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Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. So, since 2011, I have spent the entire month of October every year reviewing a horror movie each day. I've changed formats many times over the years, and in the past few years, I've even been joined by my wife Solee, as well as the occasional guest. We've got text, drawings, video reviews, audio reviews... we got it all! Wanna check out our reviews? Look below, or use the menu to the left to dig deeper!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Hollows Grove 02:53 PM -- Sun October 30, 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.

Hollows Grove (2014)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 4.9/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A% critics, 22% audience
Mikey: 1.5/5
Solee: 2/5
We watched on Hulu.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “A young filmmaker documents his ghost-hunting, reality show friends as their routine investigation of an abandoned orphanage turns into a nightmare from which they can't escape.”

Mikey: I’m sad that this is our second-to-last movie, but it might be nice for me to actually have a little spare time in which to do work instead of just watching movies and writing reviews 24/7. When I look at the list of horror movies available on Netflix or Hulu, I just want to spend the rest of my life churning through them all. So many terrible low-budget things to enjoy.

Solee: I am also sorrowful that this is coming to an end. Although, having a daily movie/interview/picture schedule is a little challenging when real life rears its ugly head.

Mikey: I took a long time picking the movie for today, and I think I passed up some real winners before settling on… this.

Solee: Don’t spoil our review now!

Mikey: Warning: this review is CLASSIFIED. You should not be reading it. But if you are, please look through it to provide us any information you can about what happens in it.

Solee: I don’t think I’m a fan of the “movie within some other medium” format. Unless it’s Peter Falk reading the best love story of all time to Kevin from the Wonder Years.

Mikey: I enjoy that technique! However, the wrap-around of this movie, where some FBI guy tells us it’s classified, was just a… well, to quote a famous author, it was a pram full of bugbears.

Solee: Don’t reference your songs within your songs. It’s pretentious.

Mikey: Hey, you referenced a song! Cool. It was silly. And the “final shock” of the movie was even more silly. A box full of ghost? That was hilarious. It reminds me of when I visited Hawaii as a kid, and we drove up through the clouds on a volcano, and we held zip-lock bags outside the window to try to collect clouds for souvenirs. Works better with ghosts, I see.

Solee: That is an adorable story. What is NOT adorable is the acronym for this ridiculous ghost hunting team: SPIT (Spirit & Paranormal Investigation Team). And they weren’t even authentic ghost hunters. They were money grubbing scam artists!

Mikey: Hey, that’s still something I appreciate! The whole “fake guys meet the real thing” angle. Fun. Just like Ouija: Origin of Evil.

Solee: I liked it in Ouija. They were at least respectful of the idea and of the people who believed. The SPIT guys are just stupid.

Mikey: They were such horrible people. SPIT was a good acronym for them.

Solee: I couldn’t decide if it was really bad acting or if they were all written very poorly, but I didn’t like any of the main characters. This was one of those movies where very early on I made a note about how happy I was going to be when they all got their come-uppance at the hands of ghosts.

Mikey: The acting was horrendous. It was the girl I noticed most (which I feel bad for, since she was the most abused of them). She was soooo bad. It was reminiscent of The Ouija Experiment as opposed to Origin of Evil.

Solee: Speaking of the girl… she was most abused by the ghosts, but also by her co-workers. They were a bunch of super handsy, gropey guys.

Mikey: Oh yeah, I meant the guys. You’ll notice she joined the ghost’s team as soon as she got a chance! I think that was wise.

Solee: I’m not sure “joined the team” is what you call it when a ghost lifts you 6 feet into the air and then throws you to the ground.

Mikey: But then she immediately went nuts and murdered her friend. She was totally picking sides.

Solee: Ha. I guess. She did get murdery pretty fast.

I liked how the FBI guys left in plenty of visual and audio glitches so that as we were watching we wouldn’t forget that this was found footage.

Mikey: They couldn’t cut those out, maybe there were clues! Hey wait a second, I forgot my favorite note! After she murdered her friend, she becomes a power-walking demon. That was so hilarious.

Solee: She REALLY wanted to get up those stairs and apparently the floaty, flying aspect of possession doesn’t kick in for a bit. She looked like she had joined the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Mikey: Another fine moment: we’ve commented multiple times about how when somebody gets attacked by a cat in these movies, it always just looks like somebody threw a cat at them. This movie cuts out the middleman - someone literally threw a cat at these guys. Hard.

Solee: Shot a cat out of a cannon, maybe. Even the characters were like “Why did that cat just hit that wall at mach speed?”

Mikey: Poor kitty.

Solee: Shortly before the cat-cannon scene they were standing around getting ready to head out into the darkness in what was clearly an ad-libbed bit. It was like these actors had never spoken to other people before in their lives. I noted that they really should have had a director like Kevin Smith, who writes really great dialogue and then doesn’t allow his actors to stray from it.

Mikey: Somebody needed to rein these guys in. There was a great line near the end, where the last remaining guy hears his name being called from the darkness, and he says “Now somebody’s calling my name? What?” That doesn’t sound so bad written down, but I had to make a note of it because it was so not what a human being would do.

Solee: Unless he was trying to get out of an awkward situation. “Um… I think I hear someone calling me... “ Was he at a really uncomfortable dinner party?

Mikey: No, he was in a haunted hospital. I guess that’s something you want to get out of too. He was certainly trying to pry the door open.

Solee: Maybe he could tell this movie was going to be awful and was trying to get out of it. “I’d love to finish my scene here, but I think I hear a ghost calling me. I have to go get murdered now.”

Mikey: That’s pretty much how it went down, actually.

Solee: Did you notice that 99% of the movie was shot through the camera of Harold, but a couple of random times they jumped into a different camera? The first time, was for no apparent reason when they started showing the filming from the official “show” camera. Later it was more logical when it jumped into the camera of the main guy (Tim?) as he was being killed.

Mikey: Well, I will allow it - the FBI guy at the beginning said something about that, I forget what. But he indicated it would happen. On that note, I thought it was interesting that this guy who was documenting their production of the show was really basically just filming their show a second time, over their shoulders. He didn’t ask questions or anything, just filmed what they were filming.

Solee: He did ask questions a couple of times, and got SCREAMED at by Tim or whatever his name was. That dude had some emotion regulating issues. As a writer, the camera hopping happening as rarely as it did came across as poor writing. The author couldn’t figure out how to make that information fit into the POV he’d established, so he cheated and shifted POV to accomplish it. Poor form.

Mikey: Sounds about par for this course. Similar to the real director, the guys making the SPIT show-within-a-show put no effort into their show. They’d deliver a semi-correct line reading and just keep going. Close enough! One take.

Solee: OH! That reminds me that I totally heard one of the characters fumble half way through a line (not on camera for their show within a show!) and restart that line at the beginning again. It COULD have been written that way. I mean, sometimes that happens to people. BUT I am 110% convinced that either the director didn’t notice or they figured, “Eh… maybe they’ll think it was written that way.” and let it stand.

Mikey: As I was watching them film their SPIT show, I kept thinking “Is that really how these ghost hunting shows are done?” - from the way they’d hold the camera 2 inches from the guy’s face, to the super quick effortless bits of dialog and no coverage, to the totally unplanned approach. And in the end I kind of decided that the people making this movie, as movie-makers themselves, probably know more about making a show than I do, so maybe I’m learning something. But maybe you’re proving that that’s just how these guys make movies, and not actually how anybody with any talent does.

Solee: No idea. But I wouldn’t watch their show. And I don’t need to watch this movie again. Aside from the general terribleness of it, I didn’t make many notes. It was just NOT an interesting plot. I can kind of see where an interesting story is hidden in there… but it needed a lot more editing and rewriting to find it.

Mikey: Here’s the shocking twist of the movie: Lance Henriksen is in it. He’s a big movie star. I really wonder what that was about. Was his grandson the director? No idea. But he was certainly the best actor on display, for what little he did. And even he didn’t do that well.

Solee: Who was he?

Mikey: Bill.

Solee: Oh. Really? That guy was a Really Good Actor™ ? I wouldn’t have guessed that. Especially from the very poor line readings during his first scene. He was totally phoning it in.

Mikey: Nominated for 3 Golden Globes! He was definitely phoning it in. Weird.

Solee: The set was creepy. I would have been nervous walking around in the dark in there. Especially if some special effects guy had been in earlier to set up creepy happenings.

Mikey: I see you digging for silver linings!

Solee: Yes. I feel bad about how much I’m hating on this movie. But I really didn’t like it. It wasn’t good enough to be a good movie and it wasn’t bad enough to be a good bad movie. It’s just blah.

Mikey: Well, do you think you can encapsulate that dislike into a numerical format?

Solee: Ummm.. 2.5 out of 5? I am afraid that maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remember.

Mikey: WHOA. I did not see that coming. I wouldn’t even go that high and I have a deep abiding love for all found footage. I award this movie the coveted 1.5 out of 5, throwing in that extra 0.5 because there was a certain SBIG factor at play, especially with the shocking final twist.

Solee: Would it be inappropriate for me to drop my score to a 2 now?

Mikey: I can’t decide your rating for you! Believe in yourself!

Solee: I’m just not sure. Yes. I’m dropping it. 2 out of 5.

Mikey: Peer pressure.

Solee: Probably, but I’m okay with that. So, we’re down to our very last movie!! And we’ve saved something extra special for the grand finale, haven’t we?

Mikey: This is a total game-changer. I think we may have a problem with our scale being limited to only 5 stars when it comes to our opinions of the unimaginable wonder that is Leprechaun In The Hood.

Solee: I’m already wondering if you’ll let me get away with negative integers. Just from the title.

Mikey: I’ve seen snippets of Leprechaun movies on TV back in the days when we had cable. Or maybe back in the days when people rented VHS tapes at Blockbuster. I truly can’t wait for what is sure to be the most terrifying movie of the month.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Leprechaun In The Hood 01:51 PM -- Mon October 31, 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.

Leprechaun In The Hood (2000)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 3.6/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: 33% critics, 32% audience
Mikey: 2/5
Solee: 1.5/5
We watched on Starz.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “When three rappers want to get even with a pimp, they accidentally unleash a leprechaun who goes on a killing rampage in the 'hood.”

Mikey: Hey, Coolio was in this movie. Did you know that? I think I know when it was - he shook the hands of the guys after their “successful” performance. I don’t think he spoke or faced the camera.

Solee: I’m not sure I’d know who Coolio was in real life, much less as a cameo. I recognize Ice-T, though! His acting skills are questionable, but I love him.

Mikey: I just like Ice-T. There’s a really good movie, Surviving The Game, starring him. He just seems like a good guy. You know, for an ex-pimp.

Solee: Yeah. He seems like he’d be interesting to talk to. I’ve been a fan of him on Law & Order for a very long time.

Mikey: Here’s my favorite Goof from this movie on IMDB: “If the Leprechaun was turned to stone in the 1970s and was not reverted to normal until present day, that would make the events of Leprechaun, Leprechaun 2 and Leprechaun 3 impossible, as the Leprechaun would still have been stone (this time line error does not affect the events depicted in Leprechaun 4: In Space, as that movie took place in the future).” - Somebody who’s very concerned with the lore.

Solee: That’s funny. And the kind of thing that would bother me, too. It’s a sign of sloppy writing.

Mikey: Well wait - the best thing about it is how it compares to this piece of Trivia from the movie (spoilers!): “Is the only film in the series where the Leprechaun doesn't die.” So clearly, it’s important whether the Leprechaun was stone or not...

Solee: Wait. It died in the other… 4 movies?

Mikey: That’s what IMDB says anyway!

Solee: Huh. Well, maybe they just thought he died. That little guy was tough to kill. He didn’t have much trouble killing, though. Just a flick of the wrist. Like driving with Anya.

Mikey: Yes, very similar. That was one of my major issues with this movie. It seems pretty clear the writers and/or director didn’t really care about the logic of events. This psychic leprechaun could kill anyone with a single gesture, but he had all kinds of difficulties achieving his goals.

