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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Mercy 02:18 PM -- Thu October 22, 2015  

Mercy

My Review: This movie is based on the Stephen King short story “Gramma”. Very loosely. What they really do is have a totally different story, which ends in the short story’s plot. The last quarter of this movie is the short story, but expanded with some other weird stuff.

So what that means for those who haven’t read the story is that this is the story of a pre-teen boy who liked hanging out with his Grandma. She was clearly a witch in some way, definitely some weird stuff going on there (which later gets explained in detail), but she was pretty much a mother to him, even though he had an actual mother. Later on, you realize their whole family is really messed up due to a lot of ancient history, which is really Grandma’s fault (and of course the demon she made a pact with, as usual), so that explains why his actual mother wasn’t a really good mother. Anyway, a year or two later, Grandma has gotten strangely and nastily senile, and the family takes her home from the care facility she’s been in, because it’s a really bad place. Eventually she dies, after a lot of inter-family drama, and sadly for the boy, he’s the only one home when she dies. And then things get weird, because she’s not acting the way dead people normally do, what with all the running around and trying to kill him.

You know, I’m not sure what I think about this movie. It’s definitely not really bad, but it also definitely has flaws. It’s interesting to dig into the family drama and how it all got this way, but in the end when all the supernatural stuff is flying, there aren’t any real rules to what’s happening. It’s one of those things where what happens is convenient for the plot instead of what would really happen - with the insane superpowers exhibited, Grandma would not have had any problem accomplishing her goal. There’s a bit of a final twist, which I should have guessed, which is kind of nice. There’s also sufficient lore in there to make everything make sense, and it all just kind of works. It’s not amazing, but there’s nothing truly broken there.

My Rating: 3/5 Wood Chippers.

My Movie Idea: I like the core concept here. In my movie, a big family all comes together because a very old member is on their deathbed. Everybody knows it will only be a few days, and it’s important for them all to be there for various reasons (maybe for some, it’s just because the old codger is crafty and mean and has a lawyer nearby - if they don’t show up, they can be sliced out of the will really fast). But of course, the family has a lot of ugly secrets and interpersonal problems. Couples that refuse to talk to others, old resentments hidden underneath that aren’t talked about, and all of that. All of these bad things come bubbling up when everybody’s not only stuck in very close proximity (it’s too small of a house for so many people, so there’s not a lot of escape and privacy), but also under a lot of emotional strain just waiting for this old man to die.

That’s actually all the plot I have, and it is indeed the plot to a heavy drama rather than any kind of horror movie, but first off, I never said my ideas were always horror, and secondly, I suppose that’s a matter of perspective. It depends on how far things go, right? How about a kind of old-school style movie: one of the people ends up murdering the dying old man who would’ve died within days anyway. So we have a whole murder mystery going on, and several other people end up dead, a cop shows up and gets much too involved (and has his own connections to the family). I can’t actually think of the motive for that murder right now, but you figure it out. It gets convoluted, people get dead, and a lot of people get really paranoid. And of course, nobody is allowed to leave, since everybody is a suspect. Yeah, it’s nothing original and I don’t have a big twist, but it sure could be interesting to watch it all unravel.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Frozen 05:11 PM -- Wed October 21, 2015  

The Frozen

My Review: Ugh this movie... okay, it starts with a whiny entitled girl and a whiny know-it-all boy going out into the frozen wasteland for a “fun trip” (according to the guy). Now I feel guilty mocking these people, because I’m no better than them. Just like them, I would die in 2 seconds in the cold, and I would be totally incapable of putting up a tent, or fixing a snowmobile, or doing anything. But the difference is, I’m not in a movie. You don’t have to watch me be whiny. Oh wait, you’re reading me doing it. Oops, sorry.

So they go on their trip, and it’s really cold and snowy, and they stay in a tent, and ride around on a snowmobile. Eventually they crash the snowmobile and can’t fix it, so they’re stuck ten miles from the road with no way back and no way to communicate. This is followed by hours and hours of the exact same thing over and over: it’s daytime so they try walking somewhere and give up and go back to the tent. It’s nighttime and they try to sleep, but hear a noise outside so they look back and forth with a flashlight. Now the big twist is that sometimes they see nothing, and sometimes they see something. But even if they see something (a person), it goes away in a few seconds and it comes out the same as if they saw nothing: they go back in the tent all nervous, and go to sleep anyway.

