Friday, January 10, 2020

Favourite Music of 2019!

Here's the playlist of my top 25 favourite songs of the year:

If I had to pick a top favourite it would probably be "Forest Lawn" by Better Oblivion Community Center, or at least that's the one I listened to most. But it could easily be "Crowbar" or "Everyday" or "Elephants" or "Born Cold." Also Patty Griffin's "Ruby's Arms" is one of my favourite covers ever. Weezer's rockin' "End of the Game" has me actually excited for their next album, and Creeper just announced they're dropping theirs on MY FREAKIN' BIRTHDAY! What a time to be alive.

On to albums! Somehow, my fave this year happens to be a critical darling and I'm not sure how to handle that?? I'm not a Pitchfork-reading hipster, I just like what I like. And this year, I loved the lush, gorgeous 70s singer-songwriter style album by Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising! Last year my fave was a mainstream country album, a few years ago it was a Letters to Cleo EP. You just never know! (And more on LTC later...) Yeah, this album hit the exact vibe that I, and I guess many others, were craving this year. It's like a time machine that's also a UFO. I love it so much. Fave songs - Everyday, Andromeda, Picture Me Better, Something to Believe

My second-fave is of course, the new New Pornographers In the Morse Code of Brake Lights. A band that has never made a bad album, and this is almost up with Brill Bruisers for me. Another collection of perfect, catchy power pop songs. I don't know how they keep doing it! Fave songs - Leather on the Seat, Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile, Colossus of Rhodes

And the rest of the albums I enjoyed, in no particular order: (This is so much less stressful than when I made ranked lists and wrote freakin' paragraphs about each album!)

Diva Sweetly, In the Living Room - Sure, let's start with a pretty obscure one I just lucked into by chance! If you were a 120 Minutes devotee in the 90s like I was, you might dig this. Quirky, 90sesque alt rock. Fave Songs - Detox Island, The Floor Caved In, Comfort Food

Better Oblivion Community Center - A chill, low-key catchy folk-pop album I played all year. Fave songs - Forest Lawn, Little Trouble, Chesapeake

Bleached, Don't You Think You've Had Enough? - And my theme of the year, "retro girly rock." Fave songs - Hard to Kill, Somebody Dial 911, Daydream

Ex Hex, It's Real - More retro girly rock! Fave songs - Cosmic Cave, Radiate, Another Dimension

The Regrettes, How Do You Love? - MORE retro girly rock? You're spoiling me, 2019! Fave songs - I Dare You, Fog, California Friends

Randy Houser, Magnolia - And my traditional-leaning mainstream country album of the year! Randy is back in form, big time. Hope he keeps this up. Fave songs - What Whiskey Does, No Stone Unturned, Evangeline

Karly Driftwood, Too Mean to Die - A fun, super catchy and even kinda horror-themed country debut! I love when it feels like an album was made just for me! Fave songs - Dodged a Bullet, Bake You a Cake, Too Mean to Die

Alice Wallace, Into the Blue - California canyon country that feels both 70sesque and fresh! Fave songs - Elephants, Top of the World, The Lonely Talking

Jenny Lewis, On the Line - More on the pop side, but some of that California country feel at times. Jenny Lewis has been with me my whole life, first as a child in that iconic Toys r Us jingle I used to sing constantly and annoy my parents, then with Rilo Kiley, a band that got me through some rough times, and now with this beautiful album. She kinda feels like my sister I never met at this point. Fave songs - Wasted Youth, Red Bull and Hennessey, Hollywood Lawn

Jetty Bones, - (yes, the album is called "-") This is only 6 songs so I guess it's technically an EP, but it feels like a complete album to me. Paramore fans, check this out! Fave songs - "better," The Rest of Them., To Know You...

Women Sing Waits - Some beautiful voices sing some of my favourite Tom Waits songs! Fave songs - Ruby's Arms, Downtown Train, Time

Sturgill Simpson, Sound and Fury - This one took a little getting used to. I dug the songs, but wasn't sure I could vibe with the vocal production. Then I realized it was supposed to sound like a cowboy transmitting from space. Then I realized that's AWESOME. Fave songs - Mercury in Retrograde, Make Art Not Friends, Remember to Breathe


Sunflower Bean, King of the Dudes - Oh, MORE retro girly rock you say? Fave songs - King of the Dudes, Fear City, Come for Me
Ghost, Seven Inches of Satanic Panic - This is only two songs, but they both rock.
Charlie Marie - Wow, super promising country vocalist from... Rhode Island? Yeehaw! Fave songs - Rodeo, Rhinestones, Countryside
Letters to Cleo, OK Christmas - What better way to end the year than with a Christmas album I actually like! Leave it to LTC, of course. My fave band at the end of the 90s, still my fave at the end of the 2010s.

It was a really good year! I listened to a lot of music between the 450+ movies I watched, and while some of it was disappointing (*cough Black Album cough*), a lot of it will be with me for a long, long time. Let's see what my first fave of the new decade will be! Creeper in May, or something before then? I'm excited for the journey!

I'll also make a favourite albums of the decade post... sometime this decade. ;)

Thursday, December 05, 2019

A brief look at 2019 popular music (from someone who didn't listen to it)

So this was the year I finally admitted defeat and stopped following popular music. I survived "Body Like a Backroad," that Mo Bamba thing, I even survived BABY FREAKIN SHARK, but this is what did me in:

... I give up. I'm out. I no longer understand pop culture, the World Has Turned and Left Me Here for good.

However, I still went to bars, malls and football games, so I heard some of what the year had to offer. And honestly, it's not as bad as the last few years, at least with what rose to the top. It still kinda sounds like popular music has been... stepped on though, you know? Flattened out. Especially hip hop and country. Like I imagine the process it takes to make poi, and it's kinda like that. And if you've ever had poi, you know it's flavourless mush. 2016-2019: the era of Poi Music. Long may we leave it behind.


Billie Eilish - 2019 will always be the year of Billie Eilish for me. I listened to "Bury a Friend" and "Bad Guy" as much as any of my "you probably haven't heard of it" shit. I can't believe something so weird and interesting got popular. I can't believe I'm with the zeitgeist for once. When's the last time that happened, when MCR was in the Hot 100?? This is why you're never "too old" to keep up with popular music - this then-17 year old made music that resonates with me.

Sunflower - I will never be a Post Malone fan, but damn this is smooth and easy to listen to. Kind of this year's "God's Plan" in that it's specifically designed to not get tired of it. It just washes right over me, and I mean that as a compliment. Definitely the best of Post Malone's 27 hits this year - seriously, I think there were 27 in the top 10 at one point.

Walk Me Home - A Pink song with some energy and feeling! It's been too long.

As I'm only covering the "hits" here, the rest of my favourites will be in the next entry!


Old Town Road - Have I avoided my blog since April because I didn't want to offer a spicy hot take on Old Town Road? Maybe! Yeah, I'm a country fan but I'm so far removed from what they play on the radio now it almost feels disingenuous saying that. But having that space also makes me unemotional about Old Town Road. Maybe 5 years ago, before "country" became synonymous with white guys rapping and snap beats, I'd have been outraged! this would even be considered as country. It's not, obviously, but neither is Sam Hunt and I don't care anymore.

I get this song. It's about freedom, something literally anyone of any demographic - country, hip hop, rock, idk, flamenco?? - can relate to. Normally I hate the fucking monogenre, but this song brought people together and that's why. It strikes a chord, and it's also ridiculously catchy, which is something that's missing in most "trap" music. Because the trap elements still leave me cold, and no one over 6 - okay, no one ever - should say the word "boobies," this just gets an okay. But you know what, you take that horse to that old town road, and you ride til you can't no more. Godspeed, my friend.

Memories - This Maroon 5 song is fine. Maybe even good, in that it does exactly what it's supposed to do. Give me a few drunken nights over Christmas and New Year's and this might move up to "good" by next year. I still miss old Maroon 5, but this is a pretty big improvement over their last 27 hits!

ME-HE-HEE! - Sounds like a lamaze class, I'll pass.

God's Country - A little too bombastic for me. I can see why some rock fans like it; it reminds me of "Take Me to Church" which was also too bombastic for me.

I also miss old Panic! at the Disco. But why couldn't "Say Amen" have been the big hit from this comeback album? It would be kind of funny if a song called "Hey Look Ma, I Made It" was their/his last hit. Ironic in a way the old Panic might have appreciated.


I talked about "Mo Bamba" already last year ( Still literally the worst popular song I've ever heard. He sounds like a garbage truck backing up, just add beeping sounds and maybe he'll come haul your old couch away.

Ariana Grande - Wow. After three absolute pop classics in 2018 (No Tears Left to Cry, Breathin', Thank U, Next), we get three absolute turds this year. A movie theme no one asked for from a movie no one asked for, 7 Rings, and *sigh* Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored. Why not "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Horny?" At least that would be honest. "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I Like You?" At least that's flattering. "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, She's on Meth?" Yeah, that's a problem. But "I'm bored" flatters nobody, neither the singer nor the subject, and if that's the point I like my pop songs a little less nihilistic, thanks.

7 Rings is a special kind of bad. Yeah, it's got that awful staccato-y trap beat that sounds like getting constantly poked with a finger, but it's the lyrics that really put me off. "Whoever said money can't solve their problems, must have not had enough money to solve them." Really, Arianananana?? Look, pop music doesn't have to - and probably shouldn't be - political (hi, Taylor Swift), but that line is REALLY fucking tone deaf in today's climate. Yeah, I guess you really dunked on all those people who can't afford their diabetes medicine or cancer treatments and died. SWISH! 🙄

Baby Fucking Shark - I wrote here about a year ago how therapeutic it can be to sing your old camp songs when you're depressed, but I DIDN'T MEAN TURN ONE INTO A HIT SONG! What's next, the Weenie Man?

Eww, why is Chase Rice squatting in the year end hot 100? I haven't heard the song, Chase Rice just reflexively makes me go "ewww." At least there's no Sam Hunt?

Someone You Loved - Gawd, why is there one of these adult contemporary "love" ballads every single year? They all suck and this is the worst one yet. I'd rather listen to nothing but trap songs than this bleating idiot. He sounds like Ed Sheeran left out in the sun too long. He sounds like a rusty nail dissolving in a pool of acid. This hit #1! Do better, music! Bring back Old Town Road for another week! And why is it that rock must die, at least in the mainstream, but these awful adult contemporary ballads NEVER do??! Every year we get dreck like this (also "Be Alright," "You Say") but rock is outdated? Fuck, man.

