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

*sigh*

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 doesthedogdie.com*
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, doesthedogdie.com. 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




ALIENS

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Okay blog, I know I've been neglecting you. I have some nice movie and music stuff to feed you soon. I just wanna say how much I love it that I've had this same blog since 2002, which in internet years is like an archaeological age or something. That's 17 years!! Really really hoping it's still around for 20.

That's all! Movie catchup starts tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Classic horror rewatch week part 2

The Thing ~ Me: I'm gonna watch The Thing for my rewatch week!
My seasonal depression: More snow? Really?
I think my own disorder just side-eyed me. It's fine. I'm fine. Is The Thing an allegory for seasonal depression? Maybe! That's sure how I'm taking it on what feels like day 652 of winter.

Watching this today, it's hard to believe that it once bombed. What the hell, 1982? How could a year that gave us "Eye of the Tiger," "Rosanna," and mutha friggin' "Don't Stop Believin'" get it so wrong?? This is a bleak film, and one I don't watch often for that reason. But it's also a masterpiece of effects work, pacing, tension, and simple but effective storytelling. I'm not usually into sci fi horror, so if I dig this, you know it's something special. What I am into is sweet practical effects, and this is a feast for the eyes. You also get Kurt Russell being super Kurt Russelly. He's always cool, but this might be peak cool right here. And not just because of the temperature. Dammit, I didn't mean to do that.

Everyone's seen The Thing. you don't need me to tell you to do that, but if you haven't watched it in awhile check it out. It holds up. You might wanna wait til May though, when you can go outside afterwards and smell a flower. Or you might wanna watch it now when you can extra spook yourself out. It's all good.

Frankenstein (1931) ~ Some of the most haunting imagery you'll ever see in a horror movie. The old mill, the crashing thunder, the torch mob, the flower. I don't think I'd seen this since I was a kid and not only did it hold up, it was better than I remembered. A must-see not just for horror fans, but any fan of film.

Bride of Frankenstein ~ For how disturbing these old Universal movies can be, there's something very cosy about settling in with one late at night. I love misunderstood monster stories, I can't help it. The real relationship here isn't the monster and the Bride, who is only onscreen for a few (very memorable) minutes; it's the friendship between the monster and the old blind man. I don't know if there's a scene that better speaks to the loneliness of the world. Mindless, rampaging monster may be scarier, but horribly self-aware monster is more compelling.

This movie breaks my heart every time and I love it.

Jaws ~

It's -19°F and snowmageddon here, so obviously I watched Jaws. Happy fourth of July!

I mean, this movie is pretty much perfect. Great setting, memorable characters and lines, beautiful shots, and possibly the scariest creature ever put on film. A satisfying watch any time of year. "Smile, you son of a bitch!"

Candyman ~ I need to start by saying Tony Todd's voice is the most wonderful thing in the world. I know, and the sky is blue too. I also need to say this has one of the most beautiful scores ever - not just horror, but ever - and why is that not shouted from the rooftops like, daily??

I remember seeing this in the cinema in 1992 and wondering if it was a Wes Craven film. Certain vibes and themes remind me of a really good installment of the Elm Street franchise - the disreality, the urban legend come to life, the dreamlike nature at times. But this setting is so unique and creepy on its own merits that Candyman himself almost feels like the icing on the creep cake. The Cabrini-Green project is as much the star here as Tony Todd, and that's saying a lot. I'm drawn to urban decay, so that kind of setting always pulls me in.

The husband in this movie is one of the most truly unlikeable characters ever. He's not violent or over the top abusive, he's that kind of lowkey smug cheating asshole that keeps the shit cycle turning. I love everything about this movie, even how loathsome Trevor (of course his name is Trevor) is. It gives the story added depth, and it already had quite a bit. This is probably my 3rd favourite 90s horror after Scream and Scream 2 so yeah, it's good stuff.

If I say Candyman 5 times into a mirror, will Tony Todd appear and read spooky bedtime stories to me?

The Exorcist ~ The 11th and final film of my classic horror rewatch week is... well, obviously The Exorcist. I definitely don't have anything to say about a classic from 1973 that hasn't been said already, so I'll just say this. I watched this once, as a teenager, and I've been scared to watch it again since. Well maybe not scared, but I'd think about watching it and a little something would just rise up inside me and go NOPE, you're watching Fright Night again.

All these years later, I finally did it. The Exorcist is the reason I did this rewatch week to begin with, to force myself to do it. So, was it as scary as I remembered? No. It never is. But it's still really unsettling. That staircase scene can just go RIGHT back to hell. This is a fantastic film though. I like the structure of telling Regan and her mother's story alongside Father Karras' story, and how it all culminates is amazing. I'm so glad I rewatched this.

Classic horror rewatch week, part 1

Suspiria ~ This movie offers valuable life advice, such as if you go away to school and it's lit like a haunted disco, GO HOME.

Definitely style-over-substance, but when it's this stylish can I really complain? Beautiful film with one of the most haunting and engaging scores of all time. The music and visuals more than make up for some dodgy acting, and while the story is simple, it resonates within the walls of the ballet school from hell. Lead actress Jessica Harper is very good in this, I just found some of the supporting cast overwrought. At times it lent to the demented feel of the film, as the music did, but other times it took me out a bit.

Overall I think this is a must-see for horror fans, especially if you love artsy shots, and it's very rewatchable because there's so much to see. It's a film you'll probably have more of an artistic connection to than an emotional one. I think of it as kind of a giant, scary art installation. This is a film in which blood and wine look equally like bright red paint, and it's fine.

