously red.  A fine job of casting as well, especially with the coo of landing Joel Edgerton.  Once again he showcases a strong brutality but one out of necessity and care.  Edgerton has the ability to really show you the stakes of the film and what’s up to gain and even more what there is to lose.

“It Comes at Night” is soul crushingly bleak.  Check it out if that’s your sort of thing.  

Luke 21:36



Alien: Covenant- review


“Alien: Covenant” (2017)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Michael Fassbender,  Katherine Waterston,  Billy Crudup

Running Time 122 Minutes, Rated R.

1 Mitch out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


Poor Michael Fassbender.  This what Ewan McGregor must have felt like when he was doing the Star Wars prequels.  

Being the main actor in a beloved film series that’s brought back by the director who started it all, has to be pretty exciting- and then your hard and good work end up in films that suck so, so, so much.  Infuriatingly dumb, “Alien: Covenant” is the Phantom Menace of Xenomorph movies.

I was pretty forgiving to 2012’s “Prometheus”, in which Ridley Scott returned to the “Alien” franchise that got started all the way back in 1979.  I gave it 3.5 stars out of 5 even though it had some definite flaws that were irking.  Scott returns for the second prequel to “Alien” with “Alien: Covenant”, and just backhand slaps me right in the face by doubling down on what was wrong with “Prometheus” and making it so I could only focus on the wrongs.  

The year 2104, a colonization ship named Covenant is in the middle of it’s long journey to start up life on a planet named Origae-6 when most of the the 2,000 colonists and 2,000 embryos are lost as a solar flare hits. The captain (a famous cameo) is lost, and Oram (Billy Crudup), a rare man of faith, is promoted.  Much to the resistance of the captain’s now widow, Daniels (Katherine Waterston), Oram decides to forego the 7 years it would take to get to Origae-6  when the ship picks up on a transmission sent from a planet they were unaware of that is much closer and much more compatible to human life and head there.  You’ll never guess what is on that planet.


All is fine enough, especially with the bright spot of being able to bathe the eyes on Dariusz Wolski‘s hauntingly gorgeous cinematography.  But then our remaining crew, which are supposed to the brightest of the bright charged with repopulating the human race, make the mistakes of the Prometheus but turned up to 11.  My stomach was twisting in horror, not that at which Scott was trying to deliver, but rather the horror of his inept characters and the choices they make when they land on an uncharted planet.  It was seriously like watching a ‘Laurel and Hardy’ sketch as our ‘crew’ slash ‘knuckleheads’ made decisions that almost guaranteed their demise. This sequence gave me a real seething anger, a blunder so large and just plain dumb that I knew the film could not come back from it.

With very little character development, actors such as Demián Bichir and Danny McBride are wasted.  They were no more useful than teens who had just had sex in a Friday the 13th film, cast as meat for the monster. The film’s real monster; a returning Michael Fassbender pulling double duty as the first android David from Prometheus and an upgraded version for the Covenant ship named Walter.  A Cain and Abel approach questioning your creator played only so deep this time around with Fassbender’s strong acting making it watchable.  

“Alien: Covenant” sludges along not knowing what to do with its Xenomorphs, and rather has to poorly focus on the evil of David. Watch out for a third act ‘twist’ that you’d have to be as dumb as the Covenant crew not to see coming.  

I haven’t been this mad at a film in quite some time.



Get Out- review


“Get Out” (2017)

Directed by Jordan Peele

Starring Daniel Kaluuya,  Allison Williams,  Bradley Whitford

Running Time 103 Minutes, Rated R.

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


There is nothing like a very good horror film to tap into the focused mistreatment of a wronged group or a social dynamic that has been broken in some way.  Whether it be man's controlling of women in “Stepford Wives” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, or South Korea’s passivity to the U.S.A’s bullying in “The Host”, or the rampant Reagan era consumerism in Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead”, these films were spot on with a minority’s view toward their abuse and were damn good scary thrillers on their own.  You can now add Jordan Peele (yes, Peele from the spot on sketch comedy “Key & Peele”) to the list with his racially charged horror/comedy masterstroke “Get Out”.

