Cleaning Out The DVR: Stickman (dir by Sheldon Wilson)

(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 191 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 Stickman off of the SyFy on October 21st!)

When she was seven years old, Emma (Hayley Law) was accused of two terrible crimes.

The authorities say that Emma murdered both her sister and her mother.  She’s spent the last ten years in an institution, haunted by nightmares of the demonic monster that she claims committed the murders.  According to Emma, the Stickman comes for you if you make the mistake of reading a poem aloud.  The only way to keep the Stickman at bay is to draw a picture of him every night.  Of course, no one believes Emma.  At the institution, she has to regularly deal with smug doctors who refuse to accept that she’s being stalked by an unstoppable monster.  Obviously, they’ve never watched It Follows or that HBO documentary about Slenderman.

When 17 year-old Emma is finally released from the institution, she is sent to a half-way house where she is to live with 5 other girls.  They’ve all committed different crimes.  One of them is an arsonist.  Another one has a paranoid obsession with the dark web.  Emma’s the only one to have been accused of murder.  Even though Emma is assured that, as far as the other girls are concerned, “their bark is worse than their bite,” she soon finds herself targeted by Liv (Zoe De Grand Maison).  Not only does Liv refuses to believe in Stickman but she also doesn’t want to live with a murderer.

(I have to admit that sounds kinda reasonable to me.)

Anyway, as you can probably guess, that poem gets read again.  And, on her first night of half-way house living, Emma has a nightmare about the Stickman.  However, this time, Stickman doesn’t just stay in her dreams.  Instead, Stickmsn shows up in the real world and starts killing people.  Emma thinks that she can find a way to stop Stickman if she returns to the hospital.  Liv, meanwhile, remains convinced that Stickman is a myth and somehow, Emma is responsible for it all…

Stickman was aired as a part of SyFy’s 31 Days of Halloween.  I really wish that SyFy would show more original films.  Years ago, they used to show a new movie every weekend.  Now, we only get original movies during Shark Week and October.  (And, this October, SyFy devoted one weekend time slot to Jeepers Creepers 3, directed by convicted and admitted pedophile, Victor Salva.  Seriously, what the Hell was up with that?)  Original SyFy films, like Stickman, are always fun to watch and live tweet so it really does seem, to me, that SyFy is missing an opportunity by not showing more of them.

Anyway, I enjoyed Stickman.  Sheldon Wilson has directed several SyFy films and he obviously know how to create and maintain a properly ominous atmosphere.  Stickman is full of dark shadows and sudden jump scares and, even if he is a bit of a familiar monster, the Stickman is genuinely creepy.  Though none of the characters are particularly complex, everyone goes a good job making enough of an impression that you can keep everyone straight.  If I really wanted to, I could probably devote another 500 words to picking apart the plot and citing every logical inconsistency but you know what?  That would be totally missing the point.  This is a horror movie.  It doesn’t have to always make sense, it just has to be entertaining.  In the end, Stickman was a fun movie for Halloween.  I wish SyFy would make more like it.

The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: The Night Before Halloween (dir by Sheldon Wilson)


‘Twas the night before Halloween

when all through the house

not a creature was stirring

except for a Bowman

whose name was Lisa Marie”

— Traditional Bowman Folk Song

And why was I stirring?

Well, first off, that’s what I tend to do.  However, on top of that, I was also stirring because I was watching SyFy’s latest original film, The Night Before Halloween.  I was excited because The Night Before Halloween was full of Degrassi actors!

For instance, Jahmil French played the nerdy but cool Dave Turner on Degrassi.  In The Night Before Halloween, he plays Kyle.  Kyle’s a teenager with a curse.  Basically, unless he can trick someone into killing another person, a supernatural creature will kill him on Halloween night.  It’s a bit like the It Follows curse, except that the curse isn’t passed on by sex.  Instead, it’s passed by fooling someone else into committing murder.  In other words, transmitting The Night Before Halloween curse is a lot less fun than transmitting the It Follows curse.