Should I watch the remake? I've heard good things, but 2 1/2 hours is a tough sell.

The Haunting ~ This isn't a haunted house, this is the haunted house. It's so beautiful and so ugly, I adore it.

Watching this in 2019 was very different from watching it as a teen in the 90s. I never picked up on the gay subtext and how there was an unrequited love triangle going on, but now it seems so obvious and makes so much more sense! I thought most of the tension was due to the house, but there's some deep interpersonal stuff going on too. This is why rewatches are so important.

While I understood the film better this time, it didn't scare me quite as much. It's still scary, but I found the psychological tension, and just the general atmosphere of the house, to be more compelling than the scares. They're pretty mild, but can be unsettling. The ONLY way to watch this is late at night in a dark room. This is a subtle film, and a beautifully quiet one that you can just sit with.

"We who walk here, walk alone."

The Ring ~ A fantastic film in its own right, with some of modern horror's most iconic imagery, and one that helped set off the new wave of supernatural horror we're still enjoying today.

The Craft ~

This is a solid 3.25 star film for me, but an extra quarter star for the Letters to Cleo song. CLEO FOREVER 🤘

While this is one of like five 90s horror films not directed by Wes Craven I actually like, it has some issues. (The 90s is probably my favourite pop culture decade, but oh Lordy was it weak for horror, excepting Mr. Craven.) And this movie is super 90s, from the opening credits featuring somehow every post-Nirvana rock song, to the Tiny Black Backpacks, to the little girl plastic barrettes, to of course, Skeet Ulrich. Ah Skeet, God's own gift to the 90s and now the 2010s thanks to Riverdale. For the record, I had a Tiny Black Backpack and like, three sets of those barrettes in an array of colours. (I did not, sadly, have Skeet Ulrich.) This movie is basically like revisiting my old closet.

While this is super nostalgic and entertaining, it has some eyerolly moments too. I know, let's pick four beautiful actresses to play witchy outcasts just because they have DARK HAIR! OoOOo. "I want to be pretty on the outside," says Neve Campbell and I'm sorry, I know her character has burns on her back but those words are still coming out of Neve Campbell's face. The racist element was weird too, like sure racism can exist any time or place but it seemed laid on a little thick for a 1996 Los Angeles high school. At least Fairuza Balk had the crazy eyes, so that worked. She went over the top in kind of a bad Batman villain way, but it was pretty entertaining. At least until the very end, which was just bad.

But there are lots of cool scenes too, like "We are the weirdos mister," "light as a feather, stiff as a board," the moving images, creepy crawlies, bald Marcia Brady, and poor, befuddled Skeet ("I was just thinking, I don't know what I'm talking about!") Overall this is an enjoyable teen horror with some disturbing, memorable moments, and it's about as 90s as it gets.

The Omen ~ I hadn't seen this since the late 80s or early 90s. It's one of those classics you think you remember, partly because it is so iconic - Damien, 666, impaled priest, the original Devil Dog: Hound of Hell, that score! But there are always those spaces in between you forget. That's why I'm doing these rewatches. The first thing you will learn is that little girls in the 70s dressed like Little House on the Prairie invariably. What an odd cultural phenomenon that was. Anyway, the Antichrist.

While this is a very good movie, it's kept from being great by a few too many spaces in between the iconic moments. This is a long movie and it feels long. Comparing it to a similarly-themed and much longer film Rosemary's Baby, whose every 137 minutes just feels delicious, this one feels cumbersome at times. I'm not sure I needed that 47th shot of Gregory Peck looking serious. Cut maybe 10 minutes out and yeah, this is that great iconic movie you remember. As it is, it's a film every horror fan should see once, both on its own merits and for being such a landmark, but one you might not often revisit.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Movie catchup

I'm up to 44 movies watched this year, almost all of them new to me. Woo! I'm finally doing this, and it feels great. I'll be starting my "classics I haven't seen in a long time" marathon this week, and my goal is to watch at least 10 films. Since I'm watching so much, obviously my write-ups are much shorter unless I really have something to say.

I'm highlighting The Guest, a total UNDERRATED GEM ALERT!

This was BAD. ASS. A thriller with a horror aesthetic, culminating in a school Halloween maze chase. (Why the hell didn't my school have a Halloween maze? I think I've figured out what I was missing all my life.) Yeah, this is a thriller about an escaped supersoldier that's also randomly a Halloween movie and kind of a slasher?? I mean, there's a final girl and a super slashery ending. I don't know exactly what this movie was but it was unique and tense and entertaining and I loved it.

The Mist ~ Another trip to my "classics I've never seen list" and yup, this was pretty epic. This felt exactly like a Stephen King story told by the Walking Dead guy. All the tropes are here but they're good tropes, darnit, including "people being as monstrous as the monsters." That one always rings true. That ending though, why don't you just punch me in the stomach, movie. The ending made me both love it and hate it, I don't know!

HTF DID CAROL LIVE?? I swear, the end of the world will just be Carol, cockroaches, and maybe Dewey from Scream, that guy survives everything.

Diabolique ~ Watched this for the first time tonight. Life is always full of wonderful new things.

Honeymoon ~ I'm thinking she really didn't want to have kids.

Thoroughbreds ~ I kinda wanted to stab that guy's smug face as soon as I saw it, so.

