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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Ouija: Origin Of Evil 02:07 PM -- Tue October 25, 2016  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

Ouija: Origin Of Evil (2016)
Rated PG-13
IMDB rating: 7.0/10
Metacritic: 65
Rotten Tomatoes: 81% critics, 70% audience
Mikey: 3.5/5
Solee: 4/5
We watched in an actual movie theater! With popcorn and soda.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “In 1965 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home.”

Mikey: I’m still enjoying the popcorn and root beer we got at this movie! That’s a unique bonus our previous movies haven’t offered.

Whoa, huge twist: while collecting IMDB info, I just discovered this is a prequel to a 2014 movie, Ouija. I’ve seen my share of movies with Ouija in the title (the hilarious The Ouija Experiment and its sequel for two), but sadly not that one.


Solee: Seeing a movie in the theater is definitely a different experience than watching it in our living room. I almost feel like it’s unfair to compare the two.

Mikey: The mega bass, high volume, and all-encompassing screen definitely help with the scares, and the mood. I think it explains a lot of the dichotomous reviews many horror movies get.

Solee: I remember seeing The Blair Witch Project in the theaters and feeling like it was absolutely the most terrifying thing ever. I’m pretty sure if I’d seen it at home I would have thought it was stupid. I think the theater experience definitely improved this movie.

Mikey: This is why I keep saying we need a theater room! Oh, and I had the exact same experience with Blair Witch. I saw it when it came out in the theaters. Amazing and tense experience. I also reviewed it later when we watched it at home, and a lot of punch was gone, but I enjoyed it.

Solee: Well, Ouija gave me some definite jump scares. And they were the kind I like best when I know they’re coming and I’m all tensed up for them and that makes me jump even more. They did an excellent job of putting creepy people shaped shadows in the background.

Mikey: As soon as they started looking through the planchette, I knew there were going to be some nice jump scares to come. The last time they did that though, I wasn’t too impressed - the stuff that happened moved so fast it couldn’t even scare me. I had no idea what was going on.

Solee: Any time they throw the monster/demon/alien/whatever in my face to try to scare me it just annoys me. I like when it’s so subtle you miss it if you don’t know where to look. I think there’s a skill to putting something in the shadows and tricking the viewer into looking in the right spot without being obvious about it. That’s where horror directing and editing can be very impressive.

Mikey: There should be some kind of bible of horror movies, with all the different types of scares explained. I feel like I know a lot of directors who could benefit from the lessons. And there are a lot of different ways to scare. I liked when the girl opened her mouth a wee bit too big, like when she was sucking in the TV.

Solee: I liked that, too! It felt very “foreign film” to me. Like that’s something you would see in Asian horror. I am always creeped out by the crawling on the wall or hanging down from the ceiling shots, as well. It’s just so… unsettling.

Mikey: That’s not where people belong! But when she decided to run up the wall instead of climbing the stairs, that didn’t do it for me. Sometimes that stuff is a little too wire-work instead of creepy spider movement.

Solee: You are SO SENSITIVE to that stuff. You always say that about Superhero movies, too.

Mikey: I’m glad they did wirework instead of replacing her with a CGI Spiderman!

Solee: How do you feel about the “Oh, look, there’s a great big room behind this wall that we never knew about and that somehow is either still contained within our property or has also never been noticed by the owners of the house next door” trope? Why are so many basements so much bigger than they seem to be?

Mikey: I think that might be one of my favorite plot elements in movies. It just opens up a whole new world. But it bugs the crap out of me when, like in this movie, it’s so absurdly large that it defies all reason that they didn’t know it was there. I wouldn’t notice a missing closet-sized space in my house unless I happened to be doing some measuring or something, but a room bigger than our living room? I think that thing extended onto the neighbors’ property.

Solee: When T.A.R.D.I.S. technology is used for evil…

Mikey: Oh, you’re probably sad the badguys were guys in black morphsuits instead of weeping angels!

Solee: Not sad at all. I will totally sleep tonight after watching dripping morphsuits climb into a little girl’s stretched out mouth. I would not sleep with Weeping Angels on the brain.

Mikey: You have such specific pathologies. I have to find a movie about evil statues.

Solee: I honestly don’t know how you can be so cavalier about them!

Mikey: They’re fictional, you know...

Solee: *leans into mic* WRONG.

Mikey: You’re such a nasty woman.

Solee: Yep. But not as nasty as the sound of someone’s neck breaking. Ugh. That’s totally another one of my pathologies. I HATE that.

Mikey: Yes it is! It doesn’t bother me, but then cracking knuckles bother you almost as much. I just don’t like eye stuff, which this movie was gloriously free of. Well, except the slingshot, but that was off screen.

Solee: That was one of several things that happened in this movie which would have caused some SERIOUS repercussions in real life that were completely ignored in the movie. Understandably so, but I sometimes get caught up on those things.

Mikey: Well, you know I like to impose real-life logistics on horror movies! I think this movie did glide along (it was pretty fast-moving, not one of those bleak, slow, grey movies), skipping right over a lot of realities just to get the story told.

Solee: Can’t say I disapprove. Oddly, I didn’t disapprove of the style of the movie either. Usually I hate when things are set in the 70’s because I think that era was inherently ugly. The clothes the girls and their mom wore looked true to the era, but also like something I’d pick up at a funky thrift store and wear today. Except the nightgowns. Those were SO frilly.

Mikey: Speaking of clothes, as you kept pointing out during the movie, it was kind of a funny choice that the main character’s Catholic schoolgirl skirt was a good 3 inches shorter than every other girl at her school. I was going to point out what a girl-power movie this was, but that undermines it a bit.

Solee: That skirt! Maybe they just skipped over the many times a day she got her knuckles rapped by nuns. Or maybe they were cutting her some slack because her dad had died recently.

Mikey: It’s logistics I have a problem with again: this was a school uniform, so clearly at some point she (or her mother?) actually went in and re-cut the skirt to be shorter! Maybe she just rolled up the top.

Solee: Obviously, you never went to Catholic school. You just roll it at the top! Every good Catholic girl knows that. (I am not sure how I learned that… I am neither Catholic, nor a good girl.)

Mikey: I would catch on fire if I did.

Solee: Given the movies we’ve watched this month, I have to tell you that statement makes me a tad nervous. Should I have a vial of Holy Water on hand, just in case?

Mikey: I guess, if you want to scald me! Rude.

Solee: Speaking of the occult, have you ever played with a Ouija board?

Mikey: Oh wow, we should’ve started with that discussion! Yes, I have! We owned one, and I remember one memorable time playing with it: we were driving cross country in our van, so the rumbly nature of it made the spirits particularly talkative.

Solee: Creepy. Did you learn anything interesting?

Mikey: No, because even at the time, whatever age I was, I 100% understood it was a pram full of bugbears.

Solee: WHERE DO YOU GET THESE SAYINGS???

Mikey: The spirits whisper them into my ears! Did you have a Ouija board?

Solee: I think someone maybe brought one to a sleepover when I was a pre-teen. I have never been a believer of that kind of stuff, though, so I thought it was all nonsense. And even when I was a pre-teen, the shrieks of pre-teen girls pretending to be terrified annoyed the hell out of me. I wish it had been when I was just a tad older. I could have had some REAL fun making that board talk. *insert evil laughter*

Mikey: Don’t mess with forces you don’t understand!

So I did want to bring up the initial premise of the movie. I’ve seen it before, and it’s one I enjoy: the family worked together to perform fake seances (which of course led to them being shocked to find real ghosts later). I don’t know, that ‘inside view’ of the scammer is always appealing to me.


Solee: Me, too. That’s why we’re such fans of Leverage!

Mikey: Yes, it’s always time for a heist!

Solee: I think there’s a level of realism when they show the seances being a total scam in the beginning. Gives me a place to connect with the story.

Mikey: On the opposite end of the movie, and the opposite end of the appreciation scale, I feel like the denouement of this movie was… illogical, random, and incomprehensible. I’m still not sure what all happened after they finished ‘beating’ the ghosts and we moved over to the asylum, but I’m fairly sure that it didn’t all make sense together.

Solee: The ghosts were clearly not beaten. But I thought it was pretty firmly established (in the basement) that the younger sister had died and been reunited with her father. Yet, there she is (in the asylum) crawling around on the ceiling after her sister summons her.

Mikey: And killing a doctor (we assume)! Yet we don’t worry about that and just skip forward 20 or 30 years (in the Funny Part After The Credits). To… the dead sister having a child so apparently she was alive all along? Or some other sister we didn’t know about did.

Solee: At least 40 years… and yeah… the Funny Part After the Credits didn’t make any sense at all. Unless it wasn’t really a niece at all, but was actually her ghost-demon-sister.

Mikey: That makes so much more sense! Every movie should come with you on the side as the movie’s Anger Translator. Except more like a Story Translator.

Solee: Lucky for you, all of your movies do!

Mikey: Not during previous years of Halloween reviews, so this has been a very enjoyable year!

Solee: Just another way I’ve wormed my way into your life so you can’t live without me.

Mikey: True dat. So in this movie, the Ouija board has 3 rules: ‘Don’t play alone’, ‘don’t play in a graveyard’, and ‘always say Goodbye’. It’s interesting because in The Ouija Experiment, the plot (such as it was) also hinged on a set of 3 Ouija rules, but they were slightly different. I think they were ‘never ask them how they died’, ‘always say goodbye’, and… ah, I forgot the last one. I highly recommend that movie - it is hilarious.

By the way, in this movie they broke every rule repeatedly, and they never once said goodbye. I mean, at least do it right once!


Solee: Upon doing some quick research, it appears that the original “rules” were much less interesting: Museum of Talking Boards

Mikey: And upon my quick research, the missing rule was ‘Never ask them how you will die’. Oh, that movie is so funny… “Based on true events” But yeah, those real rules are pretty dull.

Solee: Sorry… didn’t mean to distract from your point. They were pretty careless with this game, even after they knew it was really connecting them with the “other side”. Kinda makes me wonder how the story would have gone differently if they’d been more respectful of the power of the Ouija.

Mikey: That’s no fun at all. It’s like a movie where people follow the rules of gun safety so nobody gets shot.

Solee: Oh, I know. Wouldn’t make a good movie… just makes for interesting thinking. Well, did you have more to say or is it time to rate?

Mikey: Unfortunately, in a dark theater, I couldn’t take any notes, so I have had to rely entirely on my brainpower up to this point. I think my brain is all kaput. You have to rate first this time!

Solee: Ok. So, I’m trying not to let the big-screen, big-sound experience influence my score. I liked the overall vibe of the movie. I thought the acting was believable and the sets/costumes were great. Plot-wise, it got a little shaky in places and it wasn’t super original (ex-Nazi continuing his horribleness in suburban America… that’s been done), but it wasn’t awful to watch. And I liked the special effects. It’s one of the few movies to actually make me jump. I guess… 4 out of 5? 4.5? No… 4. I think that extra .5 is theater boost.

Mikey: This was one of the more well-built productions we’ve seen this month (not a surprise, since ⅔ of them were never released in theaters at all). The acting was plenty good, all the sets and effects expensive and thus effective. It also moved at a good pace for what it was trying to do, and was interesting. But no mind-melting twists, no deep thoughts underneath. Basically, a technical success with no special sauce poured on top. I consider that to be somewhere around 3.5 or 4… Hmm. Let’s make it different from yours: 3.5.

Solee: Fair enough. Tomorrow we return to the small screen, watching Beacon 77 in our living room, right?

Mikey: The movie also known as The 7th Dimension (which is a few extra dimensions, shouldn’t we learn about numbers 5 and 6 first?). Let’s hope it’s fun!

Solee: Maybe they figured those were covered with those Hypercube movies?

Mikey: Ooh, a Cube movie would be fun.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Behemoth 03:16 PM -- Mon October 24, 2016  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

Behemoth (2011)
Not Rated
IMDB rating: 3.6/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A% critics, 12% audience
Mikey: 1.5/5
Solee: 2.5/5
We watched on Hulu.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “Scientists discover a giant creature under the Earth that is wrapped around the entire planet. When the creature wakes all grumpy, it causes worldwide destruction.”

Mikey: SHUT UP ZOE.

Solee: Zoe was the waitress girl, right?

Mikey: Yes, the extremely intelligent and and thought-provoking waitress girl.

Solee: Oh, I thought you meant the super-condescending, rude, and incredibly stupid waitress girl. Maybe there were two Zoes.

Mikey: No, I was employing a technique known as sarcasm. You know how I look away whenever I see eyes about to get stabbed in movies? My ears tried to do that when she talked.

Solee: Hahaha, that’s an awesome description. I think you better check your vectors before you wreck your vectors!

Mikey: I’ll get around to checking them at “oh ten hundred hours”, which is a real time and not random words.

Solee: Absolutely, and don’t take earthquake for an answer!

This movie was a wealth of really stupid quotable lines. By the way, I’m 20, not 16.

Mikey: So, I think we have prepared our audience for a taste of the dialogue they’re in for here. But I don’t want to oversell it, I’ve seen much more amusing bad movies.

Solee: Yeah, but this one feels pretty high on my list actually. It was really cheesy. It was like if Tremors had taken place in the Pacific Northwest.

Mikey: Oh it wishes!! Tremors is awesome!

Solee: I do not think you know what that word means.

Mikey: Just to be clear: Tremors is actually a good movie. High-budget Hollywood production with good actors, who are intentionally being comedic and really entertaining. This is SyFy Original Movie garbage.

Solee: I accept that, and still think Tremors is a stupid movie.

Mikey: I accept that but wonder what I got myself into with this marriage.

Solee: You’re only just now starting to wonder?

So the premise of this movie is very backwards in that it’s the old guy who’s ranting and raving about climate change and how Earth is going to destroy us to save itself, and all the young people totally dismiss him and say things like “How can we be affecting the planet?”

Mikey: That was a little odd, though the crazy old coot who is actually right about the monster is a time-honored tradition. Also, it should be noted that the big solution to global warming in this movie is to kill the monster that’s punishing us for causing it, and just go on doing what we do.

