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New AGT Host Jennifer Faustino

Every now and again AGT gets lucky and finds a new host with all the ideal qualities - cute, curvy, wholesome and fun. In this case we got lucky because we were already working with her! Jennifer Faustino is the official make-up artist for AGT and she’s made other hosts look great, but in fact she could’ve been doing this herself. One of Jenn’s cooler qualities is that she’s very comfortable with being curvy on camera. Refreshing! Check her out on Instagram here.


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Favorites of Legendary Pictures House of Horrors

By now, everyone knows we were part of Legendary Pictures and YouTube Space LA’s House of Horrors competition. I kind of forgot this was even a contest it was so much fun, but the quality of the entries quickly reminded me of that fact. As a big horror fan, I can tell you the strengths and weaknesses of all of the entries, including our own.

Overall, the problem with most of the shorts is that they do not tell a logical story - there is no beginning, middle, end. And no wonder! With just 10 minutes or so, the most you can do is a vignette. Aside from the story issue, all of these are well shot and professional looking. Without further ado and in no particular order (SPOILERS):

1. “No Face”

One of the biggest challenges facing all of the YouTube contestants was creating a storyline that involved a haunted house. That was your starting point. In real life, there are few haunted houses and even if they existed most people would not go in them. “No Face” solved this problem by making the gothic mansion part of a first-person video game called “The Advent of No Face.” Going into a haunted house in a video game makes complete sense. “No Face” also uses single source lighting in the form of a flashlight throughout most of the short, which reduced production complication but increased tension. Very inventive. “No Face” is fun and scary. It might be my favorite of all of these. (Received consultation with Guillermo)

2. “Dementia”

This is the story of a woman suffering from some sort of mental illness that causes her to relive a certain moment over and over again (e.g., dementia), with the only change being a faceless ghoul that pushes her closer to a hellish conclusion with each iteration of her repetitive nightmare. This one is a little depressing and the horror is made even more effective because you know this is partially based on something that can really happen to you. It’s not a fun, repeat viewer but everyone I spoke to agreed this was one of the better entries and it was one of only a handful selected for a one-on-one consultation with Guillermo del Toro based on an intermediate edit.

3. “Elijah”

Black and white story with a pulse pounding score throughout and breakneck pacing, “Elijah” tells the story of a vampire/supernatural creature that has determined to destroy his two remaining friends if the female friend doesn’t pledge her allegiance and love to him. While she equivocates, he tortures the guy. But they get the last laugh. They changed his watch without him knowing and whatever critter Elijah is, he can’t survive in the day. The whole thing is played out swiftly and compellingly. It’s a fun one to watch repeatedly. The acting is also quite good.

4. “The 8-Bit Haunted Dance Party - HALLOWEEK”

Felicia Day gets invited to a fancy Halloween party and winds up boogying with some ghouls. The song is catchy, the dance moves are fun, and Felicia Day is adorable. By the end I was smiling from ear to ear.

5. Disconnected

A fashionably homeless girl arrives at the deserted mansion of an old friend. As she enters, witty texts are exchanged with the friend until she gets inside, at which point the protagonist loses reception. But she continues to get increasingly creepy texts from an anonymous person, until one text shows her her own face, horribly mangled (looks just like the faces of kids in “Ringhu” who watched the video tape). She’s lured into a trap in the attic involving a cadre of cell phones, until eventually a creature lunges out of the darkness and her face IS the mangled, just like the one in the photos. Now she’s the one sending the mysterious texts, inviting the next victim back to the mansion for a similar fate. Fun, repeat viewer.

6. “Thresher”

A guy is locked in a house and tormented by demons. The doors are closed with a hundred locks and chains and if he doesn’t get through them fast enough, the demons, which are very well done by the way, will get him. Visually, this entry is highly stylized and has some really good special effects, but the ending is somewhat weak.

7. “Lady in the Wall”

This is Lia Marie Johnson’s entry. It starts with a flashback to three young women at what looks like a boarding school or preparatory Academy. Lia Marie tells her younger counterpart the story of how a woman was accidentally trapped within the walls during construction and her apparition can be summoned by singing “the lady in the wall” and knocking three times on the wall. For some reason, Lia actually does this and the young girl gets sucked in. Later, Lia returns to the academy as an old lady to trade her spot in the wall for her friend’s (since she’s lived a full life while her friend was trapped inside). It’s a nice little tale and very well shot.

8. “Iris”

You guys know the story. Two very hot young women (Olivia and Gracie) stay in a gothic mansion as the final challenge on a reality show. While there, they encounter Iris, a strange doll who leads to their demise. I can hear the criticisms now: “The only reason this got any views is because it has hot girls prancing around in their skivvies.” There’s no doubt, that’s partially the draw. But have you seen the net lately? If that’s all there was to it, how could we catch anyone’s attention with this very tame, Hannah Montana level content? Personally, I think Iris is more repeat viewing than some of the others because it has an easy to follow story and the creature factor with the doll. It’s also just campy fun, like “Scream 4” or something.

9. “Arika’s Beautiful Haunting”

This is one of the first ones that I saw. It starts off kind of slow, as Arika and her friends gather at a social event, but the second half is genuinely scary. In fact, the second half of this YouTube feature is probably scarier than any of the other entries. The story is that there is an old friend of Arika’s that died years ago. She is summoned by a cantankerous medium. Once that happens, Arika’s friends are picked off one by one. The photographer’s undoing is probably the best.

Honorable mention:

Dinner - Well shot and quickly paced. Semi scary ending.

Roscoe and Maggie - Good special effects, fun, doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Versions of Elloise - Madison Lawlor - Very well shot and pretty entertaining.

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