I love movies like this. I don't even know what genre to call it, it's just "good." This is the kind of movie that hinges almost entirely on its performances, and they're amazing. I wouldn't normally enjoy something that's just about people using each other - too real and depressing - but this was so quirky and watchable I didn't mind. It almost felt like a dark fairy tale more than the real world. Maybe it was the giant chess set. Is that a real thing?

Lights Out ~ This was silly at times with some corny dialogue, but I liked it anyway. Mostly. Super not a fan of the ending and its implications about mental illness, so you've been warned. Most of the way through it's a creepy little story that fans of the Conjuring and Insidious films should enjoy. I watched it alone late at night in the dark, because I make good life choices.

The ending didn't break it for me, but it didn't sit well with me either. I love horror, but it has an unfortunate history of portraying mental illness, and this is a good example. Or a bad one. Not everything can be The Babadook. I like this concept though, and they got some scares out of it.

Mama ~ I'm such a sucker for "but it can't be, that hospital closed down in 1878!" movies. Feral children, creepy doll, abandoned cabin in the woods, an otherwordly mystery, the Doctor Trying to Find Out the Truth, this movie has all the things. I don't care if it's cliche, I'll watch it and enjoy it every time. The ending went to a place I didn't expect, and it was sad and beautiful and left me with a sense of "you went there. Good on you, movie."

We Are Still Here ~ Okay, I really enjoyed this movie, but - if you have to sacrifice people to a hell pit house to save your town, why not just... move to a town that doesn't have a hell pit house?? I feel like that would be easier in the long run?

Whatever, this was cool as hell so I won't complain. Awesome effects, likeable characters and good performances. This isn't like, super gory, but when it is it's pretty great. It takes place in what looks like the late 70s or early 80s, so you really get those Amityville Horror vibes. I actually liked this a little better, mainly due to the effects and the brisker pacing. (This starts a little slow, but when it goes it goes.) I'm an obvious sucker for "devil house in an isolated setting" movies, as well as throwbacks, but this is truly one of the better ones I've seen.

1408 ~ I loved this movie, but I want to see all the different endings and decide which I like best. Apparently there are like 3 or 4? I saw the one on Shudder, which I believe is the director's cut and also the most stone cold bummer one, so yay. I didn't mind the bummer ending, but after all he went through in that damn room I was really rooting for him! I had to close my eyes during the window ledge scene. The hell room stuff I was fine with, but dangling out a 14th story window? Big fat nope.

In my goal to see all, or at least most of the King adaptations, I've watched this and The Mist for the first time this week. These two movies in particular really highlight for me why King is such a master, and why his stories are so endlessly filmable. Of course there are the classics like It, Carrie, and Christine, but even his lesser-known works make for these huge, epic-feeling movies. This has beautifully weird visuals, great performances by Cusack and Jackson, and somehow in the year 2019 I am not rolling my eyes at King's alcoholic writer trope but am fully engaged. I don't know how he does it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Movie catchup

It's January 22, and I've watched 35 movies in 2019. Three are rewatches. I am killing it so far this year.

Assassination Nation ~ "Is it wrong that I'm enjoying this?"

Hacking! Secrets! Scandal! Politician shooting himself in the head over a hacked secrets scandal! Is this the best Neil Breen movie ever?? Just kidding, every Neil Breen movie is the best ever.

This was pretty good, too. The whole thing kinda felt like our last known photograph. And I swear I didn't intentionally watch three social media-centered movies this week (this, Ingrid Goes West, and Eighth Grade), but what a triple feature that would be.

Phantasm: Ravager ~ "It's complicated." Yup, that pretty much sums up the Phantasm franchise.

Okay so, this movie isn't very good. But I'm still kinda happy it exists. If you can get past the weak script and how some of it looks like a video game, it is cool to see these actors in these roles again. Especially Reggie, who is charismatic as always despite not having much to work with, and Angus Scrimm who was still awesome at about 90. He was the highlight of this movie, and how fitting that his final role was the Tall Man. He gives us a token "BOY!" Everyone is at least 50 but sure, fanservice. (Phanservice? *ducks*)

Umm I should probably talk about the actual movie... *crickets chirp* *an old newspaper flies by*... yeah, this was pretty disjointed. Some of it was at least interesting, I guess, but... was the dementia stuff real? Was the post-apocalyptic video game looking stuff real? Was the ending credits stuff real? Am I real? Was it all different dimensions? Hallucinations? Some of both? While the dreamlike feel of the older films is gone, the "I don't know what the hell is happening" feel remains. A horse is killed by a sphere at one point and I'm like OMG, this movie is gonna have a ZOMBIE HORSE! But no, it's never seen again. Rude.

Wasn't Jody evil in the last movie, for some reason? Wasn't he a sphere? Wasn't he dead? Is Reggie dead? Am I dead? Here we have Reggie still searching for Mike and Jody either in the desert, in a video game, in his own mind, or possibly all of the above, and you gotta admire the guy's determination. He seems to have forgotten Jody was both evil and dead but to be fair, Jody seems to have forgotten that too as he's quite alive and driving a Mad Max-ish gun car. Okay, phanservice, I get it. Neither Jody nor Mike One were ever great actors, but they're kinda family now, and it was cool seeing them here as we probably won't see them again. Reggie, however, is a pretty darn good character actor and I'd like to see him in more movies.

While this was more a sum of parts than a whole, and most of the parts weren't even that good, I'm choosing to see this as a tribute to Angus Scrimm. And also the Phantasm franchise itself, which was a fun ride overall.