Solee: Kill it with a nuke shot from a rocket launcher!

Mikey: That was an interesting lack of twist: I don’t think I’ve seen one of these monster movies where the final weapon for victory is just sitting there, pre-made for exactly this purpose, and they just need to go get it and use it. A little less interesting than MacGyvering something up and figuring things out.

Solee: It goes along well with the fact that the old guy told us exactly how to kill the monster about 20 minutes before the monster was actually discovered. Conveniently remembered in a super on-the-nose flashback at the end of the movie!

Mikey: Of course, where else was he going to aim?

Solee: “Oh, I have to kill it in its heart? It’s a good thing you told me! I was gonna go for the pinkie toe!”

Mikey: Pinkie tentacle. That explanation he gave frustrated me so much. He was trying to explain to his daughter that a monster was coming, by citing legends, then in the middle of it he says “it’s like when Marduk shot the arrow down its throat to split its heart!” - No, that is not a part of what you were saying at all. That’s how you kill the monster, not anything about the fact that a monster is coming. It was so badly written.

Solee: As was the rest of the movie. Site 14! Epicenter of entity! Singularity event!

Mikey: Actually, the line I wrote down was this (verbatim from the movie): “Let’s go, let’s go. ‘Sgo, ‘sgo, ‘sgo! Let’s get the hell out of here!”

Solee: They really wanted to get out of there! Of course if they wanted to get out faster, they maybe should’ve not aimed for the center of every single puddle on the road.

Mikey: That seemed to be coming from the director, since every driver did the same thing. It’s like The Matrix - the water is symbolic!

Solee: At least there was something symbolic. So I wanna talk about how horribly written the fiance was. They spent a lot of time building up that relationship and trying to tell us how long they’d been together and how much they were in love, but failed to actually show us anything that made me care at all when her fiance got eaten by the monster. It was a classic example of telling instead of showing, and I’m not even sure how that’s possible in a visual medium!

Mikey: What, didn’t you see when she kicked him in the butt playfully? TRUE LOVE.

Solee: Of course even when they were showing us things, they were showing in a way that came across as telling. Like when Zoe and the old guy kept falling off the ladder in such a way as to loudly announce to us “This ladder is shaking” without making it seem anything like the ladder was actually shaking.

Mikey: I made a note that one of the biggest conflicts in the movie is Man vs. Ladder. They spent like 20 minutes on it, and the entire arc for Zoe and Old Man was “Will they climb into the attic”.

Solee: Did you miss the whole May-December subplot? Because there is definitely something going on between Zoe and Old Man. There were several moments where I half-expected them to lean in and kiss each other.

Mikey: So you admit that the filmmakers did an excellent job of showing romance!

Solee: Weird skeezy romance, sure. She was like 12!

Mikey: Ageist. So that was one side of the story. On the other side of things we had the Rugged Man and his Lost Love trying to save his little sister and kill the monster, which was another unique conflict: as he was struggling to put together the rocket launcher, I couldn’t help but picture an IKEA horror movie where the entire danger revolves around whether you can get the furniture built in time.

Solee: “But do you have the right size Allen wrench to build your rocket launcher?!”

Mikey: “Where’s Tab B!?!”

Solee: So this is the ultimate in government conspiracy movies, because apparently the government knew for six months that this was going to happen, and said nothing to the people who lived on this mountain that was built out of squid.

Mikey: Oh yeah, I wanted to note that: this monster literally encircled the world, right? But when it popped out of the mountain I was like “Eh. Is that it?” I mean, it was like a fairly big dragon with some reasonably long tentacles, like maybe 100 yards or something. Bad design.

Solee: I don’t feel like the movie actually said anything about it encircling the world. I think the IMDB description said that, and it’s unsupported.

Mikey: Actually, if you paid attention to the genius dialogue, you would’ve noticed when they said there were tremors all around the world and other thermal activity. So it was going off, girlfriend.

Solee: I think there were some pretty intense leaps of logic in this movie when it comes to science. Like “Oh my god, there are three dead squirrels, there must be a 3 foot layer of carbon dioxide covering this mountain”, or “There are several hot spots located all around the world, it must be one giant planet-sized entity” instead of a nest of mountain-sized squid living in our planet.

Mikey: That brings to mind why I was almost a bit excited about this movie (before I saw it): I have actually always had this image in my head of giant creatures living under the Earth. Whenever I am driving cross country and see vast plains or something, I make a special effort to picture what it would look like if the entire scene in front of me heaved up and a monster tore up out of it. So I was kind of hoping to be primally triggered by this movie. Too bad they opted for baby squid instead.

Solee: That’s a thing you do?!

Mikey: It actually is, like for real. Is that a recognized mental disorder?

Solee: It should be! I would like to point out that this movie is clearly some kind of PSA about carbon dioxide poisoning, because they literally described, in its entirety, the effects of carbon dioxide poisoning three times.

Mikey: All part of the global warming preaching going on! If only they offered a better solution than “As long as we kill the monster, we can keep trashing the planet.”

Solee: If only. Oh! Did you notice that the chopper was not at all affected by the huge blast wave that came from the bomb? Like, we could see it, but it didn’t move the helicopter in the slightest.

Mikey: I did not, but really wasn’t expecting that level of accuracy after they shot a special missile that knew how to steer down monster throats at a giant dragon that popped out of a mountain.

Solee: Hey, that was a high-tech missile! The government spent six months building it, out of IKEA parts.

Mikey: Before we rate, I just want to add that this movie featured a trope I enjoy but never believe: the investigation wall, where you stick every picture and article you can find up with thumbtacks and connect them all with string. Does that really help you figure things out?

Solee: It helps Sherlock Holmes figure things out! He does it all the time on Elementary. Maybe we should start a wall to investigate this!

Mikey: That seems like sound science! How do you rate Behemoth?

Solee: Well, I thought it was dumb, but in a way that made me laugh lots of times, so I’m going to give it a 2.5 out of 5.

Mikey: During my post-movie nap, I spent a while thinking about how to rate this. I feel like there are two separate scales: On the one hand there’s the Actually Good scale, how most people rate movies. But then you also need the SBIG scale, for whether it’s So Bad It’s Good. Because that’s not a binary thing - some movies are more SBIG than others. #Horror was just awful, an SBIG of 0 to go with its Actually Good of 0. No Tell Motel was a bad movie with very high SBIG.

I bring up all that complexity because I want to point out that this movie felt very mediocre on the SBIG scale. It was obviously a bad movie, maybe an 0.5 out of 5, and it wasn’t unwatchable-bad, but it wasn’t hilariously bad, so maybe a 3 out of 5 SBIG. Which I will say comes out to a grand total of 1.5 out of 5 overall. I could’ve gone with more hilarity in the badness.


Solee: I’m actually surprised that I rated this higher than you did!

Mikey: My standards for bad movies are high!

Solee: Tomorrow, we have a special twist: We’re going to the actual theater to watch Ouija: Origin of Evil which came out yesterday!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: JeruZalem 02:16 PM -- Sun October 23, 2016  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

JeruZalem (2015)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 4.7/10
Metacritic: 45
Rotten Tomatoes: 57% critics, 58% audience
Mikey: 4/5
Solee: 4/5
We watched on Netflix.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “When a couple of American young adults fly to Israel to visit the city of Jerusalem, a biblical nightmare falls upon the city.”

Solee: Okay. Let’s do this quickly so my eyes don’t quit on me halfway through. I have a bunch of notes on this movie!

Mikey: I just want to point out that you just endured my real-life horror movie: somebody sliced up your eyes. (She had lasik surgery)

Solee: Mine, too! I have literally ALL MY LIFE had nightmares about not being able to open my eyes. That first day of recovery was much more traumatic because of that than I had been led to believe. Hopefully it will all be worth it and I will become one of those people who tells other people to “Do it! It’s not that bad!”

Mikey: My fingers are crossed that it will all be wonderful. But to get this done quick, we should talk about the movie!

Solee: So it’s called JeruZalem, with a big red Z in the middle, which is pretty telling.

Mikey: After watching it, I thought about it a bit and decided it’s pretty close to 100% a zombie movie. The only unzombie things are that the ‘zombies’ have wings, there aren’t that many of them (in the end we see there are, but during the course of the movie, the people never have to deal with very many), and they seemed smarter, except for how they’d often just stand back and show off their wings instead of doing anything.

Solee: They certainly felt more vengeful than insatiable. This is what you get if you posit that zombies are a Heaven/Hell thing instead of a “whoops, I whipped up a really bad batch of the flu” thing, I guess.

Mikey: Right, whatever their goal was (world domination perhaps?), they didn’t need to eat people like zombies do, they were just sort of violently going about their agenda.

Solee: Which was what, exactly? I honestly have no idea. I ended this movie with the same level of confusion as [*REC]. I have no idea what the “lesson” of this movie was. Aside from “Get out of Tel Aviv before Yom Kippur!”

Mikey: Yeah, I don’t think there was any explanation of it, but the final shot of them all pouring out of the city kind of felt like a general Destroy All Humans situation. About as detailed a plot as your average alien movie.

Solee: Given that and the behavior of the rest of the zombies, I was SUPER disappointed in the appearance of Sarah’s brother. He didn’t really help them. He didn’t really attack them. He might as well have not shown up at all. Was that just God, biting his thumb at Sarah because of the nasty “wish” she sent him? “Sure, I’ll bring your brother back… but you’re not going to like it….”

Mikey: Probably. It’s interesting since she was already bitten by that point, so she was definitely doomed. But it was saying something, between him and Rachel, that the undead weren’t totally mindless, they still had memories and stuff. She sure lost her mind quick when she changed though: straight into “join the flock” mode. At least she didn’t eat Kevin first.

Solee: Rachel, too. She was controlled enough to take herself out before she hurt Sarah.

Mikey: Yup. Whatever that all means. So we should point out that this is our second first-person perspective movie of the month! Which may also be the second one I’ve ever seen.

Solee: I liked this one better, I think because it wasn’t trying to head-hop like Sympathy, Said the Shark. It was just one girl and her Google Glass, which I think is a hilarious premise and basically established this movie as outdated before it even hit the big screen.

Mikey: Outdated… or prescient!? We might all be wearing those next year! I wonder if a large part of the idea of this movie came out of the facial recognition system. They were just like “Oh, and it recognizes her dead brother!” and wrote a movie around that. Fun gimmick. Kind of annoying, but not actually that bad. I’d say it’s not as bad as the more standard gimmick of found footage: the insanely obnoxious person who refuses to stop filming.

Solee: Agreed. I get a little sea-sick from any found footage movie, but this one was easier to get into than others I’ve seen. I didn’t exactly FORGET about the gimmick, but I could accept it more easily. I know what it’s like to have to wear whatever glasses you can get your hands on in order to see!

Mikey: But not anymore!

Solee: Now I have no glasses to help me see! I just have to be patient and let my eyeballs heal.

Mikey: I have so many notes on this movie, but they’re all assorted little tidbits. Seems like there was a lot going on, and not to spoil the ratings, but I really had fun with this. Just as I think the filmmakers had fun with the idea of the Google Glass.

Solee: I have lots of snippets of notes, too. One bigger topic I want to bring up is “implicit bias”. I first noted it when Sarah couldn’t bring herself to kill her clearly infected and obviously becoming dangerous friend or even tie her up or leave her behind… but she stuck a sword through the muslim guy’s throat without even thinking about it. A guy who had been with her through the whole escape. I mean, yeah, he popped up out of the darkness, and she was all hyped up on adrenaline, but that’s kinda the point of “implicit bias”. She saw him as instantly dangerous even though he was completely harmless and just as terrified as her.

Mikey: I don’t feel like that’s fair! Like you said, she killed him before she saw him. It wasn’t what he looked like, it was the fact that he popped up out of the darkness. I think she would’ve killed her friend too in that case, she was just lashing out before processing what she was seeing, since she was so scared.

Solee: Maybe.

Mikey: BUT it leads into my own personal safety concern I have had for a while: you always say “shoot him already!” the second somebody has a sniffle in a zombie movie! I just know one day you’re going to decapitate me because I get a sore throat.

Solee: Only if we’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. If that’s the case, it’s true. I’m gonna be super sad about it, but the ONLY way to survive with zombies around is to ruthlessly get rid of anyone who has been infected. I’ve learned that from all the zombie movies YOU made me watch.

Mikey: Profiling.

Solee: Definitely. I’m not done with the implicit bias topic, though. Because I have to admit to my own implicit bias. I’m not at all proud of it, but I was much more suspicious of the muslim family that ran the hotel than anyone else. They did some pretty suspicious stuff, but I was also just waiting for Omar to turn out to be involved in whatever was going down, with his hashish-getting, chest-hair showing, 3rd person-talking self.

Mikey: I would never blame Omar! Mikey says Omar is good. His family did seem a bit creepy, and the fact they’d always be muttering things in languages we didn’t know, in the middle of a horror movie, made you wonder what they were up to.

Solee: Yes, he was good. Not the kind of guy I’d take home on a first day without having a roommate around, but that has nothing to do with his ethnicity and everything to do with the 3rd person references and the lack of personal space. I am ashamed that I was so quick to assume that he and they were going to be evil in some way, though. Tells me I have some biases I wasn’t aware of and which I’d like to work on eradicating.

Mikey: That makes me think of something I really liked about the movie: it was actually made by Israelis, and it prominently features this idea throughout that Catholics, Jews, and Muslims are all in it together in Jerusalem - stuck dealing with the same problems, and because they’re all together, they have learned to be cool with each other in that space. It’s a window into another world, and I felt like I was learning what somebody else’s existence is like there. I really liked Omar and how he represented “just a dude” who was Muslim, instead of any stereotypes (well, any Muslim stereotypes - he was a hound-dog stereotype).

Solee: Yep. That idea of all three religions working together came in early during the Vatican footage when “all three Abrahamic religions” were working together to try to save the woman.

Mikey: A 3-way exorcism! No wonder it didn’t work! Poor confused God(s?).

Solee: That would have been a mess of a trial to find out whether they were to blame for her death! I really did like how that theme of playing and working together followed through all the way to the point when Omar, Kevin and Sarah were each praying in their own language.