All that stuff is interspersed with occasional nightmares. That’s it. That’s what you get out of this movie until about the last 10 minutes. It’s so monotonous and just exhausting, because each time they look for something, there’s always that hope that this time it will lead to something new, but it never does, so you wait some more. Then in the end of the movie, one of the people they kept seeing actually decides to stick around, and kind of chases the girl around, until eventually there is a confrontation and I won’t spoil the big, massively over-expositiony finish.

Sure, there’s a twist. What was happening was not what you thought, but that doesn’t explain why we had to sit through endless night after night of the same thing every time. It was just pure padding. The script for this movie must have just been xeroxed pages throughout the middle. They were like “well, we’ve got 30 minutes of movie... let’s just photocopy the middle five pages about 20 times to pad it out.” And that is what they had - about 30 minutes of legitimate movie. That 30 minutes would’ve been an okay short story, if very derivative (you’ve seen this twist a lot), although the ending was just so over-explained that even that wasn’t good.

My Rating: 1/5 Wet Socks.

My Movie Idea: The frozen woods make for a nice film setting. There’s a lot you can do (Insomnia, Fargo, Devil’s Pass which I watched last year for Halloween). So hmm, what would I do... my brain was numbed during this movie, so I didn’t think of anything while watching. Something based around the fact that it’s so silent in the woods, but there’s always the occasional cracking of a branch or slump of snow.

So maybe we have stealthy near-invisible monsters (just being white would work for that!), stalking campers trapped up in the mountains, and a lot of the movie is these very tense scenes, kind of the negative version of a normal horror movie: protagonists standing in bright white light, but still totally unable to see what’s coming for them, and they are constantly turning their head, trying to catch the soft crunch of snow underneath a claw. To make it a true negative image, the monsters could sleep during the night and only be dangerous in daylight.

The monsters are drawn to heat, as you could imagine, which adds some other scenarios like burying yourself in snow to hide your heat, and tense moments as they walk directly overhead, and of course the balance between not freezing to death, but not giving them heat to track (you know at some point the heroes do the opposite - light a bunch of fires to distract and confuse the monsters. Maybe the climax involves a forest fire). I don’t have any interesting twists in mind, I just think that would be a fun basic premise to then build a good story around. You go do the hard part, I’ve suffered enough sitting through The Frozen.

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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Burying The Ex 12:20 PM -- Tue October 20, 2015  

Burying The Ex

My Review: Hmm. Well, this is a romantic comedy, where a guy is struggling to break up with his girlfriend, but can’t get up the nerve to do it right. Eventually he does, but she gets hit by a bus right before he can actually dump her. “Lucky” for him and her, there was a Satan Genie statuette in front of which they had previously promised to be together forever. Through its evil magic, the girlfriend is brought back as a zombie, just as the guy is trying to get involved with someone new. The zombie ex remains clingy, and thinks a great plan would be for her to zombify him too, so they can be together forever as advertised. Three’s Company-style antics ensue as the guy tries to keep the two girls from knowing about each other (one so she won’t eat his face in rage, and the other so she... well, I mean, I guess it’s just weird to tell people there’s a zombie around). Like most such situations, it could’ve been resolved by just being honest all around in the first place, although there is the risk that his ex would just kill all the humans, so maybe not.

At times, this movie felt like not just a sitcom, but the kind of sitcom they have on the Disney Channel. Really low-brow ultra-simple humor with super cheery people who have no clue what’s happening around them. Not all of it was that bad, but it just has this bubble-gum flavor to it which is not great, and is pretty badly at odds with some rather gruesome scenes. Not many, but it’s just weird to combine that at all. I’m not sure who the audience is here, because it’s too gooshy for horror fans, and it’s too gooshy for romance fans.

I’ve seen horror comedy before, and it has been good. Shaun of the Dead is definitely good. This is not Shaun of the Dead. It actually wasn’t terrible, but it definitely wasn’t worth watching.

My Rating: 2/5 Runners.

My Movie Idea: I don’t know, I got nothing for real.