Fyre ~ Schadenfreude: the Movie

Someone will definitely make a horror movie about this, and I will definitely watch it, so it better be good.

Emelie ~ Like if a Lifetime movie wasn't made for your grandmother and went to some weird places. The ending wasn't great but it's mostly compelling, with a subtly twisted lead performance.

Lost River ~ A bit thick on the artsiness, but I'm a sucker for urban decay and submerged dino parks, not gonna lie.

Peeping Tom ~ Could have been trimmed a bit, but a nice twisted vibe overall. This really took off when Mark started developing feelings for Helen and that became the main conflict. (Heh. "Developing.") I didn't think Mark would be sympathetic or emotionally involving at the start, but it ended up being quite sad. Well done.

This was probably a real sock knocker in 1960, and it's still effective today despite a few meandering scenes. Great performances too.

Fyre Fraud ~ It's more Schadenfreude: the Movie, this time with funny sound effects! Am I not entertained?

Do people really care what colour their credit card is? Like, I'm all about aesthetic but I don't need my credit card to match my shoes or some shit. It's all so fascinating and befuddling. Also, what is up with con men and Russian models?

I'd probably watch another one of these tbh.

Scream 2 ~ AAAAAAAH I love this movie! Damn I forgot how good this is; one of the best horror sequels. I might even like it more than the original. My 90s Skeet Ulrich crush has been replaced by my 90s Liev Schreiber crush (which has since been replaced by my 2010s Skeet Ulrich crush, thanks to Riverdale.) Gotta love the cast in these movies, it's like going through a 90s yearbook.

I think Sidney Prescott is my favourite final girl ever because she SHOOTS THE DAMN KILLER RIGHT IN THE DAMN FACE "just in case," instead of like, hitting them with a shovel and turning away all "it's over, he's dead," and NO HE'S NOT YOU IDIOT, KILL HIM SOME MORE! This is why I love Scream, even though I can't stand most 90s horror. (I like maybe, nine 90s horror films? And four of them were directed by Wes Craven.)

This thing is two hours long and it's so constantly entertaining and suspenseful it just flies by. I actually wanted more. Unfortunately, "more" means part three, which I remember not liking at all. Kinda curious to check out four though.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Favourite music of 2018

Okay, I was gonna redo my old post with all the cool new stuff I found afterwards and write about some albums, but nah. I'm just gonna put these Spotify playlists here. Everything in my original post still stands, there's just more good stuff now! The first list is all girly stuff, because that's what I've mostly been listening to. The second list is more inclusive, because dudes made good music too, and there are even a few mainstream pop songs I liked.

Favourite songs that didn't appear on my original list:

"Happy Unhappy" and "You Wouldn't Like Me" - The Beths (Quirky, jangly guitar music is still being made. We're gonna be ok.)
"Firework" - First Aid Kit
"Jeannie Becomes a Mom" - Caroline Rose
"Funeral" - Phoebe Bridgers
"Hell-On" - Neko Case

girly:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0NJW8y0kPzVp3K6W6zUlSP

everything:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/27G74gAnYbHYGNf94LF0go

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Movie catchup, part two

A couple non-horror movies this time! And more Phantasm, of course.

Ingrid Goes West

So even when I go for a change of pace, I still end up with something dark and disturbing. For some reason I thought this might be like, a lighter Romy and Michele type thing and ahahahahaha. Oh sweet, naive me of 11:30 last night.

This movie is great though. Like really, really great. And it does have some awkwardly funny moments, almost in the vein of Creep but not quite as psycho. (I know I compare everything to Creep. It's just that Creep might be the best movie ever made.) But yeah, once again we're presented with this unpredictable character, which makes for an unsettling and strangely enjoyable film. Characters like this don't follow standard movie tropes, so they're constantly fascinating to watch. I don't think I've seen Aubrey Plaza in anything before and oh my God, she was this character. Usually I get annoyed by obviously pretty people playing outcasts, but I saw no actress here, only Ingrid.

Ingrid is like meeting the darkest part of your psyche for coffee. She's obsessed with Elizabeth Olsen's Taylor, who's famous for posting photos on Instagram I guess? (I don't use Instagram, and this movie makes me proud of my choices.) Olsen's great here too. While there is social media satire, I feel it goes far deeper than that. These problems have always existed; they're called being human. Social media is just a catalyst. At least with social media there's a chance of a connection, but it's our own hubris that makes us "present" our lives as better than they are, diminishing the chance of a real connection. This film does a great job of showing that.

I liked Ingrid's character arc. Despite the awful thing that happened, she did have a breakthrough of sorts and there might be some hope for her. I thought Taylor might have some kind of arc too after Ingrid drops the truth bomb on her, but she chooses the fragile comfort of artifice. I guess that non-arc is an arc, really. It's an interesting contrast; the truly crazy vs the everyday insanity of lying to ourselves. This film really affected me and I could go on, but it's probably better just to watch it. One star for Ingrid, one star for Batman, and two stars for existential crises that might have unexpected answers. I love you all.

Eighth Grade

Oh man, even after all these... decades, 8th grade still burns.

That is definitely a compliment for this movie. This is the realest portrayal of young teens I've seen since Welcome to the Dollhouse, and this one won't make you hate people as much. So that's good. But nothing has changed except everyone has a phone now, so that's kind of sad.

I am going to watch a dumb horror movie now and turn down the realness for awhile.

Phantasm IV: Oblivion

"Some cops can be real assholes."