Mikey: Clear symbolism! And that’s something with this movie, I was feeling like there was a lot more here than most of what we’ve watched this month. I’m not saying it wasn’t a basic zombie movie and pretty silly, but you could see there were thoughts and ideas behind it, and you can get a lot more out of this movie than just “Aah, real zombies”.

Solee: Ha. I see what you did there.

Mikey: Oh I went there.

Solee: It was a smart movie. But not to the point of overthinking itself. Which is a fine line to walk in horror. I’m sure the white dresses the girls were wearing for Yom Kippur were symbolic in a lot of ways I don’t completely understand because I’m not a student of theology, but purity and forgiveness come to mind along with the judgement they mentioned.

Mikey: I’m usually looking for smarts and overthinking in the plot, stuff for me to figure out and mysteries to solve. This movie had none of that - it really was just basic running from monsters - but it did have that smartness on a different level entirely, like you are saying.

Solee: And then every so often there would be something ridiculous, like the classic “sound of wings extending.” Which we totally would have missed if we didn’t use closed captioning like old people.

Mikey: Closed captioning often adds fun. I also liked when her Google Glass suffered serious damage to the point where it was launching cat videos at her against her will.

Solee: HERE IS A CAT WEARING A BURRITO HAT. WATCH IT. WAAAATCH IT.

That Google Glass was pretty high level. It could face recognize ANYONE, not just people from her social media network. And it could hear not just her voice and breathing, but also the blood rushing through her ears at the end.

Mikey: That has frightening privacy implications! The facial recognition, not the blood noise. It also has unlimited recording space, and records everything you look at for eternity. Amazing, and also frightening privacy implications.

Solee: The only thing it doesn’t do…? Night vision. Which was unfortunate for Sarah.

Mikey: I was waiting for the night vision to come out for a long time. I mean, come on, how can you do found footage with no night vision? But they did.

Solee: Maybe it was disabled during one of the :( FATAL ERRORS.

Mikey: Yes, every time she fell down or smacked her face, it would frown at her and say FATAL ERROR. In the end, I’m very disappointed the movie didn’t end as I predicted it would: “:( FATAL ERROR”

Solee: Huge missed opportunity. Yuuuge.

Mikey: I forgot to fast-forward for the traditional Funny Part After The Credits. If they were smart, they would’ve added it there - the glasses falling from her now-airborne face, way way down, to crash on the ground with a FATAL ERROR :(.

Solee: Oh, snap. That would have been perfect. The Google glasses on the soaring demon made me think of the go-pro vids I’ve seen where squirrels have taken go-pros and run up trees. Just another clever pairing of recording technology and blissfully unaware wildlife!

Mikey: Yep. I kept being bothered that she was flapping her wings all the way around in front of her face, but I think about that eagle footage and you do see things a little more than you’d expect, so maybe that’s super ultra 100% real.

Solee: Mega-totally-true. Ready to rate? Did we touch on most of your notes?

Mikey: Not at all, but that’s okay! Except to note that there’s some serious Cloverfield going on in this movie. And the characters don’t seem nearly concerned enough about it.

My final impression of this movie is that is a simple, pretty lame, movie, made by talented and capable people. They were slumming. Where it ends up is something of a strange dichotomy. But overall, it was both pretty compelling (with all the cultural stuff), and full of fun moments (with the Google Glass and sometimes the monsters, though they sometimes were kind of stupid). I don’t want to rate it too high, but that’s mostly because I know other people have rated it very low and I don’t want to feel like a sucker. The truth is I kind of maybe loved it. I’m gonna go for a 4! Fun movie, all the way down. But not high art.


Solee: Agreed. The acting was decent. The directing was well done. The plot was simple, but there were nuances that allow for discussion and ongoing thought after the credits roll. I liked that it was a twist on the normal zombie monster. It was a movie I think a lot of people could enjoy watching, provided they like horror and can stomach a found footage flick. I am also giving it a 4, and I don’t care that it makes me look like a sucker. I’ve disagreed with the ratings on most of the movies this month. And for once it’s fun to think something is BETTER than everyone says.

Mikey: Good on you! Speaking of credits, I did go back and check and there is no Funny Part After The Credits. Sad.

Solee: Sad indeed. What are you thinking for tomorrow?

Mikey: I was working on some data regarding what we’ve watched this month, and what I’m finding a shortage of so far is… well, Sci-Fi is something we’ve only hit once (I tagged Shadow Puppets as sci-fi). We haven’t seen one of those dumb SyFy original monster movies or similar...

Solee: Sounds like we have a movie with a tiger-tarantula-gorilla hybrid in our future!

Mikey: TARANTIGERILLA IS ALREADY OUT!?!?

Solee: You wish. Maybe we can see Behemoth, though.

Mikey: See you there!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Canal 03:49 PM -- Sat October 22, 2016  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

The Canal (2014)
Not Rated
IMDB rating: 5.9/10
Metacritic: 55
Rotten Tomatoes: 79% critics, 50% audience
Mikey: 4/5
Solee: 4/5
We watched on Netflix.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “A depressed and stressed film archivist finds his sanity crumbling after he is given an old 16mm film reel with footage from a horrific murder that occurred in the early 1900's.”

Note: We did this interview verbally, with me transcribing the whole thing, because Solee was recovering from Lasik surgery! Previous interviews had us in separate rooms, communicating via Google Doc.

Mikey: Christmas again!?

Solee: We’re going to have to analyze what percentage of our horror movies were Christmas-themed in our final round-up. It’s becoming such a common trope that I didn’t even notice it.

What I did notice was how freakin’ cute that kid was!

Mikey: Pshaw, kids. One of my notes, speaking of him, was that this movie has a horrifying ending.

Solee: We’re gonna talk about the ending already!?

Mikey: No, proceed onto other topics!

Solee: Well it’s clear from the beginning that the wife is cheating on her husband. “Steve from work” was not texting her about work.

Mikey: It gets even clearer and much more graphic later on. But the husband isn’t so innocent either, right?

Solee: Right, he’s cheating with his brain if not with anything else. So the tension is already established in this household, long before we learn about the previous tenants.

Mikey: Yes, perhaps the ghosts needed a wedge to get in.

Solee: Which is opposite The Amityville Horror, where the family felt pretty solid. There was a distinctive change in personality with the dad in that movie. In this movie, the dad seemed like he was on the edge of hitting her with a hammer anyway.

Mikey: I don’t see it to be that tense, he seems like a hapless, semi-clueless doof with a manipulative sneaky wife. But then he seems to develop a clue at the same time he gets semi-sorta-possessed by a filmstrip?

Solee: Sorta possessed? He got way possessed! He got all disassociative, he was removing himself from his own memories. That is not a good sign. I know that because I took Psych 101.

Mikey: It felt like it was a progressive thing, but you’re right - it starts right off that first night with him killing her and having no idea he did. So I guess that was a pretty serious and sudden break with reality.

Solee: Through the whole movie, I wasn’t convinced he was possessed, and not having a mental breakdown instead. Even at the end, I was still not sure he wasn’t just crazy. In Amityville I totally felt like there were ghosts making him do things. The Canal feels more like The Exorcism of Emily Rose in that I’m not convinced it wasn’t all in his head.

Mikey: That’s an interesting perspective… there’s nothing in there that contradicts that, I believe. There’s that horrifying ending I mentioned, which suggests spooky things, but I suppose that his son could be having a similar breakdown. Yeah, it does leave it open, with him being the only one who ever truly sees ghosts. There is a brief final shot of his son’s ghost seen by someone else.

Solee: Which made her smile! That was a note I took: “Creepy realtor lady smiles at the kid she knows isn’t in the house”? She was up to something. She was also the one who didn’t tell them about the house’s history.

Mikey: You know, what we learned about the ghosts was some kind of cult stuff. It’s very possible that she is a living person who is in this cult, and brings people to the house to get locked into it like the father and son appeared to be in the end. And the wife.

On another note, I noted multiple things in this movie that I recognized from other movies we’ve seen - The magic camera that sees ghosts from Paranormal Activity, skyping and seeing a ghost in the background of the shot from The Pact, and of course Zoolander hiding inside the walls from Zoolander (not actually, but Solee commented that it looked like Zoolander). There was also a thing with red light all over the place, which I know I’ve seen used in other ghost movies. And of course Christmas like every horror movie ever made.


Solee: So what we’re saying is this movie was full of a lot of tropes (and Zoolander)?

Mikey: I don’t know, I think those are more like coincidences to me, rather than basic tropes, Except the Christmas thing, and of course red light.

Solee: One trope that I did notice is how there’s a parallel between the current family and the family that was involved in the previous tragedy. I was irritated about how obtuse he was being about the parallels, like I wanted him to notice “Hey, I have a nanny, and a son”. I wanted him to see where this was going, but it took him a long time to send the nanny and son away for safety.

Mikey: That’s a real classic ghost trope for sure. There’s always the parallels. Do you think that was more of a movie thing, or was it actually part of what the ghosts ‘needed’?

Solee: I think it is something the ghosts need, that they need to find somebody similar to them, the more similar the better.

Mikey: So there are probably ghosts in just about every house then, and most of them are super frustrated that nobody’s showing up who meets their profile!

Solee: Probably!

I liked the detective in this movie. He was surprisingly unlikeable, but that worked.

Mikey: By your theory, he was certainly right about everything. And even if it’s ghosts, he still was pretty much.

Solee: When the guy told him it was ghosts, the detective laughed at him, which I thought was amusing.

Mikey: So I want to say that this movie had some effective creepy imagery, not to mention a truly awful undead birth sequence.

Solee: Ugh, I marked that as the grossest scene we’ve seen yet.

Mikey: Yes, that was not good. But lots of creepy Korean-esque ghosts crawling around, and people hiding in walls.

Solee: Yes, who knew Irish ghosts were so similar to Korean ghosts?

Mikey: I picture Irish ghosts being very sheet-like and transparent, so I bet this is more about cultural influence than Irish tradition.

Solee: Yeah, I imagine them being all wraith-like on the moor.

Mikey: We had a bit of a moor here, with the titular Canal, but the ghosts were very solid and creaky. Zombie-ish.

Oh, and early on, when the guy is at the funeral for his wife, his wife’s mother (I presume) spent several minutes trying to make it clear to him that he should feel bad for his wife’s boyfriend who surely was also very sad about this. Ugh. Tasteless.


Solee: Her mom was awful.

Mikey: Which brings to mind your first point, that there was trouble in this marriage already. Everybody but the crazy guy saw this as a failed marriage and were just waiting for her to leave. So I think there’s a lot of darkness under there and support for the no-ghosts-just-crazy theory.

Solee: Yes, he was suffering from some serious denial. My whole last page of notes is me flip-flopping between him being controlled by ghosts and him being extremely psychotic. I just kept going back and forth.

Mikey: The movie really pushes this confusion with very clear ghost stuff going on, but then right towards the end, they reveal that all of that that you saw is very expressly not happening. It’s all what he thinks is happening, and reality is totally different. Which is more than an unreliable narrator, it’s a full-on liar of a narrator.

Solee: Which would normally make me crazy and make me dislike the movie. I don’t like being lied to and being misled by the movie. However, in this movie, I think he’s really lying to himself and that’s what we’re seeing. I think he really believed that there were ghosts controlling him.

Mikey: Oh I think the movie emphasizes that with all the re-written scenes he sees while roaming the sewers. He’s finally seeing the truth, and whether ghosts made him see things wrong or he was just crazy, we don’t know.

Solee: And when he died by being pulled down into the water, that could easily be him committing suicide once he’s realized what he did.

Mikey: That makes sense!

Solee: Which leads us to the ending. The last scene was very clearly and obviously leading up to this kid killing himself. But that very idea is so foreign to American films that my brain refused to accept that it was going to happen -

Mikey: So you substituted a new reality and didn’t see things as they really happened?

Solee: OMG I’m being possessed by a ghost! At least my ghost possesses me with happy thoughts. Anyway, when it did happen, even though I totally knew it was coming, it was a clasp-my-hands-over-my-mouth-and-gasp level of shock. I had forgotten this was an Irish movie, so when he jumped out of the car, my immediate thought was “Where did this movie come from?” because an American movie wouldn’t do that.

Mikey: It was definitely a very shocking ending, and I’m pretty jaded about this stuff, but it surprised me for sure. And it turns around an expectation, where you’d think the newly-ghostified dad would be looking out for his kid, but instead he was sucking him right into the darkness with him.

Solee: Again, it makes me think of Amityville Horror, where Jody who should’ve been protecting them was just trying to get them to join her.

Mikey: I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s a possibility! Her motives were quite vague.

Solee: She totally lied to that kid and told her if she jumped off the roof, she’d get to go see her Daddy!

Mikey: Oh yeah, she did. That kind of messes with my original Amityville theory about sucking up the souls, but oh well.

Solee: It doesn’t mess with it too much, because I think even well-meaning ghosts have such loneliness that they sometimes say what needs to be said to get themselves some company.

Mikey: And she was a little girl, who would be more inclined to think of herself that way, without considering what it means for the victim. But that’s the wrong movie! Let’s rate this movie!

Solee: This was one of those few movies that can get away with open-ended without seeming non-commital. I was captivated through the whole thing. I found the characters very interesting, and that means I’m going to give it a 4 out of 5.

Mikey: I think this was an effective horror movie, probably a step beyond most we’ve watched this month in terms of horror. It wasn’t about jump scares, it was about horribleness, which I have a PhD in. I liked it a lot, yet there’s something lacking that makes me not love it. But I wanna respect the good stuff in here, and give it a 4 too.

To correct our relative shortage of both found footage and zombie movies this month, we're gonna check out JeruZalem tomorrow - and that Z in the middle is big and red, so you know where this is going.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Final Girls 03:01 PM -- Fri October 21, 2016  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

The Final Girls (2015)
Rated PG-13
IMDB rating: 6.6/10
Metacritic: 59
Rotten Tomatoes: 71% critics, 70% audience
Mikey: 3/5
Solee: 3/5
We watched on Fandango ($1.99).


