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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Resolution 05:33 PM -- Sat October 12, 2013  

This review contains NO spoilers. Nobody should be spoiled for Resolution. Just watch it.

Resolution earns a full 5/5 Meth Pipes, and the coveted Different Review Format Than Normal. You should absolutely see it. Be warned however that, while it doesn't have much violence or anything sexual or even anything particularly scary other than ideas, it has enough F-Bombs that if you bleeped them, you would be communicating in morse code. So be aware of that if you have concerns about language. This movie has more language than the Tower of Babel.

The plot of the movie, at least initially, is very simple: There's a guy who does nothing but smoke meth all day and think that a dog is helping him write a book about squirrels. Another guy who was his friend before he spiralled into drugs sets out to his remote cabin and chains him to the wall to force him to dry out for a week and see if he can convince him to go into rehab. Endless interruptions by incredibly weird people ensue.

It's entirely possible that this movie just caught me at the right moment or just happens to work for me personally, but I thought it was amazing. I was trapped at my wife's office for several hours (on the rare occasions that I leave my house, I usually ride into town with her, which means I'm stuck there as long as she is), so unlike at home where I seek constant distraction, I was glued to this screen with headphones in and nothing else to do for the entire movie, so I paid close attention the whole time. And I was rewarded for my effort with a truly unique experience.

This is one of those really strange meta-movies that's talking about more than what you see onscreen. Everything is operating on at least 2 levels. But if you put that part aside for a moment and just focus on what you're actually seeing, it's still great. The characters are all extremely quirky and interesting, and I hadn't really thought about that until this movie, but most movies have totally generic characters. This is the tough guy, this is the girl who lost her parents. In this movie, every character is totally off-the-wall, nothing you would ever expect, and it feels like there's a huge backstory behind each of them. There most likely isn't, but that's okay, their dialogue makes the movie entertaining, and that's before you even get to the plot. There are parts where I laughed out loud, even though kids were being tutored in the other room.

The plot, I won't spoil. But it's some weird paranormal stuff going on here, and it builds up until ... well, an ending I really enjoyed, and had some difficulty comprehending. I confess that afterwards I read some IMDB discussions and went "OH SNAP" to ones that helped me expand on what I was thinking, and that made me enjoy it even more. So this is definitely a thinker of a movie, and it's got things to say (I won't tell you about what, because you should be as unspoiled as possible), and at the same time it's fun to watch on a pure entertainment level. I actually liked the resolution of Resolution, not just the weird stuff but actually how the human story was resolved. Which in itself sort of breaks the rules of the movie, but I won't get into that. Just watch it.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: 6 Souls 03:18 PM -- Fri October 11, 2013  

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A psychologist is introduced to a patient with multiple personalities by her father who is also a psychologist. Even though it's her dad's job to fix the guy, she gets all up in that and tries to figure the guy out. Unfortunately, she discovers that his various personalities are those of murder victims. And people around her start dying too. Soul-sucking ensues.

Scariness Type: This movie doesn't try too hard to scare you. It's more that it's about scary and weird things that would be quite awful if they happened to you. It was listed as a "crime thriller" on Netflix, though I would call it a horror movie. A few too many ghostly murders for your standard crime genre.

Rating: 3.5/5 Inkblots.

Body Count: 12

Fun Fact: People hang assorted objects all over the place with string and wire. It's a standard decorating strategy, used by many different people. At least in this movie.

Best Moment: The crazy guy did a good job of being a different person in each of his personalities. The final personality in the climax was an especially difficult and potentially hilarious scene, and he did a good job of not making it seem ridiculous.