Solee: Sometimes he forgets he has those powers. It’s a side-effect of dying all those times. And simultaneously spending 30 years stoned.

Mikey: I guess being dead, literally stoned, and colloquially stoned simultaneously does a pretty good number on your memory.

Solee: It messes up your ability to rhyme as well. Time and mine do NOT rhyme!!

Mikey: I KNOW!! For a guy who speaks almost exclusively in rhyme, he was horrible at it. Literally every time he started a rhyme, he’d say the first line of it, and in my head I finished it (because it seemed so obvious…), and then he’d say the end of it and my ending was a million times better than his.

Solee: To be fair, you probably spend more time creating rhymes than he does. It’s kind of your jam.

Mikey: It ought to be his jam, I would think. Why don’t you buy him a drink? See! Better than his! He’d do the kind of failed rhymes you hear as jokes sometimes like “I’ll shoot you in the head, and then you’ll… no longer live!” But not intentionally.

Solee: Hahaha. Now you’re just being mean to the poor Lep. So what did you think of our three “heroes”: Postmaster P, Stray Bullet, and the eternal virgin, Butch?

Mikey: The eternal virgin who apparently spends most of his time making sure everyone around him knows he’s a virgin. Kind of atypical.

Solee: He’s obviously spends too much time with his nose in books to get a girl. He was the “nerd” in the group.

Mikey: Yes, he was really clever to pick up a copy of Leprechauns For Dummies. I actually liked that, I admit. But I liked the three heroes pretty much… this movie was so weird. They actually seemed like good actors, who thought they were in a serious movie. There was pathos and whatnot.

Solee: Yes! I spend a lot of time during the course of horror movies rooting for the monster and waiting impatiently for the stupid, arrogant or otherwise annoying main characters to die. This was the first movie where I was legitimately sorry to see them get killed.

Mikey: I was really surprised that 66% of them got killed. They seemed destined to be the heroic champions of it all. But you know, that’s part of the strangeness with this movie: the basic core of the plot was super simple, of course - just take the Leprechaun’s gold and he hunts you down and kills you - but the way it actually played out was surprisingly complex, with Mack Daddy after them, and the church people, and all sorts of side issues. I’m not saying it was a good plot, due to the fact that it was terrible, but it’s like somebody put a lot of thought into this movie for some reason.

Solee: There was a lesson in this movie, too. A real one, not just the “Don’t wish on random lamps” or “always let the slutty girl go through the door first” kind of lessons most horror movies have. This one had a pretty strong message about attitude and selling out and the true cost of sacrificing your soul in pursuit of your dreams. It wasn’t an original message, but like the deaths hitting me, it seemed to be more meaningful than I expected.

Mikey: Wow, I didn’t even know those were lessons I was supposed to have learned. I’m gonna confine my wishing to specific lamps from now on! There was a big on-the-nose bit about Postmaster P bringing us positivity, and Mack Daddy demanding they drop that and rap about killing and drugs. I was truly, deeply, disappointed this movie didn’t end with them turning it around and going positive and making some ridiculous Disney rap about helping grandmas across the street as their big smash hit to become stars.

Solee: They totally could have used the golden flute to make the masses eat that up. But instead they just sank to Mack Daddy’s level. *sigh*

Mikey: The powers of that flute were pretty unclear to me. Mostly it just made people zone out, but sometimes it made them like your raps (I believe Zamfir has one of these). I could really use that (the second feature, not the first).

Solee: I feel like they were leaning pretty heavily on the assumption that we had watched all the previous Leprechaun movies and needed no further information. At the end I was thinking a magic flute would make Kanye West make a LOT more sense to me.

Mikey: Right, the aforementioned lore that this movie trashed with its stone leprechaun! Kanye is a mystery, alright.

Solee: This movie was full of silliness that I can see being very funny to certain people at certain points in their lives. Or under a certain amount of influence from the chronic. This makes me like it more than I would otherwise… not that it’s all that hard to be funny to stoners and teenagers, but still. It WAS a tiny bit funny.

Mikey: Ehhhh… I was really surprised at how dull this whole thing felt. Not that it was slow, but just so unfunny and uninteresting. The one scene that really stood out for me, and totally made me laugh, felt like it belonged in a different movie. It was when the three heroes were hiding, crouched down, and getting prepped to go do something. It went down the line of the three of them “You ready? Yeah, you ready? You?” Only it was four of them… the Leprechaun was sitting at the end of the row and just joined in. Then they all jumped up screaming after they realized he was there. It was a total cartoon slapstick move. The whole movie should’ve been that, but instead it had all kinds of almost-serious stuff, and semi-adult jokes that were just out of place in a movie about an evil leprechaun.

Solee: Yeah. It was dumb. But I laughed when they used douche and jelly on an electric heating pad to create a fire because those two water-based items are “so combustible” together.

Mikey: That was a good unintentional comedy bit… like MacGyver if the laws of physics didn’t apply.

Solee: You think it was really unintentional? Do you think the writers REALLY thought that would work?

Mikey: That’s a very good question… I was kinda going that way (more thinking they didn’t care, they just wanted to Macgyver together two ‘chemicals’), but it could very well have been a fun joke for scientists. In a movie that discusses the difference between triiodide solutions and methiodide (??? Whatever he said at the beginning), it makes sense.

Solee: And physical vs METAphysical interactions...

Mikey: That was something that made me laugh some too. I guess there were some jokes worth laughing at. But not too many. I just feel like it tried to bring in too many real issues instead of just having these guys Scooby Doo their way around a leprechaun.

Solee: It is straddling a fence it probably shouldn’t be trying to straddle. I was disappointed in some of the intentional jokes aimed at transgender people. The whole character of Miss Fontaine was extremely homophobic and transphobic.

Mikey: It was. That whole part was so weird, like why did they even have a trans character they visited? It must be that they thought that would be full of comedy, but it was more a bit disturbing. At first it seemed like they were being surprisingly tolerant for 2000 with these guys just being cool with Miss Fontaine, but it devolved pretty quickly.

Solee: Yes. It bothered me. As did some of the more stereotypical actions of the black characters. I’m not sure if this was a movie made ABOUT black guys or BY black guys. Either way, it often headed into territory that was outside my experience or understanding, leaving me unsure whether I should laugh or be offended.

Mikey: I know what you mean. It was so much more In The Hood than it was Leprechaun, I was surprised. It really focused on that kind of stuff you’d see in a movie about inner city life, the guns and gangs and drugs, rather than a goofy leprechaun attack. It was such a dichotomy of stereotypical stuff mixed with people who often seemed very real (mostly the three main guys).

Solee: You know what really bothered me about it? It is the kind of movie that Donald Trump would watch and totally believe to be The Truth about inner city life.

Mikey: Yes, his interchangeable use of the terms “African American” and “inner city”. A confluence that’s offensive in both directions.

Solee: Now that we’ve acknowledged that there are some serious and significant issues with this movie… can we talk about how awesome it was to try to beat the leprechaun with four-leaf-clover laced weed? That was a great idea and I was disappointed that it didn’t work better. I was expecting some real funny there and didn’t get it.

Mikey: Right, I think that was a fun idea that went nowhere at all. It seems that defines most of the movie. Anything that happened in the whole movie only had repercussions for a few seconds and then we move on to the next scenario starting from scratch (with maybe a few more dead humans).

Solee: Except the “Zombie Fly Girls”, who weren’t dead at all. They weren’t zombies! They were possessed. After a month of watching horror flicks, I’m actually pretty offended and irritated that they would make such a rookie mistake.

Mikey: Yeah, that was a pretty low blow. Speaking of which, earlier we did have an actual zombie fly girl - Jackie Cee (whoever she was… did we have any info about her ever?). That is an example of one of those scenes that just kinda happened. She looked zombie-ish, Jackie Dee looked upset about it, and then we moved on to the next scene, assuming he is dead now I guess.

Solee: I had/have no idea who Jackie Cee was before she appeared as a zombie, other than she was clearly someone Jackie Dee was into.

Mikey: I wish we had been able to meet Jackie Ayy and Jackie Bee too.

Solee: They are probably zombies, too. Safer to avoid all the Jackies.

Mikey: That’s the biggest lesson of the movie I think. That, and leprechauns are very flammable.

Solee: Haha. Indeed.

To be honest, I’m a little sad that we’re ending the month on such a flat note. We picked this movie so we could end on a crazy, silly film, but this just didn’t supply.

Mikey: I want to let our viewers (are we sure they’re viewers?) in on a little secret: there was a different final movie we watched first, which was far better. Hilarious. But, as we watched it, we realized we couldn’t cover it. It was pretty much pornography. I won’t name names, but it was funny!

Solee: Pornography without any actual sex. The same level of plot, acting, set design, and editing as a porno, and the occasional nudity, but nothing actually naughty. Unless you think marionette rabbits who tear people apart are naughty.

Mikey: I’d say that’s a fairly naughty rabbit. Yeah, we actually discovered through IMDB that the movie was made by and starred people involved in actual pornography. They were just trying something different! Anyway, that was another sad thing.

Solee: Yep. Very sad that we couldn’t review it in all it’s ridiculous glory. Oh well. Such is the nature of the Horror Movie Marathon… lots of disappointment with the occasional gem.

Mikey: Yes, and that’s the goal. To sift through the bloody corpses to find the occasional live one. And it’s totally worth it to me. I think tomorrow we will do a run-down of the hits and misses of the month, yes? One last discussion.

Solee: I was hoping we’d do our wrap-up as a discussion! Glad you suggested it. I think it will be interesting to look back at the month as a whole, especially to revisit some of the earlier movies in light of what came later.

Mikey: I look forward to it, and I have many notes already. I think it will be more fun than this movie, which leads me to ask… how do you rate it?

Solee: Oh, yeah. We have to rate! Um… I am going to give this a 1.5 out of 5. And that .5 is only because I appreciated the effort to have a deeper meaning and the main characters had arcs that made me sad when they died. Otherwise this movie didn’t have much going for it.

Mikey: Hmm, I feel much the same. I can’t go all the way down to 1 for this, but it’s definitely not So Bad It’s Good. I think I’ll give it a 2. I realized after we started discussing that even though I was bored during the movie, I was jam-packed with things I wanted to say about it. So I guess it was super duper deep. The Schindler’s List of Leprechaun movies.

Solee: Ooh. Ouch. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The 2016 Wrap-Up Part 1 02:59 PM -- Tue November 1, 2016  

And so, another year of reviewing movies draws to a close. I love doing it every year, and this was the most fun one we've done, thanks to my partner in terror. What follows is our discussion of how it all went down. It is a huge discussion, so I've broken it up into multiple parts to be posted over a few days. And even so there's still so much more we could say about all this!


PART I

Solee: It is November. We’re officially through the month of scary and into the month of food. I want to start by saying I’m super proud of us for sticking to the schedule so well. I think there was only one day that I didn’t get a post up, and that was because I forgot to automate it, not because it wasn’t written. We did very well. Go, us!

Mikey: It may be the first year I didn’t have any mishaps with the watching or posting, actually. Usually I’m either a movie or two short, or I go a few days into November. What a team.

Solee: Before we get into the analysis of the movies, I also want to say that I really enjoyed doing this with you. It was fun to have something entertaining, but also “required” to do together so we couldn’t end up just doing nothing. I am already looking forward to our plans for next year.

Mikey: I find having to do something that the “public” will see (all 3 of the people who read this!) really makes all the difference in staying motivated. But really this was just for us, to have some fun. I like doing these kinds of projects, but I will also say I am glad we’re done. It’s amazing how much of your day can be eaten up with watching a movie and writing a review of it (and posting the review). Not even counting extraneous time-wastage, that adds up to 3 hours and 15 minutes by itself, 7 days a week.

Solee: And when you add in drawing the picture…

THE STATISTICS

Mikey: I did forget about the drawing - that was on you this year, and it certainly took a long time each day too. I appreciated it! So enough of our woes as such put-upon laborers… let’s get to the movies!

