x-xss-protection: 0 Hamumu Games, Inc. Hamumu Games, Inc.
 - Home - Games - Blog - Halloween - About - 
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!
Page 1/4 2 3 4 > >>
  Belittling Horror Excessively: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension 05:26 PM -- Sat October 1, 2016  

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

Welcome to the latest round of Belittling Horror Excessively! As you may know, each October, I watch a horror movie every day, and write up a review of it. I try something a little different almost every year, and this time we definitely have something new for you... interviews! For the first time ever, I’ve managed to convince my lovely wife Solange to watch the movies with me, and I will be interviewing her for her opinion on each movie. Conversely, she’s going to interview me as well! The interviews of me will be posted on her blog, and my interviews of her are going to be right here (don’t worry, we’ll link to each other). Solee is not a horror movie fan, though she’s also not the type who refuse to ever watch one, but it will definitely give you a different perspective, as I will gleefully watch the worst horror movies back-to-back.

Per usual, you should be warned that these reviews SERIOUSLY CONTAIN SPOILERS. We hold nothing back and will totally spoil every movie we watch. If you care about ever seeing these movies, and you haven’t, then first of all, I’d urge you to go see them. That’s part of the fun! But if you’re not going to do that, I’d recommend not reading the interviews. They will spoil the movie, for sure. They also won’t make much sense if you haven’t seen the movie, as we don’t explain anything we’re talking about.

With that said, here is our first interview. For my thoughts on this movie, check out Solange's post on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015) (#6 in series)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 4.5/10
Metacritic: 30
Rotten Tomatoes: 13% critics, 28% audience
Mikey: 2/5
Solee: 1/5
We watched on Hulu.


An original work by Solange accompanies each review!
IMDB’s description: “Using a special camera that can see spirits, a family must protect their daughter from an evil entity with a sinister plan.”

Mikey: Rather atypically, I am interviewing you about a week after the movie here rather than right away. So I want to get into that: how memorable was this movie?

Solee: I have pretty vivid images of the different rooms being recorded during the dead of night. I also remember how annoying it was when the brother first arrived. Oh, and there was this brief moment when the little girl was floating up by the ceiling having a conversation with Toby and all you could see in the frame were her feet. I think I even rewound to rewatch that bit. I found it surprisingly unsettling. I think it was that she was just up there giggling and being totally chill about it.

Mikey: What did you think of the big Christmas tree in this movie?

Solee: I LOVED that Christmas tree! You know I always want to have the biggest tree I can manage and I’d love to leave the twinkly lights on 24/7 from Thanksgiving through New Years! In this particular movie, the Christmas tree seems to be that constant reminder of normal. As life in that house got stranger and stranger, there was this big symbol of peace and joy shining in the night. It didn’t change the strangeness or protect them from the bad things that happened to them, though, which I think says something.

Mikey: Scary movies aren’t generally considered your thing. Did this one scare you?

Solee: I have always enjoyed the Paranormal Activity movies because I am a big fan of staring at a perfectly normal scene wondering where the scary thing is going to suddenly appear. I like it best when it’s something super subtle, like eyes peering out of a dark corner, that I might have missed. It makes me think about what I might be missing in the dark corners of my own house. Sadly, this movie did NOT live up to the rest of the Paranormal Activity line. The fact that we could see the scary thing coming spoiled all the fun for me.

I know that I jumped several times as things rushed the camera, but I don’t count that as being scared and I think that movies (and directors) who rely on involuntary reactions are being lazy. I remember being worried for the mom as she was leaning into the fireplace. And as I mentioned earlier, I was unsettled by the giggling girl on the ceiling just out of frame. I don’t think I was really scared at any point though.

Mikey: Yeah, I had a similar reaction! During the movie, you said you like when they pan away, pan back, and see furniture on the ceiling. What else is a Paranormal Activity fun-time for you?

Solee: Oh, yeah! I love when the furniture is suddenly rearranged or the drawers and cupboards are all opened in the space of a few seconds. I don’t find blood and guts or dripping beasties as scary as psychological terror. I think it’s because I don’t really believe in ghosts or vampires or swamp things. I do, however, believe that the mind is a malleable thing, easily manipulated into thinking bad things.

Mikey: You know I found Moustache Mike annoying. What was your take on him? You usually like Mikes!

Solee: Mikes are my favorite. But that moustache! And anyone who moves into your house uninvited, hits on your in-laws, and breaks your stuff without remorse is annoying. He was just one of those guys who never thinks about what anyone else is thinking and that is one of my biggest pet peeves. I think I cheered when he and the caterpillar he kept on his lip got eaten.

Mikey: Each time we watch one of these movies, we pause it at the halfway mark (or as close to that as we remember to push the pause button), and each write down our predictions. So Solee, do you feel like you understand what’s happening at the halfway point? Do you feel like you know where the movie is going? If so, how confident are you in your predictions?

Solee: I didn’t really feel confident that I knew what was going on at all. I know I’ve seen all the other Paranormal Activity movies, but I don’t keep things like that in my memory banks, so I felt like I was missing background knowledge that might have made things make more sense. I was pretty sure everyone in the family was going to die and I figured we’d see lots of creepy things happening in the night while nobody was watching. Beyond that, I didn’t have much in the way of predictions.

Mikey: (After the movie ended) How right or wrong were you about your predictions?

Solee: I wasn’t too far off, but considering how vague my predictions were, that’s not saying much.

Mikey: Okay, you have three areas to consider in this movie: Writing, Directing (including editing, music and cinematography), and Acting. Which was good, which was bad, and which was ugly? It’s okay if you want to re-use good/bad/ugly.

Solee:
Writing - Ugly
Directing - Bad
Acting - Bad

I was very disappointed in this movie. The acting could have been worse, but it’s a far cry from good. The directing, as I mentioned before, seemed to rely on throwing things in my face to make me flinch. That might be because the writing was just so very very horrible, though. The characters were unbelievable, the pacing was super slow, and they wandered too far away from the few things I liked about the previous movies.

Mikey: Okay, that’s fair... So now you have no control over the entire movie… except the very ending. What would you change about the climax to make it better? What’d they do wrong?

Solee: Honestly, I don’t remember much about the climax of the movie. I think that says something about how wrong it went. Once the portal opened, I was done. One thing I would definitely do differently: I would have had some kind of explanation wrapping up the connection between the two timelines and explaining a little about what was going on. You decided to veer off the beaten path of the Paranormal Activity canon, Mr Screenwriter, so it’s up to YOU to make it make sense to me.

Mikey: Finally, how would you rate this movie? Since you don’t really care for horror movies, let me phrase it this way: what is the most unpleasant thing you would rather have done than watch the movie?

Solee: I give this movie a 1 out of 5. It was not good. I think I’d rather clean bathrooms than watch this movie again. In fact, it’s going to make me think twice about any future Paranormal Activity movies, too.

Mikey: Ouch!

Tomorrow, we will be reviewing The Dead Room, so come back and check it out. If you missed the earlier link, you can find Solee's interview of me at SoloRien.wordpress.com.
Comment on this entry...Back to top!
  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Dead Room 07:16 PM -- Sun October 2, 2016  

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

For my thoughts on this movie, check out Solange's post on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

The Dead Room (2016)
Rated TV-MA
IMDB rating: 4.7/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A critics, 23% audience
Mikey: 2.5/5
Solee: 2/5
We watched on Netflix.


An original work by Solange
IMDB’s description: “When a terrified family flees a desolate southern New Zealand farmhouse, two cynical scientists and a young psychic are sent to investigate their claims of a haunting. There they encounter a powerful spirit that will protect the house's secrets at all costs.”

To set the scene a bit, we watched this movie in the evening, with a full moon hanging over the river. It was dimly lit. I was sick, and Solee was exhausted. I guess we were ready to hit The Dead Room!

Mikey: I think our views on this movie differed more than the usual. Not a fan of the psychic in shortie shorts?

Solee: I was pretty “meh” about the whole film right up until the end, at which point it just became disappointing. I thought her short shorts and thigh high socks were a little silly, yes. She can wear whatever she is comfortable in, but I’d probably wear something with a higher protective value.

Mikey: Hey, ghosts don't shoot guns, we don't need kevlar. We’ve now watched houses haunted in two ways: an invisible ghost in a normal movie, and a visible one in found footage. What’s better?

Solee: I preferred the invisible ghost, actually. I think once a ghost is visible, some of the mystery has gone out of it. Allowing the viewer to imagine their scariest ghost is infinitely scarier than committing to a specific CGI effect.