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom's most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film's maniacal killer.”

Solee: The Final Girls had a star-studded cast! And by star-studded, I mean there were lots of faces we recognized. Does familiarity affect your enjoyment of a movie?

Mikey: There’s something about familiarity… Like when the “joke” on Family Guy (or a lot of movies) is “whoa, this is some celebrity in this place you wouldn’t expect to see them!” or “recognize this moment from a popular movie?” It’s not funny in any way, yet you are amused by it. So sure, it’s fun to see Maeby in another movie, like we did a couple days ago in Green Room. Quite a coincidence that.

But also, that stuff I just mentioned is kind of the basis of this movie - it’s all about “oh, I see, that’s that trope from horror movies I’m so familiar with!” Not so much a joke as a reference (by the way, this is a comedy).


Solee: It was definitely comedic, in a Wet Hot American Summer meets Scream kind of way. Lots of goofy young adult drama. The kind of stuff anyone who survived past 25 can relate to in one way or another.

Mikey: That’s a good reference you just made too! It is very Wet Hot. However, and this is where I am stuck. I was kind of rolling along having a decent time, but I kept sitting there waiting for it to click and be amazing. It was all okay, but it never really caught fire and made me laugh a bunch. It should’ve been just the movie for me, so I think they failed somewhere.

Solee: That’s interesting because one of the things that I noticed is that I wrote fewer notes for this movie than any of the others. I thought maybe it was because I was preoccupied with the picture I was drawing, but it’s not that. I paid attention to the whole movie. I enjoyed it. But it wasn’t bad enough for me to comment or good enough for me to comment. It was very “safe”. Marketable, maybe?

Mikey: That could be. I also took very very few notes. In fact I see exactly four comments in my notes. One of them is “outtakes” (I do enjoy when the credits are full of outtakes! Every movie should do it!). But the safeness relates to another one: this is definitely a comedy about horror, not a horror-comedy. Don’t you think?

Solee: Well, it’s definitely super mild. It’s got a lot of the classic horror tropes, but not in a scary way. So I guess I agree. I liked how there were several ways it took the classic trope and turned it on its head. Like how it was almost cartoon-like in its color scheme. We were just commenting on how dreary horror movies are yesterday. Although, that’s just more evidence that it’s comedy instead of horror, isn’t it?

Mikey: The colors were crazy! That was another note: Why is VHS 80’s horror done up in this fairyland super-color style? That’s not how it looked onscreen! Weird choice.

Solee: I think it was to highlight the fantasy aspect of where they were. It was a big clue to the characters that they weren’t in Kansas anymore.

Mikey: Yeah, but it kind of emphasizes that these weren’t horror aficionados taking aim at horror (maybe they were, just didn’t seem that way). Like Shaun of The Dead made a comedy of horror - all the look and feel of horror, except everybody is being silly. This had the look and feel of… the Teletubbies? It was crazy! I’m not really complaining, just confused a bit. In fact, when they did the flashback, it all became black and white, so why wasn’t the non-flashback scratchy VHS quality?

Solee: Maybe because it would have been horrendously annoying to watch a whole movie like that? But Teletubbies is EXACTLY right!

Mikey: It could be that! Anyway, that’s kind of my overall feel: they kept things too mild. There could’ve been actual horror (which I think would’ve been a good counterpoint to silly comedy), and the comedy could’ve been funnier or at least more extreme (for instance, Adam Devine is playing his usual character, only I feel he was holding back from how raunchy he would normally be). There was also a big blob of sentimental goo in this movie. Good or bad?

Solee: You know me, I love me some sentimental goo. Actually, the mother/daughter stuff was what kept it from being completely unoriginal. And I thought House’s team member and the American Horror Story girl did a nice job of playing that relationship. It was sweet.

Mikey: OH MY GOSH. Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil.

Solee: What about it?

Mikey: That’s horror-comedy! I just thought of it. Proceed.

Solee: Yes, that is horror-comedy. Plus it has Alan Tudyk, whom I adore.

Mikey: Malin Ackerman wasn’t on House, you should edit!

Solee: Really? *checks IMDB* Huh. What do you know. She looks EXACTLY like … *checks IMDB* .... Huh. Nope. She looks nothing like Jennifer Morrison. Why do I know Malin Ackerman??

Mikey: I’m not sure, she looks like she belongs on House, M.D.

Solee: Oh. Because Jennifer Morrison was blonde for a season of House! I bet that’s it.

Mikey: All blondes look alike!

I think they tried to have it not just both ways in this movie, but all the ways. They wanted horror, comedy, teen romance, family drama, and pathos, oh, and action movie at the end! That explains the mildness. They couldn’t go very far in any of those directions without cutting one of them.


Solee: Or without losing the audience for one of them. They weren’t willing to get raunchy like Wet Hot American Summer. They weren’t willing to get gory like Scream.

Mikey: Or totally ludicrous like Scary Movie.

Solee: Right. Or super slutty like, well, ALL movies like this. Although they did go that route a little. They built a booby trap!

Mikey: They didn’t, though! The one time someone actually removed her top, it was very specifically off-screen. Mildness! That was a funny bit though, but again it kind of went flat… the whole booby trap sequence was the centerpiece of the movie, and the set-up for it seemed good, but when it actually all went off, it was just kind of blah. I liked when they knew they were in slow motion though.

Solee: That was funny. “Whhhaaaattt’sssss hhhaaaappppppeennnniinnnnnnnnggggg?”

Mikey: That was a part of what kept me interested in the movie: they had this situation where they were inside a movie, which they took further than pretty much any other similar movie I can think of, and I was interested in how the rules of their movie universe worked, and to learn more about it.

Solee: You mentioned the flashback earlier, but I forget to say that I really liked how they did that. The weird pillars of goo dripping down as the flashback took over. That was cool.

Mikey: And it was fun that they exploited that feature to escape from the badguy later too!

Solee: It was a clever idea, at least. It didn’t really work the way they hoped. One of my favorite gags was how they all hopped over the “Summer 1958” lettering. Silliness!

Mikey: Yep, the gist of all the “we’re in a movie” effects was basically taking the normally 2D things that happen on a movie screen (like titling and flashback wavy lines) and putting them into the 3D world they were in. Which was fun.

Solee: Yep. So I have to get a little political for a minute. The whole “only virgins survive” thing is a classic aspect of this kind of horror. But it’s just SOOOO sex-negative and misogynistic. When are we going to outgrow that?

Mikey: Well, they were showing us the ideas of the 80’s, so that could be the movie even if we had already outgrown it.

Solee: Yeah, but they managed to have one of their guys shoot down the classic 80’s gay bashing. And they gave the “mean girl” depth. There were plenty of 80’s things they pointed out and then clearly negated. The virgin thing though … they just ran with that.

Mikey: That’s true. But I’m not sure what else they could’ve done. They could’ve had a male virgin (which I’m sure there was in that group…), as a bit of subversion.

Solee: I was SURE that the film geek was going to end up being a virgin - thus explaining why the bad guy didn’t kill him. But then the bad guy killed him!

Mikey: And he survived it and died again shortly after! But yeah, that would’ve been really fun, and on top of it, it could’ve been a trick: The badguy doesn’t kill him and just walks away, so they all think “Oh, we’re not being attacked because we’re not in the movie”, but then later one of them gets killed because they were wrong about why the geek didn’t die.

Solee: YES. That’s what I was expecting. A little red herring!

Mikey: That would be a more interesting movie! So much they could’ve done to spice this up.

Solee: Yep. This premise and cast had a lot of potential that just wasn’t completely realized.

Mikey: Oh, the other thing I figured early on: every 92 minutes, the movie restarted when they were first waiting by the roadside. I thought the whole movie was going to be a Groundhog Day situation where they would retry over and over until they got it right. That would’ve also been a lot more fun.

Solee: Yeah, they set that universe rule up and then completely ignored it. They could have had them “finish” the movie with the mom alive a couple of times only to have it reset. Then they could have realized that the only way to get out was for her to die. Similar to what they did, but with more build-up.

Mikey: They seemed a little too sure of how things worked at the end. I didn’t even understand the rules like they did, I just went along with it. Oh, and the other mislead about those 92 minutes is I kept thinking “This day is taking a full day for them!” as the movie went on, figuring it should be all accelerated and only 92 minutes total (which I mean, the movie actually was, but they didn’t make it feel shortened).

Solee: There was a missed joke opportunity for them to be jumping from place to place, like the movie jumping from scene to scene. Cutting things like sleeping or peeing!

Mikey: Yeah, they were very haphazard with how cuts and things would affect them - like they all got pulled into this specific flashback (and got all teleported into a corner of the room during a later scene of the flashback), but for the rest of the movie, they’re just living lives as normal, not being jumped around.

Solee: Someone wasn’t thinking very deeply when they made this movie. That pretty much covers my thoughts on this movie. Although I did note that each of the original “movie” characters had a match in the “newcomer” characters. I thought that was cute. And also could have been utilized more.

Mikey: Right, when you pointed that out, I was thinking it was going to mean something important - they were each going to take the place of an original character as the originals died or something. But nope, just a coincidence. I guess it must be time for us to rate this thing!

Solee: I guess so. Before we started this conversation I was pretty sure it was going to get a 4, but talking about it has pointed out just how weak it really was. It was enjoyable and easy to watch, but there wasn’t anything spectacular about it and it could have been a LOT better with a little effort. I give The Final Girls a 3 out of 5. You?

Mikey: You said it! This is an inoffensive easy watch, which isn’t really a compliment. I also feel like that warrants a 3. That might be a little high, but the pleasantness makes you think you don’t want to hurt it. Poor lil’ movie.

Our next film is entitled The Canal and purports to be a mystery with ghosts. Sounds good to me! I hope it’s not a root canal.


Solee: I love mysteries! And you love ghosts! This should be the perfect movie for us.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Pact 02:41 PM -- Thu October 20, 2016  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

The Pact (2012)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 5.8/10
Metacritic: 54
Rotten Tomatoes: 65% critics, 41% audience
Mikey: 3.5/5
Solee: 3/5
We watched on Netflix.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “As a woman struggles to come to grips with her past in the wake of her mother's death and the disappearance of her sister, an unsettling presence emerges in her childhood home.”

Mikey: It’s Christmastime in Horror-Land again! And once again it doesn’t factor into the plot at all. Why do they do it?

Solee: I really don’t know, but I noticed that, too. My best theory is that they are taking advantage of the enhanced juxtaposition between the traditional feelings of family, love, peace, etc associated with Christmas and the terror found in horror stories. I’m not sure that it makes that big a difference anymore. It’s a pretty played out idea.

Mikey: I guess you see that in this movie during the one reference they have: the little girl who tells Annie “Merry Christmas”, while Annie’s in the midst of a mental breakdown. Although that feels more like a juxtaposition against the completely broken family (and more recently missing family members) that she’s dealing with. Not so much the horror as the loneliness and sadness.

Solee: Well, nothing magnifies loss and loneliness like the holidays! So I guess it does do something for the tone of the movie.

Mikey: Not as much as if they mentioned it or pointed it out beyond one random shot of a Christmas tree and one comment! Seems lazy. Anyway, what else is going on in this movie?

Solee: The whole first scene was setting us up for a movie with Nicole, and then the movie is actually about the sister who shows up looking for her. I thought that was interesting.

Mikey: Yeah, she was outta there. Not a lot of screentime. It was funny how two of the characters simply vanished (not that we didn’t learn where they ended up), no fanfare, just out of the movie. And a 3rd almost as much.

Solee: That’s the kind of horror I like… when they disappear with very little blood and gore! It did add to the question of whether this was a supernatural baddie or a not.

Mikey: Actually, that was a twist I didn’t see coming - we gave the spoiler warning, so don’t complain! There was definitely a ghost, but the badguy was something special for Solee: a serial killer!

Solee: YAY! Serial killer! Squee!

Mikey: Better than Ryan Reynolds?

Solee: No way. This serial killer was actually pretty lame. I prefer to follow them, learn what creepy thoughts they are thinking, discover what twisted childhood event turned them evil… this was just BAM. Serial Killer. The end.

Mikey: He was certainly not explored. But there was a certain Sixth Sense element to looking back at the earlier ‘haunting’ moments and realizing it was him creeping around the house. In fact, that’s pretty unsettling (strange that it would be worse to have it be a human - your own uncle, in fact - rather than a disembodied spirit!).

Solee: I made a note of that. How creepy would it be to discover that the whole time you were growing up, there was a whole, live human being living in a room (and basement) that you didn’t know was there? I mean, he was slinking out to drink Dr. Peppers from their fridge while they were sleeping.

Mikey: He was. He’s basically you.

Solee: And peeping into their bedroom! Wait. What? No! I drink my Dr. Peppers right out in the open like a totally normal non-serial killer.

Mikey: The Dr. Peppers I know about anyway. Those peepholes got me - how could they not have noticed these holes in all their walls? I notice all kinds of scratches and dents in our walls!

Solee: I feel like they were not the most attentive of little girls. Also, their crazy mother locked them in the closet that served as the portal to her serial killer brother’s lair when they were “bad”. They were probably focused on other things.

Plus that wallpaper is hideous. It probably burned to look at it too long.

Mikey: That’s for sure. The wallpaper was a major element of the movie - so major it features prominently in the movie poster (actually just checked - they used much more tame wallpaper in the poster).

Hey, I think this movie actually qualifies as the “scariest” one we’ve seen this month because you made a squawking noise! And the moment when the split ghost steps through the doorway definitely had a physical impact on me. I didn’t jump, just you know, a manly tough guy reaction of some kind.


Solee: It was somewhat scary. There was definitely a jump scare that got me, though. You know how I love those scenes where everything is painfully normal until - BAM - you notice a head hanging from the light fixture or there’s a shadow that doesn’t match what’s in the room. Soo creepy.

Mikey: It’s worse because it actually was a real shadow. I think maybe what gets me is the opposite. The ghost loomed out of the blackness of the doorway. I knew it was coming, and it didn’t move fast, but it was an unsettling image!