I took the time to do my mostest favoritestest activity of all this month: creating a spreadsheet of the movies, with all kinds of statistics and even tagging each movie with specific tags like Cheese, Ghost, and Found Footage. It wouldn’t be a spreadsheet without calculations, so it also calculated averages of ratings and things, and added up how often each tag appeared. Just to quickly cover the most basic and useless stats:

On average, we watched movies from the year 2010.1 which were 93.81 minutes long.


Solee: According to my calculations, the median year of our movie selections was 2014. We watched 10 movies from 2015!

Mikey: Making that Pi A La Mode! Our movies altogether earned an average rating of 5.6/10 on IMDB.

On Metacritic, the average was 53/100, though 13 of the movies were not listed on Metacritic.

Rotten Tomatoes critics gave our movies a 57% average, except 9 movies they didn’t cover.

The much pickier Rotten Tomatoes audience had a 44% average, and the only movie they didn’t cover was Sympathy, Said The Shark. Guess that one was super indie! To be fair, the 8 movies they rated that critics didn’t were probably terrible, so that brings the average down.

Speaking of picky, on average I rated movies 3.05, and you rated them 3.21, so I guess I am the more picky audience (but still kinder than Rotten Tomatoes people!).


Solee: I’m surprised by that. I went into this thinking you would rate things much higher than me, but now that we’ve done it, I can see that you like to hate your horror. The worse it is, the more fun you have watching it.

Mikey: I’m not sure about that final conclusion, but I agree with the surprise. I thought I would be dragging you through movies you were going to loathe, but you had a good time all the way through. Was there a worst experience for you? I mean, I know which movie was the worst one, since it’s the only one we both gave a big fat ZERO rating (#Horror), but in terms of having to watch actual horror, was there another you wish you could have avoided?

Solee: I can honestly say, no. Each one, even the ones that I hated, had something interesting about them that I’d be sad to have missed. There are plenty of them I wouldn’t want to watch again, though! What about you?

Mikey: I agree with that. There are lots of movies in general I’m glad I watched that I don’t need to ever repeat. You know… other than the fact that it was fun to see James Marsters do something, I really didn’t need to ever see Shadow Puppets. I think that was the movie that felt the most like a waste of my time (even though we saw Behemoth!). But then again, there was the mean girl in there with the faces she made...

THE RATINGS

Solee: Yeah… we had very different opinions about Shadow Puppets. You gave it 1.5 and I gave it a 3. At this moment I can’t remember a single things about Behemoth… so maybe that is one I didn’t need to see.

Mikey: Oh come on, there was Zoe and her romance with the Cigarette-Smoking Man...

Solee: OOOHH. Right. I choose that one as my Didn’t Need To See. In fact, I’d recommend #Horror before it, if only because you can’t really understand that level of bad that #Horror is without actually experiencing it.

Mikey: Wow. That’s true, but it’s like saying you don’t know how bad waterboarding is until you try it. I’ll take other peoples’ word for it.

Solee: Obviously, I’m someone who sniffs the milk, gags at how sour it is, and then immediately hands it to whomever is standing near. “Smell this!” Misery loves company!

Mikey: I can verify that you are that person. Now what I found interesting is that Shadow Puppets isn’t our biggest rating discrepancy: The VVitch is, with my 2.5 to your 4.5. What happened there?

Solee: Whoa. I don’t know. After looking back at our review, I see that it was one of our earlier reviews where we did separate interviews, as was Shadow Puppets. I wonder if we influenced one another less through that format. Anyway, I gave it a lot of credit for being well done, beautiful to look at, and thought provoking. My main problem with The VVitch was that it had one more scene than I needed at the end. I wanted it to remain open ended. Do you remember why you rated it so low?

Mikey: I was definitely one of those True Horror Fans who felt betrayed and angry at the hype - the trailers make this movie look like the scariest thing in the world, and it is very very far from it, so failed expectations is a part of it. I also made note in my review of how un-fun it was to see. Despite my discussion earlier this month about how I enjoy grim, grey, slow movies (like The Sixth Sense), this movie was really nothing but a celebration of how awful the characters had it. Let’s just wallow in misery. I guess sometimes that’s the movie I want, but maybe only if a ghost is involved (or more importantly, a twist).

I do feel like the joint interviews gave us both a chance to reflect, and probably get influenced by the other. I really liked it though! I noticed many times where your ideas gave me a new appreciation for what I had seen.


Solee: I’m pretty awesome. Just kidding. I liked the joint interviews better, too. They provided for much deeper discussions I think. Going back to the idea of grim, grey movies, I think that’s something that generally appeals to critics and the folks who hand out awards. It’s almost as though they feel you deserve higher praise if your movies looks like it has suffered. And on the flip side of that coin, they tear you apart like savage dogs if you look like you had too much fun making your movie, as shown by the reception of House of 1000 Corpses within the critical world.

Mikey: Which perfectly brings me to my next statistic! I calculated the difference between the average of our ratings, and how the critics rated each movie… I can tell you that the movies we disagreed with the critics the most on were #Horror (we rated 41/100 lower than they did… but to be fair, most critics aren’t allowed a zero rating), and actually several others we rated much much higher than critics: No Tell Motel and House of 1000 Corpses were the biggest offenders where we averaged 63/100 higher than the critics. That makes sense to me.

Solee: Yep. House of 1000 Corpses was just amazing. It was Art with a capital A, and I think any critic that didn’t recognize that should have his or her credentials stripped. No Tell Motel had the SBIG bump to carry it. It was classically bad in a way that is SO fun to watch. (Sorry, TJ!)

Mikey: Critics never appreciate bad movies for some reason. Looking at my discrepancy ratings, it’s actually pretty amazing… there are only 5 movies we rated worse than the critics. All the rest, we rated higher than critics, many many of them by a huge margin. I think the biggest reason is that we were saying “5/5 is a perfect horror movie” where critics were saying it’s not this deep meaningful movie in general, even if it’s really good horror.

Solee: Right. I know I was using a very skewed scale to rate these movies. If we were rating on the Every Movie Ever Made scale, many of them would have been lower. I also know that my rating scale is very subjective. If I had fun watching the movie, it got a higher rating whether it was “good” or not.

Mikey: If I were having to rate these movies officially, for good, there would definitely be a lot fewer 5s. I’m happy to dish out the 5s during October, it’s all about asking the question “should other people see this movie?” If the answer is absolutely they should, that’s a 5. And I’m a pop-culture guy, not a high art guy. I don’t want to see boring German expressionism, I wanna see 1000 corpses, all in a house.

I ran a similar statistic - comparing our ratings to the Rotten Tomatoes audience ratings. I thought we’d be much more in line with them, since they’re our buddies, but it turns out it’s only slightly different than the critic situation. In this case, Intruders is the movie where we’re most off the norm - we rated that movie 72/100 higher than the general audience! That messes me up. People are dumb.


Solee: I had a moment of “Oh, geez, was I influenced by the fact that I knew someone involved was reading the review” when you said that… but NO. It was a damn good movie. I honestly can’t guess why people wouldn’t like it. So I continue to stand by my 5. People SHOULD watch that movie.

Mikey: Yes, they gave it 28/100. That’s crazy. I have more I want to say about that movie and a couple related others in a minute. But about these discrepancies, our #Horror rating fares much better against the audience - we were only 9/100 off on that. Humans knew to flee the theater on that one.

Solee: Sooooooooo bad.

Mikey: So, on the topic of Intruders, as well as House of 1000 Corpses and Green Room, the thing these movies had in common, which netted all of them 5s from both of us, is that they were something totally new. Each one of them completely failed to meet our expectations, time and again throughout the movie, so we were constantly surprised. They didn’t follow movie conventions and that made them fresh and inventive. It seems like the general audience doesn’t agree - they want to be spoonfed the same old pablum (though Green Room was pretty well appreciated across the board).

Solee: Ooh! Pablum! You’re breaking out the big vocabulary!
I agree, and it reminds me of something I was saying prior to starting this record of our discussion: Horror is much like comedy in its subjectivity and its reliance on context and timing. I’m not surprised that we don’t agree with the general public regarding which horror movies are worth watching. We are Firefly fans. We’re eternally doomed to falling in love with things that aren’t popular enough to continue to exist.

Mikey: We are Firefly fans! So I want to point out one more brief statistic: We had two movies with a Zoe in them (both obnoxious), one movie that had both a Malcolm and a Zoe, and one movie with a Firefly family. So that sums up the Firefly connections for the year.

Solee: We also came across several Leverage connections, and we ended up seeing quite a bit of Ryan Reynolds.

Mikey: And one case of Sir Patrick Stewart.

That's the end of PART I. Come back tomorrow to continue the tale of the movies we watched... hey, it's interesting to me at least!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The 2016 Wrap-Up Part 2 03:57 PM -- Wed November 2, 2016  

Be sure to read Part 1 of this discussion before this, or it won't make any sense. It was just way too huge to make into a single post. There will be 3 parts. Enjoy!

Mikey: Back to the deep stuff you were saying, horror is very subjective. Even to the point of what is or isn’t horror. It’s a major reason The Witch made me mad (now there’s a movie that didn’t meet expectations, but I didn’t approve). We watched 2 movies this month that I tagged “Thriller” because I think they weren’t really horror movies (this happens every year to varying degrees): Sympathy, Said The Shark and Green Room. There was also one tagged Comedy without the accompanying Horror tag: The Final Girls. Some might argue that, but to me it is clearly a comedy movie about horror, not a horror-comedy, since it makes not even a moment’s effort to scare you.

Solee: One of the ways horror is similar to comedy is that context thing. We are a pretty jaded society at this point. We (well, most of us) have a pretty decent understanding of how our environment - weather, celestial beings, etc - work. We’ve traveled far enough into space and the depths of the ocean and the far corners of the earth for fewer of us to accept “Here Be Monsters” without evidence of some kind. We’ve also grown more accustomed to how movie magic is done. So horror movies have to work a lot harder to actually be scary. There were very few movies that truly SCARED me, and none that left me afraid to walk into a dark room at night.

Mikey: I’m worried about my level of jade in my bloodstream. I remember in earlier years of these reviews having some nights where I’d finish my movie and go out to feed the dogs and really have a lot of nervous thoughts as I wandered out into the dark. I think that is a question of becoming jaded moreso than the movies getting less scary, and that’s a sad thing to see. I wish I could still be so affected.

Solee: With age comes wisdom…

Mikey: Wisdom is laaaame pbblblblltltbbtltt.

SCARY STUFF

Solee: Accepted. I, personally, am always more terrified by the thriller/social commentary aspect of horror movies anyway. And we had some pretty horrific movies in that regard: Green Room, The Invitation, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, to name a few.

Mikey: Man, I think The Invitation might have been the most unsettling thing we watched this month. Is there a moment in the whole month that you remember as your biggest actual scare? What made you jump out of your seat?

Solee: I feel like I’m forgetting a more recent movie that made me jump… but the one I do remember is [*REC]. I definitely jumped - and possibly even squealed a little - near the end of that movie. What about you?

Mikey: I wanna give some shout-outs to a couple movies… first is my answer to this question: as far as I can remember, the time I most was shaken up was the one I commented on in The Pact - when the ghost loomed out of the black doorway and suddenly turned. That just got me.

But in honorable mentions, I feel like The Canal was a very effective horror movie. The latter half of that movie was full of some really creepy moments.


Solee: Yes. I agree that those were on the scarier side… also The Uninvited, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and JeruZalem had some unsettling moments.

Mikey: Ouija is another I wanted to award in that way. It’s sad now, looking back, to realize we didn’t watch a single Asian movie this month, which is something I think I’ve done in all previous years. I wonder if the reason these particular ones felt so creepy was their use of Asian-style ghosts, and as a result, the creepiness comes from unfamiliarity. It’s a chance to sneak around our jaded brains by showing us something we haven’t seen in 100 movies already.

