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  Brainy Humans ________ 05:49 PM -- Fri October 21, 2011  

Could it be another webgame tournament?! It sure could! Come by every day and drop in a word, it's the fastest game on earth, and you will win 50 Yerfbucks if you have the highest score on October 28th. 25 Yerfbucks for second place, 10 Yerfbucks for 3rd.

Don't forget to keep working on your scores in all the other tournaments, even though they're over...
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Last Exorcism 04:32 AM -- Fri October 21, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: A priest doesn't really believe in exorcism, but he's been doing them anyway, with the thinking that he's giving people peace of mind and it's worthwhile. Since reading an article about a kid getting killed during an exorcism, he's changed his mind and decided not to do them anymore. To make that extra positive, he's taking a documentary crew to one final exorcism, so they can see how it's all fake. Contortionism ensues.

Scariness Type: There are jump scares and gore, but the main thing that really had me creeped out was just the fear of what might happen next. I kept half-averting my eyes just in case something horrible was going to happen. I don't know if this was scarier than the other movies or it's just that I watched it alone at night... I tend not to, just because I don't want to have to write these reviews late, but it really seems to be effective. I probably should be doing that.

Rating: 4/5 Nice Boots.

Good Stuff: This is our second mockumentary (not sure that term applies to non-comedy, but it is indeed a mock documentary...), and that has a certain appeal. The plot really works here, where it has a bunch of layers, and you're constantly guessing whether it will turn out all real or fake (not real real, but real in the context of the movie, if you follow me). There's a certain point by which you're convinced it must be real, then a later point where that's turned back around. Then it twists around more! That certainly kept me interested. And the events of about the middle third of the movie had me trying not to watch, because it was some scary stuff.

There are basically three endings to this movie. The first one I was like "ooh, that's a really cool ending!". I liked how it worked and what it relied upon (the vaguest sentence ever written, but spoiler-free!). The second one twists that around and I was like "OH SNAP", and I really wish it had ended not there exactly, but that it had continued with that revelation and concluded accordingly (I can think of a couple fun final scenes for that). I was all amped up for that. But then there's the final ending, and I'm not gonna complain, it was exciting and enjoyable, but it certainly throws away any ambiguity we had previously, and takes the whole story in a pretty wild direction. I don't know, it was definitely interesting, and a truly good ending, but it took away the ending I was so excited about, so I begrudge it.

Bad Stuff: Unlike Lake Mungo, there was never any feeling that this could be a real documentary. It's too slick, the camera is too convenient, and the characters are too 'charactery'. No awkward slips of the tongue, just good clean acting. That's all okay, because if they hadn't done the documentary format, that would've been perfectly fine, so you can just let it go, but I give Lake Mungo credit for pulling it off a lot more realistically. However, back to Good Stuff, there's one scene that really takes advantage of the documentary format in a clever and disturbing way.

Speaking of unrealistic, the part where the priest is doing his exorcism, intercut with showing off the tricks to the camera crew, I don't buy that for a second. No exorcist in real life, no matter how big a charlatan, uses portable speakers and other big tricks like that in the room. First of all, you'd have to get them in and out undetected (it's never explained how he removes them). Secondly, hearing actual demon voices (out of tinny computer speakers!) would immediately convince anybody in this modern age that it was all fake. And it's so incredibly risky anyway. Somebody will spot your wires and tools one time, and then the jig is up. It's about subtlety, people. That's how I do my exorcisms, anyway.

Classic Rules of Film: I've got a good one here, the classic "show a gun, then it goes off later", but it's not any sort of weapon, and I can't tell you what it is, because it'd be a big spoiler.

My Take: I can't shake the feeling that I've actually seen this movie, or rather the second half of this movie, before. Only my memories are so vague that I wonder if it was just deja vu, or possibly some kind of behind the scenes special I caught in a hotel somewhere. I don't know. I must have! This is eating at my soul like a demon. Oh well. I enjoyed it, if being creeped out and disturbed is enjoyment. The plot was a lot of fun for me, I'm a big plot guy. Give me twists and mysteries and things that connect together later and I am just a happy camper. And you know, as an added bonus, the scary stuff in this movie basically ended about fifteen minutes before the movie did, and the rest was more interesting than scary, so it let me relax on my way out of the movie. Without feeling let down either. Well played, Last Exorcism, well played.

