Cleaning Out The DVR: The Bachelor Next Door (dir by Michael Feifer)

(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 182 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on January 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded The Bachelor Next Door off of Lifetime Move Network on December 2nd, 2017!)

It’s time for yet another Lifetime film featuring Haylie Duff as a woman being menaced by a neighbor!

In this one, Haylie plays Alex.  Alex is a painter who lives with her boyfriend, Gavin (Stephen Bruns).  Alex hasn’t found much success as a painter but, fortunately, Gavin has one of those financial jobs where he spends all of his time talking about when the markets in London close.  So, even though Alex hasn’t sold a painting in forever, she still gets to live in a really big and pretty house.

But then one day, that house nearly burns down!  Fortunately, the new neighbor, Donnie (Michael Welch), just happens to notice that a fire has broken out in the kitchen so he runs over and he saves the day.  Or, at the very least, Donnie claims that he just happened to notice the fire.  Donnie seems to have some issues.  He’s way too nice and way too quick to want to help out around Gavin and Alex’s house.  Plus, sometimes he goes back to his own house and he throws a screaming fit.  Again, Donnie would appear to have some issues.  Still, Alex goes ahead and sets Donnie up with her sister, Sage (Brittany Underwood).

And for a while, it seems like everything’s just perfect.  Sage and Donnie make for a really cute couple.  Or at least they do until Donnie accidentally calls Sage by her sister’s name.  Uh oh!

Meanwhile, Gavin keeps asking Alex to marry him and Alex keeps saying no.  Alex says that she’s worried that, if she gets married, she’ll become complacent and boring and she’ll lose her edge as an artist.  I have to say that this part of the movie was handled very well.  Alex and Gavin seemed like a “real” couple and Haylie did a good job capturing all of Alex’s fears about commitment.  I could relate to Alex and, as a result, I was more emotionally invested in her story than I am in the typical Lifetime movie.

Anyway, Gavin refuses to give up.  He keeps asking her to marry him and when Alex finally says yes, everyone’s overjoyed.  Except for Donnie…

And why should Donnie care?  It all goes back to something that happened years ago.  Donnie is not as much of a stranger as everyone initially thinks that he is…

The Bachelor Next Door was actually pretty good.  I’ve gotten to the point where I really look forward to these Haylie-Duff-In-Danger Lifetime films.  Haylie always does a really good job in these movies and, in The Bachelor Next Door, she ably supported by Michael Welch, Steve Bruns, and Brittany Underwood.  The Bachelor Next Door has suspense, flashbacks, a great ending, and two great houses.  What more could you ask for?


Film Review: Insidious: The Last Key (dir by Adam Robitel)

Traditionally, good films are not released in January.

With most filmgoers more interested in catching up with the probable Oscar nominees and no one wanting to spend too much money after Christmas, January has become the month when the studios release all of the low-budget films that they’re hoping they can make a few bucks off before everyone forgets about them.  January is the month that sees sequels to the franchises that have a small but loyal fan base.  Just as last January saw the release of a new Underworld and a new Resident Evil, this January sees the release of Insidious: The Last Key.

Though it would subsequently be overshadowed by The Conjuring and its sequel, the Insidious franchise got off to a good start with the first film in the series.  Released in 2010, the first Insidious was a genuinely scary movie, one that can still give your nightmares if you watch it on a stormy night.  There are so many moments from that film that have stuck with me: the dancing ghost, the red demon suddenly appearing over Patrick Wilson’s shoulder, and the franchise’s first trip to the Further.  Of course, the thing that really elevated Insidious was the performance of Lin Shaye, in the role of demonologist Elise Rainier.  Lin Shaye played Elise with a combination of eccentricity and quiet authority and, from the minute she first showed up, you wanted to know more about Elise’s paranormal career.  Elise was the most popular character in the movie, which made it unfortunate that she was dead by the end of it.

Despite Elise’s death, she’s continued to be at the center of the Insidious franchise.  The first sequel dealt with her death by having her appear as a spirit, leading the hero through the Further.  The third film in the franchise was actually a prequel, dealing with one of Elise’s earlier investigations and showing how she first met her two comedy relief assistants, Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell).  The Last Key is another prequel, revealing the details of Elise’s childhood and following her all the way through 2010.  The Last Key ends with a call back to the first Insidious movie, suggesting that the franchise has now come full circle.

The Last Key is another haunted house movie.  This time, the house in question is the one where Elise and her brother (played, as an adult, by Bruce Davison) grew up with their horribly abusive (and possibly demon-possessed) father.  In 2010, the house has been purchased by Ted (Kirk Acevedo).  No sooner has Ted bought the place then it becomes obvious that it’s haunted.  However, Ted can’t just abandon the place because he’s sunk all of his money into this house, which he was hoping to be able to then sell to someone else.  Apparently, you can’t get much money for a haunted house.

(Well, whatever.  I’d pay good money to buy a haunted house and then I would open it to the paying public every October.  I would make a fortune, assuming everyone didn’t get killed.)

Anyway, it all pretty much leads to everything you would expect to happen in an Insidious movie.  Doors open and close.  Malevolent beings appear in the shadows.  Everyone goes to the Further.  Lin Shaye gives another entertaining and fully committed performance, obviously enjoying the chance to be the star of the film.  Nothing about the film is particularly surprising but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t often effective.  Watching this film is a lot like listening to a skilled storyteller tell the story about the girl, her boyfriend, and the escaped mental patient who has a hook for a hand.  You know exactly what’s going to happen.  You know that it none of it really happened.  You know the story is borderline ludicrous.  But you still find yourself jumping at every unexpected sound.  You still find yourself staring into the shadows, wondering if you really saw something moving or if it was just your imagination.

Needless to say, The Last Key is never as effective or as scary as the first Insidious or either of The Conjuring films.  There were a few moments — mostly dealing with Elise’s childhood — where The Last Key showed the potential to be something a little deeper than what I was expecting but those moments were rarely followed up on.  In the end The Last Key is a rather modest and workmanlike horror film, the type that makes you jump while you’re watching it but which you will also probably end up forgetting about a day or two after seeing it. However, for a January horror film, it’s good enough.

Scenes that I love: Let’s Celebrate National Bird Day With An Epic Scene From Birdemic!

Happy National Bird Day!

Today seems like a good day to share a scene from the twentieth best film ever made about a sudden, inexplicable bird attack, 2010’s Birdemic!

In this classic scene, four humans battle a flock of rampaging birds.  Unfortunately, it would appear that none of the humans have been properly trained in how to use a coat hanger to battle low-budget CGI.