Solee: Yes, we talked about that during our review of The Uninvited. When I think of the scariest movies I’ve seen in the past, I always think of Ringu (the inspiration for the American remake, The Ring) and the woman’s ghost corpse crawling out of the well. *shudder*

Mikey: I have reviewed many movies of that genetic line over the years and they are so very creepy. There was one I loved, Pulse, which was clearly very allegorical about life in Japan, where people would one by one vanish, fading into the wallpaper and leaving a black smudge behind, until eventually our hero was the only person left. There’s some disturbing stuff coming from across the sea!

THE CHARACTERS

Solee: So let’s talk about characters a little. Who was most annoying?

Mikey: The obvious answer is Zoe (your choice!), but that is misleading, because while we had double the Zoe annoyance, the entire cast of Hollows Grove was actually infinitely more obnoxious! At least the two guys who ran the SPIT show were. Awful human beings, and so grating to watch.

Solee: Most Annoying goes to the girls of #Horror for me.

Mikey: OH NO I had wiped them from my mind! AUUUUGHGHHHHH. Okay, while I recover from the memories, why don’t you tell me who you think was the smartest character we met this month?

Solee: Oh, that’s tough. So many horror characters are dumb as posts. I think Smartest goes jointly to Perry and JP of Intruders. They were the only “victims” to think logically about how to escape instead of just flailing around like Kermit.

Mikey: I think we saw more like that in other movies… the Green Room guys were planning things pretty well, the girl in The Pact was doing her thing (when she wasn’t in slow motion), and I feel like the people of Ouija didn’t get a lot of chance to show off their brains but didn’t make overtly terrible choices. Maybe. There was also a lot of fake-smart like Butch in Leprechaun In The Hood and the entire cast of Beacon 77 but I don’t count fake-smart. I guess… I’m going to be sneaky and rate the smartest as the psychotic girl in The Uninvited. She had a plan and she made it work, all the way.

Solee: Wow. I didn’t expect that. Huh. Okay… so who was the character you’d most want to hang out with?

Mikey: Hmm. I looked at our list and came up with two answers which are both horrible people who wouldn’t even be pleasant. But they’re … likeable? Gal from Kill List, and Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses. They are both really abrasive, but funny and friendly at the same time. And both murderers.

Solee: Oh, totally Captain Spaulding. He’d make me VERY uncomfortable at first… and then again when I found out he was a serial killer, but in between, he’d be great fun to talk to. I would also like to hang out with the kids of the Ain’t Rights, the punk band from Green Room.

Mikey: That floppy hand would freak me out. Oh wait, you know who was a cool guy? The sheriff from Needful Things. Okay, putting aside having to interact with them, which character did we see that was the most well-realized all month? Who was a real person up on screen?

Solee: Whoo… I have to think about this one for a minute… I’m not sure I can narrow it down to just one. There were several who stand out to me as “real” people: Jerry from The Voices, Thomasin from The Witch, and Omar from JeruZalem. There were layers to them that made them feel authentic. I was pleased with the multi-faceted characters in The Amityville Horror and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, as well.

Mikey: Well with that big list, I just want to toss in a few other ones of note: Everybody but the lawyer and Conrad in Intruders was a real live human being. Everybody but possibly the cultists in The Invitation. Keeping that trend going, everybody but the cultists in Kill List. Kill List began with some amazing human stuff before it got weird. And Green Room, which was so real I spent the whole time thinking of the real people it reminded me of. Seems like we didn’t watch enough groups of teenagers get murdered in the woods this month, with so many good characters!

Solee: Not for lack of trying! But it does seem as though we landed on some very well-written characters. I’m sure that influenced my scores for the better. I like good characters. So let’s wrap up this segment with one last superlative pair: the Nicest and the Meanest characters of the month!

Mikey: Mmm… I think the nicest character is pretty easily Jerry from The Voices, I mean if you don’t mind getting killed. But the meanest, that can be tricky with horror movies. Oh wait, I group nominate all the girls from #Horror. A movie entirely about being mean.

Solee: I am completely with you on the #Horror gals being the meanest. They were just awful, and made even more awful by being around one another. For nicest, I think Jerry is a good choice, but I’m going to reach deep into the characters we met and pull out a side character! I nominate Emily Rose’s boyfriend. That guy not only stuck by his girlfriend when she lost her mind, but also stood by the priest on trial for killing her. He was a very patient fella.

Mikey: That’s some deep cuts! He was a good guy, that we only saw for about 2 minutes.

Solee: Well, you took my first answer! I guess I could also nominate Anna from Intruders, but she was so emotionally crippled it was hard to see whether she was really a good person under it all… or if she was really a serial killer like her brother.

Mikey: I’d be concerned that any kindness she showed was more weakness than kindness. She seems dangerous.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 3!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The 2016 Wrap-Up Part 3 03:59 PM -- Thu November 3, 2016  

And welcome to the final part of our wrap up! If you haven’t read them yet, you should start with Part 1 and Part 2.

TWISTS

Mikey: So in addition to a lack of teenagers chopped to bits, another big thing we missed this month was twists! I tagged two of our movies with the “Twist” tag: The Canal and The Uninvited (and I thought I was being generous with The Canal). My favorite thing in all of movie-dom is a huge plot twist that completely redefines everything you’ve seen beforehand. Did M. Night Shyamalan spoil me for twists just like I am spoiled for scares, or did we really see a lot of straightforward narratives? (Honorable mention: there were some twists in Holidays between all the various stories)

Solee: I feel like we saw a lot of very uninspiring plots this month. There were very few surprises and I pretty much knew how things would turn out based on the IMDB description most of the time.

Mikey: We did have that group of movies that were very surprising we mentioned before, but they weren’t “twists” where everything changes, just unexpected events along the way to an expected conclusion. I really appreciated those, but I do miss having my mind blown apart.

Solee: I think we’re more likely to get that mind-blowing twist from movies that are labeled “thriller” than from “horror” these days, especially since anything that strays from the standard “horror” fare gets panned by the critics.

Mikey: You’re right about that. Psychological Thriller November? Maybe later when we’ve had time to recover from this month of not getting anything real done.

Just to wrap up with a few random notes from the tags I made:
  • We saw 5 movies that took place during Christmas time. Popular for horror, I guess!
  • No fewer than 11 movies earned my “Driven” tag, which means they featured people being driven insane by ghosts. Very common idea.
  • We saw 7 movies which earned the Cheese tag.
  • Only 5 of our movies got a Gore tag, but I was pretty picky about that - they had to really focus on gore, not just have one really bloody thing.
  • 5 serial killers, 7 demons, 12 ghosts, 3 cults, 2 “monsters” (the Behemoth and the Shadow Puppets monster), only 2 zombies, and just one witch.
  • Only 4 found footage movies! Sad.
  • Four comedies (or attempted comedies).
  • Four Sci-Fi movies.
  • Surprisingly only 3 movies which featured a pregnant woman. Seems like I flipped past a hundred of those while searching for movies.
  • Even more surprising that we got two first-person view movies! The first two I’ve ever seen.
  • Four foreign movies: Irish, Spanish, Israeli, and British.
  • Only 3 movies earned the coveted Insane tag for being totally insane.
  • Unsurprisingly, only one courtroom drama!
Solee: To be accurate, there were only three movies with pregnant women, but one of those movies was Holidays, which had several different pregnancy related stories.

Mikey: Yes, well we also had a lot more than 2 zombies, but I’m just counting up how many movies featured them!

Solee: I have two questions before we bring this monster discussion to a close. First, do you think you chose different movies because I was participating with you?

Mikey: I think there was an influence. One thing I didn’t do was spend the entire afternoon flipping through movies to find just the perfect one, because that drives you insane!

Solee: Wait. You DIDN’T do that???

Mikey: It’s so much worse when you’re not looking. I think I also semi-consciously tried to find “good” movies (which worked!). On my own, I would plow through a lot more found footage garbage.

Solee: And weird mutant creature combinations?

Mikey: Nah, I don’t really go for those in the marathon (at least not in large numbers). That’s more for watching with my sister! Oh, I also avoided foreign movies more because subtitles can be difficult when somebody is half-blind from laser beams.

Solee: I am honestly disappointed by how much this stupid eye thing affected our movie watching. I would have enjoyed more foreign films. Next year!

Mikey: The gears are already turning...

ARTWORK

Solee: And my last question: What did you think of my drawings? Favorite? Least favorite?

Mikey: Oh the drawings!! My favorite thing about this month was having somebody else be the one spending all this time on arts and crafts instead of me! The drawings were awesome. Let’s see…
  • Best Picture 2016: Kill List, i-Lived, and The Pact

  • Oh there’s so many others… Amityville, Sympathy (yes, the doodle), The Invitation

  • Anyway, on to my least favorite even though I surely loved them all with all my heart: I think The Final Girls. It’s an ugly house regardless of how you draw it. It even looked weird in the movie!

Solee: Yes. I think that Final Girls was one of the first ones post-surgery. My heart definitely wasn’t in it. Ouija and Beacon 77 are pretty bad. And The Witch was a total cop-out. I’m disappointed that I went that the tracing route, even once.


Mikey: The Witch would be super impressive if I didn’t know you cheated. It’s a good way to learn, though!

Solee: I was quite proud of the wine glass from The Invitation because I traced it first and then drew it all over again on my own. Learning!

Mikey: Honorable mentions to [REC*] because of how fun it is and how much you hate it.


Solee: I do hate those stick figures. I think my overall favorite was the shotgun from i-LIVED. That turned out WAY better than I expected.

Mikey: That’s why it won Best Picture! So… anything else we need to know about this awesome month of awesome movies? And terrible ones?

Solee: I think that pretty much wraps it up. And it only took us… 2.5 hours and 11 pages! Special props to anyone who managed to read to this point.

Mikey: I don’t even care if anybody reads it, this was just all fun for me. I had the best time.

Solee: Ditto. Now… let’s have lunch. And maybe watch Cabin in the Woods because it’s the BEST Halloween movie ever! (Yes, it’s actually Oct 31 as we’re writing this…)

Mikey: It is Halloween tradition! I hope no kids show up so I can eat all the candy we got.

Solee: Except the mini Butterfingers. Those are mine.

Mikey: All the time (see I rhymed, right?).

Solee: Better than a leprechaun!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: IT 02:23 PM -- Sun October 1, 2017  

Hey everybody! It's my favorite time of year! I get to spend this month watching a horror movie every day, and then discussing it in overwhelming, excruciating detail with my wife! Nothing could be more awesome. Well actually, we do limit ourselves for time, to avoid creating an unreadable novel of discussion. It would be more awesome to actually keep rambling and be able to cover every single little thing about every movie. But here in the real world, here is what we are able to discuss about each movie in forty-five minutes. Enjoy!

Oh, and as always, we will spoil all of these movies extensively during our reviews, so you should watch it first. In addition, we aren’t going to explain what we’re talking about, so that’s another reason you should probably watch it first. And then join the discussion in the comments below!

Okay, one last note: the last line of every review tells you what the movie for the next day is going to be. So if you don’t want to be spoiled on this movie, but do want to know what the next movie is so you can watch it first, read the last line!

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

It (2017)
Rated R
IMDB Says:
“A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.”
IMDB Rating: 8.1/10
Metacritic Rating: 70/100
Rotten Tomatoes: 86% critics, 89% audience
Solee: 4/5
Mikey: 5/5
We watched this in the theater.

Mikey: It’s 2017, and here we are again at my favorite time of year! It’s time to review movies!! YAY!

Solee: Yay! We spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to come up with a clever plan for this year’s reviews, and here we are … back to the basics. A Google Docs convo from two different rooms in the same house.

Mikey: I really wanted to do a podcast, but… yeah. Hard things are hard. Let’s start this month off with a bang by watching a brand new movie in the theater!!

Solee: DONE! We actually left the house to see IT on the first day it was available here. What were you expecting?