So I have no idea what happened, but I still kinda enjoyed it? Zombie cops! Boob spheres! Reggie throwing out one-liners like the badass hero he is! Inter-dimensional portals! Tuning forks! Hearse bombs! This movie has it all.

Except answers. I didn't expect a movie called Phantasm to be fully explained, nor would I want it to be. However, the whole focus of these movies is the Tall Man wants Mike, specifically, and they never explain why! You don't have to explain much else, but I would like to know what makes Mike so special. He doesn't have any powers (except that one time he turned into another actor), he's not especially badass or smart or mystical or anything, he's Average Dude in a Jean Jacket.

Okay, whatever. Because this is a Phantasm movie, an indeterminate amount of time seems to have passed again. Last we saw Mike he had a sphere in his head and was full of yellow goo, so I don't know what he's been up to. The Tall Man still calls him "boy." He is very much 35. Reggie's on the road, he wears lots of plaid, he rescues a woman also wearing plaid, and I get more Supernatural vibes. Cool, I'm always up for a plaid road trip. BOOB SPHERES. Okay, that character existed just for that. Worth it. Reggie travels through the Funeral Mountains on his way to Death Valley, like the world's most morbid game of Candyland. Subtle, movie. He puts on his ice cream man clothes to kick some ass. Reggie is very much awesome in this movie.

My biggest complaint is they had a cool concept of how to defeat the Tall Man that actually made sense, and then didn't use it, thus making all those scenes pointless! This didn't really have an ending either, it was a "to be continued" that never continued. Too bad, I would have loved an epic Reggie vs the Tall Man battle. Also, I did not understand Jody in this movie at all.

I know there's a part 5 that was made only a few years ago. I'm not super hopeful but I guess I'll watch it, I've come this far. I hope it's at least a decent tribute to Angus Scrimm. He was consistently awesome in these movies.

Satan's Slaves

Indonesian horror! Why not. This was a nice surprise! I'm a sucker for a well done ghost story, and this turned out to be even more. A mix of subtly menacing imagery and effective jump scares, with likeable characters and tension building throughout. This isn't a standard haunt movie; there are disturbing revelations about this family and some creeeepy undead stuff at the end that set this apart. I didn't get the very ending; apparently it was a callback to a 1981 Indonesian movie I haven't seen. Oh well. Really enjoyed this for the most part. If you liked Terrified, I'd check this out. Another cool foreign take on the Conjuring type movies.

That bell was creepy af.

Movie catchup, part one

Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead

This is a silly movie. It's not bad, but I didn't find it as creepy as the previous two. It starts out promising. Reggie shoots his mega-gun into a tree and 3 of the little hooded creeps fall out and splat on the ground like dead buzzards. It is both badass and hilarious. Because this is a Phantasm movie, there is then a weird passage of time, and then more stuff happens after that. Why did two years need to pass between the action? Despite being actual, linear sequels, time in these movies always feels disjointed.

So we're back to Mike One, which is fine I guess, though I honestly thought Mike Two was better. What Mike will we get in part 4?! Mike One is taken through a portal by the Tall Man. Big brother Jody is back, and he's a sphere now. That's right, deal with it. This movie has a friendly sphere, which is actually pretty cool and does pay off with an awesome decapitation scene. I don't get why he morphs from sphere to human and back again though. Like you're either a sphere or you're not dude, that's just SCIENCE.

Anyway, not-Dream Warriors chick is dead as shit, so we get two new characters to join Reggie on the road to nowhere. There's survivalist kid living in a big house full of creepy clown dolls, who has clearly just watched Home Alone for the 27th time. This kid is a cross between Kevin McAllister and Chuck Norris, and he's kind of awesome. They're joined by Rocky, an ex-military chick who fights with nunchucks and is definitely awesome. She's not just Hi I'll Be Your Generic Strong Female Character Who Can Fight, she's also charismatic and has a sense of humour. Unfortunately, neither of these characters return for part 4.

I'll be honest, I have no idea what's going on in these movies anymore. I still don't know why the Tall Man wants Mike so badly. Will part 4 explain that? I've never seen it, though I might as well have never seen this either for all I remembered about it. I do like how these films seem to exist in reality and unreality at the same time; they're a contained universe that feels like nothing else. I also liked how they track the Tall Man down to a town that boasts the "World's Largest Gothic Mortuary" or something. LOL. Dude has a brand. That was some kind of meta humour I dug.

All in all, this wasn't a necessary-feeling sequel, especially with how little was answered and how Home Alone Kid and Rocky were essentially just guest stars. Had its moments though. They don't really seem closer to defeating the Tall Man either. How do you even defeat someone who seems to exist in multiple dimensions? Guess we'll see how it plays out in part 4. How disappointed am I gonna be?

Digging Up the Marrow

I enjoyed the hell out of this, but it could have been even better. This is an amazing idea for a mockumentary-style found footage movie. Director Adam Green (who is exactly how I pictured him after watching Hatchet) is contacted by an eccentric older man who claims monsters are real, and he wants Green to help document them. The mix of people playing themselves and actors makes for a wonderful blur of reality and fantasy. There are fun cameos by Kane Hodder and Tom Holland. Green is amusing and not afraid to poke fun at himself, but the star here is Ray Wise. And his creatures.

The concept is pulled off well for the most part, but I wanted more! More creatures, more runtime, just more. I wanted a glimpse of Wise's son, a little more of his backstory. I wanted more with the ending; it felt too abrupt. But wanting more of a movie is a pretty small criticism, and I had so much fun with this for its short runtime. Deserved a better ending, but worth a watch.