And yup, I continue to not understand trap. Most boring shit I've heard outside of an elevator and it all sounds the same to me. I guess this is that generational tipping point, or maybe it just sucks. Here's my impression of every single trap song ever by L'il Flash in the Pan: *DJ Hot Shit on tha muthafuggin BEAT* "YAH! Duh da duh da da duh da, UNGH, Duh da duh da da duh da, AY, Duh da duh da da duh da, SKRT!, Duh da duh da da duh da, PBBBT." Yah! :(

Favourite songs and albums of 2019 up next, and then a couple favourites of the decade lists! Yay!

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Spring playlist

Between the crushing bleakness of winter and the blinding brightness of summer, lies the brief hopefulness of spring. A green time full of wistfulness; looking forward while looking back. In other words, it's a great time to listen to some indie shit past and present!

Music to Frolic Through Meadows To or w/e!

Spotlight movie: I Don't Feel At Home in this World Anymore

So, I kinda loved this? This might be a "me" movie, idk, cause I sure do seem to love quirky revenge capers and ordinary people riding around solving crimes/doing crimes for great justice. (She probably shouldn't have stolen the lawn tiger, but there is a certain satisfaction in stealing some rich asshole's lawn tiger, mainly in that he had a damn lawn tiger.) I've seen several of these quirky sorta-thrillers lately and yeah, I guess this is my thing. (Blue Ruin, Gemini, Cold Weather, A Simple Favor. This was directed by the star of Blue Ruin, but it's much lighter.)

I didn't even recognize Elijah Wood at first, and that's a compliment. He was really fun as this dude who thinks he's more of a badass than he is but actually is sort of a badass? The computer scene cracked me up so hard, if you've seen any of those old "hacker" thrillers it was pretty spot-on. This was funny, and also pretty exciting! I laughed kinda hard when someone got hit by a bus, which might say more about me than it does about the movie, but it was just like - WHAM! It was funny.

I like superheroes, I loved Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman but sometimes there's something so satisfying about an ordinary, pissed off person kicking some ass. Melanie Lynskey was awesome as Ruth. She remained a real, sympathetic person through some pretty absurd shit. I found her super relatable cause seriously, why can't people just stop being assholes?? AND it has the "two lost souls finding each other" thing that gets me every time if it's done even half well. And a great soundtrack!

The carousel horse with the "not a real horse" sign is now one of my favourite movie characters.


Now that it's finally spring I won't be watching 50 movies a month, but I still have a little catchup to do.

Frailty - "I sure love peas!" - obvious future serial killer

Damn, "Supernatural" has a weirder origin story than I thought.

Nothing good could possibly come from a place called Meat, Texas.

Bill Paxton was awesome. This would make a good double feature with The Clovehitch Killer.

Mistress America - "In L.A., I qualify as well-read."

lol I really had no idea there were adorable tabbycats in this movie, I just saw Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke and went "yup." These kind of imperfect characters are so fun to watch. You never quite love them or hate them, but you always kind of like them in spite of themselves.

Dead of Night - This anthology is hard to rate in 2019, when I've seen more haunted mirrors, kid ghosts, and evil ventriloquist dummies than I know what to do with, but that's not this film's fault. This felt like a real landmark of horror, and while only that penultimate nightmare scene (wow, 1945!) actually scared me, this was very well done. I was happy it didn't have the stiff performances of the last couple old horrors I watched; these characters really came to life both in the vignettes and the wraparound story.

I wish I could have seen this in 1945, but I still enjoyed it. And that ventriloquist movie MST3K did was totally based on one of the vignettes, the dummy was even named Hugo! It was done better here, but unfortunately MST has warped me forever and I kept thinking, "You think he likes ham? Wait'll you see me like ham!"

Krisha - Like being a fly on the wall at the most awkward Thanksgiving ever, if that's your thing. (That is my thing.) That turkey scene was more tense than most horror films, damn.

This movie teaches an important life lesson which is if you're trying to stay sober, spending Thanksgiving with your family ain't it.

Child's Play - So I was gonna bite the bullet and finally watch Leprechaun. I've never seen any of the Leprechaun films - for some reason this makes me feel like I have "standards" (I don't). But I decided if I wanna watch a wee homicidal dude, it's gonna be Chucky. So Happy St. Patrick's Day, I guess?

I hadn't seen this since the mid 90s I think! It was on a ratty VHS for sure! First thing 2019 me zoomed in on was the BARBIE AND THE ROCKERS in the opening toy store scene, giving me immediate nostalgia for that brief moment in time when Barbie wanted to be Jem. I also enjoy any character that's like, Detective Skeptical but Checks Out the Crazy Shit Anyway Just in Case! They make me feel like the world is in good hands, and this movie has a great one played by Chris Sarandon.

You had to say it, didn't you lady? You had to say the killer's dead, thus ensuring his immortality. Oh well. I'm gonna rewatch part 2, but I remember not being into the series past that. Like, I don't mind a goofy horror movie, but when a series starts out genuinely good I hate to see it decline into silliness, y'know? This movie is really fun, and even a little scary at times. Chucky himself is one of the most iconic horror villains, and I'm totally on board for the remake with Aubrey Plaza.

Her - Hike your pants up, the movie! Seriously, that was an odd style choice if it wasn't meant to be distracting.

I'm not sure how I felt about this one. It made me feel a little weird as a woman? Maybe it would have made me feel even weirder as a man, idk! It was well made and Joaquin Phoenix gave a great performance, it's just... I like some cringe, but I think this hit my cringe threshold. I think this is it. And this is probably hopelessly shallow but I kinda feel like he might have had fewer ladytroubles if he lost the high pants and weird 70s 'stache? Like I'm all about seeing the person inside blah blah but you gotta at least try a little, right? I think I missed the point of this movie lol. This was an interesting experience, it just wasn't really for me! Sorry all the people who love this. xx

P.S. - Oh yeah, there's something to be written about how visionary James Nguyen was for coming up with this years before with Julie and Jack. I'll let you know if I think of what it is.

Child's Play 2 - On rewatch, I think I might like this sequel even more than the original! It starts out a little silly, you've got Exposition Business Suit Guys telling us what happened to Andy and his mother since the last movie. Rewatches are funny; 17-year old me would have never been like OMG EXPOSITION, but now I'm a more sophisticated viewer... watching Child's Play 2... whatever. So it's pretty good, there's a weird pink and blue pastel house that looks like a giant dollhouse, Christine Elise from 90210 is in it and I was kinda obsessed with Emily Valentine, like I'd record all her episodes and watch them over and over, so that's a big plus.

Then we get the finale at the toy factory, and I'm not exaggerating when I say this is one of my favourite scenes of all time, not just horror. Non-stop fun from start to finish, one of the most memorable kills ever, Andy and Kyle running up ramps and down chutes and across conveyer belts all while Chucky parts are flying all over the place. It's a visual delight. Whoever came up with that idea deserves an award, sadly they do not give out Oscars for Best Kill or Best Scene Featuring a Homicidal Doll Chasing Kids Through a Spooky Toy Factory. Their loss.

For now I will choose to end the Child's Play series here, because how could you possibly top that??

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Last one for today

The Sentinel - Another old horror movie that's been on my list forever, and this was an unexpected treat. Law and Order credits font! *chng chng* And Jerry Orbach is in it?? Well now you're just trolling... from the past... somehow. Aww, baby Christopher Walken. And JESSABELLE! In her little party hat! 😻🎉

I'm pretty sure if someone starts masturbating in front of you you're allowed to excuse yourself, you don't have to sit there politely like she's showing you pictures of her grandchildren. I mean, just a tip, in case that's useful.

So I think this somewhat inspired American Horror Story: Hotel, and this was everything I wanted that to be - really creepy! It could have been ruined by bloat, but it's a nice 90 minutes and has that 70s pacing I like, a little slow burn with a BIG payoff. There was some creepy stuff leading up to it, like the neighbours that weren't there and the building itself with the vines growing all over it. Love! And I thought the end was pretty spectacularly disturbing and DON'T YOU DARE KILL THAT CAT! even if it is a demon maybe? They don't. Whew. Run free little Jessabelle, you darling little hell kitty you.

This was a real hidden 70s gem for me, like The Legacy, and I'd definitely recommend (not just because they both have cats, but it helps).

Gemini - If you open with moody shots of palm trees, you have my attention.

Oh my GOD Aaron Katz, I think I love you?? I raved about Cold Weather for being an engaging and beautifully-shot low-budget film, and if you thought that was pretty you'll really wanna hold onto your socks for this one.

Your enjoyment of this might depend on how interesting you find L.A. There are lots of gorgeous shots to set the mood. For me, this was a more concise and enjoyable Neon Demon. It isn't horror, it's kind of a noir-mystery, but it has actual interesting characters. I loved following Lola Kirke around the city, I could probably watch a whole day's footage of just that tbh. (God I miss L.A. here on day 755 of winter.) I got involved in the story too, and I found the ending satisfying as it left you with one question that was better not answered. I like when filmmakers give you just enough to chew on but don't overexplain.

This is the second thing I've seen Zoe Kravitz in this past week (also Big Little Lies) and yes, more please. She, Lola Kirke, John Cho, and really everyone was good here. I think this might be a "me" movie, but it's a nice mix of style and substance and I super recommend it if this sounds interesting.

Ouija: Origin of Evil - Okay, this time I watched this when I was awake, good for me. This was a "because it's on Netflix" movie. Like when I'm on my deathbed am I gonna I think "damn, why did I spend an hour and forty minutes of my life watching Ouija: Origin of Evil?" But that's never stopped me before, and, y'know, Netflix! I didn't see the first Ouija because I only watch old bad horror movies. They're interesting. New bad horror movies are just boring with lame CGI.

But this is the good ouija movie? (Actually I'd say that's Witchboard, but whatever.) So part of me is like, "I already saw The Exorcist twice, thanks tho," but I kinda liked this anyway. Was not a fan of the weird faces and the CG in general and the pretty unoriginal horror elements but - I liked these characters. I liked the performances. I liked how it was shot, the beautiful vintage tones that were dark but never drab. Once again, I liked the life Mike Flanagan breathed into standard mainstream horror. He's a talented director and I'm looking forward to watching The Haunting of Hill House. I liked how dark it got at the end, which was at least a good payoff to a film that felt long and slow in parts.

A Simple Favor - "Well, that was extra."

OMG, this was so much fun! This is the same guy who did that clunky Ghostbusters movie? How??