Mikey: That is always the way. Okay, the “tech guy” in this looked like Ryan Stiles. Would this movie have been better if it were Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady, and Colin Mochrie as the ghost hunters? What are some key differences?

Solee: Heck, yeah! I would watch the “Who’s Line” cast redo that movie in a heartbeat! Wayne Brady would make a terrific singing psychic and I’m sure Colin Mochrie would have no trouble with the pompous scientist character. Cheesy horror with a sense of humor is always better than cheesy, taking-itself-seriously horror.

Mikey: I have to admit that would be awesome. Not just a ghost movie, but them literally performing this exact movie for us. So what was the deal with the room of flies? Did you ever notice that door being opened again? Was it just a red herring?

Solee: Oh, this movie… it was just chock full of unfulfilled promises! The room full of flies that suddenly disappeared. The baby crib that was never explained or utilized. The dreamcatcher. The… well, I don’t remember what else, but I know the first act was full of pistols that were never used to shoot anyone in the third act. This is a high crime in writing and I was offended by it.

Mikey: Okay, it's half time! Do you feel like you understand what’s happening at this point? Do you feel like you know where the movie is going? If so, how confident are you in your predictions?

Solee: I feel like I understood the gist of the story. Family is scared away mid-dinner by a ghost (which only appeared at precisely 3 am at any point in the movie… why was this family eating dinner at 3 am??), insurance company hires ghost hunters to prove the ghosts don’t exists (because, I guess, there is some insurance payout in New Zealand for haunted houses?), ghost hunters discover ghost and decide to deal with it. Pretty basic, really. I figure the ghost will prove to be hardier than they expect, doing some damage, and then they will chase it off with the pseudo-science the skeptic character was spouting. I’m expecting to learn backstory along the way that explains the room (ahem… the Dead Room?) that clearly has a dead body in it (soooo many flies) and includes something sad about a baby. :( I’m 75% confident that I know, roughly, how this will play out.

Mikey: So confident... The movie's over now, so how right or wrong were you about your predictions?

Solee: I was right about how things would pan out. I was very wrong about the backstory. They told us nothing. I find that disappointing, because the whole point of a ghost story is the psychology of why there’s an angry ghost in the first place.

Mikey: Right, this movie didn’t offer any explanation for its ghosts, so now that’s your job. What’s the backstory?

Solee: Well, since there was nothing to indicate that the ghosts were connected to the family they ran off, I’m going to say that they have been in the house for a long time. Based on the outfit, I’d say sometime in the 1800s, the woman was kidnapped by a couple of Really Bad Dudes. They did Really Bad Things to her and drove her mad. The police and a number of the farmers from the area spent a long time searching for her. One of the farmers helping with the search was her fiance, a big burly guy with a heart of gold who loved her very much. The police surrounded the house where the Really Bad Dudes were holding the woman. Frightened, they killed her, but not until her lover heard her screaming for help. He ran into the house in a failed attempt to save her and was also killed by the Really Bad Dudes. The ghost of the madwoman, unable to differentiate between those who hurt her and those who were trying to help her, became extremely dangerous and the ghost of her lover remained by her side, soothing her and driving away all who might fall victim to her misplaced rage. At least, until the ghost hunters expelled him from this realm.

Mikey: Wow, that is a big improvement. I still feel it's not enough to justify what she was like, but I'll take it. Were you scared at any point?

Solee: Not being able to see the ghost through the majority of the film was definitely unsettling. I was primed for jump scares much of the movie but I’m not sure that I was every really truly surprised by anything. I certainly didn’t feel all that attached to the characters. It was obvious that they were going to be ghost fodder, and frankly none of them were all that likeable, so I wasn’t really scared of the emotional impact of them getting eaten.

Mikey: You have three areas to consider in this movie: Writing, Directing (including editing, music and cinematography), and Acting. Which was good, which was bad, and which was ugly? It’s okay if you want to re-use good/bad/ugly.

Solee: Writing - Ugly
Directing - Good
Acting - Bad
I’m going to give directing the Good because I liked the way the invisible ghost affected things in the house. The banging doors, jangling light fixtures, etc were creepy and well done. There are several examples of hauntingly pretty shots of the hallway and the front door. The acting gets the Bad because they weren’t able to make me feel like they were real people. If I’m constantly thinking “Yep, that’s what the skeptic would say now” or “No, the psychic wouldn’t react like that” then you’ve failed to make your character more than a stereotype. The Ugly goes to the writing because it’s almost as though there were no writing. They probably could have gotten the exact same movie if the director took a few people who were familiar with the ghost story genre, put them in a creepy house and said, “Pretend there’s a ghost in there with you.”

Mikey: I think that's probably true, actually. I'd kind of like to see that improv movie (or better yet the one we talked about above). Anyway, here's the game: You have no control over the entire movie… except the very ending. What would you change about the climax to make it better? What’d they do wrong?

Solee: No question, I would put some backstory in there. I would explain why the woman was tied up in the basement to die. I would explain why her ghost was so angry and why the other ghost was protecting people from her. There’s so much potential there and it’s sad to see it wasted. The ending was nothing more than jump scares, frantic running, and people being dragged off.

Mikey: Finally, how would you rate this movie? Since you don’t really care for horror movies, let me phrase it this way: what is the most unpleasant thing you would rather have done than watch the movie?

Solee: I give this movie 2 out of 5. If there had been an actual story it would have gotten a 3. If the acting had been even a tiny big worse, it would have gotten a 1.
That being said, it wasn’t all that arduous to watch. I would rather change and wash all the linens in the house that watch this movie.

Mikey: Wow, I think it'd have to be pretty horrifying (like a Hugh Grant romantic comedy) to do that kind of damage to me personally.

Tomorrow, we will be reviewing Shadow Puppets, so come back and check it out. If you missed the earlier link, you can find Solee's interview of me at SoloRien.wordpress.com.
Comment on this entry...Back to top!
  Belittling Horror Excessively: Shadow Puppets 02:00 PM -- Mon October 3, 2016  

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

For my thoughts on this movie, check out Solange's post on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

Shadow Puppets (2007)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 4.9/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A critics, 22% audience
Mikey: 1.5/5
Solee: 3/5
We watched on Amazon Prime.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “Eight strangers with no memories find themselves trapped in an abandoned facility. As they desperately try to find answers and escape, their own Shadows attempt to consume them from the darkness.”

We watched this movie together in the early afternoon on a grey fall day.

Mikey: Spike! You were excited to find a movie with Spike in it, just as I had hoped. What did you think about seeing him be American? How did he do in this movie?

Solee: Yes, I was excited to see Spike. He’s a cutie. He did pretty well in this movie. I thought his character was pretty believable and I only spent the first few minutes pretending it was actually Spike the Vampire in there. I did imagine this movie being done as a Buffy episode, though. That would have been fun.

Mikey: It definitely would've improved it. What did you think of the “science” in this movie? Do you think it’s a fairly accurate representation of how brain swiping works? (Bonus question: why on earth is it “swiping” instead of “wiping”?)

Solee: I think it’s probably harder to “swipe” a brain than they made it seem. If it were easy, it would happen more often. Governments are generally very good at exploiting any technology that comes along in horrible ways and very bad at actually keeping secrets secret for long. That being said, I felt like it suited the story of this movie well and it was believable to serve to move the plot forward.

“Swiping” is a highly technical term. I wouldn’t expect you to understand now that you’ve been swi… I mean… would you like a treatment?

Mikey: Yes, I enjoy my treatments. You are on record as finding this to be a better movie than the last two. Without spoiling your ratings, can you delve into that? What had you hooked?

Solee: I’m a sucker for a mystery, especially when the story offers up clues so that I can feel clever when I notice them and put them together correctly. I liked picking up on the little things like the swiper being used 8 times.

I also enjoy anything that has a psychological aspect. I’ll watch the nastiest, goriest movie if it’s a psychological thriller. Criminal Minds is one of my favorite shows because it’s all about what drives people to do the things they do. This movie had a variety of different personalities all driven by different things.

Mikey: Did the creators just pick the name “Shadow Puppets” because it’s a common phrase with the word ‘shadow’ in it, or does it mean something to the movie?

Solee: I honestly have NO IDEA what that name has to do with this movie. It’s almost like they used a random name generator. So wierd.

Mikey: Halfway in, do you feel like you understand what’s happening at this point? Do you feel like you know where the movie is going? If so, how confident are you in your predictions?