There's outright hatred racism where a person is attacked only for the color of their skin and that’s how “Get Out” begins as a young black man is snatched up by a masked man who pulls up in a blinding white corvette. Then there’s the ‘thinly veiled’ racism that confuses that when we elected President Obama racism was cured in America.  Ala passive aggressive racism that I saw the other day where at my job a fellow employee who swears not to have anything against black people couldn’t understand why so many blacks were nominated for Oscars this year.  Like this only happened to make up for last years political protests instead of there just being plenty of great contributions from black people in the industry.  It’s that kind of racism that is hiding around every corner for a black person that must make America feel like a real horror film, and that’s where this film truly scares the ‘same colored shit as everyone else on this planet’ out of me. 

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is a black photographer who is doing so well with his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) that it’s time to meet her parents.  With growing trepidation he asks her if her parents know that he’s black.  She laughs off the question saying her father will tell him that he would have voted for President Obama a third term if possible..and he does.  They drive off to her parents house in a tucked away very white suburbia off the lake and even though little insensitivities come along in meeting Rose’s parents (played excellently by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) his reserved demeanor shrugs them off.  

While Rose’s father explains away why they have a black maid and a black gardener, Chris can’t help but notice how odd their demeanor comes off.  More and more Chris shrugs off the signs until the warnings become unshruggable and the horror takes hold.  Peele will have the morally afflicted angered in this film but he will also have the horror fan freaked out.  His tonal shifts are perfect, his editing is so acute, and his actors are so finely tuned that “Get Out” fires on all cylinders.  Don’t want to give anymore away than that but please, ‘get in’ line for this film.      

1 John 2:9



Split- review


“Split” (2017)

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring James McAvoy,  Anya Taylor-Joy,  Haley Lu Richardson

Running Time 117 Minutes, Rated PG13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


I held a glimmer of hope for the longest time and then that glimmer had faded.  M. Night Shyamalan was all but dead to me, like “Kevin Smith” dead to me.  After the amazing “The Sixth Sense”, the super underappreciated “Unbreakable”, and the flawed but still very good “Signs”, M. Night’s production value started going south and fast.  To this day, “The Last Airbender” is the only film I’ve given zero stars to, and I consider it the worst the film of all time that I have ever seen.  But then came 2015’s “The Visit”.  It had Shyamalan’s underlying social commentary and was used to be the underlining story propellant while the horror/mystery was the primary, making it a darn fine “B” genre movie.  


Shyamalan’s latest, “Split” is also of the “B” movie cloth and totally in a good way.  If you’re gonna do a “B” movie it’s imperative to have some “A” casting and Shyamalan has that with the talented James McAvoy.  Here as a man with 23 separate diagnosed split personalities, McAvoy is utterly tremendous.  Such separation from one personality to the next, it is a different fully realized persona but just under the hood of one actor.  “Split” starts off with one of McAvoy’s personalities abducting three teenagers; Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Witch”), Haley Lu Richardson (“The Young Kieslowski”), and Jessica Sula.  Barricaded and held against their will, the three young ladies are promised that they are going to witness something special, the introduction of The Beast; the higher evolution of man which McAvoy astoundingly delivers.

Instead of split personalities being a disease, Shyamalan asks if it is rather man taking the next evolutionary step.  Not all the psychology mumbo jumbo jargon in the film plays out effectively and scenes with the girls on their own are not always that strong either, but every time McAvoy is on screen he has your full devotion. There is a twist at the end, and it’s not in the way you would think.  The twist has an ongoing development for Shyamalan fans, and as an early Shyamalan fan I am eager to see where this twist plays out.  

That’s two in a row for Shyamalan, I hope the streak continues.  

Jude 1:6



The Wailing- review


“The Wailing (Goksung)” (2016)

Directed by Hong-jin Na

Starring Jun Kunimura,  Jung-min Hwang,  Do Won Kwak

Running Time 156 Minutes, Rated R.

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


This is a hellishly bonkers film and one heck of a treat.

Korean filmmaker Hong-jin Na has expertly crafted a topsy-turvy supernatural thriller that is purposely confusing at times but miraculously never boring for a second in this 156 minute foreign affair.  Continuously building bigger insanity off the previous scene’s insanity, “The Wailing (Goksung)” is a daft mixture of Coen brothers dark inept humor, eye scorching gore, and a mystery worth chasing after.