Worst Moment: See below. Really, I can't pull anything else out when that moment is blinding me with lack-of-science.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There's a security video which contains footage of a ghostly shadow hanging over somebody. When a guy who does audio engineering is examining the footage, he suddenly has an epiphany - "why, this looks like an audio waveform!" (the shadow itself). So he uses that very common piece of software we all have (I'm sure it comes with Windows, alongside Minesweeper), which extrapolates a 3D image of a waveform from video footage, rotates it and converts it into a normal audio waveform (while simultaneously completely changing it, I have no idea why), which he then plays, to discover it is the sound of somebody's voice. So... this visual phenomena was a 3D model of a sound in real space. In the right format. This is no suspension bridge, it's a suspension airship, and it's on fire. Oh the humanity.

Horror Tropes: Like all horror movies, this one wraps up at the end, but then has a sequel set-up moment where the danger isn't really gone. We always see that, but it really bugged me here, because in many movies, you get something like they bury the killer, walk away, and then a hand pops out of the grave. That's fine, gives us a little time before the next movie. In this movie, it was so immediate a threat (the evil ghost had jumped into the body of her daughter, who she was holding at the time) that the story really isn't done. It's not an ending at all, it's more like the midpoint of the final confrontation. And by the way, that is such a dumb trope. The story's done, you resolved it. Let it be done. If you want the killer to come back, then have his hand pop up at the beginning of the next movie!

My Take: Well, first of all, these are the most unethical psychologists I've ever seen. I'm not like an expert on the rules, but they were definitely not following any of them. But anyway, this was pretty enjoyable, and I liked where it was going, all up until the end. The way it wrapped up, and what all the rules of the magical stuff involved were, just didn't work. First of all, I don't think there were any logical rules - maybe I just wasn't quite following it, but it was kind of like "this guy had had his mouth stuffed with dirt, so uh... I guess he can touch other people and make them die from dirt coming out of their mouths!" It doesn't fit the lore that you actually learn during the movie, it's just kind of something related to it. So this is one of those movies where it seems like it's leading somewhere good, but it just sort of peters out and crumbles apart when exposed to the light of logic.

The Lesson: Don't eat dirt - you already know it tastes bad, but it can also keep your soul from getting back into your body! I mean, assuming it's not currently in your body. Your soul, that is. Dirt should not be in your body - see the beginning of this paragraph for details.

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  Belittling Horror Excessively: ABCs of Death 10:37 PM -- Thu October 10, 2013  

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: The producers of this movie chose 26 directors from all around the world (many different languages in here!), gave each of them a letter of the alphabet, and told them to come up with a word that starts with that letter and make a very very short horror movie based on the word, with no constraints. A complete lack of constraints ensues.

Scariness Type: You have 26 different stories here, but I think I can safely say there's a whole lot of gore, and I guess the other main thing is just trying to be as weird and shocking and taboo as possible. Not really jump scares or anything.

Rating: 1/5 Ducks.

Body Count: 48 people, 1 spider, and 1 completely unacceptable kitten.

Fun Fact: Zetsumetsu is extinction in Japanese! It's also utter insanity.

Best Moment: As much as I enjoyed "F is for Fart", I think the story for the letter V was the best. Because it was one of maybe two shorts in the movie that actually had a story. It was a sci-fi tale that in the course of its 5 minutes-or-so was able to build up a world with forced sterilization, and mutant psychic powers, and an underground movement, and a secret goverment program to eradicate the mutants. And tell a story in that world. Of course, the story didn't really have much of an ending, but I was still impressed.

Worst Moment: Several of the shorts made absolutely no sense at all. Some because they were being artsy, and others because they were trying to be as absurd as possible. So what is the worst moment? So hard to choose. The one I keep remembering is G is for Gravity. It was all first-person video, and here's the entire story: a guy pulls up to the beach, gets out his surfboard, loads up a bunch of bricks into a bag, and then he paddles out into the ocean and drops in and I guess dies because that's the end. Suicide, I guess. Just nothing to it at all, total waste of time.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Most of what this movie contained was absolutely nuts. It's not something you really suspend your disbelief for in the first place, it's more like the Spike & Mike animation festival (it even included a couple animated sequences!).

