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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: Thankskilling 01:14 AM -- Mon October 10, 2011  

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

Synopsis: Some college kids get together and make a movie for film class. Unfortunately, none of them passed screenwriting class, and they did quite poorly in drama as well. That's not the plot of the movie, it's just how it came to be. Ridiculousness ensues.

Scariness Type: There's gore, but it's absurdly cheesy.

Rating: 2/5 Teepees.

Awarded: A C+ for effort by their teacher. But they probably forgot to put their names on the paper, so they lost ten points.

Good Stuff: I can't deny having fun watching this. It's about 50/50 whether I would've turned it off if I didn't have to finish it for B.H.E. It's got a bunch of funny moments, but...

Bad Stuff: ...it's very hard to tell when they are trying to be funny and when it's due to incompetence. It's extra tricky because they are intentionally doing things poorly for more comedy (this is a straight-up comedy, not trying to be scary at all). So the real challenge is figuring out where the acting-bad-for-humor ends and the acting-bad-because-you-can't-do-better begins. And I have no idea. So I just roll with it and enjoy it. It reminds me a lot of the kinds of things I made in high school with my video camera. Equal skill level. I found the stuff I made funny because my friends and I were in it. I bet the makers of this movie had a blast!

Classic Rules Of Film: If a hermit's dog dies in Act 1, that hermit better come back to make a stupid joke about it in Act 3.

My Take: It's fun to watch, but probably only once. I don't intend to go back. It's not So Bad It's Good, it's So Bad It's Mildly Amusing. I guess the hard part in that equation is that this movie is trying to be funny, which isn't really what you want in a So Bad It's Good scenario. You want poorly done earnestness. They succeed to minor degrees with the comedy every fifteen minutes or so, but that's not so bad since the rest of the time you're still smirking a bit from how bad it is. So I guess you get to laugh at the badness, alternating with occasionally laughing at the jokes. It almost makes me feel guilty laughing at the jokes, like I shouldn't reward these people. That's where typical So Bad It's Good is better, you don't have the uncomfortable sensation that you're laughing along with the creators instead of at them. This movie just left me confused!

Artistic Nonsense: This film strongly focuses on a powerful theme of respect for other cultures, and also the importance of literacy. And family, it's got family stuff too. Like how the kids grieve for a good five seconds each time one of their parents dies. It's not so big with the respect for women, but since the misogyny primarily comes from an evil turkey, I consider it just an example of his evil, and therefore the movie is saying, in a roundabout way, that women should be treated as equals because the evil turkey is not doing that. Oh yeah, and it's got things to say about auto maintenance as well. Very powerful messages, and many of them.

Tomorrow, our movie will be The Nameless, which I believe is in Spanish, and while the movie has a name, clearly at least one thing in the movie doesn't (can you tell I haven't recently read the Netflix description?). Oh, it has something to do with a phone call from a dead girl. Ghost movie!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: ERROR ERROR #2 07:04 PM -- Tue October 11, 2011  

I tried to watch last night's movie, The Nameless, but Netflix wouldn't let me. It was working just fine, except for that one movie - it kept saying "We are unable to play this movie right now. Try again later." So we watched some other shows, and kept re-checking, but it never worked.

So I will be trying to watch that again today, and also the next movie, which is Sam's Lake. That's about a lake, owned by someone named Sam.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Sam's Lake 10:21 PM -- Tue October 11, 2011  

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

Synopsis: A group of city folk head to a cabin in the woods (by a lake, duh!). Surprisingly, going to a remote cabin in the woods, in a horror movie, turns out to be a bad idea! Stabbing ensues.

Scariness Type: Not much really, but it's got some jump scares and a little teeny bit of gore.

Rating: 3/5 Logging Poles.

Awarded: The Excellence In Being Different Award. It's a teens-in-the-wood slasher that defies formula on many occasions.

Good Stuff: The characters are not one-dimensional, not entirely. I kind of wonder if a lot of the dialog is ad-libbed because it's got some odd moments of authenticity and awkwardness you wouldn't expect. Could just be awkward writing though! The main good thing is that there's a couple real twists that make this very different from the slasher movie you are expecting (it's still a slasher movie, just not the one you expect). I won't spoil what they are for you, which means there's a lot I can't talk about!

Bad Stuff: The actual slashing that occurs is not interesting in any way. Every kill is just stab-stab-stab. In fact, I'd say once the craziness kicks in, there's really nothing interesting that happens, it's just "let's go there, uh oh there's a killer there, run away!" until stab-stab-stab. On the other hand, there's also nothing really interesting before the craziness either... by which I mean that there's a very long stretch of movie which is just getting to know the characters, not even connected to the actual plot. The interesting bit is really just a tiny little tidbit in between the boring yak-yak-yak and the boring stab-stab-stab. That makes it sound worse than it is, because as I rated 3/5, it's pretty mediumish, once you factor in the differentness. Oh, one last bad: what is up with that ending?? They did succeed in not being cliche, that's for sure, but in doing so, they made nothing at all happen. I'd rather have a cliche than a lack of excitement!