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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead 04:28 PM -- Mon October 19, 2015  

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

My Review: I knew things were looking up already at the 2nd line of dialogue in this movie, because they immediately referred to the walking dead as “zombies”. Yes, a movie that actually admits that’s what they are! I’m so tired of hearing about “Zeds” and “Walkers” and “Infected”. If this stuff happened for real, “Zombie” is the only word we’d use.

But that isn’t the only good thing about this movie! It’s the story of a few people surviving in the first days of a zombie outbreak. I don’t need to go into detail, that pretty much covers it, but they have some fun original elements (this stuff constitutes mild spoilers, so hang on to your hat): the zombies breathe a flammable gas and change their behavior from day to night, there’s a mysterious military conspiracy (okay, that’s definitely been done), and there’s a character who develops the ability to mind-control zombies. Now there’s the big game-changer! This movie looked and felt like a comic book all over, with no worries about reality, just all kinds of campy over-the-top action and insanity, and you just have to be along for the ride. There is one plot element that seems completely gratuitous and invented solely for the purpose of giving them a reason to capture zombies: without explanation, gasoline (and similar substances) have stopped being flammable. They don’t know why, and we never find out. Good thing the zombies breathe flammable gas so they can rig up their Mad Max truck to run on zombies! That felt really contrived if you ask me, but it was fun.

The whole situation with the zombie mind control added a big layer to what would otherwise be just standard zombie-splattering mayhem. Without that, I probably wouldn’t recommend this movie, but that took it over the top for sure. Like so many of the movies this month, the movie ends right in the middle of the story. It’s basically an origin story for The Zombie Queen superhero, as it ends with the team set up to do battle with the mysterious government, and with us lacking explanations for anything. Actually, I would say more than anything that this felt like the pilot to a TV series. And it would be a great TV series, I have to say. Way more fun than The Walking Dead. This is not a story of mopey people at each other’s throats, it’s a bunch of nutjobs going crazy and having a blast as they blast zombies. Which is pretty disturbing, but that’s the kind of movie it is.

I also happen to be right in the middle of an obsession with playing Dead Island, and this movie just fit right in with that. Good choice, me.

My Rating: 4/5 Air Harpoons.

My Movie Idea: I think zombies are pretty played out (maybe?! They’ve only been the focus of 80% of pop culture for 5 years), but I thought this might be an interesting twist on them: there’s a tiny invasive vine that infects people and gets under their skin and begins to take them over. But the victim doesn’t become a zombie, they just sorta get sick and eventually comatose. This kills you after a while, as your organs just shut down. The vine grows chloroplasts in your skin, and draws energy from the sun that way. If it manages to suck up enough solar energy, it can reanimate your corpse in a very slow and clumsy way, sort of the classic zombie that lumbers along slowly and is easy to evade. But if that zombie somehow manages to catch a victim, and eats enough meat, it evolves further, with the strength and energy and improved brain function to be one of those “rage zombies” from more recent zombie moves - fast runner, jumper, desperate to eat people (or animals, whatever). This zombie in turn is trying to eat brains specifically (still eating meat for energy, but it wants brains), and if it can eat some brains, it gets smarter...

And this process continues on and on, with smarter, faster, crazier zombies (flying, why not? Acid spit, super-jumping, using weapons and tools, whatever!). So the structure of the movie is kind of in chapters - they’re dealing with the current kind of zombies, and then they see something worse plowing through the crowd toward them, and we get a big title card “Phase III”, and they start having to deal with those. So the situation just keeps getting worse and weirder.

Something like this would probably end with a weird twist where the ultimate zombie form is smarter than we are, and it’s trying to build human farms, keeping us alive as a food source. I’m not sure how the humans win in this scenario, seems hopeless to me, but in Hollywood it’s usually something like this: the zombies evolve into a hivemind, and they kill the leader-brain which kills them all. Seems like a weakness to me, not a very good evolution at all. But hey, here’s a fun bit of backstory: at some point they discover that this is an alien invasion. It’s cheaper and easier than intergalactic war to just send the plant seeds to our planet to start taking us over and turn us into them (and maybe eventually receive signals beamed from space to actually put their consciousness in our bodies without them having to travel at all? Could be).
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Terminal Invasion 01:13 PM -- Sun October 18, 2015  

It's a two-fer, since I had no time to turn on my computer yesterday, and thus no BHE review! I was at a TEDx conference. Pretty cool.