If you've ever wanted to see a movie about the kind of person who owns a helium tank and listens to the Brady Bunch in the car getting mixed up in crimes, you're in luck. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively burn this barn down and I love it. Usually I say anything over 90 minutes is too long (with a few obvious exceptions), but this sucker was 115 and I was here for all of them. "Mommy needs a drink" is my motto too (I don't have kids).

I would totally buy Anna Kendrick's rap album.

Pumpkin - What an odd movie, and I'm not saying that because of its subversive subject matter, which is handled about as well as can be expected. It seems to be a satirical dark comedy most of the way through, but a low-key one. As weird as it is, it's still grounded in reality. Then a car drives off a cliff in a massive explosion and the driver somehow survives and I'm like okay, we're not in Pasadena anymore, we're in a Toonces the Driving Cat sketch. I cannot tell you how tonally weird this was compared to the rest of the movie, which was weird but in a different way.

Why did I rewatch this, of all things? I Love Christina Ricci and I hadn't seen her in anything for a while. I was gonna put on Buffalo '66 but then I saw this and was hit with a weird wave of nostalgia. The kind you get when you see something you forgot even existed and it takes you right back. I can't say this gave me more clarity on rewatch, but I do have a few positives. The guy who played Pumpkin did a great job. He was really sweet and you rooted for him. Ricci did as well as she could with some uneven writing, and she's just someone I always enjoy watching.

Unlike many college/high school movies of the late 90s/early 2000s, this doesn't rely on crude humour. I'm definitely not gonna call it "tasteful," but I'd still rather watch this than cheap sex jokes (a dude said the word vagina! And he's HIGH! OMG hilarious!! 🙄🙄 you know the type). And finally, the soundtrack to this thing!! Like Garden State, if you were into indie music in the early 2000s this will be a total nostalgia bomb. I might even recommend it just for the "Stars of Track and Field" sequence tbh.

Unrateable, but 5 stars for Belle and Sebastian.

The Imposter - 1. Watch this and Abducted in Plain Sight back to back.
2. Take a drink every time you say "what the fuck?!"
3. Try not to die.

I need more of these batshit documentaries in my life.

The Uninvited - This isn't scary, but it wouldn't be a bad ghost story if not for the overwhelming old-timey corniness. The dialogue is stilted and everyone talks like they're in a play which doesn't help. And that weird accent, the one that distracts me in so many old movies. Like an American trying to sound British or a Brit trying to sound American? Where are we?? I'm so confused! This is also the kind of old film where a man tells a woman to "calm down!" when she is perfectly calm. Tell it to yourself, chuckles. (Though that might have been intentional since the lead male is pretty corny? Hard to tell in the 40s.)

The seaside and house are lovely and well shot, so it's here if you want that aesthetic. If I had discovered this late at night on cable growing up, I probably would have been delighted. It's that kind of movie, so if you wanna recreate that vibe, go for it. There's not much other reason to stream this when like, every other movie is available. The poster is the spookiest thing about it.

Oh! - there is an adorable floofy CAT! I swear I don't always seek them out, they just come to me. :) 2.5 stars, but an extra half star meow meow meow.

Lady in White - "I wish I was as weird as you." - Anyone who said that to me would probably be my bff!

Is this movie tonally weird? Sure. Does a story about child murder really need a Comic Relief Smoking Grandpa? No, probably not! But you know what else is tonally weird? Childhood. Kids face things they don't understand on a daily basis and their minds fill in with whatever makes sense at the time. Our own memories are disjointed; it's hard to know what's real and what we created out of half-remembered truths and lies. This movie feels like that to me. It isn't really "good" but I kinda respect it for being as weird as childhood itself.

My mom took me to see this in the theatre in 1988, and I hadn't seen it since. This was right when I was starting to get into horror, mostly through Stephen King books. One thing kid me and now me have in common - all it really takes is a creepy cemetery, an abandoned farmhouse, some Halloween decorations and a fog machine to make me happy. (In fact, the cemetery is really all I remembered about this. Good to see my priorities haven't changed.) I still enjoyed those elements, as well as the nostalgic small-town setting, even if the movie overall didn't hold up.

This is way too long, the effects are wonky, many things are telegraphed, the narrative is inconsistent and I'll never watch it again, but I am glad I experienced it as an adult. There are elements for a good, dark story about childhood here, it just didn't quite hit the mark.

more more movies keep em coming

Don't Look Now - Oh, I hate when this happens. Everyone else likes this, so why don't I?

I see the artsiness. The shot at the beginning of the little girl in her raincoat reflected in the water was so innocent yet so ominous, and I was like yes, this is gonna be great!! Then... nothing happened. Then some more nothing happened. Then I fell asleep, woke up, and thought a cat had stepped on something that took me to porn. 70s porn, no less. But no, this 110 minute movie has a random, uncomfortably long sex scene and I'm not a prude but 1) nobody wants to see 70s people having sex and 2) if they do, porn exists. And most importantly, 3) this movie was too darn long already!!

I like a slower-paced 70s horror/thriller if it steadily builds tension, but this had very little tension for me til the last... 30? 20? minutes. I got interested when his wife was seemingly in two places at once, finally some intrigue! And then the final scene was... interesting, but not satisfying enough to justify all the 70s-hued fucking around (sometimes literally) I just sat through. I liked the artistic shots, the use of colour and juxtaposition and all that, but this just meandered too much to grip me, and I'm SAD about it.

EDIT: oh oh! There was one awesome thing about this movie which is that I learned Venice has HEARSE BOATS!

Captain Marvel - KITTYYYYYYYY 😻🐈😻🐈😻

So I love how half the internet is all "my GOD, a LADY superhero??" *monocle pops out* and the other half is like "yeah deal with it" and I'm just over here like "you know there's a CAT in this, right?" I can't really judge this movie objectively, but I did like the parts without the cat in them so that's something, right??

I thought they did a good job with Sam Jackson honestly, slap a moustache on him and he's Jules again! On that note, Tarantino totally stopped by and wrote the glowing cube in the Fonzie lunchbox thing, right? It's ok, you can tell me.

I will never complain about one of my cats' epic hairballs again, I had no idea.

Goose is totally gonna save the world and I CAN'T WAITTTT

The Spiral Staircase - Yeah, this wasn't really it for me. Loved the big spooky house, but I've seen more interesting things happen in big spooky houses. On spiral staircases, even (watch The Haunting instead).

Yelling "TRY TO TALK!" at a mute person = SCIENCE! I'm sure she hadn't thought of that one, Dr. Smugman. And what did you think giving a mute woman a phone number was going to accomplish? Pretty much wanted to give that doctor one long smack through the whole movie.

2.5, but the extra half star is for the world's most adorable bulldog what a good boy THAT'S A GOOD BOY

Edge of Seventeen - Aw man, all I ever wanted in high school was an Erwin. I never yearned for popularity, for the jock or the cool guy in a band, I just wanted someone to like, talk to. I like how this movie recognizes that you can actually be yourself and be happy, that there's a better chance of finding happiness that way than trying to be something you're not.

I mean, that never happened for me in high school, but I'm really glad it did in this movie cause I think it's inspiring. I also got major Cute Asian Guy flashbacks to one of my first crushes, the kid in Earth Angel, and it occurs to me how much the 1990 tv movie Earth Angel might have influenced my life. Scary. Anyway. If you think someone is nice or cool or whatever, even if they aren't "popular," they probably are cool and you should hang with them because high school doesn't last forever. (This also applies to adults because in some ways, high school does last forever.)

That has been my advice for today, you're welcome, and also watch this movie because it's really good. I didn't necessarily relate to Nadine, well I did because she's awkward but she's the "talk too much when she's nervous" kind and I'm the super quiet kind, so I related to her except the exact opposite. Yeah. Also, everyone in this movie acts like a jerk sometimes (except sweet Erwin) but you don't hate anyone, it's just how people are.

A Monster Calls - A sweet fairytale with heart and some gorgeous visuals. I loved the design of the tree monster and the animation in the story segments. I'm so glad to see they're still making imaginative films like this! It reminds me of one of those trippy kids' films I might have watched in the 80s, but with better effects. I really enjoyed this as an adult, both for the fantasy elements and the deeper elements that kids might miss (but possibly intuit?), like when the tree monster first shows up and what that means to Conor. That's the whole turning point of the movie, and it really comes together at the end. I don't want to spoil the emotional impact so I'll leave it at that. This is a sad movie, but also hopeful.

I thought this was really well done on every level - visuals, storytelling, and great performances.

Paddleton - "Oh God, small talk" pretty much sums up my entire world view, thank you.

I'm not usually into tearjerker dramas but it's Mark Duplass so, here we go. Bless you for making a cancer diagnosis scene wonderfully awkward. Bless you for knowing that abandoned drive-in theatres are some of my favourite places in the world. Bless you for understanding that small talk is awful and makes us stupid. And bless you for the most sincere portrait of male friendship I've seen since They Look Like People.

Ray Romano is great here, has he always been great? I don't know, I don't watch sitcoms! But this was like, an award-calibre performance. I'll say the same thing I said about Blue Jay, which was also written by Duplass and directed by Alexandre Lehmann. I love films about lost souls finding each other, whether it's romantic or friendship. Even if they end up losing each other, they're with each other forever because that changes a person. That's the only kind of dramatic story that really interests me, and this was a good one. 3.75 stars.

(The last two films I've watched have been about terminal illness, so idk what I'm watching next but it won't be that.)

Oculus -
I'm watching some of Mike Flanagan's films before I start my long overdue plunge into The Haunting of Hill House. Hush was really good, Before I Wake was decent, and I think this might be my favourite so far. This isn't super original; it's pretty standard mainstream modern horror. But I like modern horror when it's stylish and feels somewhat fresh, and this is upper mid-tier. (Not up with classics like Hereditary or the Conjuring films, but way above like, The Bye Bye Man. I mean, I've never seen The Bye Bye man, but y'know.) And it's about an eeeevil antique so it kinda feels like watching a movie-length episode of Friday the 13th: The Series, which I am totally down for.