After a slew of homicides in his small mountain village, a not-up-for-the-job police officer named Jong-gu, played with early comedic slapstick that transforms into dramatic tragedy by Do Won Kwak, gets the case. Horrific crimes mixed with a mysterious Japanese man living in the woods could be the work of just mushrooms or something much more sinister.  Eventually Jong-gu’s daughter is possessed, and a shaman is called upon for exorcism.  

There’s a lot to unravel in this film, and I’ll gladly give another viewer some other day but a little google research from my wife helped out a bit and I’ve been deciphering it ever since.  I encourage you to decipher it for yourself.

1 Peter 5:8



Don't Breathe- review


“Don’t Breathe” (2016)

Directed by Fede Alvarez

Starring Stephen Lang,  Jane Levy,  Dylan Minnette

Running Time 88 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


“Evil Dead” remake director Fede Alvarez purposely blasts the opening scenes with a posh all white and bright luxury apartment that finds our youth burglar leads Rocky (Jane Levy) and Alex (Dylan Minnette) heisting.  This is done to set the ruse of the film’s lead setting to come being the bleakly dark and run down house of a character awesomely billed as only “The Blind Man”, played by super jacked up (not just old man strength either) and gravelly voiced Stephen Lang (“Avatar”).


Not just a cutesy-wutesy nickname, The Blind Man was blinded from shrapnel in the Gulf War and is sitting on a big settlement.  So when Rocky who wants get her and her little sister out of Detroit and to the waves of California, her punk boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto), and Alex decide to hit his house, they’re in for far more they ever imagined.  

Alvarez does not let up this turned table home-invasion tale one bit for its 88 minute runtime.  It is a strong entry into the often disappointing horror genre that dishes some pretty terrifying surprises along the way and one gross-out scene involving a turkey baster that you soon won’t forget.

Definitely a good watch if you’re a horror fan.   

1 Thessalonians 5:2



Lights Out- review


“Lights Out” (2016)

Directed by David F. Sandberg

Starring Teresa Palmer,  Gabriel Bateman,  Maria Bello

Running Time 81 Minutes, Rated R

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


Concise, compact, and straight-forward.  Swedish director David F. Sandberg successfully turns his three minute viral horror short into an 81 minute sensible horror delight that has the audacity to make it’s characters intelligent (well, I never!).  “Lights Out” doesn’t hold up to but smartly goes via “The Babadook” route by producing jump scares that are intertwined with a social issue that most of us may have been a part of or certaintly known someone affected by.  Where “The Babadook” used the hardships of motherhood, especially single motherhood, “Lights Out” tackles mental illness and focus’ more intently on the strains it puts on the loved ones who deal with trying to care for someone suffering  from it.  


A little boy named Martin (Gabriel Bateman) doesn’t dare sleep or an evil shadowy female will attack when the lights go out.  His mother Sophie, played by the talented Maria Bello who had a good run in the early aughts, is hitting depression rock bottom again and although knows and befriends this evil in the dark killer can’t rationalize with it to leave her kids alone.  Her other kid, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), now all grown up who left long ago to save her sanity from her own mother fleeting sanity has to step back into the picture for young Martin.

The thrills and chills can be a bit cheap, but they’re effective. What really stands out is Sandberg’s commitment to characters who don’t fall into stupid horror tropes.  Rebecca’s boyfriend who aesthetically looks like all other horror movie jerkoffs actually makes every right decision presented with; morally and rationally.  Even the cops who appear late in the film just to be lights out fodder, at least follow every protocol they’re supposed to, and I appreciate that.

I appreciate “Lights Out”.    

John 1:5



The Shallows- review


“The Shallows” (2016)

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring Blake Lively,  Óscar Jaenada,  Angelo Jose

Running Time 86 Minutes, PG-13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


“Non-Stop”, and “Orphan” director Jaume Collet-Serra knows where his bread is buttered in his latest effort, “The Shallows”.  The socially above adequately looking Blake Lively is shown in circling cut takes stripping down only to get dressed back up in her tight rubber surf suit that one might imply is hot enough to give the sun a tan (not me, I’m married).  Subtly, Collet-Serra eventually puts her through enough peril in this shark infested thriller that bruises her up left and right making her not model ready… but she makes it work.


