MovieCriticND's blog

The Redeeming

Sometimes we all need a little fresh air and space to relax and recharge, and there's an isolated old brick house in Somerset that offers just such peace and quiet for Joyce (Tracey Ann Wood). As The Redeeming begins, she's just returning to the house of an evening as a bad storm rolls in, complete with warnings to stay off the roads and a sudden blackout. No sooner has the building been plunged into darkness than she hears a rattling at the door, followed by a voice pleading to be allowed inside.

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Joyce with poker, not at all happy that she can't be the dog for Monopoly.

Sightings

Once there were three sisters in this family, but now there are only two: the youngest, Amy, disappeared some time ago, leaving her mother and siblings to comfort each other as best they can. I've said before that the disappearance of a loved one has to be unimaginably difficult for those left behind, though at least in Sightings each sufferer has others to cling to. As fragile and harsh as it might be, at least there is still a sliver of hope that a missing sister might yet return alive.

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The sisters and their shared mourning, about to take a strange turn.

Poor Agnes

There's a lot to be said for a quiet life -- a big house with lots of woods and plenty of space would be a dream come true for a lot of people. With a garden and a wood-burning stove you can even be more self-sufficient than most. It's also a handy setup if you happen to be a serial killer. In Poor Agnes, the titular character (Lora Burke) has just such a house, complete with a dark basement, and supports herself with the money and valuables she scavenges from her victims. It must be hard to hold down a regular job when you're a sociopathic killer.

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Agnes takes Mike prisoner. A shotgun is a girl's best friend.

Echoes of the Passed

Given the popularity of ghost hunting, there's probably at least ten groups out there setting up their microphones and EMF detectors right now, and they may be closer than you think. In Echoes of the Passed, that group is in a run-down, reputedly haunted house somewhere in England, and they have mixed feelings about the plan to stay overnight and see what they can uncover. Frank (Tony Sands), for instance, is more nervous than he'd like to admit. On the other hand, Fred (Mac McFadden) seems more concerned with dinner.

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Liz (or maybe Jo) eyes the old house warily.

The Offer (Dark Ditties Presents)

Imagine you've received a mysterious summons to a grand old mansion, along with a check for several thousand dollars. Most of us would probably think it was a scam, despite the money, but you'd be terribly curious, of course. It's certainly a step up from the Nigerian Prince scam. Maybe you'd even go out to this grand old mansion, just to see what it's all about. That's what Gabby (Gemma Gordon) does in The Offer, and she arrives to discover that six other guests like her have already arrived.

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The host with the most bored-looking nurse you've ever seen,

Faithful

It's often a very difficult thing to save a marriage, especially if only one partner is bothering to work at it. In Faithful, that one is Lauren (Clarissa Hoffmann), a woman still madly in love with her husband Ron (Ellis Miller), in spite of the fact that he seems nothing but indifferent towards her and is utterly caught up in his relationship with another woman (Sarah Schulte). But the more he drifts away the more determined Lauren is to hang onto him, even though she knows about the affair.

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Poster for Faithful. Betrayal is a rough thing to face,

Nite Nite

When I was little I had a magic blue rock that would keep the monsters away, because when you're seven, you tend to take the whole monster thing pretty seriously. It's worse when it's the sitter looking out for you instead of mom and dad, because the sitter might not be as good at finding where the bad things are hiding. Certainly the little boy (Brady Bond) in Nite Nite (written and directed by Chad Meisenheimer) has some serious concerns about his usual bedtime ritual.

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The babysitter on the phone (of course). See how big that phone is?

Solutions

Every generation thinks they're living at the worst possible time for dirty politics and shocking scandals, but of course politics has always been a dirty business and these days it just seems worse because it spreads all over the internet in five seconds and then you can't get away from it. Still, I have to admit that this last year or so probably has been particularly unpleasant and not just because it seems to be everywhere all the time. In Solutions, though, politics are even dirtier than usual.

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It's so touching to see a kid out on his first stakeout with his dad.

Bye Bye, Baby

It's hard to find a more iconic beginning to a horror movie than a young woman alone in a house at night. Perhaps the most famous example is that of Drew Barrymore in the original Scream, and Bye Bye, Baby certainly pays homage to that classic scene, as a young woman named Heather (Karina Kolokolchykova) settles in to watch a scary movie (in this case, the equally classic House on Haunted Hill) before being interrupted by a phone call.

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Heather realizes she has more to keep her company than just a movie.

The Art of the Prank

It seems like you can't turn around these days without running into the term fake news. And while it's true that it is, paradoxically, even easier to fool people when basically all the information in the world is available on the nearest computer, the whole idea of fake news goes back a lot farther than the guy currently lazing around in the White House. But not all such fakes are created equal. Before Russian hackers and Twitter bots, before Romanian kids were hired to post made-up stories on Facebook, there was Joey Skaggs, the godfather of the media hoax.

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Joey Skaggs and his Portofess. Would you confess your sins to this man?