Solee: I’m struggling with this because I didn’t take notes and I don’t remember how I felt at the halfway mark. Um… I knew Spike was the big bad. I knew it was going to be a lot of running around and finding people and not knowing who to trust. I don’t really remember where I thought it would end up. I know I was intrigued.

Mikey: Are you regretting your decision to participate in my Halloween Movie reviews yet?

Solee: Not at all! I love trying to come up with interesting questions and seeing your answers. I always like finding out what’s going on that head of yours. And now that I get to answer questions too, I’m even more entertained.

Mikey: Fun for me too! The movie's over. How right or wrong were you about your predictions? You knew Spike was the badguy the moment you saw him. Why?

Solee: There are actually two reasons I accused him right out of the gate. First of all, I’ve watched enough Law & Order to know that the character being played by the most recognizable actor is ALWAYS the killer. Secondly, in these locked room movies, the bad guy always locks himself in with the victims. It’s almost always the first person the protagonist meets. So he was a dead-ringer for me.

Mikey: I'm concerned that you are locked in here with me now. Were you scared at any point?

Solee: There were a few scenes that had my anxiety level on the rise. However, just as I’d really start to get into it, the Mean Girl would make some ridiculous face or scream in some insane way that made me laugh.

Mikey: You have three areas to consider in this movie: Writing, Directing (including editing, music and cinematography), and Acting. Which was good, which was bad, and which was ugly?

Solee: Writing - not quite Bad, not quite Good
Directing - same?
Acting - Badish?

I am having a hard time committing to an answer for any of them. The storyline was interesting, but in a pretty generic way. I don’t really feel as though there was much to make this stand out from any other locked room story. I don’t remember any obviously annoying directorial things like songs or whatever. On the other hand, some of the acting was SO bad that I have to put some of the blame on the director. Or maybe some of those actors were just that bad? The Mean Girl was pretty awful. But some of them were decent - not good, mind you - and I feel bad lumping them all together in the Ugly category.
This question is too hard. I’m moving on!

Mikey: You have no control over the entire movie… except the very ending. What would you change about the climax to make it better? What’d they do wrong?

Solee: Huh. So I don’t really remember how it ended, aside from lots more people getting stabbed by shadows. I know there was an explanation as to why they were all mind-swiped. I know who the bad guy was… but I don’t even remember if anyone survived. I guess that says something for the quality of the story (or lack thereof). I don’t think this is a problem that can be solved by changing the climax. I just didn’t really care about any of the characters. The whole thing would have to be rewritten to make that happen. I don’t remember having any real problems with the climax, it wrapped things up well enough to make me think, “Huh. Ok.” It just wasn’t enough to make me mull it over past the ending credits.

Mikey: Finally, how would you rate this movie? Since you don’t really care for horror movies, let me phrase it this way: what is the most unpleasant thing you would rather have done than watch the movie?

Solee: I give this movie 3 out of 5. It wasn’t anything special, but it wasn’t the worst way to spend a couple of hours. I’d be willing to watch it while folding laundry.

Mikey: Wow, folks... check out Solee's interview, for my more negative thoughts!

Tomorrow, we're watching The Invitation, so watch along with us.
Comment on this entry...Back to top!
  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Invitation 03:23 PM -- Tue October 4, 2016  

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

For my thoughts on this movie, check out Solange's post on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

The Invitation (2015)
Not Rated
IMDB rating: 6.7/10
Metacritic: 74
Rotten Tomatoes: 88% critics, 71% audience
Mikey: 4.5/5
Solee: 4.5/5
We watched on Netflix.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.”

Mikey: I'm gonna jump right in the deep end of this psychological horror: Is pain optional? Is it just physical and changeable? Can you beat it with your brain?

Solee: To a certain extent, I believe we can control the pain we feel, both physical and emotional. Some people are better at this than others. I also believe that pain can serve a purpose. Physical pain keeps us from destroying this fragile vessel we call our body. Emotional pain can help us make decisions and provide the contrast needed to get us to truly appreciate the good things in our lives.

Mikey: Speaking of painful, how soon would you have left that party? Or tried to...

Solee: I wouldn’t have gone to that party in the first place! Oh, hey, my ex wants me to come hang out in what used to be my fancy house so that I can see how happy she and her new lover are? No thank you. And I certainly wouldn’t ask my new significant other to go either. Seeing how close-knit those friends were, I can kind of understand him wanting to reconnect with them, but he should have just had his own party and invited them (and NOT the ex or the creepy dude she’s with now).

That being said, I’m afraid that my “Minnesota Nice” upbringing might have kept me stuck in that dinner party until I met a grisly end if I had actually gone. I would like to think I’d have been smart, like Claire, and bailed when things got too sketchy for me, but I would have been worried about insulting the hosts and making my friends think I wasn’t cool enough to hang. Sad, but true.

Mikey: Something I caught just from a brief aside in this movie really was interesting to me: Grief and sadness are backwards-looking emotions that serve no purpose. They don’t plan for the future in any way, they are just a way of ruminating about what has happened previously. Joy and hope on the other hand are completely forward-looking emotions, thinking about the future and planning for it. Obviously we can’t really choose what we feel, but it seemed like an interesting observation to me. What do you think about this? Do you think grief serves an important purpose, or would you skip it if you could?

Solee: We clearly share a brain. I kind of answered this question up above before I saw you asking it here. I think there are lessons to be learned from grief. I also feel that sometimes grief is the price we pay for joy. For example, losing my grandmother was very difficult for me, but that pain was the result of many years of love and happiness with her. I’m willing to pay that price.

I agree about the forward and backward thinking aspects of these emotions. It’s easy to be trapped in grief, unable to move forward. Even when we don’t realize it, unaddressed grief can influence our lives in a myriad of ways. Because of this, I think it’s important to actually deal with grief. Not to give too much of the ending away, but Will and Eden were both pretty messed up in their grief. Will looked much more broken on the outside, but I think he was actually the healthier of the two, because he was facing his grief instead of hiding from it.

Mikey: Half-time analysis! Do you feel like you understand what’s happening at this point? Do you feel like you know where the movie is going? If so, how confident are you in your predictions?

Solee: I’m confident that I understand what’s happened up to this point. I understand the history of these characters and their general relationships to one another. What I don’t know is where this is all going. The story has been written in such a way that I truly don’t know which direction it will finally break and I will find either way believable. I give the writers props for walking this fine line.

In the very beginning I was 110% sure there was going to be a bloodbath at some point in this movie. Now, I’m not at all sure it will actually happen that way, mostly because I can’t figure out WHY the bloodbath will start.

I am completely confident that I am very uncomfortable at this dinner party and I would like to go home now.

Mikey: Something interesting I felt at the end of this movie was actual relief when the murderin’ started up. I was finally able to relax and stop worrying about it. Did you experience something like this? How did the movie change for you at that pivotal moment?

Solee: Yes! I didn’t think of it in those exact terms, but there was a definite release once I finally knew without a doubt what was really going on. This was by far the most stressful movie of the ones we’ve watched so far.

Mikey: The movie makes no comment on this matter, so it’s up to you: Did Claire get away?

Solee: Gah. I don’t knoooowww! I’m going to say yes, she got away. She was the only one smart enough to listen to her gut and bail and I think she did it early enough that she would have actually gotten away. But there’s a very real possibility her little white car is still there on the other side of that wall with a corpse in it.

Mikey: I declare she's toast. But with the movie over now, how right or wrong were you about your predictions?

Solee: I was so wishy-washy with my predictions that I don’t feel like I can take too much credit for being right about anything. My initial gut instinct was very accurate, but I had given up on a lot of that by half-time. I should have trusted myself!

Mikey: Were you scared at any point?

Solee: I prefer thrillers like this to other types of horror films because I love that nervous, edgy feeling you get when you’re not quite sure whether there’s even something bad happening. (In movies… I HATE it in real life.) I was on the edge of my seat for most of the movie. Once the dying started, there were several moments that made me flinch, but I’m not sure that was fear. I think it was more sympathetic reactions.

Mikey: You have three areas to consider in this movie: Writing, Directing (including editing, music and cinematography), and Acting. Which was good, which was bad, and which was ugly?