The parts of this film I would mostly call "serviceable," but the sum of those parts makes for a compelling watch. I'm gonna credit Flanagan with that, as the mix of flashbacks and present day is done well and never feels overlong. You know what's gonna happen in the flashback sequences but they're still engaging (and horrific in a couple moments!), and I had NO IDEA what was gonna happen in the present day. Would they defeat the evil mirror? Would they run away like the smart (and adorable) dog? Would it kill one or both of them? Most importantly, was it the same evil mirror from Mirror Mirror?? The payoff here is pretty good, though I missed goth Rainbow Harvest.

more more movie catchup

Black Sabbath - Ahh, time for another classic horror I've never seen. This takes us back to the days when a horror legend (here, Boris Karloff) put on their best spooky black suit just to introduce a movie. Things were classy then, unlike now, scoffs the woman wearing Hello Kitty pjs and drinking wine from a Spiderman cup while watching horror movies. Anyway, Black Sabbath. It's good. The stars of this movie are the lighting and set design, and that's not to disparage the performances or anything, it's just that beautiful. This thing is all colour and texture and ornate gold bedposts. I don't know why the abandoned crypt is bathed in a purple and green glow, but I'm not gonna complain about it! This movie is pretty much what my pinterest page would look like.

Blue and pink-drenched gothic mansion filled with cats = retirement goals! Oh, dead lady in a bed. Never mind I guess. *sadly unpacks* The first segment managed to make dripping water really damn creepy because it's that kind of old movie where every second just oozes dread and I love that. The star of the second segment was this super mod looking red and black rotary phone, and I'm far from a rotary phone expert but I've never seen a snazzy two-tone one like that and I kind of want one, even if it is haunted.

The third segment features the ghoulish spectre of Boris Karloff riding a horse through a fog-shrouded forest of gnarled trees, and if you need more out of life than that I'm not sure I can help you. This one also featured the abandoned crypt, and the whole setting looked similar to Black Sunday. Between this and that film, I definitely need to check out more Mario Bava.

I started watching this last night and fell asleep, not because it was boring but because it lulled me into that cosy sleepiness only old horror movies can do. (Also, I watched this on tubitv so my gothic vibes were periodically interrupted by overly cheerful air travel ads. Not sure I'd recommend this method, but it was free.)

The Neon Demon - "Nicolas Winding Refn," what a name. Sounds like a riddle you must solve to complete a great quest, or possibly a small town in Pennsylvania.

Okay. This is a beautiful-looking movie about beautiful people I never wanna meet and beautiful places I never wanna go. I grew up in a small town in the L.A. area, and this felt about as alien to me as watching the life cycle of a rock on Mars. You can choose a vapid and shallow lifestyle, or nah, and I don't have a whole lot of empathy for people who do. And it's hard to connect to a two-hour film without empathy. A fun 90-minute slasher or found footage, maybe, but this was looong and maybe trying to Say Something, and it didn't say anything that hasn't been said before.

You can do a fresh take on "vapid L.A. culture;" Ingrid Goes West proved that. But that worked because not every character was shallow and one-dimensional. The shallow characters need substance to play off of, or it all just feels shallow. Once our protagonist here (who was literally just "small-town girl comes to L.A.") dumped the one sympathetic character and got lost up her own butt like everyone else, there was no one left to care about. (If you ever cared at all.) So when the horror elements finally kick in (and it takes a while), while they are horrific and visually effective, they don't resonate deeply because any feeling you had was already gone.

Like Velvet Buzzsaw, maybe that's the point, and this is a better film than that one. More stylish, more effective horror, some sharper writing. But it left me feeling the same - empty, sad, maybe a little hungry for an In-N-Out Burger. I guess I'm just not interested in the fashion or art worlds. Superficial people are boring, who knew?? As you would expect from something called The Neon Demon, the use of colour is AMAZING and there are some spectacular shots, so it is worth watching for that if you can stand 115 minutes of ugly-acting people lit prettily.

Big Little Lies (tv series) - I'm so glad all my children are cats

Life After Beth - If you see someone enjoying smooth jazz shoot them right in the head, that's just good common sense and it might save the world!
~The More You Know~

This didn't knock my socks off or anything but I had a consistently good time with it, and I can safely say I love Aubrey Plaza after only seeing her in two things.

The Spectacular Now - This little indie drama has a big cast, including Captain Marvel, no big deal. (I am so excited for this weekend and I don't even care how good it is because CAT and I am totally buying a t-shirt! 😻) Anywayy, this was a sweet but flawed movie that's really carried by its performances. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are great, playing teens that could have been tropes but weren't. Sutter seems like kind of a modern Ferris Bueller at first, and Aimee is more reserved but open to experience.

The biggest standout for me was Kyle Chandler as Sutter's alcoholic deadbeat dad. He plays what could have been a cliche character in such a naturalistic way you get angry at him all over again, like damn you really are a shithead! It's great, and you feel for Sutter here. He's not sympathetic all the way through, but these moments help flesh him out beyond "slacker teen who drinks too much."

Woodley really shines here but damn, her character was way too nice and forgiving! I wanted to hug her but maybe also shake some sense into her! What keeps me from rating this a little higher is how Teller's character treated her at times, and how she never stood up for herself. I expected this would culminate in a confrontation (or possibly a fiery car crash with all the drinking) but she's just like "oh, ok." I get what they were going for, but for me it dehumanized her character to humanize his, and there needed to be more balance. I still enjoyed this though, and it's absolutely worth watching for the performances if you like these slice of life indie dramas.

more movie catchup

Oh boy, look who's fallen behind again. SHOCKER.

Sinister - This was well overdue for a rewatch. I remember it freaking me right out the first time I saw it and yup, it's still freaky!

I forgot about Sheriff Crusty T. Exposition at the beginning and his "we don't like your kind round these parts" speech. That was kind of funny. Luckily, what comes next isn't quite so cliche because what comes next is supernatural super 8 snuff films. They're really disturbing and I love that this happened in a mainstream horror film with Ethan Hawke. Speaking of Ethan Hawke, he looked cosy and adorbs in his Writer Sweater. Love that for him.

This would easily be 4 stars for me, but I wanted more payoff with Bughuul at the end than just the cliche BLARGH! jumpscare then credits. I found him more menacing than the standard issue Creepy Kids that looked like they came from the Creepy Kid Factory. I kept waiting for them to break into one of those "la la la" spooooooky lullabies. I liked that Bughuul was a shadowy presence, and too much screen time could have ruined his impact, but it felt a little lacking.

I think my favourite part was imagining Bughuul labeling the film canisters with punny titles like "just hanging around!" and "pool party" with his eeeevil sharpie and giggling a lil.

Blue Ruin - Everything I said a couple days ago about Cold Weather being low-budget filmmaking at its best also applies to Blue Ruin. Feeling pretty lucky to have encountered two of these gems in as many days.

This kind of broke my heart. Our protagonist, who is weirdly named Dwight Evans (well it's weird if you're a Red Sox fan), is on a quest for revenge against the man he thinks killed his parents. Dwight is Very Much an Average Person and Not John Wick. Therefore, this is more of a slow burn but I was engaged the whole time. It's such a simple, compelling story. It reminded me in tone of Sun Don't Shine, but with more action and a lot more blood.

He arrives at the family home of the killer, who had just been released from prison. There's this heartbreakingly crude "Welcome Home" sign hung up and you have a weird moment of "aww, redneck killers' families love them too." I don't know if you were supposed to feel that but I think you were, because then Dwight goes through one of their photo albums and there's a photo of an ADORABLE TABBY CAT and the camera lingers on it too, so you just know they wanted all the cat ladies to be like "these people can't be all bad!!" And it worked. That zinged me through the heart. Cause they're probably not all bad, but they're a threat and it's complicated and I don't wanna spoil anything but yeah, this movie kinda broke my heart. Just idk, don't kill anyone? That's my life advice for today. Oh, adopt a cat and also don't kill anyone.

Blue Jay - Omygosh this was lovely, Sarah Paulson is wonderful, and I'm sort of in love with Mark Duplass, so. I don't usually like romantic comedies or dramas. They're trite, nobody acts like a person, and I 'm just waiting for someone to start stabbing people already, I'm boooored.

What I DO LIKE are movies about lost souls making a connection, whether it's romance or friendship. Normal moviegoers are like "kiss!" and I'm like "talk more about your shared existential crises!" This movie has plenty of deep conversation, it's shot in beautiful black and white, but there is nothing pretentious or "art house" here, this is pure human relatability and compassion. The characters love animals, which is how you can tell the true heart of a movie imo. (I know most romantic comedies have dogs, but this was like, heartfelt conversation about rescuing, not just a cute dog used as a prop.)

There are only three people in this movie, Mark and Sarah and a kindly shopkeep played by, randomly and wonderfully, MST3K's own "we're on Clu Gulager alert!" This is the kind of town that still has a kindly shopkeep, and I love when movies take place in small towns. I am so tired of New York City (which I always say in that Pace picante sauce accent.) Anywayyy, Mark and Sarah were high school sweethearts who haven't seen each other in 20 years and they start talking about the Gin Blossoms and I'm sold. I'm like, why did these guys ever break up, they're so great together? Then shit gets real, and it's sad, and I want nothing more in my whole life than these two people to be happy again.

Then they kinda are, and it's expressed in a weird way that I totally relate to (I'm being vague because I don't wanna spoil this, it's on Netflix and literally every human should watch it). We don't know where their lives will go after "the winds of change are fucking blowing tonight," and it's perfect. I don't need the big happily ever after kiss, a little part of me likes wistful yearning, and this thing pulsates with wistful yearning. But the bigger part of me hopes these two are running a greyhound rescue somewhere, right now. ❤️

Before I Wake - The regular butterflies looked kinda wonky but man, those glowing Christmas tree butterflies were a delight. I liked that more than any of the horror elements. They really nailed the dreamlike imagery there. This was a mixed bag and I was 2.5ing it pretty hard most of the way, but then the ending happened and I was like, "huh. Well, that's different" and I had to bump it up for creativity!

Watching this after Blue Jay was a mistaaaake. If the leads here had been Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson, mmm, now that would have been a movie. But this is a dodgy CGI and jumpscare fest, so nah. I just didn't find the characters or performances here especially compelling. The most interesting thing about them is they were watching House on Haunted Hill one night, but they didn't seem like the sort of people who would watch old horror movies, it was so random. I found Kate Bosworth kind of flat and emotionless, try as she might. But once she got her investigation on she reminded me a little of Naomi Watts in The Ring so that was cool, and she was good in the end scene. That made me tear up a little.

I think I would have loved this as a kid, and it's appropriate for older kids to watch so that's something. If you're me and watching this late at night with your cats, it's a serviceable modern horror with a great idea let down by some flat writing and CGI. If you have a kid that's getting interested in horror, make up a big bowl of popcorn and put this on. It's a decent movie with heart.