Wildling

Like being slapped in the face with a wet symbolism noodle

Scream

The only movie that's allowed to have a cat scare <3 Lake Bodom

I really enjoyed this! This was a fun twisty ride that starts out like a basic camp slasher (which would have been fine with me), but turns out to be much more. A lot of stuff is packed into the short runtime, which results in the pacing feeling a bit off at times.

The main star here is the beautiful scenery and cinematography. This was another trip to Finland, and you better believe I'm gonna be seeking out more horror from this part of the world. There are shots in this movie that will stay with me for a long time, and it's one I'll likely revisit. I'm not gonna get into any of the story elements, just watch it. There's a good ambiguous ending that explains how ludicrous this film seemed at times - or does it??

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Top 15 Favourite Horror Movies of 2018

Now that I've completed my watchlist, here are my favourite horror and horror-ish films of 2018. My fave non-horror of the year was Black Panther.


Now it's time to focus on my belated, overdue 2018 albums post and song playlist. I really crammed everything in at the end of the year and the beginning of this year. My only new year's resolution is try to keep up with music and movies as they come out this year. I'm tired.

Random horror movie catchup

Tucker and Dale Vs Evil

"What's wrong with you kids?"

So imagine a couple perfectly nice if a bit... rustic guys decide to buy Leatherface's old place for a vacation retreat, and assume the bone furniture is some neato arts and crafts project or something. Enter the typical carload of annoying college kids off to party in the woods or whatever. At least one of them is named Chad, obviously, but I think they might all be named Chad. Even the girls. The Chadettes. In most slashers they'd be the main characters, and we'd watch them get picked off one by one and not give a crap. They see our real main characters, Tucker and Dale, drive by in a pickup and assume they're creepy hillbillies. Part of what made this movie so funny was the genuine terror these kids had of these innocent guys, probably because they've seen too many horror movies.

This takes every trope and subverts it hilariously. You see the movie from both sides and it makes total sense. The kids are terrified of the chainsaw-wielding guy in overalls, and the chainsaw-wielding guy is just confused and covered in bees. And one of the girls, we'll call her not-Kaley Cuoco, turns out to be really nice and not a Chadette after all. Chad is played by the drug dealer from Ginger Snaps, and he has not aged at all in 10 years. Weird, I didn't even realize it was him.

This was made by Eli Craig, who also made Little Evil, a film I seemed to like more than the majority of... everybody. It wasn't as funny as Tucker and Dale, but this was one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. Really bloody too. This could have been incredibly stupid, but it turned out to be one of the smartest takes on a horror subgenre I've seen.

Hatchet

This is a Friday the 13th movie in a swamp. They made a Friday the 13th movie in a swamp. What a great idea! More specifically, they made Friday the 13th: Part V in a swamp, which I'm not sure was the best choice.

So we have two college kids, Shaggy and Black Comic Relief Best Friend. Shaggy is wearing a Newbury Comics t-shirt, so I immediately knew the directer was from Massachusetts. Wicked good, go Sox, etc. Shaggy wants to go on a haunted swamp tour instead of partying at Mardi Gras, Comic Relief Best Friend is dumbfounded and I'm like, ghosts or drunk idiots, that's an easy choice. (So I'd be dead.) The rest of the tour is Mr. and Mrs. Middle America Fannypack, a couple of Girls Gone Wild and their "director," a somewhat amusing tour guide, and our obvious final girl. Crazy Ralph, I mean, "Jack Cracker," warns them not to go in the swamp, they're all doomed, etc.

There's a lot of good about this movie. It opens with two bloody kills, so you know what you're in for. I like a good gory slasher if that's not all there is to it, and that's exactly what you get here. The kills and effects are fantastic. The atmosphere of this film cannot be beat. You hear "horror movie set in a Louisiana swamp" and a certain image comes to mind that you want. They nailed it. It's a beautiful looking movie. Easily the best atmosphere I've seen in a slasher, and one of the best period. The lore of Victor Crowley, and the look of the character (played by Kane Hodder, of course) are perfect. I was drawn into his story, and it really got me involved in a movie that could have just been a mindless gorefest.

The problem I had was with the other characters. This is a comedic, self-aware film made by an obvious 80s horror fan, so the characters being stereotypes is intentional. But I kinda wish it hadn't gone that way. There were three characters I liked - final girl, Victor Crowley, and Tony Todd's awesome Reverend Zombie, who is unfortunately only on screen for a few minutes. That character absolutely landed for me. I love Tony Todd.

The tour guide gave me a few chuckles. He was a unique character ("Asian man from Detroit trying to do a N'awlins accent" is not exactly a trope), and almost weirdly likeable despite being a con man. Can't knock the hustle and all that. But most of the humour was so sophomoric it didn't land, and I wish the film had been darker to match the atmosphere and the lore. Obvious effort was put into the effects, shots, etc., and then you have STD jokes and a black guy up a tree, and it feels kind of cheapened.

Am I overthinking a movie called Hatchet? I watch a lot more "serious" horror where I'm thinking "oh, this is an allegory for that, cleverrrr," but this is an allegory for getting your face ripped off by a hatchet. It's fun for what it is. Victor Crowley is awesome. And I will probably watch the sequel because it has more Tony Todd.