Solee: Writing - Good
Directing - Good
Acting - Good

It feels very disinteresting to give them all high marks, but I actually really enjoyed this movie. The writing kept me interested all the way through. Nothing really jumped out at me regarding the directing, which I assume means they did a decent job. I would have noticed annoying music or cheesy editing. (I did think the mirror shot was a little “on the nose”, but it also looked pretty cool, so I forgive it.) I thought the acting was pretty good. Usually with horror films you have to watch people to way over-the-top fear. I felt like the fear was authentic. Also, I liked the more realistic ways people died in this movie.

Mikey: You have no control over the entire movie… except the very ending. What would you change about the climax to make it better? What’d they do wrong?

Solee: Hmmm. I can’t think of anything I’d change! I thought it wrapped things up nicely, but left you things to think about the next day. It was exciting, but realistic (within the horror universe). I thought it was very well done. I don’t often say that about horror!

Mikey: Finally, how would you rate this movie? Since you don’t really care for horror movies, let me phrase it this way: what is the most unpleasant thing you would rather have done than watch the movie?

Solee: I give this one a 4.5 out of 5. Actually, I liked this one. It would have to be something pretty good, like a dinner party with friends, to take me away from it.

Mikey: You can go to the dinner party without me. If you wanna check out my take on this particular dinner party, check out Solange's post on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

For tomorrow, our movie will finally be [REC], a movie I've been trying to watch for these horror reviews since they started in 2011. Technological advances have finally made it possible (Roku, with its awesome search system across all different movie apps and access to pay-per-view of nearly any movie in history). I'm so glad the dark ages are over.
Comment on this entry...Back to top!
  Belittling Horror Excessively: [REC] 07:54 PM -- Wed October 5, 2016  

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

For my thoughts on this movie, check out Solange's post on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

[REC] (2007)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 7.5/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: 90% critics, 81% audience
Mikey: 3.5/5
Solee: 3.5/5 (or 1.5/5...)
We watched on Amazon, which cost real live money!


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.”

For the first time this month, we took the plunge by spending money on a movie. We watched it on a cold, rainy night, and got interrupted by a flurry of phone calls and barking dogs, which kind of killed the flow.

Mikey: A foreign film! How do you feel about that? Obviously this one was dubbed (which we know is a bad thing! Yuck), but what about subtitled ones?

Solee: I like to watch TV while doing something else - knitting, sewing, reading, playing iPhone games - and foreign language films really mess with that. If we set that aside, I am usually intrigued by foreign films in a hesitant way. I blame watching “Burnt by the Sun”, a Russian film that won an academy award in 1995, as an impressionable teenager. American films tend to over-explain everything, wrap up all the loose ends, and give you at least a glimmer of hope to grab onto. Most of the foreign films I’ve seen have been obtuse and intensely depressing. These are not bad things… they just require more effort on my part to watch, so I tend to put off watching them. I am just another lazy American! However, when I do end up watching foreign films I am typically more captivated and more moved than I am with American films.

Mikey: The dubbing was bad, let’s just agree on that because c’mon. How did that impact the experience?

Solee: Oh, it was AWFUL. I wish I could have watched it with just subtitles. The voice-over actors were SO bad and I am concerned that some of the characters came off even more awful than they really were because of the way their lines were translated. I am really not sure if this was a racist movie with racist screenwriter and director or if it was social commentary turned racist through racist dubbing decisions. It definitely lowered my opinion of the movie.

Mikey: But it’s another fine found footage movie! I love em! How did you feel about the verisimilitude here? Was it “real”?

Solee: [For readers who, like myself, are unsure of the meaning of verisimilitude, it means the appearance of truth, likelihood] I’m taking this to mean that you’re asking how realistic or believable the plot was to me. In a strictly scientific, present tense sense, not at all. Zombies are not a thing. I may joke about having a zombie apocalypse plan, but it’s all a joke. In a storytelling sense, I was able to suspend reality enough to accept the premise. I thought the idea of investigative reporting stumbling on something more than they expected more believable than the typical “young adults record every second of their lives” idea most found footage films rely on.

Mikey: You’ve asked me, so I want to ask you: how do you feel about the found footage genre?

Solee: On one hand, I tend to like them because they are a great place to find that pan-across-the-scene-until-something-pops-out-at-you moment that I like (see interview about Paranormal Activity). On the other hand, they are usually super cheesy. There’s a lot of storytelling gymnastics that has to happen to get every part of a story recorded by a character in the story. That is often not done well. Example: you are one of two survivors in a building filled with zombies and you’re STILL hauling a giant camera around with you as though recording for posterity is more important than saving your own posterior. Nope. I don’t believe it. Although I will say it was clever that they made the camera the only way for her to see where she was going at the end. It actually made sense for her to still have the camera pointed at the monster at that point.

Mikey: What we have here is unquestionably a gorefest. I know that’s not up your alley. What’s your official stance on gore, as we’ve already heard you’re okay with it in pursuit of a psychological theme?

Solee: I will literally close my eyes, cover my ears and hum so that I don’t have to see or hear really epic gory stuff. I am much more grossed out by sounds than sights, and this movie had tons of cracking bones, crunching skulls and other icky sounds. It’s not that it makes me feel sick, it's that I feel something akin to pain. My nervous system gets all sympathetic and over-reactive. I have the same problem at the dentist. I KNOW I don’t feel anything, but if I hear the drill, I get just as tense as if I’m feeling the pain.

Mikey: For me, gore is something of a non-factor. If it does bother me, it’s just gross or something I don’t want to see, it’s not “scary” in any sense. It doesn’t really elicit an emotional reaction in me other than disgust. So I want to get somebody else’s perspective, and I have you at gunpoint right now, so I will ask you: does gore work to make things more scary? Is a horror movie accomplishing something when they show gore? Am I missing part of the experience here, or is disgust the only goal?

Solee: I don’t feel scared by gore. I feel turned off by it. It makes me unwilling to watch. I think if a movie has forced someone to turn away from the screen it has failed in its attempt to scare them. In fact, I think if they had violence off-screen, so I had to cover my ears, but I were captivated to the point where I didn’t actually look away, I’d be more scared. I find old Hitchcock films and old episodes of the Twilight Zone much scarier than modern horror films and they almost never had any on-screen violence or gore.

Mikey: It's half-time! Do you feel like you understand what’s happening at this point? Do you feel like you know where the movie is going? If so, how confident are you in your predictions?

Solee: This is clearly a zombie movie at this point (something I did not know at the beginning). I know there’s an old lady and a young lady running around upstairs zombified. I know the cop and the firefighter are going to come up zombie any minute. Clearly, the little girl has caught the virus as well, probably from her dog who is the reason this whole quarantine happened. The way mom is carrying her around with her face right up by her neck makes me very nervous. As for what’s coming… things are going to get out of hand very quickly. They always do with zombies. (Why is it that nobody in a zombie movie has ever seen a zombie movie??) I suspect that only one person will make it out alive and it’s very possible that they will bring the virus out with them. I’m very confident. I’m less confident about who that someone will be. I’m predicting either the journalist or the bad-ass firefighter.

Mikey: This movie is very short at an hour and 18 minutes. Did that work in its favor or against it?

Solee: I think it was good for it to be short. I was ready to be done with that movie by the time it ended. Although, perhaps with another 30 minutes they could have explained what they were trying to do with all that attic nonsense.

Mikey: What’s up with gramps? How did they manage to not encounter the oft-mentioned sick grandpa who was said to be lurking upstairs? Or did I miss it?

Solee: If you missed it, so did I. I kept waiting for an old Korean man to either attack someone or wave them into his apartment filled with ancient cures for zombies. Instead, he just never appeared.

Mikey: At the end, this movie makes a turn: it’s a zombie movie, and suddenly it’s a possession movie. That’s a pretty big twist. Did that all make sense to you? Can you explain it to me?

Solee: Nope. I have no idea what was going on there. It sounded like scientists made the zombification happen… but I don’t know what they were trying to do when it happened. I have no idea how the zombie girl from all the newspaper articles got from Rome to Barcelona. And where the hell was the scientist? Zombified, I’d assume, but obviously not in that apartment…

Mikey: After watching the movie, how right or wrong were you about your predictions?

Solee: I was right about all hell breaking loose. I was wrong about anyone surviving or escaping the quarantine. Although, maybe the Korean grandpa made it out?

Mikey: I'm sure he did, he's safe and sound with Claire from The Invitation. Were you scared at any point?

Solee: YES! This was the first movie we’ve watched this season that truly scared me. I was 110% sure the camera guy was going to see a scary face as he panned around up at the top of the attic ladder. I knew it was coming, but it still scared the crap out of me. That was the best part of the whole movie.