Mikey: First showing of the first day! Not for the review though, but because we are both big fans of the book and Stephen King. We got to “enjoy” the movie version of The Dark Tower a month or two earlier, and now IT has come for us.

Solee: [spoiler alert: DT was NOT good. *sadface*]

Mikey: I had higher expectations of this one. Just from the previews it looked pretty good. But how could they possibly take a 1200+ page novel and crush it into a 2 hour movie? There are a ton of characters, who do a ton of things (a big chunk of the book involves all the other townsfolk, not just the main kids). So I expected something like Dark Tower, but better - the ideas and images of the book, in an Easy Reader format.

Solee: IT is one of my favorite King books. I’ve read it at least 5 times. I did not have high hopes for the movie because the trailers made it look like it was going to be a straight up horror flick. The magic behind the book (and most of King’s work, if you ask me) is that he gets way into people’s heads. You get to know each character, even side characters, on a very intimate level. That’s just not possible in a movie format. And yet … I was extremely pleased with the movie.

Mikey: Yes, actually I should say the trailers made me expect it was a “clown as Freddy Krueger” movie (whereas in the book, the clown is not so central - It can appear in any form and just uses the clown a bunch of times), which we sorta did get, but it was much more true to the book than I expected. I was happy!

Solee: I was relieved when I realized, about half-way through, that they weren’t going to try to do the whole book. This was very clearly a movie with a sequel set-up. Which actually fits the book quite well, if you unshuffle all the past and present scenes.

Mikey: I got scared at the point you got relieved! I thought they were going to do only the kid half, sure, but I thought that was it. Just ignore half the point of the book. The sequel-bait made it better.

Solee: The REAL horror would have been if this movie didn’t do well enough and they scrapped the second half!

Mikey: I’m really glad that’s not the case. I’m burned by The Dark Tower.

Solee: And just about every other adaptation of Stephen King books!

Mikey: I guess I’m glad Dark Tower didn’t do well and spawn more sequel garbage, but we still need the 8 season TV series for it…

Solee: Yes, please. But this review is about IT. What did you think of the casting?

Mikey: That was really great actually… One thing about this movie is that it’s pretty much the Stranger Things movie. So similar all around. I guess 80’s nostalgia is all the rage today (especially since if they were being true to the book, it would’ve been in the 50’s). So just like Stranger Things, these actors (one of which is from Stranger Things) really made you feel the “nerds growing up in the 80’s” vibe that just makes it very real and moving.

Solee: Interesting rabbit trail … King wrote the book in ‘86. He was born in ‘47, so the 50s were his coming of age period. Those of us who read the book in the 80s are now about the same age he was when he wrote about his coming of age. So it makes perfect sense that all us 40ish folks are waxing nostalgic about the 80s. Apparently your 40s is when that happens.

Mikey: That just makes me question my accomplishments. Kind of like when you see 18 year old superstars, only not so bad since I’m just now at the age where I haven’t written IT. P.S. IT was the first book I remember reading. It obviously wasn’t the first book I read (imagine THAT) but I read it much younger than I should have, maybe at 12 or 13. I found it on my parents’ bookshelf and just chewed through 1200 pages in a couple weeks, and then started grabbing every Stephen King book I could find. It is very formative to me! I still say it’s my favorite book, but it’s been like 10 years since I read it (for the second or third time, obviously…).

Solee: King’s “Eyes of the Dragon” was the first horror book I remember reading, also at about age 12. I did the same as you; once I finished that, I devoured everything of his I could get my hands on.

Mikey: Definitely my favorite writer, by miles! So rabbit trails aside, this was a movie. Was it a scary movie?

Solee: I’m going to say yes. I thought Skarsgaard did a lovely job of being creepy and there were lots of subtle things throughout the movie that really ramped up the tension. For example: the folks who were about to be eaten up would have a moment when their eyes looked like the clown’s eyes. The director didn’t make a big deal out of it, but it happened often enough for me to think it was very intentional.

Mikey: You told me that after the movie and it was too late for me to check. I’ll have to see next time. The woes of seeing a movie in a theater! I thought it was kind of in the middle for scares… it wasn’t super creepy (had some adventure/fantasy/action elements), but it did have its share of scary moments. I think the giant Pennywise in the garage was the most shocking moment for me.

Solee: Hmm. I’m not sure I have a stand-out moment, but I remember jumping several times. I’m a big fan of the psychological horror, though, and IT has that in spades. The monster takes on the form of each person’s fear and these kids had plenty of crap to draw from in their lives.

Mikey: Yeah, I think Bev’s story was the most powerful. That could’ve been a movie of its own, just caught in that family life and tormented by a malevolent spirit. But we’ve seen those movies before, so I’m glad this one was different!

Solee: Was it THAT different though?

Mikey: Well, I mean it was about all the kids, and their quest to defeat It. That’s a lot different from “boo hoo, my life is horrible, the ghost is harassing me, AND I’M DEAD NOW.” which is all ghost movies.

Solee: I see. I’m wondering just how “unique” IT is. When I think about it … there are plenty of coming of age movies. And plenty of your-fear-manifested movies. Maybe not so many of the two combined? It doesn’t feel super original to me, but maybe that’s because 1) it’s a go-to story for King, and 2) I’ve read this exact story soooo often.

Mikey: I think it’s a unique movie. The combination, plus it’s just very rare that “horror” has any kind of quest, or any victory for our heroes, or really heroes for that matter (let’s just cheer for their deaths!). And it does impact the horror of it, it’s just not as scary when you know you have heroes in there. They’re sure to win in the end, and their very strength in facing the threat ruins the horror - it’s not scary if they’re not scared. Which brings me to my issues with the ending. That make sense though? It has real horror, mixed with real action/fantasy/adventure.

Solee: Quick comment on that … it’s a fine line to walk in horror storytelling, I think. If you make the characters relatable and strong, the audience isn’t truly afraid of their death (although that sets up some pretty devastating storylines, ie: Hoban Washburne) and if you make them expendable enough for people to wonder whether they will live or die, they tend to have less depth. I think this razor-wire is why so many horror movies are just terrible.

Mikey: Yeah, this movie leaned more on the side of making you care about characters, and I think that’s the better path, since you know, stories are about characters. I think most horror movies have that introduction phase at the beginning and you’re just rolling your eyes through it, going “when can we kill these people already?”

Solee: Indeed. Turns out there’s an art to writing good stories. Who knew?

Mikey: Stephen King! So I found an issue both times the characters confront Pennywise, and I think it’s a result of condensing a huge book. In the big book, there’s this dread built up over weeks of events and a very real fear to the confrontation, we know it’s dangerous because each of them has been personally attacked multiple times along the way. In the movie, each kid kind of gets one little jump-scare from Pennywise to let them see the threat, and then they face him. So then the actual fight seems weak… it also has to do with the very concept: because It feeds on fear, the only way they beat it is by overcoming their fear and being tougher than It. So in the end, it comes down to them beating a clown with a lead pipe. It’s… really appropriate, and a good concept, but it doesn’t work well in the movie. It’s just kids murdering a poor man.

Solee: YES! That scene disturbed me and I just now realized the logistics behind why. Because if they aren’t afraid of It, if they stop believing in its supernatural power, then they essentially believe it’s just a regular guy. A regular guy they can take turns attacking. I know that’s not the story … but that’s how it came across on screen and it was disconcerting.

Mikey: That’s a good point, just a dude. It reminds me of a negative review I saw on IMDB - the reviewer thought it was crazy how all the adults in the town were evil, and the bullies were so extremely horrible. He thought that on top of the kid-eating monster, that was absurd, but he didn’t know that all that was part of the kid-eating monster. I’m not sure if the movie failed to impart that, or if he just didn’t get it, because I read the book, so I understood it anyway.

Solee: I don’t think that was addressed well in the movie.

Mikey: I really liked how that came off in the movie, though I think it could’ve used some on-the-nose explication (the balloon in the backseat of the car was a clue…). Just seeing these people get really creepy smiles and be really inappropriate. I liked that angle, though it probably needed more clarity.

Solee: So, after all that, how would you rate this new version of IT?

Mikey: As a fan of the book (it’s my favorite!), and how well this interpreted it, about as well as you could in 2 hours, I don’t know if I can go lower than 5/5. I want to, because it’s not perfect, but we grade on a curve in October. This was surprisingly great.

Solee: I’m going to give it a 4/5. Which is surprising because I tend to rate higher than you. I did really enjoy this movie. But I don’t think the “horror” is what I enjoyed about it. It’s just a great movie. Compared to other horror movies, though … I know I’m going to see ones I like more for that specific element. Does that seem unfair? Sorry, Mr. King.

Mikey: Now I feel dumb for fiving it! Actually during the movie, I kept finding myself having to re-adjust my expectations, because it really is a mix of genres. I kept trying to force myself to just look at it as a story, context-free, and whether I enjoyed the storytelling or not. And trying not to judge it on the book. This was a hard movie to properly rate!

Solee: Yes. I think it’s fairly clear from this discussion that we failed to consider it “context-free”. I’m okay with that. Even though I only gave it a 4 for the purposes of BHE, I would go see it again and I am glad I saw it in the theater. So that says something.

Mikey: One more note from me! What I really appreciated about this movie was Stephen King coming to life - it was all about the characters. I can always go for more movies like that. That’s what Firefly is too. Doesn’t matter it’s space cowboys, or evil clowns, what matters is how fun the people are.

Solee: Agreed. So how fun are the people in our next movie??

Mikey: I’ll tell you tomorrow after we’ve seen Altar (2016)!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Altar 11:50 PM -- Mon October 2, 2017  

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

Altar (2016)
Unrated
IMDB Says:
“ALTAR is the terrifying story of a group of former college classmates who get lost driving to a college reunion camp out in the Sierra Nevada mountains. After stopping for the night, they stumble onto something much darker. They must battle to escape the evil they unleashed to not only save their own lives but their souls as well.”
IMDB Rating: 4.0/10
Metacritic Rating: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Solee: 1/5
Mikey: 1/5
We watched this on Hulu.

Solee: So we watched Altar, a 2016 movie about some kids lost in the woods. You chose this one. Was there a method behind your madness?

Mikey: Well, I looked through Hulu’s movie list and the title and picture seemed interesting, so I clicked and saw it was found footage, and was like, “there we go.” I think I was specifically trying to avoid quality. Don’t want two good ones in a row, you know.

Solee: Is it too soon in this conversation for me to say you succeeded in that? This was the tropey-est of tropey movies.

Mikey: I want to single it out for the most lampshades ever hung on one movie in history. While they proceeded to do everything the same as every movie, they constantly mentioned “We’re not like those people in scary movies, we’re gonna do the smart thing!”

Solee: Those kids wouldn’t know smart if it glowed bright blue and snuck up on them with an ax. So found footage movies are tricky because we have to believe that they’d be recording the whole thing. What did you think about this one? Believable?

Mikey: No. And they really kept harping on it. Not the usual “Stop filming, Jim! You’re so obnoxious!” but just endless references to the camera. Probably every 5th line of dialogue was something about the camera. I’m gonna set it over here, I stole it, you sure like filming, etc.

Solee: My theory is that they were ad-libbing a lot of the dialogue. One of those scripts where the director said “A and B have to happen in this scene” and maybe gave one of the actors a secret task and then let them just ham it up. These kids weren’t so good at the ad-libbing, so there was lots of talk about the camera and the weather and lots of girls touching their hair.

Mikey: That kind of filmmaking requires a lot of faith in your actors. Misplaced faith in this case.

Solee: Agreed. I was also mildly put off by the whole idea of Bo using the camera to “work through his Asperger's”. Working through his grief around the death of his parents I totally believe. But only someone who didn’t know anything about Asperger's syndrome would phrase it that way. Which makes me think they were using that diagnosis as a plot vehicle instead of for the purpose of diverse, interesting characters. That being said, I DID like the actor who played Bo.