On Degrassi, Justin Kelly played Jake Martin, a handsome and lovable stoner.  In The Night Before Halloween, Justin Kelly plays Adam, who is handsome and lovable and probably likes to get high, even though we never see him do so in the film.  Adam, unfortunately, is friends with Kyle.  When Kyle tricks Adam in taking part in a prank that leads to the electrocution of Beth (Natalie Ganzhorn), Adam finds himself being pursued by the monster.  Can he and his girlfriend, Megan (Bailee Madison), survive?

On Degrassi, Alex Harrouch played Leo, the abusive boyfriend (and briefly, husband) of Alli.  In The Night Before Halloween, Harrouch plays a much more sympathetic character, Wyatt.  At first, Wyatt is likable and nerdy but then Kyle tricks him into helping to kill Beth.  Leo is the first of the friends to understand what has happened but, when he tried to inform his friends, they ignored his calls and texts.  So, as Leo puts it, he made some new friends, with names like Benny and Oxy.  Leo has had to do some terrible things to survive and he’s been left a haunted shell of his former self.

The final member of this group of friends is Lindsay.  Lindsay is played by Kiana Madeira, who does not have a Degrassi connection but still does a good job in her role.  Lindsay may start as a skeptic but soon, she’s willing to do almost anything to get rid of the curse.

Anyway, of all the It Follows-inspired films that showed up on SyFy this October, The Night Before Halloween was definitely the best.  It was well-acted and directed and the supernatural monster (which usually manifested itself as a swarm of flies) was creepy.  Best of all, the film fully embraced and explored the question of how far people would go to survive.  In The Night Before Halloween, the only way to escape the curse is to betray someone.  While you may not be surprised when the friends start to betray each other, you’ll still never guess just how far one of them is willing to go.  You may even find yourself considering just how far you would go to save your life.

The Night Before Halloween is a very well-done SyFy shocker.  Even if it didn’t have the Degrassi connection, it would still be one to track down.

Shattered Politics #92: White House Down (dir by Roland Emmerich)


To say that the 2012 film White House Down is stupid is probably unnecessary.  After all, the film was directed by Roland Emmerich and Emmerich specializes in making stupid films.

And, in many ways, White House Down is prototypical Emmerich film, a long and self-important collection of mayhem and heavy-handed pontification.  In the case of this film, liberal President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) is pushing for a treaty that will magically bring about world police.  Naturally, a bunch of evil right-wingers (including characters played, somewhat inevitably, by James Woods and Richard Jenkins) don’t want world peace so they hire a bunch of mercenaries who attack the White House.  It’s all a part of a plot to force Sawyer to launch a nuclear attack on Iran because … well, why not?  Fortunately, aspiring secret service agent (and kick-ass combat veteran) John Cale (Channing Tatum) is there to work with the President and save the country.

And, since Emmerich is from the bigger is always better school of filmmaking, many familiar landmarks are blown up and it takes the film well over two hours to tell its simplistic story.  To be honest, if your action movie can’t get the job done in under two hours, then you’re going to have problems.  Once a viewer has spent two hours watching one movie, it’s inevitable that he or she will start to question the film’s logic.  If the film’s clever enough, all lapses and inconsistencies can be forgiving.  If the film is White House Down, it’s a lot less easy to be forgiving.

Of course, from a political point of view, Emmerich tries to have it both ways.  For anti-government types like me, it’s always fun to watch Washington D.C. blow up.  For those on the right, White House Down presents a situation that can only be solved by heroes with guns.  And, of course, Democrats can view White House Down as wish fulfillment, an alternative timeline where Barack Obama actually is as sincere and effective as they wish him to be.

In fact, if anything saves White House Down, it’s the chemistry between Foxx and Tatum.  Wisely, neither one of them appears to be taking the film that seriously and both of them seem to be having a lot of fun blowing things up.  Channing Tatum, in particular, deserves some sort of award.  How many bad films have been made tolerable by Tatum’s willingness to laugh at himself?  I’ve lost count but White House Down definitely benefits from his presence.  He and Foxx make Emmerich’s style of filmmaking as tolerable as it will ever be.