The night vision parts could have been scary except that they didn’t feel at all realistic to me. I thought the Patient Zero zombie was pretty creepy looking… but then she didn’t seem to act or react with any consistent motivation. Why was she rummaging through drawers and papers? And why couldn’t she see them if she could see well enough to be looking for something on the table?

Mikey: You have three areas to consider in this movie: Writing, Directing (including editing, music and cinematography), and Acting. Which was good, which was bad, and which was ugly? It’s okay if you want to re-use good/bad/ugly.

Solee: Writing - Good/Bad
Directing - Good
Acting - who knows? The voice over-acting was atrocious.
I am not sure how to rate the writing, as I’m convinced that the original was very different from what we got. I didn’t like the characters, I found them very static and generic. There really wasn’t much growth from the beginning to the end. In fact, at about halfway through I made the following note to myself: “These are really horrible people. I’m not sure I’ll be sorry to lose any but the firefighters.” On the other hand, there was an effort to make things different at the end… I just can’t tell if it was a failed attempt or a successful attempt that I completely failed to understand. Maybe there’s a cultural barrier at play?
I really wish we’d seen it in the original Spanish with subtitles.

Mikey: You have no control over the entire movie… except the very ending. What would you change about the climax to make it better? What’d they do wrong?

Solee: There was no need, in my opinion, to get all religious and metaphysical with the story. Scientist messes with DNA. Scientist creates uncontrollable contagious virus that causes dead to attack. Scientist gets eaten. That’s a time-honored storyline and I don’t think it was improved with all the other bits tacked on.

Mikey: Aw, that was my favorite part. This movie has a pretty incredible critical reception, and the audience seems to agree (90% critics, 81% audience at Rotten Tomatoes). For a horror movie, that’s pretty crazy. Where do you see this effect coming from?

Solee: I can’t explain those high ratings except to say that the original must have been MUCH better than the dubbed version. Seriously, it just wasn’t that special. Now I’m questioning my own judgement. Is this a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes? Or did I really fail to get the point of the movie?

Mikey: I'm on that same boat with you. So then how would you rate this movie? Since you don’t really care for horror movies, let me phrase it this way: what is the most unpleasant thing you would rather have done than watch the movie?

Solee: I have to answer this question two ways.
Personally, I would rate this movie 1.5 out of 5 so that Netflix wouldn’t recommend anything else like it. I did not enjoy watching or hearing all the biting.
If I take my own preferences out of the equation it would rate much higher… maybe 3.5 out of 5. It was a solid story for the most part and I think it did what zombie movies aim to do. It didn’t really wow me, though.

Mikey: I'm calling that a 3.5, because this ain't Netflix! Tomorrow, we will be reviewing The Witch, so come back and check it out. If you missed the earlier link, you can find Solee's interview of me at SoloRien.wordpress.com.
Comment on this entry...Back to top!
  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Witch 03:04 PM -- Thu October 6, 2016  

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

For my thoughts on this movie, check out Solange's post on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

The Witch (2016)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 6.7/10
Metacritic: 83
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% critics, 55% audience
Mikey: 2.5/5
Solee: 4.5/5
We watched on Amazon Prime.


An original work by Solange! (Not as original as usual. Her disclaimer: "This picture was entirely traced! I cannot draw people!")
IMDB’s description: “A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.”

We watched this movie on an overcast afternoon, while the leaves were really falling from the trees for the first time this year. I chose this movie because I remembered how Patton Oswalt had lost his mind tweeting about how it was so deeply terrifying when it came out. Let's see how his recommendation went...

Mikey: Isn’t she just the worst at shoveling?

Solee: OMG. You’re not kidding. I watched her actually go through the whole shoveling motion with NOTHING on her shovel at least twice. I know she’s really a 20 year old who was raised in the privileges of modern America, but that was just ridiculous! What are they teaching in schools these days anyway??

Mikey: The forest is so grim. Not a happy place. Early on, with all the crazy blaring orchestra music, I got the impression they were trying to make the forest a character in the film - these people trying to survive on the outskirts of this vast incomprehensible danger. Did you feel that the forest was a key part of the film, or was it all just about the family themselves? Would it have been the same out on the plains?

Solee: I agree that the forest was a major character in the film. It loomed over the farm. I remember questioning the wisdom of that location as the family knelt in prayerful thanks. The forest should have been a source of protection, giving meat, firewood, etc. Instead it was where all the worst things happened to them for most of the movie. I’m only just making the connection now, but the father spent all his free time chopping wood, which is very symbolic, if you ask me.

One of the great things about nature in storytelling is that Mother Nature’s got lots of ways of torturing human beings. The forest was a handy way to destroy the lives of this family, but if they’d lived in the plains it would have been the wind and the wide open expanses. If they lived next to an ocean, the water would have stolen their sons. The world is a scary place!

Mikey: It was great when the twin devil children got put on a leash. One of several laugh-out-loud moments in this plodding black nightmare. That’s very modern of them, but it also seemed like the only solution to those little monsters. Those kids, what up with them?! Were they just horrible, or bewitched?

Solee: That was one of my favorite moments. I’d be lying if I said I never thought about doing that to my little brothers when I babysat. :)

Those were the WORST kids. I’m not at all sure why the parents held poor Thomasin to such high standards while allowing the twins to act like little beasties. They sang creepy songs about the devil goat from the very beginning. Maybe there’s some unwritten rule that kids can be kids up to a certain age? They looked old enough to be helping out around the house if you ask me. I honestly wasn’t that saddened by their ultimate fate.

Mikey: Halfway in, do you feel like you understand what’s happening at this point? Do you feel like you know where the movie is going? If so, how confident are you in your predictions?

Solee: This family, ostracized from the village for reasons of faith, has built their farm on the edge of a witch’s wood. Life goes downhill from there. The witch is sucking the life force from the children who stray too closely to the forest (such a fairy tale trope!). I kind of hope the witch gets the twins soon. I predict that Caleb, who has recently returned naked and sick from the forest, will be irresistibly drawn back to the witch. Thomasin will eventually kill the witch somehow, but not before losing more of (or all of) her family. Her triumph over the witch will be supernatural or religious in nature, perhaps emphasizing the power of prayer. I’m about 65% confident in these predictions. Fairy tales have a pretty predictable story arc, and I’m sure this movie will do something to shake that up.

Mikey: So in reality, these people are all fancy Hollywood types with iPhones who drove out to this farm in their SUVs, spent 2 hours in makeup, and then stepped out onto this farm and started calling each other “thee” and “thou”. Do you ever find yourself slipping into thinking about that? Can you imagine the demon kids stepping off-camera and playing Growtopia on their Androids? It kind of makes the acting seem more impressive when you think about it.

Solee: That idea never came to me while I was watching the movie (except when we talked about the shoveling). I was fully immersed in the world of 17th century colonial life. The dialogue and the clothing and the look of the farm were well done and made it easy to fall into the story.

I thought the acting was very impressive. It’s not easy to make such period specific language sound natural to a modern audience and I thought they did a very nice job of it. It’s kind of trippy to think about them switching into normal mode when the director yells “Cut!”, though. I often wonder how difficult it is for really good actors to come out of character and find themselves again. I would think it would be easy to forget what was really you.

Mikey: The witch was so fairy-tale. The cackling took it a step so far that it almost seemed like she had to not be real, like she was some delusion of the children, right? But the plot of the movie doesn’t support that. I don’t really have a question here, I’m just like… what? How are we supposed to be scared in a movie where the witch actually cackles?

Solee: Is it possible that the witch was not really there at any point? What if Thomasin lost the baby somehow… dropped it, it stopped breathing, a wolf really did take it… and it just kind of broke her brain? There were some seriously disturbing looks between her and Caleb that could have led to something bad. She was locked in there with the twins, and I don’t remember seeing her during that scene. That feels pretty far-fetched, since I didn’t see anything that really supported this conjecture. I don’t really think that’s what the writers were going for, but it’s fun to look for different layers of meaning.

Mikey: Now that the movie's over, how right or wrong were you about your predictions?

Solee: I was pretty much universally wrong. Oops.

Mikey: Were you scared at any point?

Solee: No. This was not a scary movie. I was seriously disturbed by some of the imagery, but in a “Whoa, they really went there” kind of way instead of a “I’m super grossed out” kind of way.

Mikey: What on earth was the witch up to? It’s pretty clear she got youth from the baby, but she wasn’t done tormenting the family at that point. She absolutely drove them to ruin. What was her goal?