Artistic Nonsense: Ah, the skeptic vs. the supernatural. In fiction, it can only end one way. In reality, it can only end the other. Kind of silly really. There were points in this movie where I was almost cheering because it seemed like they were going to actually go out on the realistic path, without making it just a fizzle-out. On the contrary, the ending I wanted most would have been a huge earth-shattering conclusion, and I think all the stronger for not having to resort to magic.

Our next movie is going to be Birdemic: Shock and Terror. From what I've read, it appears to be just about the worst movie ever made, so I'm pretty excited. Also apprehensive, because that can often lead to extreme tedium, but I'm just rooting for awful effects, fast pace, and nonsensical acting.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Nine Dead 02:52 AM -- Thu October 20, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: Somebody runs around town tasering and kidnapping people at random. Or is it random? The nine kidnappees wake up locked in a room together and are told that one will be killed every ten minutes until they can figure out why they are all there. Deaths ensue, at ten-minute intervals.

Scariness Type: There's gore, of course, due to all the shooting, but this really isn't a horror movie. It's a psychological thriller.

Rating: 4/5 Blue Masks.

Awarded: The Miss Manners Medal for jamming more racial slurs into one minute than a KKK rally. That's just one specific minute, most of the movie is not like that.

Good Stuff: A couple days ago, we got Topanga, and now it's Sabrina the Teenage Witch! Well, I don't know if that's really a good thing, but it happened (she didn't do badly at all, so good on her). There's also a Lesser Baldwin in a very tiny cameo. The good here is the movie. It was totally engaging. I even forgot I was going to get up and make dinner halfway through. The movie consists almost entirely of people in a blank room talking to each other, not even able to directly interact because they're handcuffed apart from each other, but that's all you need if you've got a fun script of things for them to say. I was kept guessing and thinking and evolving my opinions of the characters, and that's all good.

Bad Stuff: This may be a little controversial... You see, American movie casts are almost exclusively white, almost always with one or two token black people. The race of the black people usually comes into play in the movie in some small way, as it does with the token black guy in this movie. That's not usually too extreme, but it does kind of bother me how it always has to be an issue instead of just treating everyone the same. What gets me though, and is almost a constant in movies, is what happens if there is an Asian in the cast! Somehow, none of the other people can control themselves from spewing an endless stream of racist epithets. Well, there's always one who doesn't - The Virtuous Hero. These movies make it seem like keeping yourself from mocking Asians is an absolutely angelic trait, and hey, if you drop a few insults, well, we can't all be perfect! It's really honestly disgusting, and this movie lets it rip. It's to the extreme (in many movies, including this one) that it doesn't feel realistic at all. I don't know what your life is like, but the last time I heard someone publicly use an anti-Asian slur is absolutely memorable for me. It was a drunken rant by a frat boy in my freshman year of college. It was shocking enough that I remember it clearly thirteen years later. People just don't do that. Of course, I've never been handcuffed and threatened with death, maybe you get rude. Very specifically rude.

In other bad news, the ending of the movie was kind of a letdown. Not a big one, it had its twists and turns and excitement, but it felt like it should have been bigger. And most of all, the very last instant of the movie, as the credits roll, that part I don't understand at all... were they trying to set up a sequel? It didn't seem like it, it just seemed like they lost the footage of the scene that should've followed and just shrugged and shipped it out anyway. It's not even that what happens is wrong or too open-ended, just how they showed it, like they're fading out in the middle of a scene.

Classic Rules Of Film: If you are an evil person and you put a mask on, it will magically lower your voice three octaves and make you sound the same as every other serial killer. I even remember an episode of Bones where the killer in question was a woman and this worked. I think she used actual technology to do it rather than a rubber mask, though.

My Take: There are really two kinds of mystery stories. In one, the clues are there, and you can piece it together - they're usually far too obscure for you to do that until moments before the detective announces whodunnit, but it's theoretically possible. The other kind simply doesn't give you all the facts. You just hang around until the detective solves it and then say "ah, that was interesting!" I think the best mysteries in film are ones you can solve yourself. Both because you can feel smart if you do, and because even if you don't, you can still look back at the movie and say "oh right, I should've caught that!" That's a ton of fun, almost making a movie into a game.