Mikey: I did think he did a good job. I actually think they all did pretty well in terms of acting (except the jock and his high-school girlfriend), it’s just that they didn’t know how to ad-lib. HOWEVER, how about an honorable mention to Ripper? That guy was just some *wow* acting. Not the good kind of wow.

Solee: TERRIBLE. I’m sorry to be so harsh to Mr. Wainwright, but there was NO emotion or energy in that character. And if that was an intentional choice, it was a mistake. He was integral to the Horror Movie Life Lesson of the Movie -

Mikey: Was that “people have different ages all the time”?

Solee: Hahaha! No, although that sweet, dumb “She’s 18, guys!” girl had a point. No, the HMLLotM this time was “Don’t pop off to creepy strangers carrying weapons.”

Mikey: Speaking of creepy strangers, I can’t believe the super creepy weirdo couple they met and camped out with (and their adorable rottweiler-pug puppy!) turned out not to be part of this evil cult that I assume exists somewhere.

Solee: Same! Maybe they were part of a rival cult? They were definitely part of something weird. I mean … that “storage tent”. Like with the Asperger's … it reads like someone who has never actually been camping trying to write a camping scene.

Mikey: Yeah, there’s some backstory we’re missing about the battling cults.

Solee: Now, THAT’S a movie I want to watch.

Mikey: Okay, so this movie tells you nothing. In brief, the kids go into the woods, run across an evil altar, and it possesses one of them who kills the others. Sooo… this altar surely requires a cult, right? It didn’t just happen. And Ripper is … some well-meaning guy who likes carrying axes and wanted to make sure everybody was safe? Or the cult leader?

Solee: My take was that the altar held a demon. Ripper let the demon out the first time … leading to the deaths of the newlyweds, which MAYBE contained it again? Because he said something about them letting it out after they fiddled with the glowy balls. Anyway, this time, the kids took the bad guy out RIGHT AWAY LIKE SMART PEOPLE and it attached itself to Bo.

Mikey: They did say they were going to do that. But there’s holes in that. I mean, he sure wasn’t possessed like Bo was (when he met the kids, I mean). Was it post-possession depression? Probably not, since he was just as surly and weird when he was telling the honeymooners not to go for a walk.

Solee: Maybe he was a surly, creepy serial killer type who just happened to also be possessed by a demon. He didn’t seem possessed when he met them on the road, just creepy. And ax-wielding.

Mikey: Yeah, normal road behavior. I think we have put more thought into this movie than the creators at this point.

Solee: Yep. There were a ridiculous number of holes in the timing/travel. None of it made sense if you thought about it. Best just not to think about it.

Mikey: That’s what the writer said! Now, the other thing the writer said was “I love Game of Thrones! How can I get Cersei and Jamie Lannister into my movie?”

Solee: Come on … it wasn’t THAT bad. But there was definitely a brother-sister sexual tension going on that I did NOT like. And it was completely unnecessary. They went all out with the taboo relationships in this film: teacher/student, old guy/young girl, brother/sister. And none of it moved the plot.

Mikey: Maybe it did, and we just haven’t figured out the plot yet. Well, that aside, I want to point out that we had a… hmm… a very special scene at the end of the movie where Bo levitates his camera into following him around rather than having to carry it anymore. The most core problem I have with this, well is probably the silliness of it, but secondmost is WHY? He doesn’t have any reason to film anything if he’s a murdering demon man! He doesn’t care about the camera! Levitate the knife into some throats instead!

Solee: Ax-wielding guy still loved his ax after being possessed. Camera-loving guy still loves his camera!

Mikey: Just more of the taboo relationships.

Solee: Haha! It all comes down to the fact that they needed to show what Bo was doing, but had killed off anyone who could hold the camera for him. Gah. This movie has film school project all over it. It feels like the horror was an afterthought. Like a bunch of film school kids had a project due on Monday and a weekend trip in the mountains planned and were like “Hey! What if we do them together!” and then they realized half-way through that they had to actually do something scary.

Mikey: Wish they had! Ba-dum-tssh!

Solee: Right?! This was the least scary scary movie we’ve watched together. Aside from ones that were being goofy on purpose. This felt like it was taking itself seriously and just missing the mark completely. Even the jump scares didn’t get me and jump scares ALWAYS get me.

Mikey: I think you’re right. They even managed to make walking through the woods at night with only a flashlight seem blasé and relaxing. I feel like that’s an easy one to get right. On that walk, by the way… one of them heard something in the woods, and they all go to investigate, and then walk for HOURS. If it was that far away, you wouldn’t have heard it!

Solee: It kind of makes sense though … because they also drove forward for 3 ½ - 4 hours after realizing they were lost. “I don’t even know how I’d turn around here!” *facepalm*

Mikey: Plenty of padding in this movie. Not sure there was any content between the padding, actually.

Solee: That reminds me. I did have one semi-thoughtful note from this movie (out of three pages of incredulous mocking): found footage films often have the “outsider” as the camera operator. It’s almost like directors/writers think that the misfit will have a clearer, more neutral perspective on the group because they aren’t in the middle of it. I think that’s total BS. The one left out carries SOOO much baggage about the group, collectively and as individuals. So many inner stories. It’s a flawed premise that most of these found footage films are built on.

Mikey: That is deep thoughts. I think they did it looking for scenes like the one where he decides to interview Chelsea - if he knew her, he wouldn’t be doing that (only he totally would, especially since this is a college reunion, so he wouldn’t have seen her in years). Not worth it.

Solee: Nope. So … I feel like I’ve ragged on this movie enough and I literally don’t have any positive notes (except YAY! PICKLES LIVED!) so … ratings?

Mikey: Pickles! You did appreciate Bo. I think ratings. That’s pretty easy here. I think we’ll find worse this month, but I still feel good giving a 1/5 for this winner.

Solee: Ha! At first I read that as ½ out of 5 and I was like … yeah, I can see that! I am with you on a 1, though. I definitely don’t want to give it more, but I want to reserve the 0 for something truly heinous.

Mikey: Remember #Horror was our only 0… hard to equal!

Solee: I thought that was the one. Wow. That was a truly terrible film. Please tell me that we have something better in the docket for tomorrow...

Mikey: I can’t promise that, I can only promise that it’s The Disappointments Room. Hope it doesn’t disappoint!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Disappointments Room 07:54 PM -- Tue October 3, 2017  

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

The Disappointments Room (2016)
Rated R
IMDB Says:
“A mother and her young son release unimaginable horrors from the attic of their rural dream home.”
IMDB Rating: 4.0/10
Metacritic Rating: 31/100
Rotten Tomatoes: 0% critics, 17% audience
Solee: 3/5
Mikey: 2/5
We watched this on Netflix.

Mikey: Wow, my first comment on this movie is that the IMDB synopsis is way off.

Solee: Indeed. I’m not sure I’ve seen a synopsis that failed quite so hard at capturing a movie while still being factually accurate.

Mikey: Yes, there was a mother and a son in here. And like in every ghost (or demon) movie ever, the second the family moved into the house, we see the son talking to the demon/ghost! Or so it seems.

Solee: I think in this case, that’s what was happening, although we don’t find out for a while. That cat was there to protect him, just like he said it was. Brave, brave kitty.

Mikey: Interesting … so you think he was talking to a ghost (or a magic cat)?

Solee: Yes, I think the spirit of that girl was influencing the cat. She was trying to protect them the whole time.

Mikey: I had the opposite impression! This is one of those movies I tag with the “natural” tag - seemingly supernatural events could actually just be natural. Mama was just nutso. Though there is no proof either way.

Solee: That’s a totally valid perspective. It really could go either way, don’t you think? I don’t remember anything that settled it beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mikey: I think it’s left up to us, and I think we chose opposite endings! What I am left with though is to wonder what really happened to the cat, and to the poolboy/contractor. Especially him - the cat could’ve just been gotten by any old animal.

Solee: *gasp* Or Mama got it?? While in a fugue state?

Mikey: She clearly had major problems. I think the climactic moment when she bludgeons her son to death with a hammer… that was so very shocking, and I really thought it was going to be that for real.

Solee: To be fair, that’s not what happened in either scenario. Either she was bludgeoning the ghost or she was bludgeoning NEXT to her son. But, yes, I did think that her little boy was gone-zo and I was terrified to find out what she’d REALLY done to her daughter.

Mikey: Yes, she has a history of infanticide. During that whole scene I was just biting my nails, thinking “they can’t really be going there, can they?” and I’m not sure why. People getting beaten with hammers is nothing new in horror. But her own son, unintentionally (or tricked into doing it), is just so so dark.

Solee: And with such violence. It wasn’t “oops, I dropped my hammer on you”. It was hard core smashing. Blegh. I don’t even like thinking about it!

Mikey: So since we’ve already jumped to the ending, let me cover my big issue with the movie. Huge issue. I was hooked in from the beginning, all set to get exactly what I dream of: a haunted house and a slow process of revealing exactly what the ghost is and what it wants, and resolving it at the end. It took until about ⅔ of the way through before it stopped doing that and instead just becoming a blast of events happening (or not happening - very confusing), and then wrapping up with nothing really happening. I hated how it all came together, or didn’t. Did that work for you?

Solee: I didn’t hate it … but it was very anti-climactic to me. I guess, as horrible as it was, it was … I hate to say it, but too normal? Like, I’m not really all that shocked that those stuffy, high-society types from that era (early 1900s?) would keep their deformed kid in the attic and then murder her when they get tired of taking care of her. I honestly don’t like what that says about my jaded-ness at this point. And perhaps that was partly the fault of the story-telling. It was building up with all that tension and what-not and then there’s just a very flat scene where Old-timey Daddy Dearest puts a hammer through deformed daughter’s skull while her mother watches from across the room (where he threw her, to be fair). It didn’t have the emotional impact that the mother-son thing did in the next scene, that’s for sure.

Mikey: That is for sure. I just realized as you were saying that that this is (as best I recall), the exact backstory of The Ring. The girl wasn’t deformed, but they kept her in a disappointments room! It’s a great concept that really was very minimally a part of this movie. It needed to come into play somehow in the present, like her locking her son in it or something weird.

Solee: Yes! The two stories didn’t overlap enough. Sure the ghosts were there in the house and yes, the room was scary, but otherwise there was no connection. And the present day dad (who I’m going to have something to say about later) and son were totally disconnected from the haunting, which was weird.

Mikey: Well, that’s why I watched a different movie than you - they had no idea there was a haunting because it was 100% in her head! It’s weird because I’m totally convinced of that. It seems very dead-set to me from all the elements I saw!

Solee: Sure, I see that. And it made the story not work for me. I mean … they didn’t seem to care a whole lot about her or her issues either way. I guess one could argue that they’ve been dealing with it for a long time and are somewhat desensitized to it, but STILL. It’s like they just did their own thing and ignored her for huge chunks of time.

Mikey: They sure did. It was two separate worlds, like she was alone in the house (with her poolboy) and her husband was alone in a different house with his son. Very strange, but I guess you could make some argument about how that shows the disconnection she feels as part of her issues. The thing with this movie is, it was all very polished and well-crafted, but it just plain didn’t work at all.

Solee: Agreed. Can we talk about her husband for a bit? Because I did not like him AT ALL.

Mikey: I’ve heard!

Solee: He’s got a huge inferiority complex and he just waves it around, taking credit for her work, cutting her out of a conversation with the roofer (who is not a poolboy at all, btw) -

Mikey: He’s a poolboy!

Solee: - and generally treating her like she’s crazy. I mean … maybe she IS, but he doesn’t treat her like I would expect a husband to treat wife who was struggling with mental health issues.

Mikey: Yep, he seemed very awful.

Solee: What I DID like was that she was not taking that passive aggressive, mansplaining, man-baby lying down. She put him in his place every time he pulled that garbage. Of course, then they acted like she was “getting all emotional”, but I still appreciated that she did it and she did it well.