Solee: This is a very good question. She’s clearly not a good neighbor. I mean, she IS a witch. I’m sure having to kidnap babies and turn them to facial cream regularly in order to keep her figure is a little hard on the sanity.

Mikey: You have three areas to consider in this movie: Writing, Directing (including editing, music and cinematography), and Acting. Which was good, which was bad, and which was ugly?

Solee: Writing - Goodish?
Directing - Good, except the ending
Acting - Good
I want to give the writing a Good, but I was unhappy with the ending. The directing, aside from the screechy bits of the soundtrack, was very good. I was very impressed by the acting.

Mikey: You have no control over the entire movie… except the very ending. What would you change about the climax to make it better? What’d they do wrong?

Solee: For once I actually have an answer to this question! I would have ended the film one scene earlier. After Thomasin laid her head on the table, I would have rolled credits. It would have left it open enough for people who wanted it to be a witch movie to imagine she ran off into the woods to join the witch, and it would have allowed others to wonder whether it was all in her head the whole time.

Mikey: I felt at the end of the movie that there was something of a theme at play, something a little more universal. This girl had been perfectly innocent and good, but eventually, with everybody demanding she was a witch (and okay, the loss of her entire family as well), she finally snapped and said “You want me to be a witch, I’ll be a witch!” Do you think this was a conscious thing? I can see this element at play with teenagers today: “If everybody’s going to assume I’m up to no good, then there’s no point in even trying to do good, I might as well get the benefits of breaking the rules!”

Solee: I feel like there was definitely an element of that. By the end, she really didn’t have anything else to lose. She certainly wouldn’t have been welcomed back into the village with open arms. I don’t blame her at all for throwing up her hands and going with the flow.

Mikey: Finally, how would you rate this movie?

Solee: I give this movie a 4.5 out of 5. I’m glad we watched it, even if it wasn’t scary at all. I’m still thinking about different possible messages and interpretations now, more than 24 hours later. That’s always a sign of a good movie to me.

Mikey: Only when I was prepping this interview to put up did I notice the big discrepancy on Rotten Tomatoes - 91% critics, 55% audience? That makes perfect sense to me. This movie is definitely more for the critics than for horror fans, and I think the previews were a bundle of lies. Not a scary movie.

But come on back tomorrow anyway, to watch Holidays with us. It's an anthology! And here's a little programming note: we're changing the format starting tomorrow. From now on, there's just one "interview" - a conversation between the two of us. It's so much more fun for us, and a lot easier and more interesting for you to read. Everybody wins this Halloween!

But for now, for my thoughts on this movie, check out Solange's post on SoloRien.wordpress.com.
1 commentBack to top!
  Belittling Horror Excessively: Holidays 03:52 PM -- Fri October 7, 2016  

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

Holidays (2016)
Not Rated
IMDB rating: 5.1/10
Metacritic: 50
Rotten Tomatoes: 52% critics, 24% audience
Mikey: 3/5
Solee: 2/5
We watched on Netflix.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions.”

This is the first of our joint interviews... more of a conversation really. I think it's far better than what we did for the first few movies. Enjoy!

Mikey: Well, the obvious first question in an anthology is easy: What was the best story, and what was the worst?

Solee: That’s actually pretty tough… because I didn’t enjoy a lot of those stories. They were just soooo outside the realm of reality that I didn’t find them scary, and they weren’t really all that funny either, except in a “WTH am I watching” kind of way. I liked Christmas and New Year’s Eve best because they were more realistic but had good twists. I think Halloween is the lowest point in my opinion, but I was more confused than entertained by St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day.

You?

Mikey: Boy, they were out of the realm of reality huh? These were some crazy stories, and I give points for originality, though a few were kind of expected. I’ll tell you this fo sho: Father’s Day was hands down my favorite. I did not like the ending of it, it left a lot unanswered and confusing, but until the ending, I had actual goosebumps. That was one of the most interesting and entertaining things I’ve ever watched. Disappointing ending though.

Solee: Agreed. That had a lot of potential that wasn’t realized.

Mikey: I think my least favorite is harder to pin down. Probably Halloween is the least interesting. I felt the Kevin Smith to it (he directed that segment), with good dialogue and believable characters, but then the stuff that actually happened was both deeply disturbing and yet really pointless and dumb. That’s approximately my expectation of his movie Tusk, which I haven’t seen and don’t intend to (but I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan prior to these modern days).

Solee: Yep. I love lots of Smith’s work, but his more recent stuff is definitely the work of someone who’s smoking pot all the time. And I wasn’t that impressed with the dialogue. Usually he is a master of the real back and forth that goes on between people, but this just felt stilted and fake to me.

So what is it about anthologies that you like so much?

Mikey: It’s just so fun! It’s like Fun Size Snickers for your eyeballs. (Solee actually snorted out loud reading this. Just so you know.) You know you don’t have to think too hard because each story will be over soon, so you just get a little taster of a bunch of different weird things (and weird is always what you get!). How do you feel about anthologies?

Solee: They are so hit or miss. It’s like reading a book of short stories. When done well, they’re amazing. But it’s so easy to fail. And some of these failed miserably.

Mikey: Ooh, that reminds me of my favorite anthology trick: the wrap-around! I wish we had that in this movie (I kind of thought New Year’s was going to turn out to be half a wrap-around, but it wasn’t).

Solee: That would have been cool. So can we go through them quickly? Talk about each one for a minute?

Mikey: Okay… they were in calendarological order. We start with Valentine’s Day. I have a question for you about this one. Wait, I have two. First of all, you were quite vexed when the mean girl tried to solve her stalker problem by just politely saying goodbye and taking a different path. So, Mrs. Smarty Pants: how would you solve the problem of someone creepily following you and stopping at a distance every time you turned?

Solee: No, no, no. My problem wasn’t with how she solved the problem. That’s a perfectly reasonable (if ineffective) way to get away from someone you don’t want to be around anymore. MY problem was with how she was trying to be all normal and innocent and “gosh, why are you being so creepy to little ol’ me?” when she knew perfectly well why Maxine was mad. I think the writers did a poor job of displaying her character in that scene. She’s a mouthy, little brat (for the sake of our younger readers). She would have yelled at Maxine to leave her alone, threatened her, whatever. She would NOT have been all meek and stupid.

Mikey: Okay okay… I agree, though I like how she started out being snotty to her and in the end just fell to basic civility as she failed to get any response. That felt real. But speaking of how Maxine is mad (in the hatter sense), you also had an alternate ending for this story that I thought was a lot more interesting. Tell our audience!

Solee: I think she should have left the mean girl out there in the woods to be found with a brain injury. Mean girl’s parents decide to donate her organs and Coach ends up getting her heart. Maxine thinks all has worked out for the best… Mean Girl is gone and she’s managed to get Dear Coach what he needs. Final scene… Maxine is on the diving board and Coach yells up, “C’mon, you can do it. Just jump… Maxi-pad.” Look of horror on Maxine’s face. And cut to black.

Mikey: Four stars!

Solee: Ok. Enough about this surprisingly (compared to the rest) basic story. In St. Patrick’s Day, we are treated to a totally different style. At what point did you realize that this story wasn’t taking place in a reasonable universe?

Mikey: Well, I knew that when it was in a horror anthology. The girl was creepy right off and clearly evil (I figured she’d turn out to be a leprechaun in some way). Do you mean reasonable for reality or reasonable in the sense that this short is insane?

Solee: Yeah. That one. Things got NUTS.

Mikey: Oh I know when! This seemed like a really grim, depressing story, kind of typical horror movie style, right up until the teacher went to a doctor about her pregnancy and the doctor said “You know that movie Rosemary’s Baby? What you have is like that, but it’s Rosemary’s reptile.”

Solee: THAT DOCTOR!!

Mikey: I don’t know if it was horror-comedy, or just totally insane horror.

Solee: I got the feeling that the girl and her father, whether Leprechauns or Magic Pagans or whatever, were part of a plot to repopulate Ireland with “snakes” which were, as the super creepy video the class watched said, metaphors for something - in this case a weird snake-person hybrid. I dunno. It was way out there.

Mikey: Nothing weird about Danny Zuko hair on a snake. That is actually the question I had jotted down to ask you about: there’s clearly metaphor here (especially since as you mentioned, they tell you so). Do you think maybe this whole thing is not so much meant to literally be a snake-baby, but more like something about bringing paganism back to Ireland? The people at the end were clearly pagans of some sort!