Terminal Invasion

My Review: Okay, so I have actually seen this before. But it’s Bruce Campbell! I wasn’t sure I had seen the whole thing (not a good sign?), so I watched it. It’s definitely not his best work, or even good work in any way, although he is the best thing in the movie by a mile. He isn’t doing his usual wisecracking, he’s basically just a tough-guy criminal, but he actually plays it realistically and well, unlike every other person in the movie. Let’s be clear: this is a SyFy Original Movie, made for TV, and it looks the part. So cheap, so crappy, no money wasted on actors. It looks like an episode of Wings gone horribly wrong.

The plot is that there’s a big blizzard so everybody at this little airport is stuck there for the night. Bruce is a convict who was being transported by car nearby, and their car failed, so they had to walk him to the airport. He goes to the bathroom along with the cops guarding him, and an alien disguised as a priest tries to kill them all. He does kill the cops, but of course you can’t stop Bruce Campbell, who smashes the alien to death. The rest of the movie consists of him sort-of holding the other airport denizens hostage (but most of the time he gives them the guns, so I’m not sure why they are still kowtowing to him), while all of them wonder who among them is secretly an alien. One by one they ferret out the aliens, or in some cases the aliens just decide to transform into big rubbery creatures right in front of them, and they kill the aliens.

It’s so hard to discuss what is good or bad about this movie. It’s a terrible movie, of course. And the writing especially is awful, but what’s strange about that is that there are a lot of good ideas in there. The overall premise is certainly good - there’s a lot of tension in knowing some of them are aliens (and the priest-alien explicitly declared in a fit of masterful writing “We don’t like you”, so you know they’re not aliens that like us!), and the paranoia that causes. There are also some clever scenes, most notably that they decide to use the baggage X-ray to scan each other and see if they can see who’s an alien, which leads to another clever idea: a fight inside the x-ray where all you can see are the snapshots it takes every couple of seconds, eventually seeing somebody get dismembered. And that further makes one more clever idea, which is that that ends up breaking the machine, so while they found one alien that way, and cleared two or three normal people of aliendom, the rest of the people are still unclear.

That one scene is just all kinds of clever (except for the very odd decision to make the X-ray start beeping and freaking out when an alien went through it - the fact that the body contained green goo instead of a skeleton was sufficient for me), and there’s also a good little twist involving the children which is well-written and comes as a surprise, but you could’ve figured it out yourself. It just makes solid sense. But the rest of the movie is full of utterly brain-dead characters doing stupid things. It’s hard to watch a movie where every character is so phenomenally dumb. It really makes you wonder about the intelligence of the writer. Like if he thinks these are the kind of choices a normal person would make, does that mean he’s that dumb and they’re the choices he would make? Or perhaps he’s not that dumb, and he just thinks he’s better than everyone else, so he assumes other people are. Either way, it’s not good.

My Rating: 1/5 Chins.

My Movie Idea: Well, let’s give Bruce Campbell a role he belongs in! How about he’s the captain of a spaceship. It’s an ark ship, filled with people in stasis (including him - it’s a thousand-year journey, so everybody’s sleeping), and the crew is unfrozen mid-flight when the computer detects a problem. There’s something attached to the hull, and after some suiting up and spacewalking, and the death of whoever does the spacewalk, they discover that it’s some kind of alien blob with tendrils injecting into the hull, cracking things open and getting inside. They come up with some radical plan to burn it off with the engines or something, which succeeds, and it’s gone. So good.

They set about trying to fix the hull damage it caused, only to find that there are bits of it still burrowing through the hull (somebody else dies finding this out, sure!). Eventually we discover that the burrowing tentacles are getting into the stasis pods and turning the people inside into freaky twisted zombies who smash out of the pod and run around the spaceship, crawling on the ceilings and contracting their bodies to squeeze through small vents and other weird inhuman things. Bruce and his remaining crew set about blasting the aliens with high-tech guns and being stalked in dark corridors and all the good stuff that happens in Aliens movies. And lots of one-liners. Probably culminating in Bruce alone getting away in an escape pod while the entire ship is destroyed. I don’t know though, that’s pretty bleak if you had a thousand people on board.