Classic Rules Of Film: They followed the rules here. If you're gonna show and discuss a logging pole in Act 1, somebody's getting clubbed with it in Act 3. I actually spent the last quarter of the movie just waiting for that to happen, and I was not disappointed.

My Take: In a way, this is what I've been searching for in Belittling Horror Excessively, and it's what I was shooting for with Jason X and completely didn't get. Just a bunch of young adults getting scared, running around, splitting up, and then getting hacked up. That's how really lame horror is supposed to work, and here it did. As an added bonus, there was the unique plot element or two that really make it stand out. I don't know that I'd really recommend this, but it wasn't a bad experience, so why not? It's also just about the most tame movie I've covered here. If they bleeped out a few words, they could show this on network TV! Maybe they have, I don't know.

Artistic Nonsense: I can't offer much by way of goofy themes without giving anything away... I guess here's a list of handy tips that this movie and a thousand others teach you: First, don't go to remote woodsy cabins. Just don't. Second, when you do, don't split up. I mean come on! Third, pay attention to your surroundings, carry a rape whistle, and possibly a shotgun. These are key. Fourth, if the creepy small-town folks say "It's dangerous around here this time o' year..." in a creepy way, maybe that's not the place to visit (see tip #1 on that).

I tried to watch The Nameless both yesterday and today, but Netflix is still refusing to show it to me. I guess we'll consider that day a failure, but I'll try to slip an extra movie in sometime. For now though, tomorrow's movie will be Tales From The Dead, which I have been looking forward to all month! It's a Japanese movie that is actually a set of four short stories. I think it's four. Anyway, that will be loads of fun whether it's good or not.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Tales From The Dead 01:42 AM -- Thu October 13, 2011  

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

Synopsis: A woman has allegedly killed her husband, but was acquitted. Her car breaks down in the woods, and another woman picks her up and drives her home, regaling her with ghost stories along the way. Clearly, ghost stories ensue.

Scariness Type: There are some super mild jump scares, and that's about it.

Rating: 3/5 Black Widows.

Awarded: The Turning Japanese Medallion (I really think so). I found this movie completely unconfusing right up until the end credits. That's when I discovered that this movie was made by Americans, and filmed in California, despite being entirely in Japanese and only including Japanese actors. I'm still trying to figure out how that works. I guess they heard there was money in the Japanese film market? It does explain why their crime scene tape said "DO NOT CROSS" in English. I noticed a credit for "Script Translations", so it was even written in English.

Good Stuff: I have a soft spot for anthology movies, and I appreciate them being tied together. In this case, the actual ghost stories weren't tied together, but there was the wrap-around story, and it kind of all worked together. For the most part, the stories were fun to watch and short enough to keep you hooked, very light fare without a hint of scariness. I don't think a 6-year-old would be frightened by the ghosts in the first story. Of course a 6-year-old probably wouldn't watch a subtitled movie.

Bad Stuff: Low-budget and a fair amount of cheese. It was kind of like a 50's movie in terms of people acting intensely stricken by events, and lots of shots of the shadows on the wall behind them (also about half of it was black & white to enhance the feeling). It felt like a few Twilight Zone episodes, especially the third ghost story.

Classic Rules Of Film: Oddly enough, if you show a gun in Act 1 (of a flashback scene inside one story inside the movie), it doesn't have to go off at all. Instead, you can fire a different gun in Act 3 (of the flashback)! Come to think of it, maybe that was the same gun. I would go check, but I'm too lazy.

My Take: Let me break it down a bit. There are three ghost stories in here, plus the wrap-around story. The first ghost story was kind of fun, a little bit of a Twilight Zone twist. The second story was just dumb, no real twist beyond "ghosts can get revenge" which is kind of the point of ghosts. It also featured the perkiest detective in either California OR Japan. The third story was totally silly, but it was a true Twilight Zone episode. There's really no reason it had to have anything to do with ghosts, it was more about this other weird concept I won't spoil, which of course turns around and bites the protagonist in the end in true Twilight Zone style. It really didn't fit the movie, mainly because this woman was telling stories of things ghosts had told her, and out of the blue there's this whole... I don't know what to call it, but a new and unique supernatural concept just pulled out of thin air for that one story. It just seemed out of place. Like it's too much mythology for a generic series of ghost stories, and if that mythology exists, the other ghost stories could've been peppered with it for some added flavor. I could certainly see it affecting how they turned out.

Artistic Nonsense: The storyteller seems to think she's sharing these stories to make a point to her passenger, but I'm not real clear what it is. I guess the first story (which features the teller herself) is a nice piece of information for later, in terms of her motivations. But the other stories are just random stories. Or are they just too deep for me? That's probably it.