Well, this movie is the latter kind. The information to solve the mystery is contained entirely in the characters' heads, and you aren't going to get it until they say it. But I won't complain too much, I had a blast watching the pieces gradually fall into place and being tantalized at ten-minute intervals with the thought that the solution was right around the corner. There's plenty of moments where you can still feel smart and figure things out, like noticing when somebody is holding back a key piece of information. It's fun, just good old-fashioned fun.

Artistic Nonsense: Fun is art! This is not high art of any sort, but it's fun.

Our next movie is The Last Exorcism, which has an intriguing premise. A priest is letting his last exorcism be filmed, where he plans to unveil how he's been faking them all along. Of course, you know what happens next.
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  B.H.E. W.I.N.N.E.R.S.! 03:15 PM -- Wed October 19, 2011  

The B.H.E. Tournament is now over, and we can crown some winners! Of course, the most winnerer person was none other than ME! You like my acronyms, you really like my acronyms! Well, that was kind of a tortured reference... anyway, I am stepping aside despite enjoying the positive response to my acronyms (and being super surprised!).

That makes the winner Flutechick with 50 Yerfbucks! The second place was a tie between Lennyjaxn and Hammered. And while I should end it there with two second places, why not keep it rolling and say that third place was a tie between Cheeselord and BryanSNK. Enjoy your yerfbucks.

And to them and everybody else, you probably guessed this, but the B.H.E. tournament scores will keep accumulating all month, so it might behoove you to keep earning points.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: R-Point 06:05 AM -- Wed October 19, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: During the Vietnam war, a platoon of soldiers vanished in the jungle. Six months later, another group is sent out to find out what happened to them. Turns out it was something bad. Bad things re-ensue.

Scariness Type: Just a lot of ghosts and a middling amount of gore. Not really anything to make you jump, just spooky jungle.

Rating: 3/5 Helmets.

Awarded: United Nations Language Award. First the Vietnamese girls are speaking English to the Korean soldiers, who reply in Vietnamese, then the Korean Daniel Jackson is translating a Chinese gravestone into Korean shortly before his buddy receives a radio call in French.

Good Stuff: It's a high-budget fancy war movie, really looking realistic. The spooky stuff also looks really good, like the sets and such. The whole thing just feels like it's going to be great. And if my interpretation of what happened is right, what happens is pretty interesting.

Bad Stuff: That's just my interpretation because I don't know what happened. I'm sure language and culture are part of this, but I had a very hard time understanding what was going on. There's an entire subplot revolving around the leaders knowing more than they are telling the subordinates, but I never understood what they knew (if it was "evil ghosts are killing people", I don't think they would've volunteered for the mission). Another issue is that the soldiers are wacky and bumbling. There were several cases of somebody just not paying attention while the entire squad moved on, and then they were left behind trying to find where they had went. That seems pretty unlikely.

And lastly, one scene in particular stands out as a "whaa....?" It's the classic "somebody is sitting there and gets dripped on. Surprise surprise, it's blood. Let's sloooowly look up and see..." which is fine, except in this case, when the guy looks up, ten gallons of blood are dumped right on his face like it's You Can't Do That On Television. It doesn't make any sense at all (there's just a dead body up there, like there is in every movie that does this), and it's a total slapstick moment as he kind of sits there with a dumb look on his face.

Classic Rules Of Film: If you show a few dozen guns in Act 1, they better all go off in Acts 1-3.

My Take: I went in feeling good about this, then the mysteries started to pile on top of each other and I thought "Cool, I like when I don't just know everything", then they started piling on higher and I began to realize that not all of the mysteries were intentional, or going to be resolved. The entire climax of the movie is kind of inexplicable to me (well, feel free to explicate, if you know!), because it revolves around a character suddenly acting like he's got things all figured out, and I can't understand what it is he knows, or how he comes up with the strategy he does. I do feel like I missed something major, and it could be as simple as the Korean equivalent of "if you see a vampire, you know you need crosses and stakes" - maybe if I had the right cultural background, I too would've seen this particular brand of ghost and thought I knew what to do. Nonetheless, coming from my perspective, it just didn't work at all, resulting in a big letdown.