Solee: Oh! Where she looked like a picture facing off to the side for a long time and then suddenly looked straight at us?

Mikey: Yeah!

Solee: Yeah. That was not what I was expecting. I knew she’d look at us, but I expected to see her turn. What did you think of the ghostly disembodied hand pointing in the living room?

Mikey: Nothing scary about that (well, in real life there sure would be), but it was a fun thing. The ghost in this movie was very pointy. Pointing at everything. She had an agenda, I guess.

Solee: You know if more ghosts were as communicative as she was, way fewer people would have to die to get their message. Just spit it out, ghosts!

Mikey: She was a friendly ghost. Speaking of which, they hired a zombie to fight a ghost!

Solee: That girl was on some HARD CORE drugs. Or maybe she was dying of consumption? She did not look well.

Mikey: In my head, the story is that she takes very heavy drugs, but it’s for a reason: to quiet the very real voices and images she faces every day.

Solee: Headcanon accepted. (that’s a phrase I’ve seen a lot in the comments of the Dr. Who facebook page I recently liked. I never thought I’d get a chance to use it!)

Mikey: And Daleks have head-cannons.

Solee: And whisks and plungers. If it weren’t for the constant extermination, they’d be pretty handy to have around. Although I’m not sure I’d use a whisk that had been that close to a plunger...

Mikey: Good point! So, this movie was very slow. And very depressing and somber. That’s super common in horror movies - they are the most blah and grim things ever (when they’re not manic gore-fests). And I was realizing as I watched that that is one of the things I love in horror. Just slow, grim, depressing imagery… just I don’t know why that would be a good thing, but I really dig those grey movies that lumber along and sap all the joy out of you. Sick?

Solee: Probably. I actually noted the depressing tone of the movie, too. Horror flicks are always really gray or brown or some other washed-out sad filter. As though things can’t be scary unless they are dreary.

Speaking of slow… there was WAY too much foot in that one slow motion bit. We had to stare at a close up of her foot for, like, twelve minutes!

Mikey: Kind of a #Horror moment! That shot seemed out of place. There was nothing else in the movie like it. I guess since we found out a moment later that it was a dream, they were trying to show us the “running through mud” feeling you get in dreams.

Solee: I know that feeling. But that scene did not make me feel it.

Mikey: No, I only got that idea in the next shot, when the door slammed on her as she was reaching for it. Until then I was mostly going “what is her foot up to??”

Solee: And then she ran out in her underwear and hopped on her motorcycle. Thank goodness the Merry Christmas girl was there to remind her that she needed a helmet. And pants. Sheesh. There were a whole lot of moments in this woman’s life when I was wondering what the heck she was thinking. I did not relate to her at all and so struggled to understand her motivation.

Mikey: She did seem a little opaque. Partly because she almost never had anyone to talk to, so we just kind of watched what she did and didn’t know why. I didn’t have a real problem with that though. She was trying to solve the problem, as good protagonists do.

Solee: GOOD protagonists SHUT THE DOOR when they pee.

Mikey: I actually think good protagonists never pee. It’s kind of a movie rule.

Solee: That makes me think of Pulp Fiction.

Mikey: I know what you mean! That’s the problem, movie characters can’t use the bathroom unless they have an ulterior plot reason! Like every movie ever where they go in and encounter somebody in the stall next to them, or something crawling out of the toilet, or argue with somebody while washing hands.

Solee: yeah… I kind of feel like I shouldn’t go to the bathroom ever again, now. Bathrooms are dangerous.

Mikey: Oh hey, what gets me is when a character says they have to go to the bathroom, but on the way they get into some hijinks and they just continue the hijinks, or run back to tell their friends or something… what happened to the peeing? You can’t just skip the bathroom! It’s not optional.

Solee: Blinking. Peeing. Sleeping. Sneezing. There are so many things that real life requires that get in the way of drama and good editing. Real life is a mess!

Mikey: Right, a sneeze means you’re dying of the virus that’s going to wipe out humanity (or you are trying to hide from armed guards and it’s dusty).

Solee: Speaking of boring real life things… It’s a good thing that woman only had one dress. It would have been much harder to tell it was her in all those different pictures.

Mikey: I never recognized her face at all, so yeah, good thing. That seemed a little too silly. They could’ve just had the character recognize her face, like human beings do with their brains.

Solee: She was pretty non-descript. She looked a lot like all the other straight haired, blond, white girls in that movie.

Mikey: She needed an eyepatch.

Solee: Oh! And about eyes. So the serial killer had one blue eye and one green eye. And at the very end of the movie it’s pointed out that so does Annie. I feel like we were supposed to see that much earlier, but I totally missed it. I feel like a major plot point like that needs to be obvious enough for us to notice, don’t you?

Mikey: That was okay with me, because it didn’t matter (actually, I don’t understand why they bothered) - she knew it was her uncle from the beginning, so who cares if there’s some physical marker of relationship?

Solee: I kept waiting for the reveal that she wasn’t actually a sister to her sister. That Basement Uncle was actually Basement Daddy. Or something like that. But that didn’t seem to happen.

Mikey: Whoa wait… maybe they’re assuming we know more about genetics than we do. Mismatched eyes (heterochromia, Google says) might require a direct connection and that’s the big secret. Seems like a leap for a Hollywood movie to make! But there is a The Pact 2 - I was kind of wondering, since they made such a big deal of the eyes at the end, if she was going to turn into the same kind of killer for the sequel.

Solee: The ending of this movie left me VERY cold. I was confused, but not in a way that made me want to puzzle it out. If it weren’t for us talking about it now, I’d probably never have thought about it again. Not an interesting cliff-hanger. Just one that made me say “Huh?” and then move on with my life.

Mikey: Are you talking about the entire wrap-up, or that final shot of the hole in the wall?

Solee: The final shot for sure… but kind of the whole thing. I mean, either it’s a ridiculously simple plot or it’s more complex in a way that doesn’t provide enough clues to understand it. Or I am less clever than I think I am. But THAT can’t be it.

Mikey: Inconceivable! The final shot felt like the kind of completely meaningless bit of tacked-on noise that most horror movies end with - the hand from the grave trope. But the ending in general… it worked for me. I didn’t care about the eye stuff, just the general business of beating the serial killer and setting the ghost free and moving on with life. Pretty standard business! If there was a deep eye issue going on, it is for more clever people than us.

Solee: Standard, yes. I’ve seen too many movies this month for standard to impress or satisfy. I want something exciting and NEW. I know why movie critics always sound so jaded now!

Mikey: New is fun! But I think I liked this movie better than you did. Shall we test that theory now?

Solee: RATINGS! So there were some things I liked about this movie, but overall it wasn’t all that impressing. I’m giving it a very average 3 out of 5.

Mikey: I liked a lot of things about this movie! It really was scary, and it had a good twist that all made sense, and it had some good powerful emotional nonsense. But it wasn’t breaking new ground all in all, it was kind of average - but a little above, due to the good stuff I said. Hence my rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Solee: I can live with that. Did this satisfy your desire for a ghost movie?

Mikey: My hunger cannot be sated! But in deference to a moment in our last conversation, I think we’ll watch The Final Girls next. A classic horror trope!

Solee: I like when they get meta and make horror movies about how dumb horror movies are!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Green Room 08:38 PM -- Wed October 19, 2016  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

Green Room (2015)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 7.1/10
Metacritic: 79
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% critics, 75% audience
Mikey: 5/5
Solee: 5/5
We watched on Vudu ($4.99).


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “A punk rock band is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar.”

Mikey: My big disappointment with this movie is not a fair one: the top review on IMDB said “Don’t read anything about this movie before you see it! Just watch!” which misled me into thinking there would be some huge twist, and it would blow my mind. I can’t fault the movie for not living up to my misinterpretation of some random guy on IMDB, but I was let down when it didn’t turn out this whole thing was a metaphorical transdimensional journey through somebody’s head, or something. So, spoilers, but there’s really no twist to this movie. Were you also expecting one?

Solee: I guess I was because you had told me about that comment… but I wasn’t super invested in one. And once we started watching, I wasn’t thinking about anything but what was happening on the screen. This was one of the more riveting of the movies we’ve seen so far.

Mikey: And it was. Very real, that’s the word I want to throw around for this movie. Sometimes very painfully so.

Solee: Yes. There’s a pain I get in my gut when I see someone who has been injured in real life, like a sympathy cramp or whatever. I don’t generally get them for movies, as movie violence is either ridiculously fake or so over the top I can’t relate to it. The injuries in this movie had my stomach in knots.

Mikey: Yes! We talked in an earlier movie about gore and I said the most it does to me is gross me out, but I felt the gut punch from seeing these injuries. You said it best: it’s like seeing a real person injured badly, it hurts you as well. It raised the stakes and made me invested in the characters, since apparently my internal organs were invested.

Solee: It made it harder for me to watch, but in an oddly good way. There were pieces I just couldn’t look at, but I was almost sad I couldn’t keep watching the movie. I’m not sure I can describe it, but normally, I don’t care about missing the bits that make me close my eyes, cover my ears, and hum loudly. This movie made me turn away, but regretfully.

Mikey: That realism is throughout. One thing I kept thinking about this movie is that this situation (people witnessed a stabbing, and so now are being held hostage… in an almost friendly way?... to prevent them from reporting it) would be no big deal in a lot of movies. It seems so minor, but it’s a real life horror. It could absolutely happen, and the characters were appropriately terrified by it. I think about ghost movies we watch where the people only seem to minorly care that their friends were sliced apart by phantom blades in front of them, while these people were absolutely terrified that skinheads were outside the door with guns. It was all real.

Solee: I found the characters to be chillingly real, too. On both sides. The “Ain’t Rights” reminded me A LOT of my brother and his band, Nopamine. They were mostly normal people who gave each other crap and eschewed many of the rules of normal society, but who were willing to sacrifice to look out for one another.

And the skin-heads… well, I don’t know many skinheads in real life, but these guys seemed believable. They were ruthless, but not in a ridiculous, careless way. They were smart in their actions and that made them that much more terrifying.

Mikey: I’m glad your skinhead count is lowish? I liked that it wasn’t a mindless army ready to murder. There was a lot of reluctance, and more than one traitor (who became traitors mainly on the basis that this was further than they were willing to go). That’s more of that sneaky reality. Only Captain Picard was a true villain.

Solee: I dunno. There were some pretty scary kids in his crew. The guy who was willing to get stabbed in the gut for $300 (which he then stupidly returned to Cpt Picard for “safe keeping” as he was hauled off to jail) to create the cover-up was pretty villainous.

Mikey: Oh, that one was super real! That’s a teenager for you. Young and dedicated to the cause. Probably would wuss out on killing though (I bet those two kids didn’t have the infamous Red Laces).

Solee: Thinking back, it was the folks that looked like they were in their late 20s, early 30s who were least loyal. That’s a brain development thing, I think. The brain finally matures to the point of being able to make your own decisions instead of just blindly following someone charismatic. Sometimes.

Mikey: Yeah, the teenagers are kind of cult-like, but as they get older, they see the cracks in the armor. Speaking of more realism, this movie included not only cell phones, but working reception! And they got a call off to 911! Yet the movie didn’t collapse (actually it was key to the plot).

Solee: In a way that makes it even scarier. No more relying on “Well, I’d have a working cell phone” as justification as to why this couldn’t happen to me.

Mikey: Yeah, the complexity and thought behind the skinheads’ plan was scary and real. They thought about the angles realistically. They didn’t get everything, but they thought about the real things you would think about, and really plotted how to get rid of these kids in a way that they could skate by. That was the flip-side to this being a real-life horror: the villains were real-life capable, not overwhelming monsters, and they were appropriately concerned about the situation. A movie villain normally would be like “shoot ‘em all in the head and toss the bodies in the swamp”, but these guys spent the whole movie trying to carefully figure out how to extricate themselves from a situation involving a single girl being stabbed.

Solee: They had a lot riding on it. I think a whole world of hurt would have rained down on them if the local law enforcement could get the tiniest bit of leverage.

The question of whether this was truly a “horror” movie has come up. What are your thoughts on that? Does this qualify?

Mikey: I really don’t think it is. It’s listed as “Crime, Horror, Music” on IMDB. Crime absolutely. Music, questionably (it’s about musicians, but it’s definitely not a ‘music’ movie). But this is not horror. Which is funny because it is the most horrifying one we’ve seen, but it’s those little specific cultural cues that tell me this is not horror. The same events could’ve been portrayed as horror, but I think they would’ve had to keep the villains more opaque (not let us see their internal squabbles and see them as human and fallible), and spend a lot more time confused and in the dark. I guess that’s the main thing: don’t let us see both sides. Just give us the band’s view and leave us scared and wondering about what was going on outside. And throw a cat at someone.

Solee: I guess I see your point. I don’t want to. I want this to count because it’s the kind of horror that I like… but what that really means is that I really don’t like horror. I like thrillers, crime and suspense.

Mikey: Thriller and suspense are absolutely the words for this.

Solee: Okay… I have a series of deep questions, not necessarily related to one another. Ready?

Mikey: 1,2,3,4 !!!! >SCREAMING PROFANITIES<

Solee: You’d make a GREAT punk rocker. So the first question is about the philosophy of anarchy. The Ain’t Rights were pretty anarchist - as are most punk bands, I suspect - and don’t have much respect or need for rules. They do what they want, when they want. Then they get locked in a room by some guys who obviously want them dead. I guess my question is… are there really anarchists in foxholes?

Mikey: “Anarchy! I don’t even know what that means, but I love it!”
Well… I don’t see why not really, I mean, if you’re in a bad situation, you can employ a lack of rules in battling it. In fact, there’s a big discussion in this movie over how to fight back - with regimented army precision, or wild abandon. Which certainly epitomizes the distinction. I’m actually not sure which way they go in the end, because he seems to be going nuts, but he’s doing it in a very calculated way as part of a sophisticated plan. So I guess it’s precision, but looking like anarchy.

Maybe that’s an underlying theme in this movie, because it’s the anarchist punks battling the rigidly authoritarian skinheads - who style themselves as anarchists, but are anything but. They believe strictly in the rule of law (not American law of course, but their leaders’ law over the followers), and a hierarchy. Very far right ideology meeting very far left. Or something?