Lively plays Nancy, a recent med-school dropout still mourning the loss of her mother and memorializing her by going to her favorite off the map surf beach in Mexico.  Kudos to “The Shallows” taking a breath with just enough character development before it heads under water for the film’s thriller set piece.  When an MVP of Shark Week sinks its teeth into Nancy’s thigh it’s up to her dropout knowledge to MacGyver the day while she uses the rest of her smarts to outshark the shark.  

This is a pretty decent popcorn flick, on a minimal budget, with minimal plot, but sold with an above average use of well deserved tension.  Lively continues to show me that there is something there waiting to break out, maybe.  It’s not too deep of a film but “The Shallows” is worth visiting.



The Conjuring 2- review


“The Conjuring 2” (2016)

Directed by James Wan

Starring Vera Farmiga,  Patrick Wilson,  Madison Wolfe

Running Time 134 Minutes, Rated R.

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


How do I describe “Conjuring 2”?

So.. my friend makes me a mixtape of the ultimate collection of the greatest guitarists of all time.  Jimi Hendrix bleeds into some Eric Clapton, from there my mind is melted by my Minnesota’s greatest pride, Prince, throw in some B.B. King, move onto some Richards, Van Halen, and some Stevie Ray Vaughn.  What could be next; maybe some Slash, or even Jack White, or even obviously some Carlos Santana… no…for some reason for which I can’t explain, Kenny G follows.  For one, Kenny G isn’t my jam, if it’s yours, God bless you, I encourage you to keep on keepin’ on.  The more important point is not whether or not I’m a fan of Kenny G that matters, but for some reason my friend really mucked up a sweet guitar mix by putting in a saxophone player.

And there lies my problem with “Conjuring 2”.  For such a deal of time this is a film that lines up fantastic tension propelled horror scene after fantastic tension propelled horror scene and then out of nowhere a scene so distant, so foreign, so alien to every majestically bone-chilling scene before it comes in like an in the dirt curveball that throws this would be masterpiece into the loss column.  So rarely have I been so wooed by a film only to have the malevolent rug pulled from right under my hovering feet.  I can’t understate it enough. Here I am in love, IN LOVE, mind you with what my half-opened eyes can gleefully stomach, and then I’m sucker punched in the nuts and that hurts more than any traditionally bad movie.  “Conjuring 2” is a sucker punch to the nuts.

Wan is very good at filmmaking and more importantly one of the better and solid voices that the horror genre has and desperately needs, but “Conjuring 2” is derailed by that Kenny G scene.  Not for the whole film mind you, and sadly that undercuts the very fine work that Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson who have built some great chemistry and character work with parts one and two.  

“Conjuring 2” will scare you, it scared the heck out of me, but it fell apart as a movie and James Wan is better than that and we deserve his best.  



The Witch- review


“The Witch” (2016)

Directed by Robert Eggers

Starring Anya Taylor-Joy,  Ralph Ineson,  Kate Dickie

Running Time 93 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


There is a movement in horror. It wants to be taken more seriously, and recent entries such as “It Follows”, “Under the Skin”, “The Babadook”, and “The Conjuring” are proving that it can be.  You can now add Robert Eggers directorial debut “The Witch” to that list.  

It may exude the modern movement of respectable and thought provoking horror, but “The Witch”, is set far in the past which Eggers succeeds in with an exquisitely detailed period piece.  Set in mid 17th century New England, a Pilgrim family parented by William (Ralph Ineson) and Katherine (Kate Dickie) are banished by their church for being too devout and pious and soon make a new home by some far off deep and sinister woods.  It doesn’t take long to find out this won’t be the haven they were looking for.

Tragedy strikes very quickly as under eldest daughter Thomasin’s watch, a wonderful debut from the young actress Anya Taylor-Joy, the youngest, an infant, goes missing.  The family unravels all the further as Katherine is inconsolable, and blame is eyed towards Thomasin.  Eldest son, Caleb is troubled by mixed feelings that come with noticing Thomasin’s burgeoning into womanhood.  William is burdened by the lands inability to produce good crops and good hunting conditions, and two toddler twins are just.. a bit off and obnoxious.