Obviously I can't divulge my interpretation of what it all meant without spoiling it all, but I can tell you that my ears really perked up when they radioed in and started discussing Private Chang. That is the key to my whole idea, as is the Keyser Soze-esque beginning of the movie. If what I think happened happened, then yay, very cool movie. Too bad it's not clear enough that I can tell, so boo. Makes me want an American remake, actually.

Artistic Nonsense: All the languages in this film actually did get me thinking about how soldiers always pick up significant chunks of the language of the area they're in, how war kind of builds its own odd version of community in that way. When a base is built, suddenly all these foreigners are working in close contact with the locals and they both pick things up from the other, in terms of language and culture. Then they all get blown up! It's the circle of life.

The next movie is Nine Dead, which I saw a recommendation for about a year ago when I was seeking out a specific type of movie: movies about people being trapped by unknown forces in an artificial situation and having to work out an escape or solve a puzzle. I like those kind of movies. Examples include Cube, Exam and House Of Nine. Apparently nine is the right number for such a scenario. The Saw movies are obviously like this, but they kind of take it a different way, a bit less appealing and a lot more severed limbs (I liked the first one quite a bit though!). So yeah, it's one of those. Maybe.
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  Boys Have Entertainment! 11:34 PM -- Tue October 18, 2011  

Our latest Boys' Life game is out just in time for the Best Holiday Ever! It's a... let's see... high-speed survival platformer? It's fun, it's fast, it's brutal (touch anything bad and DIE), yet very forgiving (super short levels and instant respawn). Plus it has ghosts that show you how you failed! And sheep.
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  Bring Healthy Eyes! Winners! 05:30 PM -- Tue October 18, 2011  

The Bring Healthy Eyes contest has concluded! And the winners are... Cheeselord in 1st place, Sonicchaos1993 in 2nd place, and... what's this? ME! in 3rd place! I suppose I could bow out though... making Sol Hunt third place!

As always, I point out that you should be still working to max out your score in Bring Healthy Eyes. The scoreboard will remain up all month and it might serve a purpose.

B.H.E, the TAG contest, will be ending tomorrow. After that, our next deadline is for both the Costume Contest and Bark, Howl, Etc., on the 23rd. We've got no costumes yet, so if you enter, you win! If you send anything for any of the BHE contests, I will reply immediately, so if you haven't heard from me, I haven't gotten your email.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Gamebox 1.0 11:34 PM -- Mon October 17, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: You know what, I'm just gonna leave the trailer here for you. Enjoy!

Scariness Type: The horrific realization that the human race is utterly doomed if nobody in the entire process of this project ever said "Okay, let's just stop now and go do something else." Terrifying.

Rating: 2/5 Health Icons. This is a tricky review to write. As an actual film, this is 0/5. I'm giving a 2/5 for the ironic enjoyment it can provide. It's worth watching for the unintended humor value, if you have a very high tolerance for horribleness (or a PhD in Horribleness).


Good Stuff: Probably the most realistic portrayal of video game testing ever. You see Charlie, the main character, just sitting there holding left on a controller and watching his character spin in the game, bored out of his mind. Also, there are a couple self-referential bits that try to elevate the work, like when Charlie's friend invites him to a double feature of Videodrome and Existenz, two infinitely superior versions of the concept of this movie. When you see a moment like that, you think that there was one intelligent person forced into working on this because of gambling debts, and he slipped that in to make fun of the rest of the crew. It was probably the gaffer. It's always the gaffer.

Bad Stuff: This movie came out in 2004. My suspicion is that it was actually filmed in 1982, but held back until 2004 because good taste prevailed for a while. This would require a time machine because Danielle Fishell (of Boy Meets World! Again it comes up!) is an adult in this movie, and they are testing XBox games. Still, that's more plausible than people in 2004 saying "Yeah, that looks good enough!" when making the effects in this movie. It really is beyond description. I'm sure if this was ever released anywhere but Netflix, it was on some cable channel in the middle of the night. Or perhaps the afternoon, because it looks exactly like an after-school special, except instead of trying to teach you a lesson, it tries to destroy your soul.