Also, an actor named Dash Mihok I have never seen in anything else shows up briefly and gives kind of a banger performance? Idk if it's because everyone else seemed to be sleepwalking through this and he had all kinds of facial expressions, but boy I enjoyed him!

Let Me In - This is a hard film for me to rate, so I'm not going to. I watched Let the Right One In the first time a couple months ago, and of course loved it. If you really wanna see the story take place in America, or don't watch foreign language films at all, check this one out. If you love the original, you might not get a lot out of this. Not because it's bad, it just doesn't really add much?

I grew up in the 80s, and the cultural references (Rubik's cube, Pac-Man, Now & Later, the great soundtrack!) were On Point, as were the clothes, hairstyles, cars, etc. I enjoyed that. The child actors, including young Chloe Grace Moretz as Abby (Eli) and Dylan Minette as a bully (!), do a great job. The setting is perfect and the cinematography is lovely. It doesn't feel slick and Americanized, it actually keeps the bleakness of the Swedish film, which was a nice surprise. I have nothing bad to say about this, it just didn't wow me because I felt like I'd already seen it. But that might be a compliment?? This is too confusing to review, I'm going out for a smoke. (I don't smoke.)

Lady Bird - "Do I look like I'm from Sacramento?" is possibly my favourite opening line in a movie ever.

So, I loved this? I just need to devote my life to watching all the A24 films, I guess. (NOTE - yes, I've been working on just this! Not ALL of them of course.)

Garden State - Legit can't figure out if I really like this movie or just love that song. I do know this makes me really nostalgic, and there's no arguing with nostalgia so I guess I like it.

On a related note, I probably have to rewatch Ghost World and Napoleon Dynamite now too.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Getting there...

Sisters - God I love these 70s horror-thrillers.

That opening game show. Oh my GOD, the 70s. What was wrong with you? But I love it! And the prize was a box of knives. LOL FORESHADOWING. I love it though. The twist is so obvious I can't even call it a twist - was it obvious to 1972 audiences, or have we just seen too many horror movies? - but I still found this somewhat suspenseful. I loved the Intrepid Girl Reporter with the Unfortunate Mullet. I loved the split screen that looks like the world's most stylish security cam footage. I loved the very 70s can of Tab in the fridge! That's the kind of quality I look for.

Some might call this sleazy or derivative, and they wouldn't be wrong, but that's kind of its charm? If you've ever wanted to see a tabloid story come to life, this does the job. If you're gonna be sleazy, at least do it with style! I did enjoy Margot Kidder's performance. I'm not sure why they made her French when she is Not French, but otherwise I loved her. (She's a very naturalistic actress, which I love, but having to put on an accent kinda takes her out of that at times? She still shines through though.) Between this, Black Christmas, and The Amityville Horror, she's pretty much a horror icon. And Charles Durning was born to play a salty, dedicated P.I. Not the best de Palma film, but a cool time capsule of a developing talent. And that Hitchcockian score is on point.

(Since I recently knocked out some horror classics I'd never seen - Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hellraiser, An American Werewolf in London - I think Sisters held the distinction of being the longest-standing film on my watchlist. My old, pre-Letterboxd watchlist that was scratched out on notebook paper and titled "List of Doom." Idk why it took me so long, but I'm glad I finally got to it.)

Social Animals - This was just ok but it did bring a charming little song called "Shit Makes the Flowers Grow" into my life, so.

The Lodgers - When I die, please let it be any way but underwater and surrounded by my naked incestuous ancestors. This is all I ask. Thank you.

(My curse seems to be watching random things on Netflix, and that is probably how I'll die.)

Martin - This was a fascinating watch.

I'm not rating it because I'm not sure I "liked" it, exactly? But I'm glad I watched it, and if you've been sleeping on it definitely check it out. I've never seen a movie quite like this before. You have the typical 70s sleaze and ugly brown-ness and it's all especially sleazy and ugly here in this dying little town. I'm not sure how we made it out of the 70s at all, but this murky town of old people and old churches probably isn't gonna live to see the neon 80s.

I'd compare this in tone and feel to Alice Sweet Alice, but I liked this more and it didn't leave me feeling quite as depressed. What set this apart for me were the black and white sequences. Were they Martin's fantasies, or memories? Probably the former, but we're never told for sure and I liked that. One thing that points to Martin actually being a vampire - he looked 20 and that ancient guy was his cousin? Whaaaa? Unless he was his cousin once removed, twice baked, whatever, that doesn't make any sense. So maybe the old guy was right! Either way, this dorky kid with dimestore Dracula teeth was more unsettling than any shiny Hollywood vampire.

This was a weird psychological story directed by George Romero, once again creating something out of a nothing budget. It's not a "fun" watch, but it will make you think. (And you might have a little fun with it if you dig late 70s sleaze.) My favourite part was Romero as a priest who said he saw The Exorcist and thought it was "great." lol

Cold Weather - I LOVED this! I loved it for what it is and what it represents - low-budget filmmaking at its best. I enjoy some big Hollywood movies, but after the 17th Marvel/DC/SW blockbuster of the year, they start running together and you might even start taking them for granted. Cold Weather is a film you can't take for granted. To watch it is to appreciate it. There's a scene of two people standing on a bridge by a waterfall that slowly pans in and it's so gorgeous and I'm like, "yup, this is pretty much why I watch movies."

The look and direction are pretty perfect, but the real focus is the characters. I wasn't sure what to expect from a "mumblecore mystery" but it was better than I could have imagined. The mystery element is interesting and has a great payoff scene, but it mainly works because I was so invested in these characters. Charming, entertaining, and thoroughly likeable, this leaves you feeling happy and hopeful at the end. I think it's about getting your life back from whatever's holding you down, even if it's your own mind.

If you like indie film at all, rent this! I kinda wanna shout this one from the rooftops.

Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil - Between this and Cold Weather, I had a good movie night. Note - be sure to switch this to the original Basque on Netflix, because it really adds to the feel.

I love these horror-fantasy films based on folklore! This, The Ritual, Krampus (the good one not all the knockoffs), Rare Exports. Can we get more of these from all around the world, like an "every country has a monster" film tour? This was beautifully made, with some really stunning shots, set design and effects. I loved the whole design of the smithy and the fortress element surrounding it. Wonderfully detailed and intricate. This was also surprisingly touching at times. The comedic elements seemed weird to me at first, and made me wonder if it was a translation thing - is the demon supposed to be a bit goofy? - but as it goes on you see it's part of the story and get used to it.

If you dig dark fairy tales, unique lore, spooky woods and some fantastic imagery, check this out. This isn't really "scary," I don't think there were any jump scares, it's more of a fun ride with some creepy atmosphere, which I am all about.

Spotlight review ~ Mr. Roosevelt

This movie is named after a cat. 17 STARS! Umm the cat dies, but offscreen and not violently because it's not a damn horror movie, so I wasn't triggered or anything. I found this on Netflix while searching for another movie that wasn't on Netflix, and this was probably better than whatever I was searching for in the first place. I see the ironic Goodwill t-shirts are still a thing, at least in 2017. Out of the loop status: confirmed.

Bless this woman for caring about cats as much as I do. And fuck people who sit at a dinner table talking about meditation and the foods they can't eat and expect you to give a fuck. This is why social anxiety exists. I'm maybe projecting a lil because I also had to go to a horrible dinner party the day after I lost my cat. And I know the "perfect" gf had a vulnerable moment at the end but she still kinda passive aggressively hijacked a cat's ashes, so. (She also had something passive aggressively dry cleaned, which I didn't even know was possible.) But everyone seemed to be better at the end, so okay.

^^^Totally my face if I found out someone hijacked my cat's ashes

This movie was good.
Hellraiser - I'm a liiiittle sad my first viewing of Hellraiser was on a computer in 2019 and not rocking giant hair and acid wash watching a raggedy VHS in 1988, AS GOD INTENDED. But holyshit those effects were awesome! Those effects will always be awesome, long after our poodle perms have grown out and the last Blockbuster has closed down.

Long live the 80s. I know, they're still making these, but for me it might as well be 1988 and the glow of new video discovery, for I have embarked upon a journey (that means I'll be watching part 2 SOON)! And seriously, the gore effects are so awesome they might even distract you from how 80s Sitcom Dad and Lady with Great Cheekbones and Shoulderpads but Unfortunate Mullet are somehow married despite clearly loathing each other. I mean, were we supposed to root for half-rotted corpse guy? At least they had some chemistry.

Don't Breathe - Can "urban decay" just become a subgenre? Maybe it has already? This, It Follows, Lost River, what else? People living in some purgatory town that refuses to admit it's dead and become a ghost town. The neighbourhood here pretty much was a ghost town, except for this one creepy creeper in his creepy creephouse, and it was AMAZING. I loved this, it was almost like a haunted house movie with no haunts, it was all real, guys like this could be all over abandoned neighbourhoods and that's why they're so fascinating to me. It's a naturally occurring unknown; maybe the closest most of us will get to seeing a ghost. I had this feeling all the way through I was watching something that actually happened, or actually could happen.

This movie was just good too, the performances and the tension and everything, but that setting elevated it to a classic status it would not have if it took place in an ordinary house on an ordinary street.

Crush the Skull - Well, this was certainly the best serial-killer-heist-horror-comedy I've ever seen! That it's the only one I've ever seen only makes it more deserving of praise. This is a great example of what you can do with a low budget; a good idea and script can go a long way. I think fans of the Creep movies will enjoy this, as it does a lot with a little in a similar way. This was funny and suspenseful, with a crew of super good-hearted if clumsy thieves trying to break out of the serial killer's lair they've broken into. Kinda like a comedic Don't Breathe, and it is 100% coincidence I just watched that movie last night. The universe is ~mysterious.~

This was made by a largely Asian-American cast and crew, and I'd love to see more from these guys. It's a unique film that plays with standard formulas to great success. It even provides a useful life lesson - you do NOT leave that killer lying there intact no matter HOW dead you think he is. Shoot him, stab him, crush him in the damn skull! Just in case.

Funny Ha Ha - I dressed just like this movie in 2002. Those ironic boys' t-shirts from Goodwill featuring dinosaurs or sports teams you never played for? Yeah. (This just reminded me of how uncool 2019 me is. I only wear t-shirts of sports teams I actually follow and places I've actually been.)

Hmm. I kinda feel like going on a "mumblecore" kick, possibly interspersed with 70s/80s horror I haven't seen so I don't get sick of either. I think I like these movies because they understand that socializing is 99% awkward cringiness and maybe like, one moment of clarity?