Horror Tropes: I don't know, but they probably used most of them in there somewhere.

My Take: I can't turn down a chance to watch an anthology horror movie! But you know what they should've done? Made this a TV series, give their 26 directors each half an hour (or do 2 per show, and give them 15 minutes). The 4-6 minutes each of these stories lasted really meant they couldn't do anything that even came close to a story. It was more like "isn't this weird?" or "here's a bad guy, now he kills this guy! Whoa!" Which is not interesting. It kept me watching, since there was something completely new every few minutes, but it really wasn't worth the time. And if there is anything that offends you, you'll find it in this movie. Really crazy stuff. Only a few of the stories were any good at all, and even those were pretty worthless just due to their length. All in all, not something you should see.

Missed Opportunity: Like I said, they should've made it a series so the stories could be a decent length.

The Lesson: Our alphabet has too many letters. Maybe go Hawaiian next time.

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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Event Horizon 08:57 PM -- Wed October 9, 2013  

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A rescue team is launched out to Neptune when a signal is sent from a ship that hasn't been heard from in 7 years. Turns out the ship was doing some fancy space-folding experiments, and it also turns out that when you travel outside of normal spacetime, bad things ensue. Bad things ensue.

Scariness Type: A lot of gore, a lot of crazy people.

Rating: 3/5 Captain's Logs.

Body Count: Something like 3. There are also two people who are launched into an evil chaos dimension, but we'll have to count them missing in action. And there's the entire crew of the missing ship, but I only count deaths that occur during the course of the movie.

Fun Fact: Morpheus is here, piloting a ship that is remarkably similar to the hovercrafts in The Matrix. I gotta think there was inspiration there (this came out two years before The Matrix).

Best Moment: The best moment would probably be when we see the ship's engine core for the first time. That's an odd best moment, but it's because the best thing about this movie really is the set design. This giant spaceship which is built like some kind of demonic cathedral, with a puzzle-box for an engine, a meat grinder leading to the engine room, and doors that seal shut with spikes for no reason at all. It's not realistic, and I'm sure OSHA would have something to say about the working environment, but that's entirely not the point. It's just sort of amazing and completely sets the tone.

Worst Moment: I'm sure this doesn't really qualify as a worst moment, but it's what came to mind. When the giant ocean of blood comes pouring out, all I could think about was how it was clearly too expensive (or just messy?) to load it up with enough coloring to actually make a deep red, so what we end up with really looks just like Kool-Aid. You can tell it's colored water rather than something thick and dark like blood, and I just couldn't put my brain into ocean-of-blood mode, all I saw was red water.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Speaking of suspension, the captain's chair in the rescue ship is totally silly. If you really keep your eye on Laurence Fishburne in that chair, you'll see him just sort of gradually spinning around, facing nothing in particular, going in circles, for the duration of any scene he's in it. He looks lost. It's a spacey concept for a chair (it hangs from the ceiling and can slide back and forward on a track, and rotate), but not a very logical or useful one. Especially if he just sits and spins all day.

Horror Tropes: Well you know we had blood dripping from above! Then of course we had the assorted hallucination tropes (see the silhouette behind a sheet, yank the sheet back and see nothing; see somebody, turn to tell somebody else and the person you saw is gone; believe a hallucination so much you just follow it even though it makes no sense and then fall down a hole).