Okay, it’s not the most original, but it could be done well, and it gives Bruce his chance to shine where he deserves it - in a high-budget, really scary but really funny, action-horror thriller.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Traveler 01:08 PM -- Sun October 18, 2015  

The Traveler

My Review: This is a straight-up 80’s movie that came out 30 years too late. Val Kilmer walks into a police station on Christmas Eve with just a few cops in it, and says he wants to confess to murder. They lock him up and interrogate him. As he confesses to murder, it turns out he’s actually describing what’s happening exactly at that moment, in another part of the building, as one of the cops is mysteriously killed by ghostly forces. There’s mayhem and freakouts, and 5 more confessions as one by one, he confesses the cops to death.

I don’t think it’s really a spoiler to tell you what the movie reveals in the first 20 minutes, so it turns out that he is the ghost of a man that these six cops beat up to try to force a confession from, leaving him in a coma and eventually to die. So it’s like revenge. There’s a twist, of course, which is kind of silly and breaks the logic a little, but is not too crazy.

I was really interested at first in this movie. The premise is intriguing, and you are getting an interesting mystery at first as this very strange, very silent guy shows up, but the big problem is, they reveal everything about him in that first 20 minutes. After that, there’s no more mystery, just waiting for him to kill everybody. There’s nothing they can do about it, since what he does is plainly magic. Things just happen. And it’s sad, because this could have been a truly great movie. If Bryan Singer had directed it, and somebody good had written it, it would’ve been some kind of supernatural Usual Suspects. Keep those revelations in check, let the audience figure things out bit by bit. Get a real twist! Make the characters have some depth!

But instead, it’s a very strange movie, that feels completely out of the 80’s. The run-down police station, the non-cell-phone, the random usage of heavy metal which seemed totally out of place every time, the crazy gore with chunks of guts flying around - every bit of it just looked and sounded pure 80’s. There was another weird and annoying thing about it - dozens of times they show something in slow motion about 4 or 5 times in a row. Not something especially exciting, like the cop is trying to shoot out a windshield, and it just repeatedly shows him pull the trigger and the muzzle flash. It was like they were trying to impart this huge importance, but for no reason at all. And it happens many times. It’s a terrible effect.

My Rating: 2/5 Best Daddy In The World Pens.

My Movie Idea: I pretty much said it above - let’s do this basic idea and do it well. A guy walks into a police station and wants to confess to murder. Now let’s put the rest of it into the realm of mystery - make it possible that he has accomplices, make his confessions vague and not blatantly describing exactly what is happening, reveal tidbits of the backstory for why he is there instead of dumping the entire thing at once in one big flashback (which by the way is repeated 3 or 4 times, almost in its entirety. I got so sick of it). Make it so only one of the cops is actually responsible for this and deserves to die, and so if he would’ve just come clean early on, the other people would’ve survived, just to turn the guilt knobs up a little. Have some misdirects, like the first death looks like a suicide and there seems like a plausible reason for it. Leave the cops guessing before it turns into an all-out fleeing for your life. Just tone everything down so there’s lots of room for mystery, and some quiet somber moments instead of crazy bloody mayhem. Let’s get spooky, people!

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  Belittling Horror Excessively: They 12:44 PM -- Fri October 16, 2015  

They

My Review: It’s at least the second “monsters under the bed and in the closet” movie of the month, although in this case, the children scared of the monsters grow up and the monsters do too, I guess, because once the kids are adults, the monsters start haunting pretty much any old place, as long as it’s dark. Apparently (according to a crazy guy who killed himself), there are these monsters that either are attracted to kids who have night terrors, or perhaps the kids don’t have night terrors, they’re just seeing these monsters. They mention it the first way, but since these are the only specific night terrors we see in the movie, I get the feeling the second way is more the case. Anyway, when they are children, the monsters take them into their world and mark them in some way, then when they are adults, they come back to apparently take them for good. For what purpose, we never learn. The monsters can’t go in the light, only in darkness, but that’s okay for them because they have the ability to make lights go out.