Solee: Yes. That’s what I originally thought… but then the difference between the animal-headed people and the snake-baby made it seem like it was an actual snake-baby… and given some of the other stories in this anthology, I wouldn’t be surprised. I would have rated this one higher if they’d stuck to the metaphor.

Mikey: “The zoo called back”. What?? Anyway, I don’t want to think about that anymore, which is sad because up next is what I really don’t want to think about: Easter. Umm… I guess my question on this one is… PLEASE HELP ME.

Solee: Now, see, I actually liked this one better because I felt like it WAS a metaphor. Or some kind of social commentary on the blending of the religious and secular aspects of Easter. The kid at the beginning was SOOO scared. I’ve never seen a real child so amped up about a stupid adult lie. I felt like that was a pretty strong condemnation of the “horror” aspects of Christian Easter - murder/sacrifice, resurrection, etc - and the stupidity of trying to make it palatable with chocolate bunnies and fluffy yellow chicks.

Mikey: Oh, definite metaphors! That was the cool thing here, the weird mashup that we saw. I don’t know what we’re supposed to think is “really” happening (I guess in a short story it doesn’t matter, you see what you see!), but it’s clear that what does happen is effectively the result of the crazy mixed message this girl has been given. It’s showing us her terrified imagination. Unfortunately for her, it seems to have become real.

Solee: One of my questions was going to be “Why is she so compliant about all of this!?” but now I’m thinking that’s part of it. Religion is the ultimate tool in compliance and parents are always using holidays as a form of coercion “If you don’t eat your veggies, the easter bunny won’t come!”. Were you weirded out by her lack of fight?

Mikey: No, I think it was authority, and she had been told to just go with it by her parents so she did. Get ‘em while they’re young! I am curious as to what actually happened to her - I mean, she’s now the easter bunny? And Jesus? I dunno.

Solee: Yeah. I dunno, either. And it was not interesting enough for me to care all that much. What about the Mothers’ Day story? Did that one grab your attention?

Mikey: It did! Which is a bad thing because it made me mad. It was interesting throughout, which is why it was so frustrating when it ended. It ended at what I would call the end of the beginning. We were just getting somewhere and they had decided that was enough story. That was awful, enough to make me say it was a really bad story even though if it were finished, I’d have found it a very good story.

I think there’s a certain type of storyteller or filmmaker who thinks the purpose of horror is simply to shock somebody, and these are the kind of “stories” they give you. There’s lead-up, then a shocking final shot, and it’s done. That’s not a story, that’s stupid. And real horror fans know the difference.


Solee: Agreed. I really have very little to say about this one. I found it distasteful that a group of barren women thought it was okay to kidnap and rape another woman for their own benefit… but then that wasn’t even what happened. That would have been an actual plot -- a horrible one -- but still a plot. This was just… stupid. And why on earth didn’t the guy in that woman’s life try to find her when she went missing?

Mikey: That does seem pretty much like an oversight, although they commented on how she hadn’t gotten calls, so I dunno.

Solee: That’s what actually made me remember that there WAS someone who should have been calling.

Mikey: Well, let’s dump that in an open grave and move on to Father’s Day. I think I’ve covered most of my thoughts already! What are yours?

Solee: I loved the story telling device they used, having her father talk to child her and adult her at the same time. That was very clever and I’ve not seen it done before. The setting was eery and the story was actually pretty believable right up to the end. I had HIGH hopes for this one. And then it just gave up. Was it aliens? Terrible space monkeys?

Mikey: It’s funny because this is almost identical to the previous story: all this well-done setup, and then a shocking final image and fin. But I loved this one. The setup was so incredibly good, and it was more than setup - in this case, I’d say it was about 95% of the whole story. We just needed a bit of resolution to make it perfect. So great, with that letdown, but not enough to let me down. Goosebumps, I tell you.

Solee: I believe you. I had two questions about this one… first, what do you think her mother would have told her, had she answered her call?

Mikey: I don’t know the answer to that at all, but I am willing to bet that they filmed a voice mail being left that had some explanation from her on it, and they cut it out to keep the mystery or some other nonsense.

Solee: BAD decision. The second thing was less of a question and more of an observation. I don’t know what the heck happened at the end, but I do know free will was a big part of it. That’s a pretty common theme in demon stories, isn’t it?

Mikey: Certainly in vampires! And others sometimes. That was part of the tantalizing hints in this story… why did she need free will? Why did we see an alignment of planets out of the blue for a moment? Who is “Him”? So interesting, and yet we’ll never know.

Solee: Aliens!!

Mikey: Fine, aliens. The next one up is Halloween. You can’t blame this one on aliens! What do you say?

Solee: I already said most of what I thought. It was disappointing. I expected more. I’m a little skeezed out by Smith casting his daughter as an internet porn star, but hey… Hollywoodland!

I enjoyed the use of cutesy emoticons and internet slang as the girls were getting their revenge. That seemed to up the horror of it all. But the story was blegh.

Mikey: Yes, this goes right in the box of horror that doesn’t interest me at all: there’s no twist, no surprise, just “wouldn’t it be awful if this happened?” I guess it’s sort of the very unsurprising genre of revenge films. Those can be sort of interesting, but mostly they’re just fantasy fulfillment, which is certainly where this was going. And hey, speaking of that - this was a fantasy for girls to get revenge on misogyny. We haven’t noted yet that this entire collection is very woman-centric. Nearly every story is about a female character (and very few other characters), and about specific female issues. You’re a chick broad dame, what’s up?

Solee: I did find that very interesting. Aside from the girls in Halloween getting their revenge, it wasn’t exactly building up women, but it was kind of cool to see so many female leads. And women are scary. They have all those unmentionable parts and they bleed intentionally. Terrifying!

Mikey: Wait, it’s intentional!?

Solee: Our bodies do it on purpose, I guess is what I’m trying to say. Or maybe it’s just something we all agreed to do to freak guys out. O.o

So let’s move on to the two stories I actually liked! Christmas. He gets This Year’s Hottest Toy for his kid through nefarious means. What did you think of how that worked out for him?

Mikey: This was a lot of fun. Straight up, it was a Twilight Zone episode. And Seth Green is always entertaining. I have no real complaints here, pretty good (and it actually had a twist and conclusion!).

Solee: My only problem was that the UVU was supposed to let “you see you” or “you be you” or something. Instead it seemed to start showing them the truth about their spouses. Did I miss something?

Mikey: That was a pretty blatant bit of bad writing. They were seeing something from their own heads (generally past mis-deeds… although from the perspective of the victim, so whatever, it was magic)... but they totally contradicted themselves: the kid sees fun-time Mars Explorer, hands it to his dad who sees naughty things, and then later the mom sees the dad’s imagery because he “forgot to log out”. There’s no logging in and out, it very clearly goes straight from your brain to the screen! They just changed it mid-story. Dumb.

Solee: Yeah. Dumb. But if you forgive them that, it’s a pretty fun twisty story with shades of the Telltale Heart. What about the twist in New Year’s Eve? Were you expecting that?

Mikey: I sure was expecting it. When he said they were a 96% match, I was like “Oh, now why would they be a great match?” This story reminded me a lot of the series I watched recently, DarkNet. It’s just a series of stories almost exactly like this one. What did you think?

Solee: I loved that she was out-creeping the creeper.

Mikey: Women’s wish fulfillment!

Solee: Yep, this is a pretty “woman-power” plot. And the wife in Christmas is pretty tough, too. I guess it has more strong females than I thought.

Mikey: I go more terrifying than tough. But the husband wasn’t so great either!

Solee: My main note for this last story was, “Best serial killer story EVER!!” I haven’t seen that twist done before and I liked it. I wasn’t totally expecting it, either, so it was a fun surprise.

Mikey: It sounds like you would like DarkNet, check it out! So on that note, is it possible for you to wrap up an overall rating for all that stuff mashed together?

Solee: I just don’t feel like there were enough good things to rate this very high. I’m going to give it a 2 out of 5 because there were a few good things and I can see some themes that weave throughout (a must for a good anthology, if you ask me), but mostly it was disappointing. I’d probably be happier doing laundry or dishes or something. You?

Mikey: How empowered! I am gonna have to go higher, just because of how blown away I was by Father’s Day. I just can’t avoid giving that recognition even if there was a lot of weird fluff to this anthology (plus hey, it’s an anthology, bonus points for the silly fun of that). Let’s call it 3 out of 5.