Solee: I’ve gone back and forth on this. I originally wondered it earlier in the movie when the band was trying very hard to get the police to come help them. Then when they talked about the real war/paintball war dichotomy, I thought maybe they’d successfully argued the point.

Aside - that whole discussion made me think of the Colonists using non-traditional methods to fight the British army’s very traditional style.

Mikey: Totally! But aside aside: I saw in the trivia that the paintball story is true (it happened to the director), and that Rick Spears was actually the name of the guy who did the kamikaze attack.

Solee: Not surprising. It felt like a real story. Anyway, by the end, I was back to thinking that, although they may have thought they were doing things their own way, they were using some pretty traditional strategies. It didn’t feel like anarchy at the end. It just felt exhausted and hurt and hopeful it was over.

Mikey: They were sure beaten down. That’s another anti-horror note: it was fun to watch the goodguys “win” (the few of them that survived), with clever planning and strategy. That’s illegal in a horror movie, but almost mandatory in all other forms of movie. Well, there’s always The Final Girl, I suppose.

Solee: She just happened to have a friend this time. So that actually covered two of my questions (the second was going to be about the paintball theory).

Mikey: Wait - in between your deep questions, I’d like to pose dumb questions: As this movie suggests, does duct tape really fix everything?

Solee: Absolutely. I’m going to have nightmares about that kid’s arm for years though. *shudder*

Mikey: That’s some special effects!

Solee: And the way they unzipped the big guy with the box cutter!? blegh.

Mikey: You don’t have to describe each bit of gore to me!

Solee: I want our viewers to have nightmares, too!

Mikey: Are they viewers? I think there’s some debate about that.

Solee: Do you think there is anyone else in the wide realm of people who know us who would get that reference? We’re such geeks. And not even the cool kind. Just really geeky geeks.

Mikey: I think that joke was 100% for us alone.

Solee: Alright. So I don’t remember the cool question I was going to ask about this next thing, but it was without a doubt my favorite thing from the whole movie, so I have to at least mention it. One of the band members says “We won’t all live, but **** it, maybe we won’t all die.” That kind of encapsulates the whole of the punk rock scene (what little of it, I know) in one sentence. They seem to have this almost careless attitude about their own mortality, but an almost rabid sense of loyalty and protection toward “their people”. It’s quite touching.

Mikey: Yes, that was a good line. And it goes back to my favorite thing in the movie to harp on: these kids fully understood the danger they were in. Even when the skinheads were being polite and pretending the cops were on their way, these guys were freaked out and really knew they were in deep. So opposite to most horror movies where people ignore the screaming face they see on a videotape and just go back to sleep in the same haunted bedroom. I really appreciated that. Everything about this movie was overly real.

Solee: And at the same time… they kept their wits about them way better than most people do in even minorly frustrating situations. They were scared, but they didn’t really turn on each other and they didn’t melt into puddles of goo. I had a lot of respect for the kids in this band. I’d say I wanted to be their friend, but I’m WAY not cool enough to hang out with them.

Mikey: That’s okay, they’re mostly dead now. It was nice not to sit through a bunch of blubbering and screaming like you usually have to, as well. But again, it wasn’t like they were action stars, they were just so realistic.

Solee: I’m surprised you haven’t brought up the saddest thing about this movie…

Mikey: I almost changed what I was saying so I wouldn’t make you start blubbering! This was the last movie with Anton Yelchin to be released. His death really affects you a lot! And it is pretty upsetting.

Solee: Yes. It’s strange because I don’t normally get all attached to actors… I get attached to characters, and I know they aren’t real… but when I read about Anton’s death, it really struck me as shockingly unfair and sad. I honestly can’t think about him without having an extreme emotional reaction. I’m glad I thought he was an Elijah Wood look-alike through most of the movie.

Mikey: Yes, normally celebrities die for appropriate reasons that are sad in a whole different way: drug overdose, accident on movie set, drug overdose, alcohol poisoning, drug overdose. But this was just random death out of the blue (his car crushed him when it started rolling due to some kind of problem with the gear shift).

Solee: I think that’s the thing that gets me. It’s just so random and unexpected. I don’t know what kind of person he really was - maybe he had all kind of high risk behaviors that would have eventually caught up with him - but that’s the kind of thing that gets normal people. It’s a reminder that we can’t protect ourselves or our loved ones from everything, no matter how hard we might try.

Mikey: When I saw Donald Trump bloviating the other day, I had a sadder thought: that the world lost Phil Hartman (imagine his impression!), and that is a more tragic death than random cars - mental illness and murder.

Solee: Yep. The world is a scary place, made scarier by all the humans roaming it!

Mikey: Which this movie accurately portrays.

Solee: I have one last question. You have anything more to say before I ask it?

Mikey: Sounds like it is going to be a fatal question! No, I have no final words.

Solee: We’ll you’re going to have to come up with some because my final question is… What is your desert island band?

Mikey: [cut to credits, you’ll never know] Ha!

Solee: Is that your answer??? You’re a cheater.

Mikey: No, but it’s a hard question. Since I’m not going to a desert island anytime soon, I will save the hard work of narrowing it down for right before the trip, and just give you some of the candidates: Linkin Park, Fort Minor, Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer (counts as one!), Green Day, hmm… I bet it would end up being Dresden Dolls. But I so like to hear a little of everything, I would be mad with a single band. What is your desert island band?

Solee: I feel like I should be doing some research into these bands to find out which of them is made up of strong, smart individuals who are most likely to be able to help me off a desert island… but I suppose to don’t get to bring the ACTUAL band. In that case, I think it would have to be Linkin Park. If I had their whole oeuvre, it would cover most of my needs… music to mope to (because I’m trapped on a desert island), music to get me pumped up, music to sing along to… Yep. That would do it.

Mikey: I didn’t think we got the real band. Maybe I want the London Philharmonic so I have like 50 people helping me. Or consuming my coconuts, hmm, maybe not.

Solee: If you have a bunch of people, you’re more likely to have one you really don’t like… you know, when it comes time to choose who to eat first…

Mikey: So I’m selecting on the basis of meat. Let’s get off this island.

Solee: Time to rate Green Room?

Mikey: Am I always first? This is a great movie. It’s hard to watch, but not as much as you would think. It’s riveting and intense in a way that is so much more low-key than usual. I hate to say it, but “real”. Let’s call this a 5/5 just to be nice to Anton.

Solee: Oh, snap. I was looking away from what you were typing so that you wouldn’t influence my vote. I was going to go with 4.5, but couldn’t think of any reason to actually dock it that .5, so I ended up on 5 out of 5! With the caveat that it’s not really a horror film, of course.

Mikey: But so horrific. Join us again tomorrow for The Pact!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Needful Things 04:14 PM -- Tue October 18, 2016  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

Needful Things (1993)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 6.2/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: 26% critics, 44% audience
Mikey: 3.5/5
Solee: 3.5/5
We watched on Amazon ($2.99).


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “A mysterious new shop opens in a small town which always seems to stock the deepest desires of each shopper, with a price far heavier than expected.”

Solee: I was very excited to watch this movie. Probably more excited than any other we’ve seen this month. How did you feel going in?

Mikey: Well, I live for new experiences, and I knew I had seen this before (and read the book of course!), so it wasn’t my first choice. But I was excited to go into the contrast with i-Lived, and it seems to fit into our month of movies as something different than the others (90’s movie, Stephen King, cursed objects plot… everything different!).

So let’s start by letting readers know: Stephen King is awesome. If you’ve only watched movies based on his works, you have no idea. His writing is all about the characters, and boy howdy are there some characters in this movie. But anyway, movies of his works are a pale shadow of the real thing, so crack open a book, kids. King is the best.


Solee: I’m always shocked and disappointed when I hear someone say they don’t like King’s books because of the writing (rather than because of the horror, which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea). I will admit, I think tiny judgey things about people who say that. He is always the first person who comes to mind when asked about my favorite authors. He’s not all super fancy and literary, but he develops characters like no one I’ve ever read before. That leads to my main complaint with this movie… I was missing all the fun details that I knew because I’d read the book. They felt all flat and one dimensional without all the history that connected the different members of this town together.

Mikey: My biggest note was that this should be a TV series, not a movie.

Solee: Yes! Like another of my favorite King stories, The Stand!

Mikey: There are way too many characters and too many things going on in this movie to work in 2 hours. Imagine the series: each episode we get 2 or 3 intertwining tales as people are sicced on each other by Leland Gaunt (and by the end of the season, an intrepid team is taking him down. A 1-season show). All about the characters, which is how Stephen King intended it.

On a related note, this movie reminded me of Friday The 13th: The Series, which was about an antique shop that sold cursed objects and not at all about a hockey-masked serial killer.


Solee: It’s hard to make a series about a hockey-masked serial killer just killing everyone he meets. Not a lot of distance in that one.

Mikey: Scream Queens is pretty fun!

Solee: Ehhh. It has its moments.

I was a little disappointed that nobody got stabbed with a hay hook. There was a perfect moment of foreshadowing (which turned out to just be character establishment), but I was WAITING for that hay hook to make a re-appearance the whole time!

Mikey: Whoa, I made a note of that and forgot about it! No reason she shouldn’t have been using it in her fight.

Solee: I want to say that it was used in the book, but now I’m not completely sure of that.

Mikey: I read the book long long ago, and only once unlike some people…

Solee: At least… 4 times! Maybe more! I like familiar places!

Mikey: I told you I like new experiences! I have read It (not this book, the one entitled It) at least 3 times though.

So here’s the thing… I know Leland came to town and pitted everyone against each other, but wasn’t it strange how almost everyone in town had some sort of debilitating mental illness to begin with? These were crazy people!


Solee: Yeah… I think that’s an adaptation thing. There were way more normal people in the book, but normal isn’t as interesting as “killed her husband with a meat fork” or “thinks people are replacing his regular mirrors with two-way mirrors”.

Mikey: It was helpful to cram the turn from friendly to deadly into 2 hours if you start crazy.

Solee: I was disappointed how they removed 90% of the Alan and Polly stuff. They both had all kinds of interesting history that played into their relationship and their individual interactions with Gaunt, but that was all scrapped. They are the main characters of the book and they come off as almost peripheral in the movie.

Mikey: Well, I think Alan is the main character of the movie. Polly is certainly sidelined though.

Solee: Alan is only central in the way any lead cop is central to a crime story. We didn’t learn anything about him. For all we know from the movie, he COULD be embezzling town funds!

Speaking of crime stories… this was categorized as crime-drama instead of horror. Thoughts on that?

Mikey: “Crime, Drama, Fantasy” on IMDB. I think that is a lump of toss. Yeah, I said it!

Solee: Wait. A lump of toss??

Mikey: A bag of floss! A wad of crumpets. When the devil shows up in town and starts selling people their greatest fantasies with a side order of kill-your-neighbor, I don’t know what else you need to add to fit under horror. I mean, it wasn’t a scary movie by any means, but hardly anything we’ve watched this month was scary.

Solee: This is classic horror if you ask me.

Mikey: So that brings up my question: is he the devil, or some kind of demon who just has this particular job?

Solee: So interesting that you ask that. I asked myself if it was possible that he was even the embodiment of Death, as in of the four horsemen. I settled on the Devil, though. I think he was more interested in destroying their souls than collecting them.

Mikey: Yeah, there’s something to the idea that he is Death. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but when he basically becomes a heavy arms dealer, it feels like it. Just kind of roaming the world, finding hot-spots, and inflaming them more.

Solee: There’s another major change that they made which seems to make this more of a possibility. In the book, the items each person coveted turned out to be nothing special. The Sandy Koufax card (YES, it was SANDY KOUFAX, not Mickey Mantle!) that Brian Rusk died for turned out to be some no-name guy, which confused Sheriff Pangborn even more. I think only the devil would have the kind of power to persuade all these people that the junk he handed them was their heart’s desire.

Mikey: Actually, what it sounds like is Loki! The whole thing does. An illusionist and trickster who just wants to cause chaos. Too bad his initials weren’t R.F. though, huh?

Solee: YES. He even talks about seeing some of the characters before, and you know how King likes to work crossovers into his stories. But WAIT. I just had an epiphany!!

What if he IS Death and he had interacted with Alan before when his kid and wife died in a car accident and with Brian when a brother died (? maybe). Of course, neither of those things is in the movie… so…

Mikey: Yeah, they made a bit of an issue of how Leland had this deja-vu recognition of most of the people he met. That certainly seems important, but I’m not sure exactly what it means. That’s as good an idea as any!

Solee: I’m sure it’s not connected to the movie, and probably not even the book… but it’s fun to add layers. :)

Mikey: It’s making me want to read the book again… but if I did that I’d have to go through all his books again.

Solee: Did you have a favorite character, cursed item or character melt-down?

Mikey: I don’t know… it’s more that I liked the whole setup. I think it’s very unique, and it’s fun to see how he used people against each other, to leave them thinking someone else was the culprit, and just build up these rivalries until they exploded. Although no poison bullets in the movie!

Solee: It’s definitely a lesson in avoiding assumptions! I have always liked the Danforth Keaton storyline. He’s such an unlikeable character and has so many other issues… he’s the perfect plaything for Gaunt. And I thought his magic horse game was a clever idea.

Mikey: Yeah, that was cool! It seemed like the movie overdid him. He was the focal point of everything pretty much. He seems like he could be a horror movie all on his own. The whole scene with his wife in the garage was some scary stuff.

Solee: I guess I’m not the only one who liked his storyline!

You said something about a remake with Felicia Day as the Nettie character. Can I submit Hugh Laurie as a potential Leland Gaunt?

Mikey: That sounds awesome! I thought you were going to say for Buster, which would also work well. Sadly I’m not sure where we can fit in Benedict Cumberbatch. Unless he were Gaunt...

Solee: OOhh. He’s make a good Leland, for sure.