That’s the backstory you learn as it goes. This movie is the story of a woman whose childhood friend shows up out of the blue, is clearly crazy, puts all those ideas in her head before killing himself, and then she and two other friends of his spend the rest of the movie trying not to get taken by the monsters. It’s really kind of a straightforward thing, pretty much just a slasher movie - there is no real point to the movie other than watching the monsters come after them and seeing them narrowly escape in various ways until they don’t escape. But that didn’t make it uninteresting. I enjoyed it, mainly because the monsters were very creepy (as usual, moreso when we saw less of them) and we gradually figured out the backstory, although nothing really meaningful is ever learned. They’re just random monsters, who targeted random people, and took them to an unknown place for unknown reasons.

It is effectively creepy, and the device of trying to get to where there’s light while monsters come crawling (very rapidly) out of the darkness is good. Oh, there’s also the matter of the night terrors - the victims are in a semi-sleepwalking state, so they’ll lash out at friendly people, thinking they are the monsters trying to take them away. In fact, right up to the end, it’s ... well, almost possible that this whole thing is not real. Spoiler: it is real. But since it’s intertwined with nightmares and distorted reality, you can’t really be 100% sure until the end. There are some real Nightmare On Elm Street elements with the “is it a dream” parts of the film. It’s all relatively standard horror stuff, and there’s not much point to it other than the thrill of the chase, but the chase is pretty thrilling, so I enjoyed it.

My Rating: 4/5 Black Canvases.

My Movie Idea: At one point in this movie (during what is probably a dream), the heroine opens her medicine cabinet and finds an entire creepy nightmare world inside. It reminded me of this notion we’ve probably all experienced, of how you can look into a mirror and turn your head and see that there is clearly a world in there going on beyond the rectangle of the mirror (technically, it’s the same world as the one outside of there, but that’s beside the point). So for many years, I’ve had this image in my head of a character who could step inside the mirror, and behind it they’d find a vast empty void in which they can somehow float freely, with the backsides of all the mirrors in the world just floating in space, in their relative positions. Each one is like a window, through which you can watch what’s going on, and then step through if you want. You could use this power to effectively ‘teleport’ and do all kinds of mischief and steal unlimited amounts of wealth, and get out of almost any danger (even in prison, there are mirrors!).

You’d run into weird logistics of what exactly qualifies as a mirror, and what about car mirrors and pocket mirrors and shiny lake surfaces and all that, but for the sake of any story or movie we’d blow that off and stick with stationary, man-made mirrors that aren’t all scratched up and ruined. I guess there could be a stream of car mirrors zooming by in the void world, that’d be kinda cool, and potentially dangerous - would they slice you up if one went through your body? Probably! Imagine a meat chunk popping out of your rearview mirror! Okay, it’s better not to imagine that.

But the only actual story I ever came up with for the mirror man was less pleasant: he’s a teenage boy, just discovering this power, and he becomes obsessed with the neighbor girl, watching her through her mirror, trying to use the information he finds out to get her interested in him, failing miserably because it’s creepy when someone knows everything about you, trying harder with exotic presents stolen through other mirrors, failing more miserably because unwanted big gifts are even creepier, and finally feeling hurt and lashing out in very bad ways. By the end of the story, she’s seen him go through mirrors, is terrified of mirrors, and maybe eventually kills him by smashing a mirror he’s sticking halfway out of, trying to grab her.

So... that’s where my mind went with that idea!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Intruders 03:09 PM -- Thu October 15, 2015  

Intruders

My Review: This is two stories at once - a girl and a boy in different countries who are facing the same problem. A man with no face is trying to steal their face. We can all identify with this problem, I’m sure. It’s very strange because other than the victims, only the father of the one girl, and the mother of the one boy, ever see the faceless man/monster, so is it real? If it were imagined, wouldn’t only the kids see it? And why do they both have this same fear? I also thought it was interesting and telling that the monster appears differently to the two kids. These questions and more spin round and round as some interesting facts come to light with some big twists, and eventually it all resolves quite neatly.

I really enjoyed this actually. It was quite a mystery, and it made sense in the end mostly, though I can’t decide if there was really any supernatural stuff or not. I suspect not, but it seems open to interpretation. It was not my favorite movie ever, but it was really solid in every respect, and I can always get behind a convoluted mystery that actually comes together in the end. I really can’t think of any complaints here, or anything interesting to say. It’s a good movie, why don’t you go watch it?