My Take: I heard that the original concept of this movie was "The Shining in space", and while the similarities there are obvious, the real massive inspiration behind this movie is clearly the Hellraiser series. It's all up in there. We almost have Pinhead even, by the end. Overall, I wanted to like the movie, because it has an amazing style, and space-horror is always a good idea, and the core concept is something I always enjoy, but while it seems to be building up to something good (or something horrific at least), the last third just kind of falls apart. Or rather, it doesn't fall apart. It just doesn't get crazy enough to justify all the style. The guy who goes crazy (all space and no aliens makes Homer something something) doesn't have this gradual descent that you want, where he's broken down and loses it, he kind of just suddenly snaps all at once (well, and he's pretty messed up from the get-go), and it doesn't ring true or feel right. I read that about half an hour was trimmed from this movie, and that may have been to its detriment in that regard. And then the crazy guy's super-strength (and return from death) is really the only sort of demonic presence we encounter. I was ready for a full-blown descent into Clive Barker's mind, and we pretty much just got space-captain brawl action instead. And a giant ocean of blood, but come on, when isn't there a giant ocean of blood?

Missed Opportunity: The engine room is basically a sphere, with giant, man-sized spikes jutting out from the walls everywhere. And not once does somebody get impaled on them. Somebody even falls into that room from high above and still manages to completely miss them. It's almost perverse. Perhaps the craziest thing in the whole movie.

The Lesson: Keep your eyes in your face, where they can do the most good.

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  ... And we're back! 08:56 PM -- Wed October 9, 2013  

I think. I don't have a whole lot of faith in all the spit and bailing wire I just strapped around the site, but I do see some journals and forum posts that weren't there before.

A general website development tip - even if your admin panel gives you a nice handy "Update MySQL version" button, don't click it unless you know what you're doing (turns out not even the techs knew what they were doing in that regard, so I don't feel as bad as I could). So that took the site down and made an extreme ultimate mess of all things. I've restored everything from backups as far as I know, the most that could've been lost now (barring some huge surprise, which is plenty possible) is posts made in about a half hour window earlier today, after I did my manual SQL backup.

Hey, that's web tip number 2: If you're going to destroy your site, back up the database first!

Please let me know if you see anything deeply wrong with the website still, I've only taken the time for a quick glance so far.
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  Restoring from backup! 08:06 PM -- Wed October 9, 2013  

Sorry folks, major problems here, and we are restoring the server from backup. The restore is actually done, and the site is fine, but it's now sent wayyyyy back in time. I have a database backup from today that I'm trying to get set up now, but it's much bigger than the maximum size allowed, so I'm working on that. With luck, this post will soon disappear and all the other posts will reappear. We'll see.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Broken 06:40 PM -- Tue October 8, 2013  

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: This whole review is mega-spoilers, beware. While a family is having a lovely meal together, a big mirror suddenly breaks for no reason. This is bad luck. Gradually each of them is murdered and replaced by a mirror-duplicate who comes out of a mirror that breaks. Something like that ensues.

Scariness Type: This is a weird movie. It's very slow and quiet. It's got this long spiral of dread for the entire movie.

Rating: 3/5 Jeeps.

Body Count: Four or so? Something like that. But maybe 0 in a way, they all get immediately replaced by exact duplicates. Evil exact duplicates.

Fun Fact: Dextrocardia is a condition wherein your heart is on the right side of your chest instead of the left. It also means you are an evil mirror-person.

Best Moment: There are some shots in the movie that are done from 'behind' a mirror. You see this black, empty world on the mirror side, and then the real world on the other side, like you're looking through a window. Those shots are really cool, and they sort of speak to me, relating to a story idea I've worked on off-and-on for years about a kid who can travel into mirrors and exit from any other mirror in the world. I guess it's a thing we think about - mirrors are weird, so we perceive some sort of magic there.

Worst Moment: I don't know if it's the worst really, but there's this moment when I almost giggled. The main character is investigating a drip in the attic of her boyfriend's house, when suddenly he pops up through the attic entrance, lit from underneath, looking so ridiculously evil it's just hilarious, questioning why she should be up there. He looks like an evil puppet.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Everything the evil mirror-people does seems to suggest they are literally just regular people, who happen to have very bad intentions, and seek to replace the normal people. Everything that is, except when one shows up and pops her fist straight into her duplicate's mouth, right up to the wrist. Just BOOP straight in there, and she wiggles it around or does something inside because it kills the poor girl in a bloody fashion. I have no idea what that was. It was definitely supernatural because you can't just do that to somebody (plus you'd get bit really badly), but it's the only supernatural thing the mirror-people ever do aside from coming out of mirrors.