Baghead - This was kind of adorable honestly, like a baby Creep. It's not really scary, but it's a fun, quirky take on found footage. I like quirky. I only wish Mark Duplass had been onscreen, but the actors here do a good job. Stay away from this if you can't stand cringe, or if you want a really horror-y horror movie, but I had a good time with it for what it is. (Also one of the actors is the non-psychic guy from Another Evil, a really fun film I compared in tone to Creep, so it's like all interconnected! I love making those little connections in movies because I'm a dork.)

I think I'm just gonna add everything involving the Duplasses and/or Greta Gerwig to my watchlist.

John Wick: Chapter 2 - So after two mumblecore movies, I of course watched John Wick Chapter 2. 🤷 Well it made sense to me, and this was my "date night" movie. This was every bit as good as the first one, highlights being the museum mirror shootout, when he got back to NY and literally everyone started trying to kill him the minute he landed, and of course every scene with his dog.

Now we can go see part 3 in the theatre!

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World - ADORBSSSSSS *heart*

What a beautiful end to the trilogy. My first trip to the cinema in 2019 and I cried tears of emotional cuteness 👍

A Horrible Way to Die - Amy Seimetz, the director of The Guest, AND the girl from Birdemic? I'm there!!

This movie raises some interesting questions. How do you go on after finding out you're dating a serial killer? How do you trust anyone again? I mean, we all have secrets but that's a pretty big one! Also, how the hell do alcoholics handle awkward first dates?? I honestly never thought of that. I don't think I'd leave my house if I couldn't drink tbh.

So, what a cool idea for a movie. It's done gritty, realistic "mumblecore" style and takes what could have been Lifetime fare (Don't miss Sleeping with a Stranger, Wednesday at 8 after Supermarket Sweep) and makes it bloody, yet strangely mature and sober. I like how these movies just feel like life playing out, almost like a documentary.

The performances are good, especially Amy Seimetz and AJ Bowen as the biggest teddy bear of a serial killer you'll ever meet! Pretty chilling honestly. And Seimetz is sooo believable, it felt like watching a real person. And the ending was pretty banger, like this definitely has a payoff. So if I liked the story and acting so much, why only 2.5 stars??

This movie was really hard to watch, not gonna lie. I watched the whole thing because I was engrossed, but the camera work was making me sick! I had to close my eyes several times! This guy went on to do The Guest?? I guess he had to start somewhere but who could have possibly thought constant blurry, shaky zoom-ins were a good idea? It added nothing to the film. Maybe do it in one scene for effect or something but it kept happening and I was over it. Really a shame, because I liked this quite a lot and would easily give it a 3, maybe 3.25. Let's call it a 2.75 I guess.

Also, the title. It has nothing to do with the story. Yeah, being a serial killer victim is a horrible way to die but that's not what the movie was about. It was about Amy Seimetz's character. Well I guess they couldn't call it I Married an Axe Murderer, and they weren't actually married and he didn't use an axe, so. Idk. Sleeping with a Stranger is actually a better title but a lot of grandmothers would be all WTF is this?? if it got accidentally put on Lifetime.

And Whitney Moore was hardly in it, dammit. I like Whitney Moore.

Tiny Furniture - I fully believe that these people exist, but I'm not happy about it.

Eh, this wasn't that bad, but it's not gonna stick with me. One positive: for something that's basically "White Privilege: the Movie," there is a nice bit of representation. How often do we see average size women in movies? We see Small Women, who are represented as being the average, and we see Large Women, whose main personality trait is usually that they are Large. But the average woman is rarely represented which is really weird considering we're the average, right?? So sure, this might be a vanity project for the director/star, who I know nothing about personally and have only "heard things," but it's still body positivity to me and I'll take it.

(And yes I'm just sitting here popping movies like tic tacs because WINTER NEEDS TO DIE ALREADY. I'm not sick of these mumblecore movies yet but when I am I'm gonna watch something by Brian de Palma, so that should be fun.)

Hannah Takes the Stairs - "Well, I quit my job, and now I don't have a job." - every mumblecore movie

I kinda just wanted to watch Greta Gerwig and Mark Duplass dive for buried treasure for 80 minutes.

Thursday, March 07, 2019


Okay, last one of these for the day. Oh there are more, but I'll do them later. I've also been listening to some great music this year and want to make a post about that, so look for that around... July I guess? 🤷

Intruders - I don't usually watch "humans being brutal to each other" movies. If I wanted to see that I'd watch the news, which I don't. Horror is my escape. Give me witches, ghosties, demons, even mindless slashers, but toxic d-bags? No ty. So I don't watch "torture porn" or The Purge or home invasion movies or any of that stuff really. But this was on Shudder and it was short, so why not. You never know what might grab you.

I'm not rating this because it isn't really my thing. But I did find it entertaining and there was only one scene I couldn't stand watching, so if home invasion with a twist is your thing I'd check this out. It didn't knock my socks off like Better Watch Out, but it's a decent fast watch. And the house is really cool! Which is pretty much the whole reason I like The Amityville Horror, so. *shrug* I should make a "the house is the real star" list.

Demons - An 80s horror set in a red and blue neon-drenched cinema? Oh yeah, now this is my jam! Great setting, awesome bloody effects, killer soundtrack, and this thing is so 80s the demons drool neon green slime. Did they turn into monsters, or did they just drink too much ecto cooler? This movie is fun, the movie within the movie is fun, and oh boy do I wanna explore that old crypt. That would be my day at Disneyland, only without the delightful pirate restaurant.

That motorcycle was obviously gonna be used for badassery, but you don't even know how badass it gets. (Well you probably do, I think I'm the only person who hadn't seen this movie.) Theatre horror is just a good time. Well ok, we won't discuss Movie House Massacre, but this is right up with personal fave Popcorn. It doesn't quite reach the level of the theatre scene in Messiah of Evil, but what does?

Hush - Movie: Adorable floofy cat!
Me: FUCK this is a horror movie
*sighs* *pauses* *checks*
CAT SURVIVES! 🙌 *exhales* *resumes* *pets cat*

Stop doing that to me movies. Seriously.

So yeah, I watched another of these home invasion movies. Maybe I'm like, steeling myself? Trying to prove they don't bother me? Because, I actually enjoyed this! "Person with issue like deafness or agoraphobia inexplicably beats the baddies at their own game" seems to be a thing now, and there is something satisfying about it.

I don't know how many of these I could watch. I don't enjoy seeing ordinary people terrorizing each other. Slashers are fine, but this was like, a schlubby guy in a beanie you might see at the bank. You're not gonna see Jason Voorhees at the bank. Idk. There's so much Real Scary Shit in the world, I like Fake Scary Shit. This was really good and tense though. I can't deny this. And the lead actress gives a great performance despite never speaking out loud.

Also, I'm not a gun person - like at all - but a deaf person living alone in the woods should super have a gun and know how to use it. I know, then there would be no movie. That's more for the benefit of any deaf people living alone in the woods who might be reading this.

Madhouse - OMG, this opens with a Creepy Trailer Version™ of "Rock a Bye Baby." That was a thing in 1981?? I thought that was just an emo chick singer thing but nope, here it's a dude and it's SO BAD but it's funny. So we're off to a good start.

If you like Devil Dog: Hound of Hell or Happy Birthday to Me... watch those movies instead because they're actually good. Man, I wanted to like this. I like a lot of cheesy movies from this era and this seemed to have the ingredients. But that's what it was, a collection of ingredients more than an engaging or coherent film on its own. It didn't feel like anything I hadn't seen before; not even the bad characters and overacting were exceptional enough to be entertaining. (This came out around the same time as Happy Birthday so it wasn't a ripoff, I just didn't enjoy it as much.)

The tone is so weird. The lead actress, her boyfriend, and her friend play it straight, the kind of characters and acting you'd see in a standard late 70s/early 80s horror. Then you have these ridiculous overacting side characters, including a Japanese man that made me cringe, Father McCreepyPriest, and an over-southerning* lady named AMANDA BEAUREGARD. That's not a person, that's a bad SNL character! It was like two sets of characters from two different movies. The "evil twin" also overacted in a way that I didn't find scary, I just wanted her to shut the hell up. Same with Father McObviousForeshadowing. Sometimes less is more, people.

*thanks MST3K.

I kept falling asleep in the middle AND I had to skip forward whenever I saw the cat because I couldn't get a straight answer from the internet if it died or not. You let me down this time, The dog does die, but it's a puppet and it's evil so I didn't find it triggering, but I'm a cat person.

I can see how someone would enjoy this if the camp hits them right, but for me it was both too campy and not campy enough, I guess? The story wasn't interesting enough and the nursery rhyme singing priest was so obviously and ridiculously evil I was just yelling at the dumb main character for not seeing it and also yelling at whoever wrote such a hammy character. My throat is sore, is my point.

Then it ends with a quote from G.B. Shaw: "Life differs from the play only in this... it has no plot, all is vague, desultory, unconnected til the curtain drops with the mystery unsolved..." and I'm like, did the movie just riff itself?? I guess we're done here.

Dead and Buried - "Two murders in a town no bigger than a postage stamp!"

Now here's an underrated early 80s gem. One of the most original zombie movies I've seen, with great atmosphere and a mystery element. My favourite! People are being killed, their bodies disappearing and then reappearing, but they're not dead and all messed up. They look like nothing ever happened, pumping gas, going to the store, I'm dead but it's no big deal, I've got shit to do!

Something's fishy (hee!) in this small seaside New England town, and there's a Stephen King quality here imo. Not just the Pepperidge Farm Remembers accents, but the creepiness, creativity and general tone. I love this movie. I don't do frequent rewatches; I'll usually wait 5+ years to see a film again. I saw this for the first time about two years ago and was already keen to see it again. Like, that "Sentimental Journeys" song playing while the guy lovingly details restoring dead bodies, that's the kind of hair-standing-on-end quality I look for.

(Funny this was co-written by Dan O'Bannon, who went on to write and direct one of the best horror comedies ever Return of the Living Dead, because this is not comedic at all.)

Cropsey - The most shocking part of this was that Geraldo Rivera used to be a real journalist.

This was a fascinating documentary, at times creepy and just sad. What raised this for me were all the atmospheric shots of the abandoned asylum, because abandoned asylums are my favourite things ever pretty much, but even just as a true crime doc this was pretty meaty. I highly recommend spending an hour with Cropsey if you have any interest in urban legends, true crime, or abandoned places! Like I immediately googled all these people and places because I wanted to know more.