Oh right, I was supposed to list the bad stuff. Well, there's the acting, the directing, the effects (#1 on the badness list right there! See trailer above!), the camerawork, the lighting, the editing, the writing, the stunts, and uh... what other parts do movies have? Oh, the gaffing was really good though, so again I think the gaffer was probably a smart guy. He sure knows how to gaff.

Classic Rules Of Film: The poor guy who played the badguy in this is never ever going to get to play a goodguy. Poor guy. Also sad for him that he was in this.

My Take: My jaw was just dropped for the entire movie. Starting right when it opened with green "cyber-font" writing typing onto the screen with a clicking sound, all the way up to the brilliantly written and perfectly logical concluding shot.

Artistic Nonsense: This is how I think this movie came about... I think it was made for a "family" TV channel, as a clever moral lesson about the evils of videogames. After all, the entire concept revolves around what is effectively videogame addiction (the main character is stuck in a game and can't get out). The moral's slightly undermined by the fact that (spoiler alert!) if you just are good enough at videogames, you can win and escape! So practice practice practice!

Tomorrow's movie will be far better. It doesn't matter which movie it is, it will be. It's R-Point, a Korean movie about bad things happening to a team of soldiers in the jungle.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Baby's Room 03:08 AM -- Mon October 17, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: A husband and wife move into an old house with their infant boy. Is it ever a good idea to move into an old house? They hear scary stuff through the baby monitor, then figure they ought to try a video monitor instead. Bigger problems ensue. In Spanish.

Scariness Type: Some jump scares, general creepiness, and not much violence, but one specific scene that is just cringeworthily brutal.

Rating: 4/5 Baby Monitors.

Awarded: The More Brutal Than Jason Award. That's more a fault of how incredibly weak and lame Jason X was, though. There really is just one thirty-second scene that this award is being given for.

Good Stuff: It's an interesting and unique premise, nothing as simple as a ghost in the room. On top of that, I've seen similar ideas before (I guess I can't say what that idea is...), but this is the first time I've seen them play out in quite this way. There's certain expectations you have in this kind of story, and those were not met, in a good way. Surprises are always better than cliché.

Bad Stuff: For about the first two thirds of the movie, things were kind of slapsticky rather than serious and gloomy. But once you get into the last third, it really kicks into gear! There's also a non-sub-plot where the husband hits on a girl at a shop (or doesn't really hit on her, but tries to act cool anyway and then later very specifically doesn't tell his wife about her). There's nothing wrong with that, it just felt kind of odd that that was happening and yet never figured into the plot in any way. Just a little romantic comedy aside.

Classic Rules Of Film: If you say you think your life might be too perfect in Act 1... well, yeah, we all know how that's gonna go.

My Take: Right about the two-thirds mark, this movie really takes off and gets very suspenseful and exciting. It's almost like that's the actual movie, and they padded out the script with the lead-up stuff just to make it feature-length. In terms of the plot, and some of the sets and costumes plus the fact that you see those sets and costumes through a black and white video monitor, it's actually pretty reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode.

Artistic Nonsense: I don't know if there's anything of artistic merit to say here, it's just a pretty solid scary movie. I guess there's a lesson about always checking with the local hobo ladies before moving into a creepy old house, but you can learn that lesson from every haunted house movie ever made. Except one... I forget which. I think Poltergeist maybe. That one had a nice new house instead.

Our next film will be Gamebox 1.0, which is in the time-honored genre of "people getting sucked into video games". Those movies are always stupid, and I expect no different this time! So excited!
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  Bark, Howl, Etc.! 02:53 PM -- Sun October 16, 2011  

Another contest has arrived!

We're covering all the bases this year, so if you're an audio expert, now you have a chance to win with your skills! Check it out.

In upcoming deadline news, there are 2 days until Bring Healthy Eyes wraps up, so get to the top! There are 3 days until the end of B.H.E. (the awkwardly named contest, not the entire event) so make sure you keep playing that every day. And you better be working on your costume! There's one week left for Behold Hamumians Enrobed, and no entries yet!

If you want to keep track of all the deadlines, visit the BHE page for a handy chart. It's always updated when new events begin.
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