The Nameless still refuses to play. Our next movie sounds close enough though: The Disappeared. Can't have a name if you aren't there, right? It's about a guy who begins to have visions of his missing brother.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Disappeared 01:20 AM -- Fri October 14, 2011  

This is a movie review, so beware of mild spoilers. I won't go nuts, but if you want to be totally unspoiled, skip it!

Synopsis: A kid goes missing, causing his brother to go nuts, attempt suicide, and get committed. Once his brother is stable enough to be back at home, he begins to hear strange things, then see strange things, and then mystery ensues.

Scariness Type: Jump scares and general ghosty creepiness around.

Rating: 4/5 Lighters.

Awarded: 2nd Place in Most Depressing Movie Featuring Ghosts (just behind The Sixth Sense).

Good Stuff: Boy, mystery does ensue. There is a lot to piece together, and for a good portion of the movie, new clues are intertwined with new questions. I spent a lot of time just wondering which characters were actually alive, which is always a good sign unless it's because of their acting. The movie also looks and sounds good - it's got acting and whatnot like people like.

Bad Stuff: It's very slow, especially the first half hour which could've been boiled down to one scene: "This guy misses his brother and feels guilty." Many many shots of him moping around about that. Then ultimately all that mystery that the movie is so full of doesn't lead to that interesting of a conclusion, or a very dramatic climax. But it's pretty solid. Oh, the final 'big twist' didn't seem like much of a twist either, since I had been shouting the thing they revealed all along.

Classic Rules Of Film: I actually have a good thing to put here, but saying it would be a total spoiler. It's a different type of rule even, not the gun-going-off stuff! Oh well, watch the movie, then we'll talk.

My Take: I was pleased. As I mentioned The Sixth Sense above, this has a lot in common with that in terms of tone and pace and style. It also has the mystery of what ghosts are asking for and all that. It's a good movie. Quite depressing, and it almost jerked a tear from me, so it really does a good job showing people truly feeling a loss.

Artistic Nonsense: In good genre fiction (I don't know why "genre" by itself means fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, but it does. Maybe because those are the only genres worth paying attention to!), what it all boils down to is a totally human story that just uses the trappings of magic, ghosts, or rocket ships to get you intrigued enough to pay attention to the feelings. This movie of course has crime stuff and ghost stuff, but none of that actually matters to what it's truly about. It's about the sadness of losing a child. I don't really know that it can teach you anything as a result, it's more like just "Boy, this is pretty crappy, huh?" Like it's commiserating with you, if you've dealt with the same stuff. Or rubbing it in your face. I wouldn't want to see this movie if I had had similar experiences!

Tomorrow's movie is Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Undead. That should be interesting. P.S. In WoW, my friend and I made a pair of Tauren Death Knights named Holsteincrantz and Guernseystern that adventure together (actually, they're slightly modified versions, because both those names are one character too long for WoW). See, they're death knights, so they Are Dead! They're Undead too, but that's a separate issue, we named them for more classic reasons before I ever knew this movie existed. Boy, we never play those two. Ever. That's sad.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Undead 04:12 AM -- Sat October 15, 2011  

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

Synopsis: A vampire comes to town and wants to put on a play he's written. But according to ancient vampire lore (you all know this one, right?), he can't do that unless a human director presents opening night for him. So he hires our hero, who casts some of his friends. Toil and trouble ensue.

Scariness Type: Maybe you will laugh to DEATH! No, it's not that funny really. But it's definitely not scary.

Rating: 3/5 Holy Grails.

Awarded: Most Celebrity Lookalikes. I swear, there were only two real "name" actors in this movie (one being the Karate Kid, and the other Jeremy Sisto), but everybody else in it instantly reminded me of some very famous actor. The vampire was a cross between Paul Reubens (who is well known for his vampire portrayals), and Robert Downey Jr., the hero was Jason Biggs, his girlfriend was Drew Barrymore, his best friend was ... oh, the guy I always call "Boy Meets World's Friend", his dad was Eugene Levy, and Hamlet himself was a young blonde Michael Ian Black. Maybe only in certain moments. And maybe "very famous" is a stretch in some cases there. But people I recognize immediately anyway. It was weird, not something I've seen before. Actually, I semi-recognized the girlfriend as herself (Devon Aoki), but she was really pulling some Barrymore stuff here. There were really no characters where I didn't at least go "Oh, he's acting just like... hmm... who is it..." It became a fun game.

Good Stuff: Well, it's a comedy, and it's very ridiculous. It has a fairly unclear silliness level, occasionally dipping into Hebrew Hammer/Airplane levels of totally random, other times way up in the high-falutin' romantic comedy range, but it is always making some sort of joke, and so it's pretty entertaining. Some jokes are pretty good, some are kinda weak. Jeremy Sisto's performance is really amusing to me. He's just being totally ridiculous for no reason. You can tell the director really wanted them all to just get crazy and not worry about acting real, just acting funny.