Blue Sunshine

For some reason this caught my eye while browsing the "shelves" of Shudder. Must be the cool artwork. Usually "killer LSD mutants" would be a big fat nope from me, but this was surprisingly sober, straightforward, and decidedly not-weird. I mean, there are weird bald maniacs running around killing people, but the film itself is about as weird as a 70s police procedural. The forgotten remnants of the late 60s attack the unsuspecting disco 70s, and it's kinda fascinating. (This film is either very pro or very anti disco, and I can't decide which.) There's probably all kinds of subtext I'm missing here, but whatever.

I have a slight bias here, though I do think this is genuinely enjoyable. I'm obsessed with vintage signs, stores, etc., especially in the L.A. area, and the climax of this film takes place inside an L.A. mall. A discotheque in a mall, no less. Ohh yeah! (For my full ecstatic ravings on vintage mall movies, see my Phantom of the Mall review.) 1977 predates my personal nostalgia, but it registers close enough to my 80s childhood memories. Robinson's! May Co!

It occurs to me I take weird things from films. Maybe we all do. Anyway, if you've seen this around and were put off by it being a "druggie" movie, don't be. It's more like an offbeat late 70s suspense thriller. Nice looking too, it doesn't have that dark graininess of some 70s films. (It does have ugly 70s wallpaper, but that's par for the course.)

Also, the politician at the end very clearly says he's going to "make America good again" and this film just might have foretold our doom. That sent a shiver down my spine more than all the bald maniacs combined.

An American Werewolf in London

I think this is my new favourite werewolf movie. Why did I wait so long to watch this?

This is one of those 80s films. It's an intangible quality that's hard to put into words, except maybe "heart." This is how films become classics. Everything about it works effortlessly, despite the obvious amount of effort that was put in, especially the effects. Oh my Lord, the effects. I'm such a sucker for good practical effects and makeup and this has not only the best transformation scene I've seen, but another surprising effect near the end that had my skin crawling with delight. (Surprising for me anyway; I went into this knowing very little.)

I knew this would be scary, and I knew the effects were some of Rick Baker's best, but I didn't know how seamlessly the comedy and tragedy of the situation would be worked in. There's just something about 80s comedy, and this has a lot of those little deadpan moments. "A naked American man just stole my balloons." I love a ludicrous line told with a straight face. Our main character is a great example of the dual nature theme I look for in werewolf stories. You really get to know and like this character, and feel terrible when he turns into a monster. You feel his sense of being out of control like you're right there with him. He's so human.

Our love interest Nurse Alex is a lovely, understanding woman, but maybe a little too understanding? I would expect "I woke up naked at the zoo" to elicit a bit more response than a fond smile. Love, I guess? This movie is so fun. And then so sad! Some beautiful shots as well. I had a blast with this and will definitely revisit.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

2018 movie catchup: the final chapter?

I Remember You

Spooky ghost mystery in an isolated setting? Oh yeah, this is my kind of movie! I would rate it a little higher if maybe ten minutes had been cut. It's a little long and slow at times, but I didn't even mind that much. I loved the settings and atmosphere, and this is the kind of movie I can just sit with.

That's the only complaint I have, because this movie ticks all my boxes. A mystery element, spooky abandoned buildings, subtle, pervasive creeps, beautiful shots and scenery, and a tragic, vengeful spirit. It's like they read my diary!! I am seriously starting to get more into foreign language horror. This is the second Nordic film I've watched recently (Rare Exports was the other). They're very different in tone and content, but I enjoyed them both immensely. It's such a unique setting and allows for some beautiful, immersive cinematography.

But the best part is, I did NOT see the "twist" coming. Yay! I love when movies surprise me. The ending wraps up the mystery in a satisfying way, and still leaves you feeling haunted.

What Keeps You Alive

Aw man, this could have been so much better. I loved elements of this film, including one total holyshit moment, and I was so on board until one dumb decision. When I'm silently screaming "NO!" at a character over and over in my mind, I'm probably not having a good time. This is a tense, well-shot thriller that deserved a better conclusion.

Halloween 2018

And finally putting a cap on 2018, here's the big one. I admit I wasn't super hyped for this. A reboot of a sequel? If that isn't peak 2018, I don't know what is. Or as I'll forever call it, Halloween II: The Curse of the Ugly Christmas Sweater.

I'm a big fan of the original Halloween II, so this really had to thrill me to justify its existence. Is that a Night of the Creeps reference? You bet it is. So first things first, maybe don't transfer deranged serial killers from one location to another anymore? That doesn't seem to work out too well. Maybe just keep 'em planted like homicidal hydrangeas. But, because movie, old Michael's on the road again with predictable results. For some reason they kept his mask lying around instead of burning it in the hottest flames of Hell, so sure, he's got that back. Just like old times!

On the positive side, this did have the feel of a Halloween film, something I never really got from H2O. I found this quite a bit better than that, so in that sense I'm glad it was made. This did feel like Laurie's last, deserved hurrah. I liked the homages like the babysitter scene, that felt so 80s slasher and it was fun. Jamie Lee is wonderful in this, going from understated to off the rails on a dime. Laurie is so tightly wound, and you feel it every second she's on screen. Great work. I also thought Andi Matichak, as Laurie's granddaughter, had a natural, down to earth likability that recalled Laurie in the original film. Michael is a scary, hulking shape; a void of humanity. Good. The score was on-point. So were the opening credits. Is it weird that seeing a damn font made me emotional? Whatever.