Mikey: Yeah, that’s kind of like the movie (or the writer or director) mansplaining at that point. That whole thing is another issue too big to get into that I see in all media, but in general he seemed like a “play-xbox-while-the-wife-works” kinda guy. You are lucky to have no idea what that’s like!

Solee: Well, like many of the characters in this movie, what the screenwriter wrote is a very generic, simplified, stereotypical version of a real person like that. There was a scene early on where they were talking to the lady who owned the “general store” and it was like if someone who had never left Manhattan tried to write a person who lived in the midwest entirely based on things they’d seen and read about the midwest.

Mikey: I definitely got that vibe. Rich city folk moving out to the country for fresh air is such a classic movie trope. I suspect most of the writers of such things don’t know how that actually works. And why does this podunk American town have a giant castle in it?

Solee: Because the story needed a giant castle, duh. There were a lot of big “robber baron” houses build by railroad fatcats and such, but this felt extreme even for that. I guess that’s partly because people today are less likely to be as impressed by the size of what would have been impressive in the early 1900s. It’s like accounting for inflation.

Mikey: I think you have a point! So, other than pointing out the movie’s cluelessness about the logistics of mold remediation, I have nothing more to add here. How about you?

Solee: Haha! We know about that, don’t we? *sigh* I do want to go back to the idea of the disappointments room for a second. I found that very poignant. My aunt was born with Down Syndrome around the 1950s. By then disappointments rooms had been replaced with the equally disturbing asylum. Another way for folks to hide embarrassing offspring. That was recommended for my aunt, but my grandparents refused. They raised her alongside my mother and never treated her like anything other than the daughter she was. They were pretty ahead of their time and I find it disturbing how little progress has been made in this regard in the last 70 years. It’s a lot better, but there are still way too many people who think it’s okay to treat people with disabilities differently than those without.

Mikey: Yeah… and what you just said would’ve been a much more powerful movie!

Solee: True dat. One thing I actually LOVED about the movie was that the librarian/historian was played by Marcia DeRousse, a little person actor, and it wasn’t mentioned at all. The son was a little surprised, but none of them actually mentioned it. They just went on with the discussion about the disappointments rooms. And I only just a few minutes ago realized that her character would have felt particularly strongly about the idea, being someone who would have ended up in one if she’d been born in the wrong time to the wrong family.

Mikey: That’s funny because I was going to mention Tyrion Lannister earlier, but I didn’t want to bring up the Lannisters two reviews in a row. I honestly didn’t even realize she was a little person… Thinking back I see the eyelines, and I thought she was just standing on a lower floor than them. Oops!

Solee: It wasn’t highlighted at all. The scene was about a historian imparting her wisdom. Her height wasn’t relevant. (Although if they’d written the more meaningful story we discussed earlier, she might have had some thoughts on it.)

Mikey: Yeah, I think that is good. People actually come in all sorts of different formats, we’re not all tall blond straight skinny white people with big muscles and fully functioning body parts (or “poolboys” as I like to call them). It’s nice when the normals get represented a bit.

But this brings us to the moment of official rating. Officially, you must rate this movie now.

Solee: Officially, I give this movie a … 3 out of 5. It had polish, like you said, and the acting was good. I don’t regret watching it, but I surely wouldn’t watch it again and I’m not sure I’d strongly recommend it to anyone. It was an “eh” movie, in my official opinion. How about you?

Mikey: You know, in the first 15 minutes, I might have given a 5. Then in the next 30, maybe a 4. Then a 3 for a while… and by the end I was worn down to a solid 2. Great filmmaking in service of a garbage script. Just not worth watching at all. Incidentally, did you know this movie has a LOWER score than Altar on IMDB? I wouldn’t go that far.

Solee: Well, that’s just ridiculous. You know what I want to watch next? The movie we talked about where they tackle the crappy way society treats people with disabilities and challenges us to be better, all while giving us an exciting horror story. Alas … that is not a movie that exists as far as I know.

Mikey: I’m not aware of it either (hey, the kid in Silver Bullet is in a wheelchair, though!), but I do know we are about to watch Cabin Fever. Close enough! (Note: they apparently have already remade this movie for some reason, even using the same exact script. We’ll be seeing the 2002 original).
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Cabin Fever 02:51 PM -- Wed October 4, 2017  

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

Cabin Fever (2002)
Rated R
IMDB Says:
“A group of five college graduates rent a cabin in the woods and begin to fall victim to a horrifying flesh-eating virus, which attracts the unwanted attention of the homicidal locals.”
IMDB Rating: 5.6/10
Metacritic Rating: 56/100
Rotten Tomatoes: 63% critics, 44% audience
Solee: 3.5/5
Mikey: 3/5
We paid to watch this on Amazon.

Solee: So, we watched the original Cabin Fever last night. When you settled on this movie you told me, “I think this is going to be gory.” Is gory a category you enjoy? If so, what is it you like about this subgenre of horror movies?

Mikey: I did not lie to you, to be sure! I don’t care for gore. In general it is one of those things that I just am not interested in, but not particularly put off by. I do avert my eyes from things that are too awful, but it takes pretty awful to have that effect on me (or anything, however mild, involving eyes). So the gore, and the fact that I was fairly convinced that was the sole “merit” to this movie, is the reason I didn’t watch it all these years since it came out. I don’t need to watch something for the purpose of seeing gore. But people have said it was good, so I decided it was time to see.

Solee: Because of the gore and the lack of taking itself seriously, this movie reminded me--in a very vague sense--of a movie we watched last year. Can you guess which one?

Mikey: Maybe the same one I thought of at a point or two… House of 1000 Corpses?

Solee: YES! It is a bizarre combination of slyly hilarious and really disturbing. I’m a little concerned at how much I like that combination. House of 1000 Corpses did end up being my all-month favorite last year.

Mikey: I KNOW! I don’t think this was anywhere near on par, but the stylistic similarity was there. I think it’s the throwback to 70’s/80’s grungy horror. Always with a knowing wink, though. This was unquestionably one of those “director loves old movies from the genre so steals all he can from them” scenarios.

Solee: Which I do NOT have a problem with. Especially when it’s done well. This was … not done terribly. One of my notes is that the characters were all very tropey (the rich guy jerk, the good guy, the sexy girl, the girl next door, the redneck were all represented) BUT their stereotypes were established with just-nextdoor-to-normal things. For example, the loser/immature redneck left the campfire unattended to go shoot things and pee in the woods.

Mikey: Well, I think there was some reality and natural behavior brought into it. Like the good guy and his unrequited love, the way that played out was not strictly to trope, more like just a realistic situation. It was never over-the-top like “she loves him now” or “she thinks he’s a loser”, just sort of muddled.

Solee: Maybe that’s it. It felt less stereotypical because they acted like real people, not characters. For part of the time, that is.

Mikey: I think the comedic take on things gives you lots of leeway… if something is a stereotype, well you’re just kidding. If it’s not, then good for you for dodging stereotypes! If a scene comes across silly instead of good, that’s fine too. It’s the Chandler Technique.

Solee: Clever strategy. It worked on me! One of my favorite characters was Dennis. You know what they say about Dennis, right?

Mikey: Don’t sit next to him.

Solee: Yep! That was one of the jokes that had a callback later … what was that called?

Mikey: That’s a Brick Joke. They had two major ones in this movie, and it made them very funny to call way back to something you saw an hour ago, out of the blue.

Solee: I feel like Brick Jokes are a sign that the writer/director are clever and have a sense of humor. Which then makes the whole movie better. Anyway, what did you think of the plot? Unknown zombie-like pathogen meets gang of college kids on week-long vacation in the woods. Did the story work for you?

Mikey: One of the reasons I never saw this movie before is that I knew what it was about in a vague sense (an ordinary disease, no monsters or zombies), and I didn’t see how that sounded very interesting. But in practice, it actually was interesting as the driver to all kinds of crazy situations. All the quarantine madness and people violently protecting themselves against infection. Kind of the same issues as zombies, just with nobody (usually) trying to infect you intentionally. Or eat your brains. So I think it was a good idea for a movie, very different than anything else.

Solee: Throw in the fact that the locals are all loco and it was the perfect recipe for violent hijinks.

Mikey: Yes, it had to take place in this really goofy world of nutso people to really be fun, much like House of 1000 Corpses. You can probably make any story interesting by making all the people nuts.

Solee: It’s easy to take it too far or at least get the balance wrong and make those over the top characters ruin the movie though. Did you have a favorite bit in the movie?

Mikey: Hmm. I don’t know if it was actually fun enough for me to have a favorite bit that stands out. That’s why I say it wasn’t on par with the other movie… it was all riding around just below my level of deep appreciation. Like one thing I noticed was that I should have loved Dennis’ “Pancakes!!” scene, and I didn’t. It was okay, but you’d think all that craziness would’ve been amazing, and it was just okay. That’s sort of how I feel about the whole thing. It might not have gone crazy down quite the right avenue for me.

Solee: I remember feeling like I was going to rate it poorly as the final credits rolled last night, but as I look back at my notes, I’m actually remembering it fondly. I think that’s because I’m remembering the goofy and forgetting some of the really nasty stuff. OH. I just remember the really nastiest scene (which I don’t think we can describe due to our possible audience) and … blegh. It was REALLY a gross movie.

Mikey: Yep, that was definitely the goal of the movie for sure. I was surprised actually at how tame it was though. I can recall two scenes that were really too gross (the other was in a bathtub), and other than that nothing really grossed me out. There must have been 20 gallons of blood vomited in this movie, and my only thought about that was “Man, vomiting blood is so much less disgusting than vomiting vomit!”

Solee: Hmmm … I think we’re gonna have to agree to disagree on that one. So the one thing I really didn’t like was all the instances of racism, sexism and homophobia being used as “jokes”. They weren’t the “we need to be better” kind of jokes, either. Just straight up exclusionist type things. I think the movie could have been done just as well without them.

Mikey: I think the creators would use some excuses about how it takes place in the 80’s and it’s realistic and all that, and I think that’s bunko. It’s not a documentary. I think the clothes pretty much covered 80’s for us.

Solee: There’s a way to include some of that behavior to really develop a hateful character … but these weren’t the “bad guys” of the movie. They were the “heroes”, if you will. Yes, you were supposed to see that they were being dumb, but it gave off a “boys will be boys” vibe that I dislike intensely.

Mikey: I totally agree, but one other factor does remain: as modern as a number like 2002 sounds, it’s actually 15 years ago. I suspect these same people would do things differently today! The world is changing fast.

Solee: I think you’re right about that. And how on Earth did 2002 get to be 15 years into the past? It was, like, LAST YEAR that we were all worried Y2K would cause all the nukes in the world to go off.

Mikey: I think Y2K DID happen, and it caused a massive timespace distortion. That’s the only reasonable explanation.

Solee: Ha! True story. So … speaking of the distant past, Rider Strong (of Boy Meets World sidekick fame) is one of the main characters in this movie. That really threw me for a loop. I couldn’t stop seeing him as Shawn Hunter. I kept waiting for Topanga to show up.

Mikey: I reviewed a Topanga movie (that was aMAHzing) a few years ago in BHE! Hey, sudden realization speaking of the distant past: 2002 is as long ago as 1987 was before 2002. So they were making this movie about as far before them as they are before us. Or something. Deep.

Solee: It’s that nostalgia loop, like I was talking about for IT, only a 15 year loop instead of a 35 year one.

Mikey: I want to throw down real quick with some major writing issues I had with this movie before we quit. Just to get these out there: after Bert met the infected stranger and warned him away, he acted like nothing had happened and they all just had a bonfire until eventually he showed up. The guy was laying like 50 feet away and had already seen their cabin. Super weird. Also, you can’t make a car stop working by hitting it a few times with a bat! All the cars in this movie were crazy fragile. Also … oh I forgot the third one. These are some things that were really bugging me and seemed like major flaws in the writing.

Solee: It was a little weak in places. Like when the sexy girl decided to “go for help” the next morning and they just let her wander off into the woods alone in her tight, tight jeans.