Horror Tropes: I don't quite remember, but I think we got the blood-drip-from-above in this one! If not, there was still a water drip that she dreamed was blood.

My Take: There was stuff I really enjoyed about this movie, and I have no problem with slow, moody movies in general. At times this one really dragged it out a bit much though, with dozens of replays of a car crash the main character was in, over and over, every time she sat around thinking about it. There is a twist in this movie, and it may not even be entirely obvious what it is, because there's not much dialogue here, you kind of piece things together for yourself. I'll tell you what my theory is, and of course, like the rest of this review, it's a total spoiler: The main character got mirror-murdered very early in the movie, and the person who got in the car crash was actually her evil twin. The twist is that the car crash gave her amnesia, so she forgot to be evil. It was only at the end when she found her good twin's dead body that she remembered she was supposed to be evil and the ridiculously long and boring shot of her driving at the very end was her getting ready to... do whatever it is evil mirror-people do. Go cause more mayhem. Not a happy ending, I guess. But good for her that she got her life figured out.

Missed Opportunity: I think they missed out on making this faster-paced and more involving. Also more clear what is going on.

The Lesson: Don't break mirrors, it's bad luck. Haven't you already heard this? Plus you have to clean them up.

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  Solarthon! 06:51 PM -- Mon October 7, 2013  

Hello folks, let me spam you. We're helping to build solar systems for 7 low-income families in Temecula on November 9th. But we need $400 to get it going! There are 7 families getting solar all on the same day, so if you can even spare $7 to donate to the cause, you'd be making a big difference. It is a real live legitimate charity, so you can write it off on your taxes too. Come on, click the link, donate a few bucks, and not only will some people get free electricity for decades, but the planet will get a tiny bit cleaner too.

Note: we will actually be physically involved with building one of these solar systems, so one family might not actually end up with working electricity. Still, we're gonna try!

Click the pretty picture and help people! Click it click it now

If you can't afford to help out, please spread the word. What Grid Alternatives is doing is really cool, and cooler yet if they do well enough to keep expanding and take over the world with solar power.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Possession 04:42 PM -- Mon October 7, 2013  

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: There's this old box, see, and it's a bad box. A little girl buys it at a yard sale and proceeds to get way too attached to it. Tantrums ensue.

Scariness Type: Well, it's an exorcism movie. The twist is that instead of being Catholic, it's Jewish!

Rating: 3/5 Yarmulkes.

Body Count: One person, and one moth.

Fun Fact: This movie contains real live footage of Gmail instead of some made-up magical email system. I always appreciate that.

Best Moment: I'm not sure. When the dad took the box away, the ensuing freakout and weirdness and chase and all the issues involved worked nicely, though I don't know that I'd say it was the "best moment". Nothing stands out too much thinking about it now.

Worst Moment: There's a part where a guy is mind-blasted by the possessed girl in some way, resulting in his gums bleeding and his teeth coming loose. This is awful and I don't allow it. I have nightmares like that.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The first thing the girl does when she gets the box open is to remove a ring from it and put it on. For the rest of the movie, she's wearing this evil ring, and it's turning her hand grey. It's plainly visible, and it just makes no sense that neither of her parents, or anybody else for that matter, grabs that hand and freaks out about whatever disease this ring is obviously giving her. On a second disbelief moment, the end of this movie takes place in a fully-functioning hospital, and while the characters are screaming and wind is whipping through and the lights are flickering for twenty minutes, not one person comes to see what's going on. It's totally strange.