EDIT: So apparently there's a longer version of this?? Why did Netflix cut it, I wanna see the whole thing! :(

The Reaping - Yup, this sure is from 2007.

With this cast, location and plot, this could have been a real sock knocker. Sadly, it's just lukewarm tea in a pretty cup. I didn't dislike this movie. All the "I"m an atheist!" "Well I'M a religious person!" stuff was heavy handed and got old fast, but I'm a sucker for swamps and kudzu. Abandoned mausoleum ruins?? Well, now you're just spoiling me!

This is a "because it's on Netflix" movie. Why did I watch it? "It was there." Hilary Swank, Idris Elba, and Stephen Rea give fine performances, because of course they do, but only "fine." While this had atmosphere for days, it unfortunately didn't have any scares. The river of blood was creepy enough, but all the CGI shit just didn't resonate. What else is new. I'm more mad about what this could have been than what it is. Pedestrian, but I'll give it an A for atmosphere.

SPOILER: Screw you movie for killing Idris Elba.

You guessed it, movie catchup

We Go On - "This would be almost adorable if it wasn’t an instrument of death in my mother’s purse." I kind of want a TinyGun™ and I don't even like guns.

Well hold me down, I have a new favourite movie! Well not favourite favourite, but a favourite. This was just everything I love - ghosts, an abandoned house, spoOoky intrigue, a troubled but likeably quirky lead character that kinda put me in mind of my beloved Delirium... and part of it was filmed so close to my hometown I could see it in the background! Vista del Mar Park. I might have paused the movie and cried a little. I'm fine. (It's just that the weather here has been MINUS SOMETHING for at least 10 days straight and I'm from the California beaches and I MIGHT NOT BE FINE.)

But, I have this movie. I love this movie. This is not a standard ghost story, not that I mind those, but no, this is something special. It's likeable and fun and twisty and a little scary at times and I was happy to be along for the ride. I watch a lot of horror and I like plenty of cliche stuff if it's done well but this, this is unique. I don't find these too often. Happy February Halloween to me! 👻🎃

John Wick - Took a break from horror to watch an action movie with my husband. It was good, still lots of blood. 💘 Happy Valentine's Day! Oh, and the ending was great.

(Now I just need to convince him to watch something horror...)

Personal Shopper - Personal Shopper is an oddly shallow title for this layered thriller, but that's probably on purpose. It's just, I didn't even know this was a horror-ish film until like, 2 days ago? It sounds like a rom com, like The Wedding Planner or idk, Cake Froster or something. (Jennifer Aniston is... The Shoe Whisperer.) I think I get it though. It's kinda like living someone's else's life, and trying to find your own identity in the process.

I'm not gonna say I understood this movie, but it was different and stylish and anyone who says Kristen Stewart sucks because of Twilight is laaaaame. Did you read the source material?? She nailed that awful character. (Not that I read Twilight or anything...) Every scene faded to black, which I found a bit odd and distracting, but then the final scene faded to white, like she had an epiphany. I think that's the key to this film, even if I don't know what the epiphany was exactly!

I would have liked a liiiiittle more oomph after all that buildup, but I still enjoyed this for the most part. Dealing with grief is a perfect subject for horror/thriller, as it can manifest in different ways and really gets to the core of what we fear most. This isn't a scary movie, but most of it deals with the unknown, both in our world and possibly the next(?) so it makes for good tension.

Mirror Mirror - HOW AM I JUST NOW HEARING OF THIS?! I rented so many cursed videotapes in 1990, yet somehow I missed this??

This is like Carrie and Heathers and Beetlejuice and a dark ass Teen Witch and The Craft before there even was The Craft, and it stars Rainbow Harvest from Earth Angel (a tv movie that probably only I was obsessed with) rocking her best Lydia Deetz and I CAN'T.

Beetlejuice was my favourite movie in 1988 and it still is and Lydia was like, everything to me. She wasn't Carrie; she was the first "strange and unusual" character I saw that owned her strange and unusualness. That was empowering. So while this character is a faded copy of the original, this is still my aesthetic 1000%. (I was never really goth, I mean I had black hair and nails and clothes and I listened to some of the music and actually nm, I was kinda goth. I just never went full goth, like wearing corsets and getting tattooes and piercings. I was a comfortable goth. A sweatpants goth. But the sweatpants were black, like my SOUL.)

Okay but, is this movie any good? It might not be 3.5 stars good, I can't really judge it objectively, but it's definitely not bad. I did enjoy this on its own merits. There's nothing new here, but the combination of not-new things really worked for me. Well, the "demon mirror" was different I guess, but it yielded the same results as any other "misfit teen exacts revenge on high school" movie. But I like those movies! (And you better believe teen me would have been haunting antique stores for that mirror.) Watching bullies die horrible deaths will never not be satisfying. I wish that swim coach had magically drowned in a puddle though. Choosing teams in gym is just barbaric, what is wrong with people.

High school really was this bad, is what I'm saying.

This is one of the better of these movies I've seen and I definitely recommend it, especially for fans of The Craft. It's not a sock knocker but there are some good death scenes, fun fashion, and it's entertaining with a decent, coherent story. The ending was a little eh? but it kinda adds to the cheesy fun. This is probably more like 3 stars but the extra half is for that hat, you know which one.

Carrie (2002) - Why do I do this to myself.

I'm not opposed to an updated version of Carrie, it's just... the clothes and hairstyles may be dated in the 70s version, but the filmmaking isn't. The late 90s sequel, this, and the 2013 remake all feel more dated than the original ever will. Here, the casting of Angela Bettis is perfect, but the movie isn't very good. The 2013 version was a little better, but the casting was off. Maybe someday they'll get it right! Idk, maybe they should get the Eighth Grade guy to do it, he seems to understand social awkwardness and "today's kids."

"Period! Period!" is a way lamer chant than "plug it up." It's like if you just yelled "BASEBALL!" at a pitcher instead of "strike him out" or something.

Where did they get all those tampons??

Because this is a remake, and one from the Artless Era (approx. 1997-2007), everything must be bigger. The kid can't fall off his bike, he has to fly off.

Help, we're being attacked by cartoon meteors! I suspect the Acme Corporation. The effects are 2002tastic.

In the book, Carrie is overweight. That's why they say "pig's blood for a pig." In the movies, that line makes no sense. Amazing how even for a role like this, they won't cast anyone who isn't skinny.

Carrie and Tommy are at the prom, and they're very much in their late 20s. Good times. Angela Bettis is still wonderful though. I was gonna give this a 2.5 for her performance and a somewhat effective prom scene. (The Carrie prom scene is probably my favourite scene ever and while this was nowhere near the original, it was tense in parts.) And honestly, this wasn't as bad as I expected, dodgy effects aside. The scenes of the town on fire were fake af, but honestly kind of charming. From what I remember, it was pretty true to the book. Then... the ending happened. WTF was that?? That was so Lifetime movie-y and not horrific and so not in the spirit of the book I almost can't believe I saw it. But I did.

There, I've seen all the Carries. My life is now complete.

Images - A bit confusing, but atmospheric and interesting! Though, the confusion is well done as it mirrors what's happening in Cathryn's mind, giving us a natural view of someone losing touch with reality. This genuinely feels like it was filmed through her mind's eye rather than a camera. I love how this was shot; like it feels like everything is happening even when you know it can't be. That's a hard thing to pull off. It doesn't feel like the movie is trying to "get" you or trick you, there are no cheap scares, it's just whatever Cathryn is seeing, or thinks she's seeing. Not really a horror film, but a beautiful and surreal experience if you want something more psychological.

More movie catchup

Nocturnal Animals - Wow. Every once in a while a movie comes along and smacks your socks off. I had no idea what to expect from this other than "More Michael Shannon, yay." And he was absolutely the star of this for me, playing a role I could see a younger Sam Elliott in. This is a beautifully shot and engaging thriller, and the thriller parts aren't even happening, it's just a book! Doesn't matter, the performances and creepy vibe of the antagonists and the deserted stretch of Texas they terrorize will pull you right in.

When it first started I was kinda like ugh, more pretentious art fucks. I just went through that with Velvet Buzzsaw and this even has two of the same actors. (Fun fact: before this I'd only seen Jake Gyllenhaal in Velvet Buzzsaw. lol?)* Then the book bit started and I was kinda like ugh, more rednecks. Redneck killers aren't usually my faves. I hate that something so dumb can be so menacing. But any hesitance I had went away fast once I got drawn into this world. Both worlds, really. Awesome movie, what a great surprise! And the moral of this one was obvious - DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH TUMBLEWEED BACKWASH TEXAS LATE AT NIGHT OR PROBABLY AT ALL.

*And I'd only seen Amy Adams in Man of Steel. lol? What can I say, I don't watch many big Hollywood movies, I watch Friday the 13th movies over and over, I'm sorry.

I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House - Why wasn't the chair hanging upside down on the wall in the kitchen ever addressed?? It drove me nuts the whole movie! She just puttered around like "do dee do, there sure isn't a chair hanging upside down on the wall, just gonna talk on the phone like everything's normal." AGGGH! Did the ghost do it, or is this just like a thing?

This is an (I think) 80s throwback, very slow burn film that at first put me in mind of House of the Devil. I wasn't sure of the time period right away- 80s? 90s? Just sometime before cell phones and flatscreen tvs. Then the "no whammies!" reference happened and I was like ok, cool. That might have been the very tv I watched "Press Your Luck" on as a kid. This didn't have the banger ending of House of the Devil, and it was a little too slow burny without a super lot of payoff to rave about, but it has a nice quality to it. It's a rainy afternoon movie.

Ghostwatch - Is this the first, or at least the first well-known, found footage/mockumentary style horror film? This feels like such a landmark, I'm surprised it isn't talked about more. I dearly wish I had been in the UK in 1992 and watching this, not knowing what the hell was going on. I envy those people. What an experience. Even knowing it was fake, it was still pretty creepy! Fans of The Conjuring 2 will recognize some of the elements, as it's based on the same case.

This is the kind of project that's condemned in its own time, but goes on to be legendary. I'm glad they took the risk; it's a cool watch and time capsule.

Frances Ha - "He wasn't a real alcoholic, but sometimes he would have like, 12 beers." I feel like that line is specifically stalking me. 👀

90s me would have loved this. I'm not sure what now me thinks of it. 90s me also loved Reality Bites, which this is kind of a 2010s version of, and now me can't stand it, so... actually never mind, I liked this. Frances was kind of insufferable but not Troy insufferable. I think she was trying, and she did have an arc. I can't blame her for being cringy. Nobody should be forced to go to parties with lawyers and people who casually mention Paris, that's just inhuman. I'd be cringy too. (See above statement about beer.)