Unfortunately, there's a DUMB "twist" about 2/3 of the way in that isn't even really a twist, just a plot contrivance involving a new character we didn't know well enough to make it resonate. It did not feel like a natural story progression, more like "welp, gotta set up the third act somehow." Then the third act itself, with three generations of women kicking Michael's ass, made the movie worth watching. I really dug it, even the distracting Christmas sweater. (I'm sure she hated Halloween cause it ruined her childhood, and protested by wearing a festive sweater. I'm cool with that.) I just really wish they hadn't insulted my intelligence with that preceding scene, or it would have had even more weight.

With a remake or reboot, I always ask not only is it good, but did it feel necessary? This felt unnecessary to me most of the way through, despite being perfectly fine and well-made, then made me rethink that at the end. I think this is worth watching if you're a Halloween fan or slasher fan in general. Just don't expect it will blow you away, except maybe the ending.

More 2018 movie catchup

You Might Be the Killer

I guess browsing on Shudder is the new browsing the horror aisle at the video store. This is definitely a tape I would have rented. I love Alyson Hannigan, and holy crap, is this the first 2018 slasher I've watched? Did they make any others besides Halloween? More slashers in 2019, please.

This was a surprisingly good and bloody watch. I wasn't sure if it would be more comedy or what, but it's a solid slasher with good kills, interspersed with cute meta humour. Pretty much a perfect late night popcorn flick. Sam and Chuck are likeable and have great rapport despite not appearing on screen together. Some (?) of the characters have recognizable horror-reference names, like Freddy, Nancy, and Jamie (our final girl). I'm guessing Chuck is Chucky and Sam is Samhain maybe, but who the heck is Steve? Also I've never seen Maniac Cop so this movie shamed me. I'm sorry, movie.

That could be cheesy in a 2018 film - I mean, Night of the Creeps did that back in '86 - but it's not played with too broad of a wink. It's just fun, and definitely a recommendation for slasher fans. A guy gets his head split in half, what more do you want from your entertainment? There's one scene where I'm like okay, I know what a final girl is, you don't have to explain it, but it ends up having a great payoff. And yeah, I'm totally down for that alluded-to sequel.

Terrified

This was awesome! I loooove these kind of movies. I think fans of The Conjuring and Insidious will really dig this. It's that kind of story but with its own style. That dead kid, holy shit. That image won't be leaving me any time soon. I loved the little unique touches, like the "issue" not being focused on just one house, and the bloodthirsty kitchen cabinets.

This also has one of the most effective jump scares I've ever seen. A really good, earned one, not a cat jumping out going RAWR at you like no cat actually does. This is a seriously unnerving film that doesn't fuck around. And remember: naked horrors from the otherworld are always scariest horrors from the otherworld. I don't know why, that's just how it works.

Bird Box

Near the beginning this movie informs us "The President has declared a state of emergency and closed all borders," and I'm like, doesn't he do that every day?

Aaanyway, I did enjoy this, mostly for Sandra Bullock's performance. The issue I had was with the sequencing. When you already know which characters make it to a certain point, the buildup seems overlong and even kind of pointless in a 2 hour movie. I wasn't that interested in spending time with characters whose fates had already been sealed. Kinda like why I stopped watching Walking Dead. The parts with Sandra and the kids are suspenseful because you don't know what's going to happen. This is a good story with good performances, but I feel like it could have been told better.

NOTE - This was the third movie of an all-day binge, and I think I owe it a rewatch.

Unsane

I wouldn't consider this horror, but it is a good, tense thriller that never lost my attention. It has a very horrific concept - any sane person would likely act like a crazy person if they were wrongly committed. I mean, the only sane reaction is to protest, to fight to get out, no one's gonna be like "okay, I guess I live here now."

But is she sane?

There's one major element here I don't understand, so I'm getting into spoilers. I don't know if this is a plot hole or I just missed or misunderstood something. So Sawyer's stalker is working at the hospital. I thought for a while he must be her delusion (especially considering what happens near the beginning), because how would he have gotten a job there so fast? Like, right after she was committed? Then it turns out the man whose identity he assumed was murdered, but that just raises more questions. If the other man already worked at the hospital, the staff would know stalker David wasn't him. And if he just assumed his identity to get the job, again, how was he already starting work the next day? Wouldn't there be like, a wait for background checks and stuff?

David's plan required time to set in motion, and he had no way of knowing Sawyer would go to that hospital, or that she would be immediately committed. He had no time. So I don't know, is it a plot hole? Did I miss something? Am I a plot hole??

Getting past that, here's the good stuff. This film is most famously known for being shot on an iPhone, and the gimmick works. It gives an intimate and realistic look that perfectly suits the subject matter, and can even be quite pretty. This is an artistic achievement, and I wish a couple plot elements hadn't lost me because I'd like to rate it higher. Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, and Jay Pharoah give great performances. Soderbergh's direction is taut and purposeful, and the film is a wonderfully non-bloated 97 minutes.

All the stuff in the hospital works well, not counting what I mentioned before. This woman is stuck in two nightmares at once - she's been wrongly committed, and she's trapped with her stalker and no one believes her - and you feel her sense of desperation. Her confrontation with David is amazing. Once she escapes the hospital, the film unfortunately descends into silly 90s thriller territory, or even silly slasher territory. That kinda took me out of it. Then the last scene, six months later, does work, and gives the movie a final gut-punch. She's out, but she'll never be free of her stalker in her own mind. She isn't fully sane, and it's heartbreaking. While it goes into some silly and unbelievable territory, in the end this makes an effective statement on Believing Women, which I believe was its purpose.