Mikey: When I watch movies, my mind goes different places. The thing that came to mind near the beginning of this movie was logistics. The movie wants to set up Leland Gaunt as this otherworldly demonic being (which he is, it’s fair), but he is opening a business in this town. So I imagine the backstory: this creepy demon had to go around dealing with a real estate agent, then get a business license (probably had to get a driver’s license to do that), and on and on. It’s interesting to think about.

Solee: Hahaha! I hadn’t even thought about it. That’s funny. I wonder if there’s a story in that…

Mikey: With Dracula, he always has minions who handle those earthly affairs and prepare his castle for him, but I didn’t see any minions!

Solee: Leland is of the “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” mindset, apparently.

I didn’t realize this movie was so old. That says something for the acting and such… but there are a couple of things that seemed really bad, but are actually probably just indicators of age: the soundtrack and the special effects. What did you notice about those?

Mikey: I noted those same two things. The electric shock when people first touched their cursed item was awful. They could’ve so easily just had no visual effect and it would’ve looked so much better. And my note on the music was “Toodle doodle doo music” - when Brian was riding his bike around, they fired up the Spielberg machine to the max, let’s hear happy toodles to tell the viewers “a kid is riding a bike and full of wonder and adventure”. It’s an artifact of the 80’s that hadn’t quite died yet.

Solee: The music that stood out to me were the selections that played when all hell was breaking loose in town. They were sooooo generic and what I consider to be overdone and unoriginal - like Ave Maria, for example. Now I’m wondering if they were original to the time and are only overdone NOW.

Mikey: Oh yeah, I know what you mean. I think that’s kind of a 90’s thing in a way. Apocalyptic.

Solee: Yes. It all makes more sense coming from the early 90s. I honestly thought this was more recent. Or maybe I just forgot that the early 90’s were a LONG time ago.

Mikey: Us elderly people have that issue. I graduated high school the year this came out!

Solee: You are an OLD man!! Are you going to open an antique store and start bargaining for people’s souls?

Mikey: Antique games maybe… Sega Genesis, SNES. I never had a SNES of my own.

Solee: Oh, now THAT I can totally see happening. Will you put a bell over the door?

Mikey: Oh yeah! They kept showing the shot of the bell ringing on top of the door, and every time I thought the day was going to repeat itself (Buffy issues).

Solee: It was EXACTLY the same sound as that episode of Buffy. Took me a minute to move past that, too.

So the real question raised by this movie is: Was this a town full of good people?

Mikey: No. A town full of crazy people, for sure. The way they portrayed people, it was almost like Alan and Polly had been mistakenly thrown into an insane asylum and had to find a way out.

Solee: Except that maybe Polly was there because she was just tooo boring to be allowed out in the real world. Blegh. I didn’t like her character AT ALL.

Mikey: I was expecting some real drama and angst over her arthritis cure, but I think that was coming from the book memories.

Solee: Yes. It was a much bigger deal in the book. Also, we got to find out what was inside the charm he gave her… remember?

Mikey: I had been expecting a spider, as usual.

Solee: YYEEEESSSS! It’s ALWAYS a spider with King. I think he must be deathly afraid of them.

Mikey: Maligned animals again. I would like to ask of you your rating of this movie… or do you have more insights to share?

Solee: The only other thing I wanted to ask was: do you think it would be so easy to sway humans in general? Or was it the result of the underlying crazy in Castle Rock? Is humanity really so quick to throw over its morality and decency for a bauble?

Mikey: I think the movie did a bad job of making that reasonable. The people went pretty quickly from “okay, that’s a minor prank” to “I’m gonna murder that guy!” But I do think it requires magic regardless - that wasn’t just a Mickey Mantle card, it was a magic one that gave him weird visions of baseball excitement. These people were possessed to a degree. I don’t think you could achieve anything like this with real-world objects even if they were amazingly great (like handing out stacks of thousand-dollar bills, which is probably the best choice of object for every person on earth).

Solee: I think you’re right, to a degree. Those items were magical, but they were also specifically picked to elicit happier, more innocent times. I think there’s a fair length people will go for that thing that reduces the distance between “when I was happy” and “now”. Look at how powerful the phrase “Make America Great Again” has proven to be.

Mikey: That’s exactly what I was thinking of. Everybody wants to go back to those “good old days”, which it turns out were horrible and racist and didn’t have mongolian bbq restaurants.

Solee: Or the internet!! I think the world is pretty darn great right now.

Mikey: Oh the internet!! I mean come on! Cat gifs. Yeah, his magic wouldn’t work on me, I don’t think there’s a “then” I want to go back to. I’d love to rewind my physical self to being 25 or so, but not anything in my life. I get to review halloween movies!

Solee: Youth is wasted on the young! So are we ready to rate? I’m taking your silence as a yes. I give it a solid 3.5 out of 5. It was fun to watch. The acting was okay. It’s dated, but not horribly so. It got a little cheesy in places. The story is decent, even though it’s a shadow of the book. I think if I hadn’t read (and loved) the book, I might have given it a 4, but as it is I know it could have been sooo much better.

Mikey: I almost feel the other way around - appreciating what they’re trying to do makes me like it more than if I just came in to this movie not knowing anything. But I can’t know for sure! I was going to say 3.5 out of 5 too, so I think I better do that. It was a fun movie, nothing real deep or life-changing, but worth seeing.

Solee: Exactly. Do you have plans for our next movie yet?

Mikey: Tomorrow, we shall see Green Room.

Solee: Sounds like a plan.

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  Belittling Horror Excessively: i-Lived 02:14 PM -- Mon October 17, 2016  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

i-Lived (2015)
Not Rated
IMDB rating: 4.5/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A% critics, 19% audience
Mikey: 2/5
Solee: 2.5/5
We watched on Hulu.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “A young online app reviewer's latest assignment mysteriously improves his life, but also starts to tear him apart.”

Solee: In choosing i-LIVED, we were looking for something ridiculous and almost funny in its failure. We were nervous about going down the #Horror road again, though. Where do you think this movie falls? Are you glad we watched it?

Mikey: Well, I am thankful that it’s far from #Horror. It’s not what I expected, and it’s not much like other things. Well, I will say it reminded me a lot of a movie I watched last year called 13 Sins - a guy enters a contest where they progressively ask him to do more horrible things for larger rewards. He can (they say) quit anytime, but he forfeits all the money if he does. Kinda similar. How did you feel about this one?

Solee: I feel like it’s either not nearly as clever as it wants to be or I’m not nearly as clever as I want to be. I was left with this sense that I must be missing something because the overall story is so simple. But maybe that’s okay. It was told in a mostly intriguing, only occasionally annoying way. But it was pretty predictable.

Mikey: Now that occasional annoyance didn’t seem so occasional to me. My biggest problem with this movie was the dream sequences. Or rather the near-constant dream state. Basically the entire movie was an endless string of “horrible things are happening… WAIT it was a dream.” They intentionally made it almost impossible to tell what was dream and what was real, and they did it in such a way that it’s actually impossible to know what the true sequence of events is. He’d go to do something, but it turns out that was a dream, so did he do the thing (only without all the weirdness) or did he never do that thing? Who knows? In one case, we know - he does the same thing later (get a call from his dad where his mom sneaks up behind his dad) without the weirdness… so I guess that was a prophetic dream?

Solee: It was a threat from the app! I read a few reviews/comments that talked about how “not really demonic” the story was, but I disagree. It didn’t come right out and say “You’ve made a deal with the devil” in so many words, but that’s exactly what was happening.

Mikey: Absolutely. I bet if you pause the many shots of the EULA he refused to read, it literally said “you give us your soul” in it. They couldn’t be much more blatant!

Solee: YES! I thought about stopping to see if we could read any of it, but I didn’t care enough. I think that was one of the flaws of the story. The guy was a jerk even before he made a deal with the devil. So it wasn’t all that much of a shock that he was willing to steal a suit or punch someone or, frankly, even kill someone. He had the kind of slippery morals that made it possible for him to justify any decision.

Mikey: Yeah, the slippery morals of the kind of twerp who makes youtube videos that constantly repeat the last word over and over. “Welcome to J-Tech reviews, J-Tech reviews, J-Tech reviews PEW PEW!!!” Ugh, too real and too scary.

Solee: I will say that the actor who played Josh did so quite well. He was a believable twerp. And he did a good job of portraying the “this is wrong… but I really want my reward, so I guess I have to do it” attitude that Josh had. I didn’t actually have a problem with any of the actors or the writing. I think my issues mostly belong at the director’s feet.

Mikey: I’m not so impressed with the writing. First of all, my dream problem I already mentioned (but it could be that I was only dreaming it, and now I’m waking up to see the real movie!), but also this was as you said such a basic plot we’ve seen a hundred times. Strip away the dreams and you have: guy sells his soul for earthly rewards, gets the rewards as advertised, but doesn’t like the dark side he has to go through to get them, and (spoilers) kills himself to escape. Of course that’s no escape, it’s really just ending the rewards and starting the eternal torment early, so bad choice.

Solee: Oh… I totally didn’t make that connection before. You’re right! Just one more trick of the devil. So, we never actually see “The Devil”. But we see his minions: the guy (guys?) with the sunglasses, for example. What about Greta? Is Greta in league with the Devil or was she just another app user with questionable morals?

Mikey: I say we met the devil! Who did the sunglasses guys bring him to, with the horns? Devil!

Solee: Oh, right! I forgot about him.

Mikey: Exactly! He was a weak devil. I was very unimpressed. I don’t know about Greta. I think there was potential for a much more interesting story if they had gotten into the idea that all these users were kind of being used on each other, like if Greta were another user, like the guy he punched at the coffee house was. But they don’t clarify that. She kind of seems like a reluctant demon.

Solee: I’ve read that story! It’s called Needful Things by Stephen King. THAT would have made a much better movie.

Mikey: They did make a movie of that! Don’t think I’ve seen it… but yeah, that is exactly it!

Solee: We both commented about the dialogue in an early scene between Josh and his buddy, Bobby. They were bantering back and forth, slinging insults at each other. It felt very real and natural. Then later, I made a note about how horribly stilted the dialogue was when he was in the car with Greta and we were hearing just his very monotone side of a phone conversation. I’m not sure that I have a question about this… it was just an inconsistency that I noticed and which disappointed me.

Mikey: Yes, that scene stood out to the point that I almost feel like it was improvised entirely. I just got a really positive vibe from his friend (not that he seems like a good guy at all, but like a good character, and a good actor), and at that early point I thought things were going in a good direction. But then that scene turned out to be completely unique in the movie. Everything else was much more Saturday Afternoon Special quality.

Solee: Yep. His character got very flat and weird as things progressed. I don’t blame the actor for it… I think he was doing a good job of showing what was written for him. But it was a very strange choice. It didn’t really SAY anything. Josh could have been super high and excited by his new awesome life or he could have been super creeped out by what he had to do… but instead he was just… flat affect. There was nothing there.

Mikey: Maybe those two things canceled each other out. It seemed like they handled his rise to greatness in a very strange way. I think maybe it was budgetary - they couldn’t afford fancy stuff like you’d see in a big Hollywood movie, so it had to be kind of subtle. Although that’s realistic - when you make your first million, you don’t really move anywhere, it’s all kind of behind the scenes and eating out a little more often (or a lot). But you do pay your rent, Josh.

Solee: Ugh. The rent. What a jerk.

I found the last scene, which I think was supposed to show just how rich and amazing his life was, very off-putting. I know it was supposed to be that, too, but there just didn’t seem to be enough there to justify all the things he did. He had a big house and a fancy suit. But he’s sitting at the big dining room table all alone eating a bowl of soup that he obviously just heated up in the microwave himself. No servants. No gaggles of friends or pretend friends. And no girl… which was the WHOLE POINT.

Mikey: That’s my note: his very first wish (well, after a six-pack) was Greta. So why isn’t she part of that ‘fabulous’ life that he was droning through in misery? It seemed random and strange. I did like the tone of the final montage, the partying and wealth going on with him just completely stone dead in the middle of it all. Still, makes no sense to do that Greta-less. Maybe the point was he rejected her since she was pretty creepy and all, and he was miserable and in no mood for devil-obligated affection, but I think we needed to see that to know it.

Solee: Maybe we did see it. During the really confusing bit with the land-lady and the twin Gretas, there’s a scene where he’s sitting in the corner yelling at her to go away. I wasn’t sure that had really happened, but I guess it did?

Honestly, I wasn’t sure Greta really existed for most of the movie. I think the movie settled on yes, but I think there was more potential if she didn’t. Or if she was there, but wasn’t at all what he pictured in his mind.

Mikey: That dreamy unreality and mish-mash with reality is it. It just made the movie incomprehensible. I think they intended that effect, so we’re lost like he is, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Speaking of no Greta, it was again his buddy (who was not in the movie enough) who tried to dredge up a bit of interest in the plot with that idea. Josh asked his buddy, “Have you seen Greta?” when he arrived at a party, and the buddy said, “I don’t even know what she looks like!” so that was the one moment where you suddenly wonder if she exists. Of course, if she doesn’t, then I feel like the devil was violating the EULA (not that I read it either).


Solee: I’m sure SOMETHING existed. I think the Devil probably has some pretty hardcore law firms on his side to make sure he can get away with crap like that. Wolfram & Hart come to mind.

Mikey: I was gonna say that!

Solee: We’re totally geeks.

Mikey: But the EULA was the thing I kept giggling about. Like the whole plot basically hinged on the fact that no human being would ever bother reading a license agreement before agreeing to it. I think that’s a totally true thing that is really funny. I think they meant it more seriously than I took it, though. They just kinda got right in my wheelhouse with that one.

Solee: Yep. It struck really close to home for me, too. I mean, how many times have I clicked “Agree” on some ridiculously stupid app I downloaded? I could be signing away anything and I wouldn’t know it. But people think that ignorance is an excuse. I think most people think that they’re safe because they could just tell the judge, “I didn’t read it!” and everything will work out. Didn’t work that way with the Devil!

Mikey: I think the key is to make sure the app’s name backwards isn’t Devil. If it’s not, you’re fine.

Solee: Whew.

Mikey: So, if you were running Soltech Reviews, how many stars would you give this app?