Bad Stuff: I am no thespian. I never read Hamlet, and I've never seen it. I am pretty sure that that greatly diminished my ability to appreciate this movie. Just from how it was going, I suspect it was constantly referencing Shakespearian things and Hamlet in particular. For all I know, the entire plot was a parody of the play (probably not though, there was nobody going crazy, and I know that happens in there somewhere). It's definitely the kind of movie theater majors make for their friends to get. Kind of an inside joke for drama geeks. But not a college project like Thankskilling, this is a real movie with production values and everything.

One other bad note is that the plot seemed kind of random. I couldn't really guess where it was going just because it went weird places, not following typical storytelling. I am suspicious that this is again because I don't know Hamlet.

Classic Rules Of Film: If someone hands you a pen in Act 1, warning you that if you are in a play about Hamlet and vampires you need to call the number on the pen, you better call it in Act 2, just in case.

My Take: Comedy's a tricky business, and that's where the 3/5 rating comes in here. It was funny, but not funny enough. Definitely not bad, and it's a high 3/5, but you know, I have comedy standards. I guess I don't have much else to say. It was a very silly movie, which is nice. I think very Dumb comedy is the most appealing, where they don't really worry too much about how real people would act and just go nuts.

Artistic Nonsense: Oh I don't know. Like I said, I don't know Hamlet and I think I missed a bunch of artistic nonsense as a result. Let that be a lesson, kids: read your classics, or you won't get the subtext of horror comedy!

Our next movie will be Lake Mungo. I think that's down the road from Sam's Lake.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Lake Mungo 03:24 AM -- Sun October 16, 2011  

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

Synopsis: A girl drowns in a lake (oddly, not Lake Mungo). Her family begins seeing her ghost around the house. Documentary ensues!

Scariness Type: The creepiness of realizing there's a ghost over in the corner of a video. Real creepy and nervous-making as you start looking at the dark corners of your living room, but there are no jump scares or gore.

Rating: 5/5 Wicker Chairs.

Awarded: The Where's Waldo License Was Taken, So We Made This Instead. Seriously.

Good Stuff: This is a good movie! It's not a super 5/5, more like just a little too good to be 4/5, but that's still a definite recommendation. It's done entirely in documentary style, but not Blair Witch vomit-cam, more like a real documentary, where they go around interviewing the people involved, intercut with clips from videos the subjects have recorded themselves and so on. It's really perfectly executed in that regard, beyond the "we sure are lucky they filmed all that stuff!" aspect you always find with a fake documentary. It continues along building the story just as a documentary would. If anything, it's too documentary - it's like a documentary about something more mundane, where one about a ghost like this would be much more sensationalized and trying to freak you out. This just seems to take it all pretty much in stride. Anyway, it's all believable and realistic, and tells an interesting story along the way.

Bad Stuff: The story isn't that interesting. If this were actually a documentary, it'd be fantastic, but knowing that they made it up, it's kind of like "couldn't you have made up something more excessive?" It's still interesting enough though, and it's got some... not really twists, but elements that stand out from other ghost stories and give you something to think about. The story does zig and zag quite a bit, in the unexpected ways you'd get in a real-life story as opposed to a fictional one. And here I am saying good stuff in the Bad Stuff section, so it must've been good!

Classic Rules Of Film: We're breaking all the rules baby!!

My Take: Good stuff, interesting and creepy. Make sure you watch through the credits, where they show a bunch of little bonus shots. It made me want to go back and watch again to see if the bonuses were accurate. Wait, I will! I'm checking now... Yep! It's kind of fun. And it adds just a tiny little extra to the story as a result.

Artistic Nonsense: This movie is a fine example of just how fine the line between horror and tragedy is. Like The Disappeared, this is almost entirely just a movie about people being sad that someone died. The ghosts are just a metaphor for the grief of the living. I don't know why I enjoy movies like that, but they do tend to work for me!

Our next movie is The Baby's Room, in which I predict we will see a crib at some point.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Baby's Room 03:08 AM -- Mon October 17, 2011  

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

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

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

Rating: 4/5 Baby Monitors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our next film will be Gamebox 1.0, which is in the time-honored genre of "people getting sucked into video games". Those movies are always stupid, and I expect no different this time! So excited!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Gamebox 1.0 11:34 PM -- Mon October 17, 2011  

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

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

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

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

Awarded: NO AWARDS FOR YOU.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow's movie will be far better. It doesn't matter which movie it is, it will be. It's R-Point, a Korean movie about bad things happening to a team of soldiers in the jungle.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: R-Point 06:05 AM -- Wed October 19, 2011  

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

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

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

Rating: 3/5 Helmets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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