The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Nocturne (dir by Stephen Shimek)


Have you ever noticed how movies about teenagers always treat the rules of the “Never Have I Ever” game like they’re some sort of legally binding contract?

Seriously, I’ve seen this happen in so many movies.  Someone has a deep, dark secret that they don’t want to reveal.  They know that if they reveal the secret, a lot of bad stuff will happen as a result.  Feelings will be hurt.  Friendships will be crushed.  Lives will be lost.

But then the minute somebody says, “Never have I ever fucked my best friend’s boyfriend,” they always drink up.  Half the time, they’re the only person to take a drink.  And, during all of the drama that unfolds, it never occurs to anyone to say, “Why didn’t you just not take the drink!?  It’s just a game, after all!”

Something like this happens in the 2016 film, Nocturne.  Nocturne takes place at perhaps the saddest high school graduation party of all time.  All of the cool kids have gone to another party, which means that only seven people show up at this party.  From that humble beginning, things quickly go downhill as the graduates hang out in the hot tub, play the Never Have I Ever game, and listen to Gabe (Jake Stormeon) ramble about religion and philosophy and stuff.  Gabe also demonstrates some card tricks so yeah …. that’s definitely the way to end your high school career.

Anyway, bad parties always seem to lead to people trying to contact the dead and that’s what happens here.  Gabe sets up a makeshift séance and the graduates ask the dead a lot of questions that they probably shouldn’t have asked.  (Seriously, I’ve been to a few bad parties in my lifetime and you an always tell that the party is officially dead once people actually try to talk to the …. well, dead.)

Needless to say, this leads to someone getting possessed and just about everyone else dying.  The other party was probably a lot more fun.

So, on the plus side, Nocturne is fairly well-acted and some of the death scenes were clever.  The film’s chronology is a bit jumbled, which is one of those storytelling tricks that can be really annoying but which is justified here by the fact that demon exists beyond our conventional understanding of time and space.

On the negative side, a cat dies about halfway through the film and, as I discussed years ago in my review of Drag Me To Hell, it’s hard for me to endorse any film in which a cat is killed.  I mean, honestly, I would think most supernatural beings would appreciate the fact that a cat can sleep through just about anything.  Whereas a dog would be barking and throwing a fit over all the murders being committed, a cat would probably just relax in a corner and play with a toy mouse or something.  In this film, there was really no reason to kill the cat and it felt a bit gratuitous.  It was hard not to tell that the only reason the cat was put in the film was so it could be killed.  My point is, if you want to me to like your movie, don’t kill the cat.

Anyway, Nocturne is a rather uneven film.  If you can see past the dead cat, you might find this one interesting.  It has its creepy moments, even if it’s hard not to feel that the overall movie doesn’t really work.

A Kind of Olympic Film Review: Cloud 9 (dir by Paul Hoen)


Technically, 2014’s Cloud 9 is not an Olympics film.  Though it is a sports film and deals with a big competition and features a lot of talk about winning gold medals and all that good stuff, the film doesn’t take place at the Olympics.  Instead, it takes place at the annual “Fire and Ice” snowboarding competition in Summit Valley.

But let’s be honest.  Would I have watched this movie if not for the fact that I’m currently obsessed with the Winter Olympics?  Probably not.  Would the film have been made in the first place if not for the 2014 Sochi Games?  Again, probably not.  Cloud 9 may not take place during the Olympics but it might as well.

Cloud 9 was made for the Disney Channel, with everything that suggests.  It’s not a dramatic or realistic examination of the world of competitive snowboarding but then again, it never claims to be.  Instead, it’s a cute little romantic comedy about falling in love, pursuing your dreams, and not allowing your life to be determined by an overbearing parental figure.

Kayla Morgan (Dove Cameron) is a part of the Swift snowboarding team.  Since the Swift Team is known as the best in Summit Valley, that therefore makes Kayla the best.  At least, that’s what Kayla believes.  Of course, a lot of other people believe that Kayla isn’t that good and the only reason she’s been given a place on the team is because her father (Patrick Fabian) owns the local resort.

Kayla is also dating Nick Swift (Mike C. Manning), the son of Coach Sebastian Swift (Jeffrey Nordling).  Coach Swift is about as evil as you would expect someone named Sebastian Swift to be.  He believes in victory at all costs and he relentlessly pushes his son to be the best.  Coach Swift has reached the conclusion that the Swift Team will never be the best as long as Kayla is a member.  He tells his son to take care of it…

OH MY GOD, IS NICK GOING TO MURDER KAYLA!?

No, don’t worry.  Things never go that far.  Instead, Nick and the members of Team Swift frame Kayla for destroying an old sign.  When the sign collapses, it also manages to destroy a sled belonging to Will (Luke Benward).  Will used to be a champion snow boarder, until he attempted to pull off a new move called the Cloud 9.  Not only did Luke fail to pull off that move but he also broke his leg and ended up as the star of a YouTube video called “Epic Fail.”  Now, Will works at his family’s dog kennel.

And soon, Kayla is working at the dog kennel as well!  Her parents are willing to pay for the sign but Kayla is going to have to replace the sled herself.  Even worse, she gets kicked off the Swift Team…

So, what do you think happens?  Do you think Kayla eventually learns humility as a result of having to take care of a bunch of dogs?  Do you think Nick dumps Kayla?  Do you think Kayla and Will are going to fall in love and then form their own team to compete in the Fire and Ice competition?

Well, yes, all of that happens.  Of course, it does.  There’s not a single surprising moment to be found in Cloud 9 but it’s a sweet-natured movie and Dove Cameron and Luke Benward make for a cute couple.  Some of the snowboarding footage is impressive.  It was a nice and inoffensive way to spend 90 minutes.  When it comes to a movie like this, that’s all you can really ask for.