Yes, there is a Witch in the woods, and Eggers bookends this outward literal evil early on in the film and close to its end. However, the real horrors are the internal self-inflicted kind that fill everything that happens in between.  Eggers shows us how hard early colonial living is, and the dialogue is authentic speech of the time both of which put us all the more there.  With living conditions so hard tragedies were a common occurrence, and when we lean on religion and our miracles don’t come quickly, our faith can be weakened and misused and that is a great tool of the devil.  

The family has been brought up to fear non-stop for their souls entering heaven.  While they acknowledge God’s mercy, they don’t take the time to delight in it. Each of the family members are left with a dark cloud of fear for their souls that takes a foothold over their psyche and paves the way for hell when heaven was so much sought out.  

While I was challenged intellectually, which can spring the trap for deeper scares, those traps at times came up less than full.  I wasn’t shaken to the core while watching as some religious horror films have done for me in the past.  Maybe I could have used a few more scenes of the actual witches, because the ones that are there are quite effective.  But I do find myself, a day past watching, giving the film much thought about how psychologically this can play out for any family in any time period and that is the type of modern horror I’ve come to praise.        

that is the type of modern horror I’ve come to praise.        

Leviticus 19:31 



The Boy- review


“The Boy” (2015)

Directed by William Brent Bell

Starring Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, James Russell

Running Time 97 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


An American girl, Gretta Evans (played by “The Walking Dead” vet Lauren Cohan), takes a nanny position in the country outskirts in an England mansion.  When the oddly Heelshire parents played by Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle introduce Gretta to their son Braham, Gretta thinks it must be a joke.  Because young Braham is not a real boy but actually just a porcelain doll, but don’t tell his parents that.  Gretta is given a very specific set of rules to follow for her new little glass buddy.  Definitely disturbed by it, Gretta’s sympathy for the weathered old couple and more importantly, her want to get away from a man she has restraining order on back in the states, has her taking the job.

Eventually, little Braham seems to be responsible for things that can’t be explained around the house in a natural way.  If doll Braham is in some way ‘alive’, then it’s probably not for good reasons.  

A horror slash thriller genre ensues…. and one much better than I ever predicted.  

Here’s what works.

Only two weeks ago, “The Forest”, which tried to cash in on the usual horror New Year time slot, had a fellow mega hit tv actress in Natalie Dormer from “Game of Thrones”.  But unlike Dormer who looked overmatched by that film’s silly premise, Lauren Cohan elevates even sillier material, really ridiculous when you think about it, to actual compelling storytelling.  The main two reasons this film is watchable is because of Lauren Cohan’s acting and Stacy Menear’s excellent story and script.  “The Boy” isn’t so much a good movie but more of a really good story that’s acted out pretty darn decently.  Menear, whose unproduced script, “Mixtape, is on the prestigious Black List, really delivers a really excellent slow burn psychological thriller that actually works well in it’s PG-13 confines as it delivers evolving drama that doesn’t just rely on jump scares and cliches (cough.. “The Forest”...cough).

After the rough first half, which I’ll get into later, all the story’s beats somehow actually work out all right. Gretta’s burgeoning relationship with the Heelshire’s grocer Malcolm (Rupert Evans) plays sweet and even though it’s obvious that Greta’s obsessive old flame Cole mostly serves the film to give some horror release in the third act, there is real weight that this abusive relationship gives to pushing the story along.

The ‘reveal’, which of course I won’t get into, works well, so well that it makes you want to go back and rewatch it so you can look for all the clues.  The reveal isn’t perfect execution (director’s fault), but in the end, it makes sense, and does what so many horror films don’t accomplish- moving the story forward.  


Here’s what doesn’t work.   