It's kind of like if Starry Eyes wasn't a horror movie and had a nice ending, but was still kind of a horror movie, because everything's kind of psychological horror if you think too hard about it.

Martha Marcy May Marlene - A movie that doubles as a tongue twister. Stay tuned for the sequel, Peter Piper Picks a Peck of Pickled Peppers. I joke because this was the opposite of fun and it made me uneasy. That's a compliment though. I appreciated the realistic, almost lowkey tone this took in portraying a traumatized, brainwashed cult escapee. You feel for Martha but it's frustrating too, how she won't (or can't) tell anyone what happened so they might understand her strange behaviour. It seems like how that might actually play out though. This isn't a Lifetime movie; there's some dramatic tension but there's no dramatic conclusion, or any real conclusion at all.

I still can't believe that bug-eyed kid from that low-budget haunted house movie I watched went on to become a real actor in real movies with Elizabeth Olsen and Sarah Paulson. He's so good here too, utterly believable as the cult leader. And I've liked Elizabeth Olsen in everything I've seen her in. She's great.

The Woman in Black - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Jump Scares

Harry Potter and the Perfectly Serviceable PG-13 Horror Film

Harry Potter and the Fantastically Creepy Setting Which Raised This from 2.5 to 3 Stars Because I Am Forever a Sucker for Them

(I really did like the "death carriage rising from the muck" scene, it was genuinely ghastly and put me in mind of Ghost Story, a much better film.)

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror - I am so freaking excited for the future of horror, and Black horror specifically. For a documentary that deals a lot with racism, past and present, it leaves you feeling hopeful. Change is happening, real change. Audiences want compelling stories and characters, and I think it's finally being shown by films like Get Out and (outside of horror) Black Panther that those stories and characters do not have to be white to resonate on a large scale.

Get Out flipped a switch, but this documentary does a great job of showing how we got here. I loved hearing Jordan Peele talk about The People Under the Stairs, as it's one of the first films I thought of after seeing Get Out and I wondered if it was an inspiration. It's one of Craven's best imo, with commentary that is super still relevant today, and I hope fans who haven't seen it will seek it out now. (Serpent and the Rainbow is also great, and overdue for a rewatch.)

I recently rewatched and reviewed The Craft, and noted that the overt racism seemed out of place in a 1996 L.A. high school. The interview with Rachel True says otherwise, that it spoke to her experience and also the experience of young black girls she talked to afterwards. I always wondered about that, and I'm glad for the learning experience.

Of course we had Tony Todd and Candyman. One thing that was discussed that I always liked is having an iconic black horror villain. Not a black man as "monster" or "other" just because he's black, like in early films, but a black Freddy or Jason. I feel like that's as important as having a black hero. Cause we horror weirdos all love our killers, let's be real. They're the most memorable part of so many horror films.

One of the first horror movies I ever saw as a kid wasn't mentioned here, but it was a tv movie so I'm not surprised. This was 1985's The Midnight Hour starring Shari Belafonte-Harper, and it's my favourite tv movie ever. I rewatched it a couple years ago and it's still really fun. It has a mixed cast, including Lee Montgomery and LeVar Burton, and is centered around Belafonte-Harper and her witch ancestor played by Jonelle Allen. It was clearly inspired by the popularity of the "Thriller" video (it even has a musical number). So both the antagonist, and one of the two main protagonists, are black women.

I don't know how many people remember this despite the notable actors, or how it resonated with black kids who saw it, but it resonated with me in a way I didn't realize til later. I think, partly because this is one of the first horror movies I saw, seeing black people as horror leads has always felt natural. And if a simple little tv movie can, maybe unknowingly, "normalize" seeing certain people in a certain genre - imagine what something like Get Out can do on its large scale. For both white audiences and audiences of colour. Especially young audiences. This will be the normal they grow up with, because art still shapes culture more than anything else. And it's moving in the right direction. What I personally took from Get Out was reinforced here - white audiences empathized with the black protagonist. We were allowed to go into the "sunken place" with him via the theatre, and it was powerful.

I am so excited for Us, holy shit.

A Dark Song - Man, I really wanted to like this. I have no problem with slower horror films; I often prefer them. But for me this was just slowness intermixed with people yelling at each other. It's the film equivalent of falling asleep, waking up suddenly, and falling asleep again, which is unfortunately just what I did.

I think the main issue was I didn't feel connected to the characters. What was the motivation of the occultist? Who was he? He just seemed like this very troubled, angry person but with no explanation why. I guess "he's seen some shit" is an explanation of sorts, but it wasn't enough. The woman who lost her child was more sympathetic, obviously, but I didn't feel a connection to her either. This is no fault of the actors, who do an admirable job of carrying the film. It's the way they're written. I don't necessarily have to be connected to the characters to enjoy a horror film, but when it's this slow and there are only two people, I needed something to grab onto that just wasn't there.

This is a beautiful-looking film with an unnerving score, and a lot of work and heart was obviously put into it. I don't want to speak too negatively because I think this will resonate with a lot of people. It just didn't with me. I might rewatch it sometime.

Movie catchup

Oh boy! A whole month's worth of movies to catch up on. Oh boy.

The Village ~ Even if you know the "twist," there's still plenty of engaging story, tension, and atmosphere here. The meaning behind the twist is a bit more deep and affecting than you might think at first, and makes you feel for the characters and their actions. An underrated Shyamalan film.

Velvet Buzzsaw ~ I kept waiting for "Day-o" to start playing and Beetlejuice to show up, but it never happened. ZERO STARS!

Nah, one star for the giant Phantasm sphere and one star for the word "ensorcelled." I wish it had been more suspense and mystery and over the top kills and less... not even melodrama? Melodrama is more interesting. Meh-odrama. Yeah. Everyone is so affected. This isn't terrible, but it is way too long for so little substance.

There are two cats, which helps a bit.

Don't Leave Home ~ This is very much The Kind of Movie I Like, and I'm not sure how else to explain it. It's quietly eerie in a beautiful setting that you can just sit with and enjoy. It's unsettling at times but not really horror, more supernatural fantasy. It doesn't have quite enough "oomph" and is a little too vague and meandering to rate higher, but I really did enjoy this and will probably watch it again. I liked the guilt and redemption theme. If you want something the opposite of loud and jump scarey to cosy up with, this'll do the job. It's a tea and blankie movie.

The Killing Ground - What a pretty place for all those terrible things to happen, goodness. So I'm pretty sure the moral of this story was, don't go camping. Killer rednecks can't get you if you stay home and watch tv.
~the more you know~

This was actually a really tense thriller/survival horror! It may not seem like super something new on the surface, but there's kind of a supernatural element at work involving a massacre that happened on the land. It's never shown or said explicitly, but this place is clearly toxic and somewhere you do not wanna go, no matter how pretty it is. This isn't my favourite subgenre and I still liked it, so if survival movies are your thing totally watch this.

The Awakening - If you love old school ghost stories, watch this. It's not gonna give you anything different, but it'll be like a new song from your favourite band.

I'm a sucker for spooky mysteries and uncanny dollhouses, so this was right up my alley. Personally I'd probably give it a 3.5 just because it's my jam, but objectively it's enjoyable without being a sock knocker. It's another ghost kid movie, but if something does set it apart it's the character of Florence, and the great performance by Rebecca Hall. This is how you do a female ghostbuster. *ducks* She's the kind of well-rounded female character you so rarely see in horror or at all really. She's smart but that's not her only character trait. She's vulnerable in such a haunting, believable way. She seems very much like a real person.

Everyone in this movie is very lonely and you just end up feeling for them. This would be a standard ghost story if not for the characters and performances. And that dollhouse scene. That really spooked me out and I LOVED it. If you're not into ghost stories, skip this, it's nothing earth-shattering. But if you're tuned into this kind of film like I am, there's plenty to sink your teeth into, or at least pass an evening pleasantly.

First Reformed - Well that was certainly a mood for 2019

The Rage: Carrie 2 - I remembered not liking this back in the day, and decided to give it another chance with fresh eyes. (And I needed something that wouldn't tax my brain after First Reformed.) I honestly don't know if this is a good film or a bad one. I just know that it once again confirmed how much I do not like this era of horror. Something about it annoys me so much I can't judge it objectively. It's like, no style or substance. No atmosphere. No soul. It leaves me feeling empty. (I feel the same way about Halloween: H20.)

And it's not scary! Not in a horror way, anyway. Rachel was sympathetic and the toxic masculinity was gross, but it felt more like a generic teen movie than anything creepy. The TK was more of an "oh, by the way." I'm not sure I can even explain the difference between this and the original Carrie, which had both style and substance for days, and was both sympathetic and creepy. It had a soul. The tie-ins to the original felt forced and unnecessary, and only served to show what a better film that was. The one exception was when Sue took Rachel to the burned out remains of the old high school. That was effective and creepy. I wish there had been more atmosphere like that.

Elements were here for a decent film. Rachel was fine as a character. She was more well-rounded than Carrie herself, at times tough and vulnerable, yet Sissy Spacek was still more compelling even with less to work with. In the end, I think what killed this is 1999 itself. The world didn't need a horror version of She's All That.

PS - the dog was cute and didn't die so yay.

Lake Mungo - What the camera doesn't focus on is often scarier than what it does. That little movement or image you catch in the corner of your eye that makes your hair stand on end. This is kind of about that, and also losing a loved one (man, the Aussies know how to make a mean horror film about grief), and complicated relationships, and possibly seeing your own death, and do ghosts exist? and yeah, this has many layers and I'm not sure I understood it all but it was fascinating and creepy.

The Shape of Water - This made me feel many things, and there are probably many things I could say about it, but for now I'm gonna say I dearly wish I lived above an old timey movie theatre and leave it at that.

(Also, I had to skip a scene as a cat lover. When Giles is asleep in the bathroom and the creature gets out of the tub, skip ahead 3 minutes. You have been warned. Fish man sex, no problem, but cat death = big fat nope.)

The Skeleton Key - Big old spooky house in the swamps! 😍 That spooky tree moss! I don't know why tree moss is spooky but it IS and I love it. This isn't amazing or anything but with that atmosphere it doesn't have to be. It's entertaining and gets the job done. I think the moral of this one was, stay in New Jersey. The entire south wants to kill you.

Abducted in Plain Sight - You think it's ramped up to about the pinnacle of batshit and then