Horror Tropes: One that always gets to me is when somebody sees something horrible, and stares at it. Then somebody else sees them looking and asks "What is it? What's wrong?" Instead of replying to them like any human being would, the person in a horror movie always just slowly raises one arm and points at it. The other person should then throw their arms up and yell, "I know where you were looking, I want to know what you are looking at!! Use your words!" But instead they always come running over and stare at it too. One day there's going to be a movie where this just happens in a continuous chain until the entire population of a town is staring slack-jawed at one spot with one crooked finger raised at it. Oh yeah, and we get another fine blood-dripping-from-above scene in this movie too. Those are the best.

My Take: Turn some lights on!! These people live in a nearly pitch black house, lit by 20-watt bulbs at wide intervals. I know they're trying to set a mood, but that was just silly. I thought this movie was just fine overall. It kept me interested, and it was indeed a different take on the usual exorcism movie. A lot of it was the same, but because they had this lore of the dybbuk box instead of just an arbitrary demon randomly hopping into the girl, there was more interesting stuff going on instead of just a priest chanting and the girl yelling at him until somebody wins. I wouldn't call this a good movie, and I don't rate it highly, but it works for me.

Missed Opportunity: One person died? That's it? Come on, some demon you are.

The Lesson: Don't shop at yard sales.

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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Awakening 07:22 PM -- Sun October 6, 2013  

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Way back around World War I or something (maybe, I'm pretty hazy on this whole thing), there was a paranormal investigator in England who didn't believe in any of that rubbish and was always debunking mediums and whatnot. But as always happens in movies and never happens in real life, she was called to an old house which it turns out has a ghost in it! Zoiks! It also has a creepy groundskeeper who never seems to not be carrying a rifle, a creepy dollhouse that seems to contain scenes of what is actually happening in the house, a creepy housekeeper, a nice guy (with a creepy injury), and some creepy kids. Creepiness ensues.

Scariness Type: Creepiness! Nah, it's not really scary, more just your basic (convoluted) ghost tale with some jump scares.

Rating: 3.5/5 Bells.

Body Count: At least 6...

Fun Fact: No better way to entertain your kids than with crawlspaces in the wall!

Best Moment: Maybe when she looked into the dollhouse and saw a doll matching herself looking into a tinier dollhouse (which I'm guessing had a tinier doll and even tinier dollhouse inside, right?), only behind her there was another doll watching her. Yikes. Actually probably my favorite part was the very first scene, where the investigator debunked a seance. I wish the whole movie had been like that, like a whole Sherlock Holmes thing where she's busting frauds and we get to see all their sneaky rigs and all that. That's a movie I want to watch.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The groundskeeper was probably a bit too horrible of a person. One of those Snidely Whiplash types that I would generally say don't exist, but man, I had a phone call with a government office yesterday, and I don't know if it's because he wasn't getting paid (well, it was state government, so he should've been paid!), but that guy was nasty. So some people are just bad. Especially bureaucrats.

Horror Tropes: The ol' hand reaching up out of the lake routine, and the ghost that always stays just ahead of you as you try to chase it up the stairs thinking it's a person, until you inevitably reach a dead end and wonder where they could've gone. Also, let's not forget the skeptic who is faced with a real ghost! And then there was the ghost face pressing up out of a pillow. And a stretchy-face ghost. And the person you think is alive but was really a ghost the whole time (not the main character!). Really got quite a collection in this one!

My Take: All in all, this was pretty entertaining. It was a fairly convoluted story, and yes there were twists, which I approve of. It was only marginally a horror story (though it was entirely a ghost story), and the few little jump scares almost seemed thrown in as obligatory. That's okay, I really mainly watch horror movies for their twisty stories anyway, and we had plenty of that here. It may have even been too complex for its own good.

Missed Opportunity: I missed the opportunity to watch large chunks of this. I think I was cooking or something. Luckily, Sol Hunt saved the day by watching with me and telling me about all the stuff I missed. Or half-missed, I kept walking in and seeing bits off and on.

The Lesson: Guns don't kill people... tigers kill people.

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