“The Boy” is overdirected.  At the helm is William Brent Bell, who definitely didn’t impress with the exorcism retread “The Devil Inside” a few years ago.  Bell has a way of adding too much with his cuts and zooms that don’t add to the story but just play superfluous.  An example would be cutting to taxidermied animal heads mounted on the wall which have absolutely nothing to do with the story.   Bell can’t help but put a steamy shower scene in the film, but he tries to justify it by thinking he can reinvent it as his camera moves way more than it should.  Bell’s film is saved over and over by Menear’s script.  As I said earlier, “The Boy” isn’t so much a good movie (Bell’s fault), but a really good story that’s acted pretty darn decently (Meear and Cohan’s praise).  

The film starts off bad.  The heroine, Greta Evans (played by “The Walking Dead’s vet Lauren Cohan), briefly wakes up from her nap and notices that her perv old man driver is checking her out through the rear view mirror.  This scene has no purpose, this perv driver never reenters the story, and if it was supposed to convey some foundation of uneasiness, then it failed.  From there, “The Boy” really takes a while to get it’s porcelain feet off the ground, in retrospect, it works but maybe not as efficiently as would be with a surer director in charge.  

Plot holes.  How did Gretta hear about this nanny position?  Craigslist?  I don’t think so.  The Heelshires make a point of it that they have to give the ok as she’s being interviewed on the spot when Gretta first arrives, pointing out that they that they’ve interviewed many before her.  So what would of happened if she didn’t get it?  Would she of just hopped back on a plane and quickly tried to find a new way to avoid Cole?  Just saying  
I was quite surprised I liked this film.  For the third time, “The Boy” is not a good film but I still think it’s worth a watch.    

I still think "this" is worth a watch.    

Proverbs 22:6



The Forest- review


“The Forest” (2016)

Directed by Jason Zada

Starring Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney

Running Time 93 Minutes, Rated PG-13

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


I love going to the first release of the new year.  I’ve usually just come off of stuffing myself with Oscar hopefuls, that for the most part, end up being the cream of the year’s best crop.  So the first film of January, traditionally the dumping ground for very poor quality films, isn’t the chore you’d think but weirdly a nice change of pace from the The Big Short’s and Carol critical darlings of the world.  2016 is cracked open with the first weeks most abused genre, horror, and a pg-13 horror film at that with Jason Zada’s directorial debut (and it shows) “The Forest”.  I was not disappointed by how disappointing this film was, and so the crappy first film of the year tradition lives on.    

“The Forest” refers to the Aokigahara Forest in Japan, better known as Sucide Forest, due to the very real amount of people who have wandered into the giant forest to commit suicide.  Now that’s a real life horror that is ripe with possibility, but Jason Zada can’t see the forest from the horror cliche trees, that include terrible dialogue, pointless jump scares that don’t contribute anything to the story, and, coincidentally, no story.  Zada and his three screenwriters trip over the story just like its unsympathetic heroine does in the night cast treescape.  


Game of Throne’s Natalie Dormer stars as the well demeanored Sara and as her troubled grunge twin sister, Jess.  Jess has gone missing and was last seen heading into the Suicide Forest.  This is a five alarm problem, because most do not survive more overnight in the forest and Sara has been gone for 48hrs, but it turns out that Natalie has super twin sister powers and the humming beacon device they have for each other hasn’t gone mute, so Jess believes he must be alive, and so she must enter the forest herself and be subjected to countless horror tropes I mentioned as well as a ghostly giggling Japanese girl in a school uniform.      

The dialogue might have been inherently bad, but Dormer didn’t do otherwise to impress.  Sadly, she looked quite overwhelmed by the material, and her performance is best described as ‘January Acting’.  Never once did “The Forest” scare me, and never once did “The Forest” not deserve its first week of January release.  

never once did “This” not deserve its first week of January release.  

Ecclesiastes 7:17



Crimson Peak- review


“Crimson Peak” (2015)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston

Running Time 119 Minutes, Rated R

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

Beware of Crimson Peak.  This is a ghostly warning to Mia Wasikowska throughout the film.  I too have a warning for people who don’t want to attend poorly written would-be horror films:

Beware of Crimson Peak.

Very early on in the film, our lead character, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an inspiring writer clarifies that her novel is not a ghost story and that the ghosts are just metaphors for the past.  The very good director Guillermo del Toro very obviously points out to us that his film, “Crimson Peak”, isn’t a horror film, and by doing this, he also points out that his film isn’t a good film either.  Window dressed as a horror film, “Crimson Peak” is supposed to be a gothic romance, but I was not romanced, I was not frightened, and I was not entertained.