My Rating: 4/5 Little Wooden Boxes.

My Movie Idea: My movie takes place in a children’s hospital (bringing to mind the “Der Kindestod” episode of Buffy, of course). There’s a really creepy ghost hanging around the cancer ward, like rags floating in the air above the bed with huge razor claws hanging down that slice kids to pieces. I didn’t put a ton of thought into this, so you fill in the blanks of how it all comes together, but the gist is that people see the ghost, try to stop it, kids end up dying, and the big twist is that eventually they discover that the only reason anybody is dying from this ghost is because they are chasing it away. What it’s actually doing is cutting kids open, extracting their tumors (it eats them I guess?), and then closing them back up in some magical way that leaves no trace. The hospital had a weird record of miraculous cancer cures they couldn’t explain, and it turns out this creature was actually why. At least until they started interfering so it ran off, leaving kids open and bleeding to death. In the end, you can either have a big happy ending where they make peace with the ghost and it keeps fixing people forever, or the painful irony of exorcising the ghost and feeling like a hero right before realizing it was providing an invaluable service.

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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Dark Was The Night 07:29 PM -- Wed October 14, 2015  

Dark Was The Night

My Review: Well, that’s a silly title. Dark still is the night, by the way. So, these people live in a small town and suddenly all the animals are fleeing the surrounding woods, and cattle are disappearing and all that stuff, and strange hoof-prints are appearing all over town, so you know something bad is around. It’s not long before the sheriff figures out there’s some sort of big scary animal out there and he tries to protect the people and kinda-sorta hunt it. It really echoes Jaws in a lot of ways, probably intentionally, with this lurking beast out there out of sight and the mass panic and the sheriff who is on the case. But it’s also extremely grim and bleak throughout, for no real reason - everybody is super mopey and depressed, the whole movie is filtered in blues and greys, and it’s really a wonder they don’t just let the monster eat them to get life over with.

This is a very well-done movie, and for most of the duration, I was pretty hooked. It feels slow at times because of the super depressing tone, but that also lends it an air of dread as well. It’s not actually a great movie though. The plot does nothing spectacular, it’s all about what you’d expect, with a lot of very basic Hollywood cliches (the sheriff is distraught over having failed to save his son’s life in the past, so that drives his obsession with protecting the town now; the deputy is new to town and getting involved with some girl), but it’s all put together really well.

SPOILER PARAGRAPH! There is a final-final twist in the last fifteen seconds of the movie which is actually pretty shocking and unexpected. It’s the standard horror trope of “the monster is not gone!” only really amped up in a scary way. So that was enjoyable to see, but it again comes down to what I’ve harped on with a couple of the previous films: you can’t end the movie there. If the threat still exists (and hasn’t even left the area), and the characters are still alive, then the movie is not done. In this particular case, I can 100% guarantee that every character in the movie would be dead within the next half hour if the movie continued. So I guess in that sense, this is a valid ending, but “everybody dies” is also a pretty dumb ending, especially after working so hard to find redemption for the main character. They were just going for the shock, like so many horror movies do, and it worked well in that regard, but that little trick is really anti-storytelling. I understand the classic “hand pops up from the grave”, because that one just says that we’re going to have a sequel. Something like this (or what happened in The Guest or Haunt) really does leave the narrative hanging. It’s not a sequel, it’s this story that you forgot to finish.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Bridle #88s.

My Movie Idea: My movie idea is a similar premise to begin with: Cattle are turning up sliced apart, people are hearing noises at night, there are strange animal prints in the mud, all these clues that some kind of big bad monster is lurking outside of town. So the town gathers up a posse and they comb the woods, everybody doing their part to ferret out this monster (monster ferret?).

Twist time! There isn’t a monster. Someone faked the whole thing, and obviously it’s someone with serious issues since they cut up living cows to do it. He’s a member of the posse hunting the monster of course, and he’s set up traps in the woods to murder tons of townspeople. It’s an insidious thing where you still think there’s a monster at first as people get yanked into bushes and blood flies out (but it was really a rope trap of some kind). Then you learn that these are traps after a couple of them, but then you’re wondering “wow, super intelligent monster?” before you finally get to the revelation that it’s one of the people in the posse who arranged all this killing. And he finishes it all by ‘finding’ the monster’s lair in a cave (perhaps with some recorded monster noises coming out of it so they know they’ve got it trapped), getting lots of people to go in, and blowing up the cave. Truly, man is the worst monster of all.