Solee: The app? Or the movie about the app?

Mikey: Well… let’s do the movie. It’s hard to judge an app that does good things but costs you your immortal soul (that’s even more than $2.99!).

Solee: I think most people would consider their immortal soul a cheap price to pay… until after the fact. I am going to give this movie 2.5 out of 5. I feel like it maybe earned a 3, but I just didn’t like it that much.

Mikey: And I didn’t like it that much I think, because I give it a 2! I didn’t hate it, but I think “enjoyed it” is a bar too high.

Solee: Yeah. It wasn’t horrible. We’ve SEEN horrible. But it was weak. It could have been done better. I want to send this movie to its room to think about what it has done.

Mikey: And that’s where I plan to take us next… with Needful Things!

Solee: REALLY!? That’s awesome. I love that story. Although, I know that, historically, Stephen King movie adaptations are not great. I’m still excited.

Mikey: Just beware, it’s going to cost us $2.99 to watch, which is nearly your immortal soul.

Solee: I guess I won’t know whether it’s a good deal until after we watch.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Amityville Horror (2005) 02:23 PM -- Sun October 16, 2016  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

The Amityville Horror (2005)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 6.0/10
Metacritic: 33
Rotten Tomatoes: 23% critics, 52% audience
Mikey: 4/5
Solee: 4.5/5
We watched on Hulu.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “Newlyweds are terrorized by demonic forces after moving into a large house that was the site of a grisly mass murder a year before.”

Mikey: So I noticed it’s possible to show the 70’s without it being all in sepiatone. It seems No Tell Motel has lied to me again.

Solee: You just can’t trust horror movies anymore. This was a remake of a 1979 movie starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder. Have you seen the original?

Mikey: Um, I think I may have. There’s kind of a whole series of these, and I know last year I saw an Asylum-made rip-off of it, The Amityville Haunting (a found-footage funfest, of course! I gave it 1/5). And of course it is based on a “true” story, which gets quotes because it’s an entirely different situation than Emily Rose. This story is a yarn spun by the guy who lived in the house, which, while I don’t have all the details, basically turns out to be an elaborate hoax (got him a book deal and all these movies and lots of fame!). Pardon me if that’s not certain, but it seems to be from a cursory examination.

Solee: So it’s more like The Witch - based on something that happened in real life, but mostly fictionalized?

Mikey: Well, it’s based on a fiction that was told to people in real life? The DeFeo murders, which start the movie, are true. Then the Lutz family moved into the house, moved out shortly after, and made up this story about ghosts almost making them kill each other in the same fashion as the DeFeos (which itself is interesting: Ronnie did kill the family, and did claim voices made him do it, but later admitted he was just seriously high, and never had heard voices).

Solee: Dang. People are terrifying. This is one of those horror movies that really chills me. I’m not really afraid of zombies or witches or aliens...

Mikey: You ain’t afraid of no ghost?

Solee: Exactly! But I think human beings at their worst are absolutely horrifying. So it’s movies like this - with completely human monsters, based on completely human monsters - that make me turn on all the lights as I walk through the house at dusk and double check the locks on the doors before I go to bed at night. This crap really happens!

Mikey: It is definitely the one real monster we can find! It doesn’t really get me in horror movies though, usually. It’s kind of like “I could see that in real life. Show me a ghost!” I guess I don’t really double-check doors or anything anyway. White male privilege.

Solee: You’re statistically more likely to pick up the ax than to have to climb to the top of the steepest roof in the world to escape from someone with an ax.

Mikey: True, Ryan Reynolds and I are almost identical twins! Mostly in the abs department.

Solee: Mmmmm….

Mikey: But man, that was one steep roof. I mean, I guess that’s real, but whoa. That was probably the scariest part for me. I don’t like heights!

Solee: There were some pretty amazing wide shots while they were climbing around up there. If not for the imminent death coming from all directions, it would be pretty awesome to have a view like that.

Mikey: I’ll pass on that. Or maybe install a nice balcony or something? I even get twitchy on balconies. Okay, so this is the polar opposite of #Horror - every second of this movie, something is happening. Non-stop, rapid-fire action (too rapid-fire during the initial flashback - this movie needs an epilepsy warning). Did it seem crazy fast-paced to you?

Solee: I wasn’t crazy about the super fast lightning flashes during the flashback. The whole movie did seems to just zoom along, but not in a bad way. I was completely engaged as all this craziness happened. It didn’t come across as unbelievable in its speed, either. They did the little montage-y bit to show time passing as they moved in, but that worked. There was a point when I suddenly realized that they had been there for less than a month. I was surprised… but not really bothered.

Mikey: The pace kept it always interesting! They weren’t afraid to show you the ghosts either, it was like a ghost in the corner of every shot. Constant bombardment of the supernatural, instead of the very common slow-burn horror where you’re never quite sure if anything is happening.

Solee: I just realized that I was way less skeptical of the ghosts/demons in this movie than I was in Emily Rose. I’m not sure why… maybe because I didn’t really believe that aspect to be part of the “true story”, which doesn’t make much sense. I just watched it as a horror film rather than constantly trying to figure out what was REALLY happening when they thought they saw these things.

Mikey: This goes back to the two different versions of “true”. Emily Rose was claiming to tell the true story of an exorcism (but it did leave you the option of interpretation). This movie was more “let’s tell you the story Mr. Lutz told us”. Which I don’t find as bothersome, even though it bothers me that he’s getting rich and famous from lying.

Solee: I found this quote by Sandor Stern, screenwriter of the 1979 version, that fits that: “I wasn't really concerned about whether or not it was a true story. It didn't matter to me. I had to create a reality of my own.” I think you’re right. The makers of this movie were just telling a fun story, not trying to push an agenda.

Mikey: Kind of a campfire ghost story. It’s interesting that it’s become such a cultural touchstone, spawning a whole series of movies, and everybody knows about them. I knew the flies were going to come pouring in at some point, I remembered that (you know, I am pretty sure I saw the original).

Solee: I’m tempted to go watch the original at some point. You know, I said earlier that this movie wasn’t pushing an agenda, but there was one agenda that came through pretty clearly: White people stole Native American land and abused native people and now we’re paying for it.

Mikey: I bet they wish we’d pay for it! But yeah, I’m not sure that was in the original movie. What came to mind for me was Poltergeist - the Indian burial ground is a trope. I guess they had to bring out some kind of “old” explanation for all this, because they had to have a supernatural reason for the first murders.

Solee: Trope! That’s what was bothering me. I got very irritated when the Rev. Ketchum aspect was revealed, and I wasn’t sure exactly why. It’s because not only did we steal land and spread small pox and do all kinds of horrible things to Native Americans, but NOW we appropriate that history to get sympathy for ourselves! “Look at what the scary Indian ghosts are doing to us!” This movie focused more on the evil white guy and the little girl (I want to ask a question about that later), but most movies make the tortured ghosts of a tortured people into the bad guys. That’s just… ugh.

Mikey: Yeah, I don’t know if there were scary Indian ghosts, I think it was more that Ketchum was so evil, he’s the evil force here (remember he slit his own throat to live forever - which by the way: bad strategy). The torturing of Indians was just an example of why he’s evil. I also had a question about Jody! You go.

Solee: So, I totally understand why Ketchum is a ghost there and his role in everything that has happened all along. And I get that Jody was the little sister of the guy who went nuts and killed his whole family in a drug induced rage… But why is she the only ghost of his family left? Why weren’t his brothers and his parents there helping drive this family crazy (or protect them? Is that what Jody was trying to do? I dunno.)?

Mikey: Oh wow, I just invented a theory! I’m 100% sure this is not what the filmmakers intended, but it’s the story I’m going to tell you, just like Mr. Lutz. So the DeFeo family, like dozens before them I’ll assume, murdered each other (okay, one guy did the murdering) due to the ghost. Once murdered, the whole family was ghostly. Then over time, Ketchum “kaught ‘em and killed ‘em”, eating their souls to sustain his eternal ghostliness. Jody was the last one left, and in the final shot of the movie, we see her sucked up at last. Sad really.

Solee: That’s an interesting theory. It makes sense. I agree that it probably wasn’t actually in this making, but it should have been!

Mikey: I’m hoping to become world-famous for it and they make movies out of it. Not so much movies as appendices to this movie. “By the way, Mike said this was happening…”

Solee: Haha! Good luck with that. So there are a couple more things I wanted to talk about. First, how about that babysitter?

Mikey: Yeah, maybe if the parents had spent five minutes (or one) speaking to her before letting her watch their kids, they would’ve known what an awful babysitter she was.

Solee: Dude. I knew she was an awful babysitter as soon as I saw the shirt she was wearing!

Mikey: That was a funny moment. It seemed like it would’ve been a very classic Ryan Reynolds line to have said what you did after the mom asked “Can I get your coat?” - “Can I put it back on you?”

Solee: Except he was playing a macho 70’s man, so he just exchanged a nudge and a wink with the 13 year old boy they were leaving to be molested by this nasty woman. *sigh* Thinking about it, that’s the only person that the Jody ghost was really aggressive towards. She REALLY didn’t like that babysitter.

Mikey: Yeah, they had history - she had babysat her in life. Apparently equally well.

Solee: I wasn’t all that sorry for the poor traumatized babysitter after that night. I was more sorry for the brothers, having experienced such a scary thing AND getting blamed for how things ended. Not fair at all.

Mikey: Well, these kids had a very rough life the whole time in the house. Oh wait, I can’t believe I haven’t said this yet: this was a near-clone of The Shining. And what I want to say is that it was unfair of the movie to make him be a not-really-wanted stepdad. If he was their real loving father, the turn to being really nasty and scary would be so much more perplexing and difficult for the kids. As it was, it was more like “Oh yeah, now we’re seeing what he’s really like!” (from the kids’ perspective)

Solee: But then the tension of “will he treat them well?” wouldn’t have been there from the beginning. And he did go through a pretty dramatic transformation. He was a really decent guy, caring about the kids, putting up with the stress of step-parenting, etc. Ryan Reynolds was a great choice for this character because he makes the sweet, endearing, charming side of it very believable, but he also plays scary, angry, abusive quite believably. He was fricking terrifying by the middle of the movie.

Mikey: The wood-chopping scene was very hard to watch! That was one of my favorites. Although it calls to mind what I never knew was a trope: what is with guys under demonic threat becoming obsessed with chopping tons of wood?

Solee: Maybe that’s an unintended side-effect of the real trope: ax murderers!

Mikey: But no axe-murdering in The Witch or whichever other movie we saw that did this, … maybe I’m wrong about that one since I don’t remember which one.

Solee: It was definitely in The Witch. Not sure about any others. I don’t remember anyone getting ax murdered, or even ax injured, though. That’s still a major trope. It’s what we say when we’re suspicious of someone. *I* was a potential ax murderer, if you ask your mom! ;)

Mikey: I remember well! I think Emily Rose might have had a large amount of chopped wood. I’m looking through our list because I wanna say there were at least 3 besides this movie! Oh, Kill List I’m pretty sure.

Solee: And you mentioned The Shining… I wouldn’t be surprised to see wood chopping in that one. Some of the ALL WORK that makes JOHNNY A DULL BOY.

Mikey: Oh, I don’t know. Fine. It’s weird.

Oh, I have one last note: I thought it was funny when the ghosts were trying to be scary (oh hey, that moment was another one of Jody seemingly being grabbed… he was trying to katch 'em!), and the people were just not looking. I think it’d be fun to make a horror movie where the people just never see the ghosts because they’re looking the wrong way the whole time. Horror-comedy.


Solee: Yes. I would love to see that movie made. The audience is scared the whole time, waiting for something bad to happen, but nothing does. The people just go about their business. I think it would have to be a short because that would get irritating and boring after a while.

Mikey: Doesn’t have to be a short, just make a totally unrelated movie! A romantic comedy with frustrated ghosts in the background trying to scare everyone. Anyway…

Solee: So, there was one other thing I wanted to bring up, too. I thought it was interesting that the haunting/possession of the step-dad had a somatic manifestation. When he was at the house, he displayed flu-like symptoms - throwing up, being tired, headache, etc. I haven’t really seen that in other movies. There are physical symptoms, but they seem to usually be more along the peeling skin or being thrown across the room or pinned to the ceiling variety. This felt more realistic to me. There was definitely something wrong, but it was something he could write off as illness.

Mikey: That would make a good drug ad: “If you experience being pinned to the ceiling or thrown across the room, discontinue use immediately and contact your doctor.” I liked that element, and I have a thought that it was along the lines of punishment for resisting. I’m sure he felt much healthier when he started getting crazy and murderous. It was something to help drive him to do it.

Solee: Good point. There was one moment when I was pulled out of the fictional story and made to question what had really gone down with the real people. The step-dad was in full-blown crazy mode, about to put the ax into the older boy, when mom cocked the shotgun and put it against his temple. He completely froze. The threat of bodily harm/death brought him up cold. In that moment, my only thought was “Oh… so this guy wasn’t actually possessed or out of control at all… he was just in a killing mood”. Crazy, but not so crazy he didn’t remember what a shotgun to the temple meant.

Mikey: Of course, then he slowly pulled it around to point at his forehead instead, which was full of crazy. But you know, your comment fits with my theory! Ketchum couldn’t let him be killed before he had provided sufficient fresh souls. Just one wouldn’t be enough.

Solee: Well that backfired. He got NOTHING from this family. Well… he got the dog. That was sad. But poor Rev. Ketchum is going to be hungry for a while.

Mikey: They always kill the dog :(

Solee: I know. So… anything else? Are you ready to rate?

Mikey: Yep, this was a good movie. Not my favorite ever, but well-made and really fast-paced in a way that kept it interesting despite the plot being as simple as “dad gets crazier until he tries to kill everyone”. I will award that 4 stars!

Solee: Aside from being an overdone storyline, I don’t have any issues with this movie and there were things I REALLY liked. I’m going to give it 4.5 out of 5. This is one I’d recommend to people.

Mikey: Good deal! We better watch something terrible next!

Solee: Sounds like a plan. How about i-Lived?
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