After lady Edith loses her father to a gruesome unsolved murder which is later revealed to you by the letter Duh and the number So What, she marries the mysterious Sir Thomas Sharpe who is never too far away from his angsty goth sister played by Jessica Chastain and is whisked away to their crumbling family mansion on the other side of the pond.  


The house is ghoulish as it’s set upon a crimson colored foundation of clay that literally seeps into the haunted house.  While I must give del Toro and company high praise for prettying things up highly Victorian, I was not happy with the CGI ghost fare.  I’m not happy with the ghosts at all to be honest.  If you took out all the ghosts of the story, then it would change zero to anything that happens in this film.  Did del Toro not trust his script (which he shouldn’t have), so he fancied it up with the dead?  Who knows, and who cares?  Better luck next time del Toro.

Better luck next time del “thiso”.

Job 7:9-10



The Visit- review


“The Visit” (2015)

Directed b y  M. Night Shyamalan

Starring  Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan

Running Time 94 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


Not too shabby M. Night, not too shabby.  These are phrases “the twist” director, M. Night Shyamalan, hasn’t heard for quite some time now.  After dazzling the masses with “The Sixth Sense”, knocking out his second feature in the very underrated “Unbreakable”, and making a crap load of money with “Signs”, the Philly born director went on a decade long slump that gave us a crap load of crappers with “Lady in the Water”, “The Happening”, and what is legitimately my least favorite film of ALL TIME in “The Last Airbender” (motherfluggers do I hate that movie!).  But alas, Shyamalan went the super indie route, scaled back his budget, and delivers a film that doesn’t let his imagination drown his characters’ for once in the creepy good “The Visit”.


Teens Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) visit their grandparents whom they’ve never met due to a fallout from their single mother (the wonderful Kathryn Hahn) when she left at a young age for a man that her parents didn’t approve of.  Here is a premise that is wonderfully simplistic.  With that, Shyamalan constructs an intelligent commentary about the youth’s fear of the elderly, and the  emotional ramifications of abandonment.  He finds terror in that, but interestingly mixes in a lot of humor that creates a nice off balance for the viewer.

For the most part Shyamalan uses the found footage theme without annoying me, but still, why have it?  While the script is both smart and funny, his dialogue can’t help but have a few rotten apples in it as adjectives such as “deep darkies” stick out like a sore thumb.  Shyamalan also has to hit every single point he set up in obvious successive order in the film’s climax that comes off pretty heavy handed, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that “The Visit” is pretty decent and worth an actual visit to the theaters.        

…”this” is worth an actual visit to the theaters.  

Psalm 71:9  



Unfriended- review


 “Unfriended” (2015)

Directed by Levan Gabriadze

Starring Heather Sossaman, Matthew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson

Running Time 83 Minutes, Rated R.

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


I still remember when ads for websites first came on the scene before a film, and I was like, “good luck throwing away your advertising money on this new crazed computer fad.”  Well, turns out that the internet is here to stay and less appealingly so, found footage films are as well.  Knowing that found footage films have as much too offer as an ametuer movie critic with a barely read blog, I went in with a heavy dread.  Like the internet, the newly released technological horror film “Unfriended” surprised me with its entertainment value, but much unlike the intraweb, this would-be fright fest does not have the gigs for staying power.

I really want to give this film credit.  Director Levan Gabriadze establishes the style he wants to tell his story in and doesn’t dumb it down.  Practically the whole film is told on a computer screen as five high schoolers video chat, following the navigation of the sweet Blaire (Shelley Hennig) as she goes back and forth messaging her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Storm), to conversing with the rest, and her google searches and music playlist.  If you’re older than 25, it may take a second to get adjusted, it did for me, but after a few minutes Gabriadze’s flow is very competent.    


Conflict arrives when another guest joins the group’s chat claiming to be Laura Barnes.  That wouldn’t be a big deal except that Laura committed suicide exactly one year earlier after a video went viral of being very drunk and eventually passed out with her bowels evacuated.  The group obviously think its a hacker/ internet troll, but the uninvited guest won’t leave until someone admits who was responsible for making and putting the video online.  Eventually they get the hint that it’s not a hacker when supernatural mischief starts killing them off one by one.  

