High Spirits


★★☆☆ – (1988) – Castle inhabitants plan to falsely haunt their domain until discovering the place is actually haunted. A sloppily told and noisily concocted story of many characters (most of whom are never fleshed out) dealing with love on earthly and unearthly planes. The atmosphere is strong, but despite many attempts at zany comedy few laughs are had.

Blair Witch


★★★☆ – (2016) – Four friends and two tagalongs enter haunted woods in search of a girl who went missing over a decade before. Has a rough beginning that merely duplicates the original’s set-up, and the characters are hardly profound, but once the horror kicks in the tension never lets up. A relentless display of staggering suspense, unpleasant atmosphere, and effective shocks.

The Conjuring 2

Conjuring 2, The

★★★☆ – (2016) – Paranormal experts investigate the possession of a child and the ghostly mayhem in her London home. Begins in a location promised in the previous film’s conclusion, and proceeds with events that not only keep pace with the freakishness of the original, but invents new scenarios as well. A surprisingly dramatic spookshow that’s loaded with tension.

Sinister 2

Sinister 2

★★☆☆ – (2015) – A family hiding out in a haunted farmhouse are subjected to videos of torture. Some of the family dynamics feel realistic, and characters are somewhat well-drawn, but the pace is too slow and the horror too familiar. Tries to get by on jolts, yet can only manage a few creepy images.

Satan War

Satan War

★☆☆☆ -(1979) – A married couple moves into a house that inverts crosses and spews gook. Begins with an overlong satanic ritual that paves the way for the sheer boredom that follows. There’s hardly any dialog, barely any movement, and not one inkling of suspense. For some reason ends with a voodoo ritual.

Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak

★★☆☆ – (2015) – A young woman marries into a small family that has big secrets. The production values far outshine the common script and its many predictable advancements. Tries to make up for the story’s shortcomings with brutal violence, but by the end all concern is lost.

The Nesting

Nesting, The

★½☆☆ – (1981) – An agoraphobic writer retreats to a haunted country house and tries to figure out what’s happening there. The only thing worse than the lame explanations are the forced performances that are supposed to represent common folk. An overlong drag with too many preposterous moments and not enough reasons to care about the outcome.