You could also swap scenes back and forth with a hero who is working in the police lab trying to figure out what animal makes these wounds while everyone is out hunting, and they could save the day by realizing it’s a person, figuring out who it has to be, and showing up just in time to stop the cave-in explosion. Or better yet, they don’t figure out who it is, they show up just in time, but there are 3 or 4 people outside the cave who haven’t gone in... which one is it, and how can we stop him before he sets off the bomb? Actually, this movie sounds pretty cool. Get on that, Christopher Nolan.

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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Ouija Experiment 12:31 PM -- Tue October 13, 2015  

The Ouija Experiment

My Review: Oh my pickles. It has been a long time since I’ve truly seen a movie that was “so bad it’s good”. I mean, I like Sharknado movies, but they’re doing it on purpose. This is a terrible movie, that I really enjoyed. I engaged in actual real-life LOL behavior with this one, on at least two occasions. And just so we’re clear, it’s not supposed to be funny. Well, some parts are, but those parts were agonizing, not funny.

The plot goes like this: some college kids get together to use a ouija board. One of them is the official Super Annoying Guy With The Camera, although I’d say every one of the characters in this movie is about as annoying as the classic Super Annoying Guy With The Camera, so the fact that he’s even worse is pretty spectacular. It is found footage indeed, as we watch these kids misuse their ouija board, flip out due to interpersonal drama, make video skype calls and call that “using youtube”, reference popular youtube videos very LOUDLY, and eventually run from and get killed by some reasonably scary ghosts.

The acting is unbelievable. Easily the fakest found footage movie I’ve ever seen, by a mile. In fact, it could be that it’s the only thing wrong with the movie, but it’s so far beyond the pale, you can’t see anything else. It’s like a high school production, and not one that earned an A. I would say the writing was terrible too, but I suspect that’s just a matter of ad-libbing, since it was found footage. The overall gist of the story is actually entertaining (if a little flawed), although the specifics hinge on the horrible behavior of the characters. The special effects are pretty good... or rather, the CGI ghost stuff is. There are some hilarious other effects in the movie. There is a decapitation that was one of the times I laughed out loud, and then there’s a floating camera (held by a ghost) that is even worse. That was the moment that sold the movie for me. I will definitely be sharing that moment with anyone willing to suffer through it.

There is zero excuse for this movie being done in found-footage format. In fact, the plot would be twice as good, and probably the movie would be too, if the characters didn’t constantly interact with cameras and discuss how they were going to film themselves for the night, or specifically set cameras in just the right place before going across the room to confront a spooky sound they heard. It really was the worst of “convenient camera placement” I’ve ever seen. There’s actually a flashback that semi-inexplicably switches to normal cameras (which totally belies the point of found footage - if we are admitting this is a fictional movie, why do we have to view it through the characters’ cameras?). Just in case you’re wondering, it’s just as embarrassing as the other part.

Oh yeah, and: “the film you are about to see is based on true events - although there have been numerous documented cases in which users experienced unexplained occurrences and bizarre happenings while playing with a ouija board - scientists disregard them as ... coincidences” Stupid scientists, when will they ever learn!?

My Rating: 2/5 Cameras On A Fishing Line.

My Movie Idea: Uh oh, I was too distracted by the art on display to come up with ideas of my own. Umm, let’s see... how about a woman uses a ouija board to learn some stuff, and gradually what she learns makes her kill her husband (he’s cheating and probably all sorts of worse things too), as she gradually gets told true things and weird psychic stuff like “green falls” - what’s green falls? Huh? The next day somebody in a bright green rain slicker slips in a puddle right in front of her and falls down. She’s like “whoa!” and she trusts the information even more since it’s clearly magical knowledge. Of course, it turns out, the ouija board has magnets and such in it, and there are cameras in the room, and somebody set all this up to manipulate her into doing this. I don’t know why, but I bet it’s something good!

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