Now while the film wasn’t overly scary, I still found myself enjoying it, that was until the third act climax that bludgeoned me silly and left me not only obnoxiously annoyed but in one of those film going experiences that literally gave me a headache.  The Laura Barnes internet ghost makes everyone play a game of “never have I ever” that of course is meant to turn everyone against each other and show how rotten they all are.  Rotten for sure, but what really stunk up the film is that for over 20 minutes all the teenagers do is yell, scream, and cry at each other.  Over, and over, and over again they just call out secrets and yell at each other.  It was relentless to the point of making a new rule for myself that I must always bring Ibuprofen with me wherever I go to the movies.

I was amigos with this movie up until that point, and then, sadly, it got unfriended (yes I know it is a bad pun.)

and, then, sadly, “this” got unfriended (yes I know “this” is a bad pun.)

Proverbs 18:24



It Follows- review


“It Follows” (2015)

Directed by David Robert Mitchell

Starring  Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi

Running Time 100 Minutes, Rated R.

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


Horror isn’t dead, it’s finally becoming deadly good to watch again.  Like last year’s “The Babadook”, “It Follows”, written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, chooses to create suspense and frights from very well built up tension instead of the brain numbing shaky cam POV craze of the last too many years accompanied by a the Blumhouse myriad of jump cuts to get you to scream.  “It Follows” is a legitimately terrifying film, and David Robert Mitchell is a name now to be reckoned with.

One of the long standing rules of the horror genre is that you’ll meet your sure demise if you have sex.  In other words: if you get some, death is sure to come.  Here, however, Mitchell takes the old trope and puts it on its stomach.  In “It Follows”, sex transmits an STD, a sexually transmitted demon.  Well, maybe not technically a demon but at least a deadly curse that passes from sexual partner to sexual partner.

After an vague but terrifying scene that shows the effects of the curse on one doomed girl, we meet 19 year old Jay played by the up and coming Maika Monroe.  When Jay finally gets to know her summer fling Hugh (Jake Weary) in the biblical sense, she isn’t met with sweet pillow talk.  The nice enough but paranoid Hugh drastically tries to make Jay aware that he was cursed and that the only way to get rid of it is to have sex with someone else before “It” gets him. He goes on to explain that she should have sex with someone else as soon as possible to pass it along and that if the curse gets to her it will kill her and then revert back to him.  


The curse is a shape shifting anyone that may be slow coming at you, but it is relentless and not dumb.  It could be an old woman, and next a tall man, or even a little gawking boy.  Eventually Jay comes to believe her fate as the slow but ever coming pursuit yields terror after terror.    

Mitchell litters the film with oddities and tributes.  Besides a shell shaped Kindle ebook type handheld device, the rest of the film is new-tech free, as if to point out that the film is set today.  Set in Detroit, both in suburbia and the abandoned ghetto (that was also so well utilized in Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Behind”), besides a recent Nissan Sentra model you’d have a very hard time not thinking this to be placed in the 80’s or early 90’s.  Any films that pop up are monster movies from the 50’s and a viewing of the 1963 classic “Charade”. Parents are nowhere to be found but in the background giving sole responsibility to the haunted youth to break free from the curse.  You can also watch Mitchell pay homage to horror giants such as Brian De Palma with a very “Carrie” like dreamscene of Jay getting ready for her big date with Hugh.  The slow walk of whatever “It” is comes in the vein of the great John Carpenter.    

This is one of those wonderful viewing experiences where the rules are established, and you can’t help but try to navigate your own escape if the situation were presented to you.  Besides the chilling camera work that teases your senses, you’re also rooted in a very good story of young love where once again Mitchell gets extra credit with his exceptional work with the details.  When you’re sitting on a couch next to the pretty girl who you’ve been pining for quite some time and she nudges her toes an inch closer to you, it means the world.  

Much like the monster of “It Follows”, the scares are relentless and they are not dumb.  

the scares are relentless and they are not “this”.

Hebrews 13:8