Mikey: Slo-mo jeans!

Solee: Indeed. So when you combine all the issues and all the goriness and all the silly jokes … where does it fall on the rating scale for you?

Mikey: I was surprised at how well-done this was. It definitely held my interest (I especially enjoyed trying to track who all was infected). Oh that reminds me of a huge problem: the disease’s incubation rate was both totally random and ludicrously fast (when it wasn’t slow)! This was not a realistic situation. Anyway, I found myself totally engrossed and enjoying it, but I also respect that it wasn’t super great either. So that lands us right where you’d expect: at a solid 3.

Solee: I was going to give it a 3 last night, but I think now I want to give it a 3.5. This movie obviously knew it wasn’t going to be the next Great American Movie, and it used humor to make up for it in a way that worked on me. That being said, it was WAY too gory for me. I can see how some people would really enjoy it, though. And it was pretty polished all around. Except for that terribly terrible fake deer at the end!

Mikey: Oh, that crazy deer. So do you think this movie would work without the gore? I guess it’d be more of a comedy.

Solee: That’s a good question and I think … no. The comedy is only funny because it’s the contrast to horrific violence and gore. Without the counterpoint effect, it would just be corny. Some of those jokes were almost punny.

Mikey: Everybody loves a pun!

Solee: NO.

Mikey: Do you want to close by sharing Solee’s Rules For Infection?

Solee: Heck yeah! Solee’s Rules for Infection are easy. 1) Don’t get infected. 2) If you DO get infected, you’re done for. Humanely, but immediately. #SorryNotSorry Too many zombie movies get rolling because someone can’t say goodbye to a loved one who has clearly been exposed to the virus. Instead of a quick, clean bullet to the brain, they let them linger on in pain, usually infecting lots of other people. NOT COOL. I will say that these kids almost did a decent job of this. But then they didn’t. And look where it got them.

Mikey: It scares me that I live with you and sometimes get colds.

Solee: You just better hope you don’t get a cold during the zombie apocalypse. The thing is, it’s NEVER symptoms that really look like something innocuous. Even I wouldn’t have taken out the Girl Next Door when she was feeling nauseous. That’s a perfectly normal reaction to watching someone burn to death. Once it was clear she had what the hermit guy had … game over. It’s always that someone is trying to bite other people’s faces off or their own faces are sliding off in puddles of goo and their loved ones are saying “Oh, I’m sure he’ll be alright soon.” NO.

Mikey: Okay, so it’s a rash I should be afraid of having. I will never let you see if I get one.

Solee: THAT’S EVEN WORSE! Hahaha! Maybe we should avoid zombie/virus movies for a bit. What’s coming up next?

Mikey: Oh no, my arm is itching… I mean IT’S NOT IT’S FINE. Let’s just go watch Patient Seven.

Solee:
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Patient Seven 08:54 PM -- Thu October 5, 2017  

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

Patient Seven (2016)
Unrated
IMDB Says:
“The film centers on Dr. Marcus, a renowned psychiatrist who has chosen 6 severe mentally ill and dangerous patients from the Spring Valley Mental Hospital to interview as part of research for his new book. As Dr. Marcus interviews each patient, one by one the horrors they’ve committed begin to unfold. However, Dr. Marcus soon learns that there is one patient who ties them all together.”
IMDB Rating: 4.9/10
Metacritic Rating: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A critics, 29% audience
Solee: 4.5/5
Mikey: 4/5
We watched this on Amazon Prime.

Mikey: So you chose this movie (though from a list I made for potential consideration). I always like to know: what made you go with this one?

Solee: I like anything psychological. So when I saw that there was a psychiatrist and a mental hospital AND it was hinted that Dr. Marcus wasn’t as clean-cut as we might believe (I think that was in the Amazon Prime synopsis--something about wondering who really belonged in the hospital) … well, that hit all the right buttons for me.

Mikey: And then it slowly dawned on us after the first couple of patients… a SURPRISE ANTHOLOGY! Nobody expects the Surprise Anthology. This movie was actually a series of seven short films, all by different directors, stitched together with a wrap-around story of interviewing asylum patients.

Solee: I feel like it should be stated here that I LOATHE the idea of movie anthologies and if I had known it was an anthology I wouldn’t have picked it.

Mikey: But I love anthologies!

Solee: I SHOULD love anthologies. I’m all about the short story! But most movie anthologies are so poorly done. It’s not like in a book where you can turn the page, see a new title and adjust your mindset for something new. I find movie anthologies very jarring. Usually.

Mikey: Once we knew it was an anthology though, it was quite clear when a new one was starting. We even got flashy transitions. I was thinking during this movie that what is great about short stories is that, while someone will happily publish something completely rote in long-form (i.e. a zombie movie that is everything you’d expect, no surprises), they’ll routinely reject any short-form that doesn’t have some sort of twist or gimmick (usually). So you get a collection of fun and interesting twists, or at least attempts at them. Short stories are sort of like jokes in that sense - there’s almost always a punchline, which long-form movies/books often do not have. I think in this movie, we got that about half the time.

Solee: Related Aside: I've recently been addicted to the stories from a blog called Little Fears. Each story is VERY short, sometimes more of a long-form pun, and the author wrote a blog post about how people who buy his books get mad that they are filled with "jokes" instead of stories. Except that you are exactly right ... very short fiction is often built around a joke or gimmick of some kind. I think that's what I like about it: the unexpectedness of the endings. And this movie did that very well. Each piece was unique and interesting in some way.

Mikey: What made it hard to tell this was an anthology, besides the fact that they usually announce that in advance, is that the first story ends abruptly and really… there’s like no story to it at all. I’m honestly not sure what it was trying to say. So I left that ‘flashback’ assuming it was just the first piece of a connected larger story.

Solee: Me, too. I wonder if that was done intentionally to keep the “secret” of the anthology or if that was just a poorly chosen first story. It was more of a vignette, giving us a peek into the life of this poor little girl with the hallucinating mother. Also, it would have been more twisty if Dr. Marcus hadn’t told us what happened before it even started!

Mikey: That’s true. And then at the end of it, he said “and then you killed her”, which I found confusing because I can’t imagine a scenario how she could’ve possibly killed her mother from the point where it ended!

Solee: Several of them felt like they had been shoehorned rather roughly into the overall movie. Which is my main problem with anthologies. This one did better than most, in trying to make them all work together, but it was pretty clear to me that the writers/directors of the individual pieces weren’t told or didn’t care about the thread tying them all together.

Mikey: Yes, I got the impression that they put out a call for short films, collected them all, and then said “let’s come up with a way to connect these”. And didn’t do it very well. It would’ve actually been better if they hadn’t tried to make it so ‘connected’. Just make it the doctor reading some case files, and then we fade into the movie of the case file.

Solee: The problem there is that the main character of the piece often wasn’t even the person the doctor was interviewing! I really had a problem with JD’s story because of that. He wasn’t even IN the story really, and there he is in the hospital? The “recurring nightmare drives you crazy” explanation can only be used so often and to minimal success, if you ask me.

Mikey: That was ridiculous. I think it supports my theory - they clearly had no access to ANY of the actors involved in the shorts, so they came up with all these dumb connections to cover it - you were a kid back then, you were the ZOMBIE, you were just a dead body the whole time wrapped in plastic, you aren’t even from New Zealand so you try to fake the accent and sound cockney instead....

Solee: Aaahhhhh… I only just realized that is true! They didn’t have ANY of the same actors! Huh. All that aside, it’s still one of the better anthologies we’ve seen.

Mikey: I will confess to having a lot of fun the whole time. It’s always important to pick favorites and least favorites. So best/worst stories? Not counting the wrap-around which was the worst.

Solee: My favorite was … Sarah’s story: “The Sleeping Plot” (the little New Zealand girl scamming money to buy a shovel). I liked how silly it was while still being creepy. The color choices, the music, the girl’s acting choices … they all worked together to make it feel like sugary Saturday morning breakfast cereal, but with maggots at the bottom of the bowl. What was your favorite?

Mikey: That one was awesome actually. I also really enjoyed “The Body” (Theon Greyjoy as American Psycho), which was really weird, and really funny. It even had a random twist ending for no reason. Though I had a real problem with how nobody noticed that the feet hanging out of his dead body were absolutely undeniably real human feet, two inches from their faces, as they were carrying it. Could’ve just fully wrapped it to prevent that.

Solee: That was just the icing on the cake. I felt SO MUCH SYMPATHY for this poor murderer just trying to do his job, being harassed by all these idiots who were too stupid to even know the difference between real feet and fake feet. It was a workplace comedy like Office Space, only with murder. So what was your least favorite?

Mikey: One stands out as the worst for me pretty easily - the first one (“The Visitant”). It’s just not even a story at all. I get how it sort of has a twist, where we don’t quite know what reality is, but it’s more like one scene out of a much longer movie, and the monster is way way too visible, nothing scary about that.

Solee: Ah, but the special effects for that monster were a-MAZE-ing! I agree it wasn’t a whole story, but I loved the choices the director made in filming it, so I rank it higher than my least favorite: “Undying Love”, the zombie girlfriend. First of all, it was SOOOO slow to get going. I was bored. Secondly, that twist wasn’t all that twisty. I hadn’t figured it out, mostly because I was desperately trying to figure out if I had accidentally chosen an anthology movie at this point, but also because I was just not interested enough to care where it was going. And that is a very played out zombie twist. Shaun of the Dead did it better.

Mikey: Well, obviously! But that one I liked! You only had to sit through a few minutes of setup, and then BAM punchline, over. It hits hard with it because it works hard to make you think the opposite. And it did have a twist, unlike “The Evaded” (my 2nd-least-favorite), which was also a straightforward zombie story, only zero twist at all. Just “here’s the same dilemma we face in every zombie movie”. In other likes, “The Banishing” was good (though the exact twist from an episode of Angel), and “Death Scenes” was good. Almost the same twist. A good ratio of good to bad in here, I did enjoy it overall.

Solee: “The Banishing” and “Death Scenes” were also on the top of my list. I especially liked realizing that the vampire slayer had gotten himself arrested on purpose.

Mikey: Oh, but speaking of how lame it was that they didn’t have access to the actors, that connection was horrible. “You hired somebody to kill vampires for you”... ugh.

Solee: Hahaha! I totally didn’t realize that’s why they did that. I did wonder why the institutionalized guy (who looked plenty capable of killing things) was dedicated enough to stalk the vampires and make sure of their identities, but too dainty to actually kill them himself.

Mikey: Yeah, he looked like a vampire himself. Of course he hired someone who looked even more like one. Good short.

Solee: It had a subtle touch that I liked. The vampire slayer rearranged the pictures into a cross, which gave him the slight advantage he needed in that interrogation room. I liked that detail very much.

Mikey: Yep, I liked it. So, do we need to dive into ratings and wrap this up with a crazy wrap-around story about two people, who look nothing like us, reviewing movies on the internet?

Solee: I refuse to LIVE an anthology! I will rate this anthology though. Hmm … this might be a little high, but I’m going to be generous and give it a 4.5 out of 5. I enjoyed watching these shorts and I appreciate the effort that was put into making it more than just a bunch of taped together monster stories. And the skill and effort that went into each short was very obvious. These were done by people who clearly knew what they were doing and enjoyed doing it. That goes a long way in my book (Solee’s Big Book of Horror Movie Ratings).

Mikey: I can’t believe an anthology has scored a 4.5 in Solee’s Big Book. So hard to deal with that. Especially since it’s higher than what I had in mind! I had lots of fun and really enjoyed this, but that’s only a 4 from me. Dumb movie, but fun movie. Going out and finding short films to watch would be a pain, it’s nice of someone to collect them together for me, and then throw some cheese on them to tie them together.

Solee: Like movie spaghetti!

Mikey: I don’t usually tie my spaghetti, but you can. Tomorrow, we shall be watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). The original! Stay tuned!
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