Solee: Fine. I’ll allow it. :) See you tomorrow for a horror-comedy called The Voices. It has Ryan Reynolds!

Mikey: Dreamy!

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

Comment on this entry...Back to top!
  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Voices 01:25 AM -- Sun October 9, 2016  

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

The Voices (2015)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 6.3/10
Metacritic: 58
Rotten Tomatoes: 73% critics, 56% audience
Mikey: 4.5/5
Solee: 5/5
We watched on Hulu.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “A likable guy pursues his office crush with the help of his evil talking pets, but things turn sinister when she stands him up for a date.”

Solee: This movie starts out with a song montage as the opening credits roll. Did you consider this a good or bad sign?

Mikey: Oh… I’ll say it’s a good sign. I think. It doesn’t scare me off! I bet you think it’s a good sign.

Solee: Absolutely. It speaks to the movie not taking itself too seriously. That’s very important for comedy. There are too many movies that call themselves “comedy” and then it turns out they are really depressing dramas with one gimmicky character.

Mikey: Yeah. Those can be good, but I do think “comedy” gets thrown around an awful lot with things that don’t even try to be funny. This is clearly a horror-comedy, and I think it rides that line very directly down the middle. What do you think?

Solee: I agree. I was leary because I’ve seen other “horror-comedy” labels misused. This one was the perfect combination. It was surprisingly gory, but in a way that actually made me laugh out loud in several places. I think Ryan Reynolds was a smart choice for Jerry. He has an extremely expressive face, able to go from wide-eyed innocence and charm to seriously disturbing quite quickly and that helped the movie ride that line.

As advertised, he had a couple of talking pets. Do you think those voices were well chosen?

Mikey: I assume they were voiced by Ryan Reynolds… maybe those are the two voices he can do?

Solee: Oh, I hadn’t thought about that possibility. Interesting.

Mikey: Ah, a quick IMDB check verifies he also voiced the deer (of course). They were good. Well, the cat was. The dog was weird.

Solee: Why did the cat have an Irish accent?

Mikey: Because Ryan Reynolds knew how to do that accent! That’s my theory. You have a better idea?

Solee: No… For a little why I thought his father sounded a bit like that, but it was more about the word choice than an actual accent. So, I’m sure you’re right and I’m a little disappointed it’s not something more meaningful.

Mikey: I’m sorry, I crush dreams. But… I gave you Spike in Shadow Puppets, and now Ryan Reynolds in The Voices. It seems I’m catering to you in order to keep you willing to watch scary movies with me all month!

Solee: I’m not going to tell you to stop finding movies that star my TV boyfriends, but you don’t really have to bribe me. I’m in it for the long haul. I’ll try to find something with a hottie for you next.

Mikey: Men aren’t so superficial. I’m in it for the story.

Solee: *cough*cough* Getting back on topic, what did you think of the visual and sound choices of the movie?

Mikey: This was certainly a colorful movie, and unexpectedly full of musical numbers (well, it wasn’t full of them, but more than I’d expect!). I like it. I think it dips into the same sort of manic realm that our last movie, Holidays, did - this sort of crazy energy that only horror movies are really allowed to have. Well, I guess Amelie did it too. But there’s just this kind of absurdist knowingly-silly style that is a fun thing horror can do, which is kind of illegal in other genres, it’s too ‘fake’. Does that make sense?

Solee: Yes. I think maybe going to absurd extremes is one of the ways we make the horror genre “socially acceptable”. People will watch really horrible movies that make no sense in the real world, but complain that shows like Law & Order or Criminal Minds are too violent. I think the difference is that the more realistic stuff reminds us that people can be incredibly horrific in real life.

Mikey: Sure… I think you could see in Holidays some of that, like in the Halloween segment - there wasn’t anything really funny there, but it was done sort of comedically, not so much to soften the blow of the awful events, but more to remove them from reality. You can see it as a cartoon. Realistic stuff can be hard to take, and I think a lot of “true horror fans” don’t like it because they’re in it for the goofy cartoon blood and splatter.

But let’s get back to this movie! Speaking of realism, is it pathetic or scary that I identify very strongly with the main character of this movie? I think I always do when the serial killer loner guy is awkward and socially incapable. It’s about that, not the killing, I swear!


Solee: I was wondering about that. He seems like the kind of guy you’d relate to. Charming, but not at all sure of his own impact on other people and slightly oblivious to the social norms of the situation. I don’t think those are innately dangerous or pathetic traits. In fact, people who are too sure of themselves turn me off, big time. I’m glad you’re not relating to the murdery bits, though.

I related to his discussion with the psychotherapist regarding his drugs. He clearly feels that giving up the “very high” moments of his life in order to prevent the “very low” moments isn’t worth it. He’s not happy with the steady middle. I understand how he feels about that and it makes me wonder… is it possible to be self-aware enough to know when you’ve reached the kind of lows that make those highs no longer worth it?

Mikey: Hmm. If you are that low, you probably are ready to take medication, since it seems like everything is awful, right? So it kind of works out. Maybe. Of course, by then it could be too late, if you have real problems. Brains are complicated.

Solee: He seemed to be at the point where the lows were too dangerously disconnected for him to recognize that they required meds. In fact, he was so delusional during the lows that they appeared much better than reality to him. I guess I should be asking… do our animals ever talk to you?

Mikey: Huzzah does constantly. But I’ve seen you hear it too, so it’s cool. In fact, it wakes us both up. A lot. Wait, do they talk to you?

Solee: Uhhhhhh. Noooo…? New subject! Do you think Lisa was foolish or naive for not seeing through Jerry’s strangeness to the scary? Or was she just being the sort of trusting and kind we all are until we have reason to be otherwise?

Mikey: Hey, I talked about that on an earlier movie! I think this is more of a crush thing… if you think somebody is cool, you don’t really notice weirdness so much. She thought he was deep.

Solee: Or you put it down to your own awkwardness!

Mikey: Yes, that! Okay, so as the latest conversation has shown us, this movie is all about mental illness. What do you think about that? I mean, it’s certainly light-hearted and funny, but we’re talking about something really serious (he kills people!).

Solee: I actually thought it was a very clever way to get people thinking about really serious topics. The conversation he has with the dog (who said he was a “good boy”), Fiona’s head (who said he was bad), and the cat (who said he simply was what he was) was quite profound. That’s not only a question that has been applied to humanity since we were aware enough to be called humanity, but it’s also particularly difficult to answer in this case. He wanted to be a good boy. But the convergence of his genetic predispositions, the events of his formative years and sheer bad luck all boxed him into some pretty horrible behavior. This is one of the things our legal system struggles with, isn’t it? Really it’s at the heart of lots of issues… gun control, for one.

Mikey: It is sure complicated. People are! I wonder though, anytime you make a joke about something, there’s a group who jumps down your throat. You think mental health advocates were out there boycotting this movie? Or would they have the appreciation you do for bringing up the issues?

Solee: I’m sure there were people on both sides. There are definitely a large number of people who don’t think humor is an appropriate way to deal with big, bad things. I am not one of them. I think the more we can laugh together, the more likely we are to be able to actually talk about things. Shared humor opens channels of communication.

Mikey: I agree, I don’t think any topic is off-limits for humor. It may not be funny to you, due to your own experiences and life story, but that doesn’t mean people can’t be allowed to joke about it - it means you don’t want to hear the joke! If they’re kind people, they won’t make the joke around you, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be joked about.

Solee: I think the style and intention of the joke come into play here. A joke that makes fun of me for having to wear glasses is very different than a joke that makes fun of the reality of having to wear glasses. Does that make sense?

Mikey: Absolutely. And I don’t think this movie is making fun of anyone, even people who hear voices. Hopefully (I haven’t asked any, I admit), they see it as you just said - a joke about the realities they have to contend with.

Solee: I think Jerry was presented as a very likeable person, actually. Even at the end, after everything he had done, I still felt connected to him. He felt like a protagonist the whole way through. A very flawed protagonist, but a protagonist, nonetheless. That brings me to something I was wondering as we watched. Have you ever seen a movie with such a self-aware “crazy” person? Is that self-awareness part of what made him relatable?

(Side note: I checked, and it took some searching but indeed there's this Guardian article - people were angry. And that’s understandable! I can definitely understand the frustration with the idea that schizophrenia is portrayed as dangerous in all the media always. That is hard.)

Mikey: I feel like I have seen this done before, but I don’t know if I can name the movie. I think I’ve seen something very similar in that respect. I wish I could name it because it’s right on the tip of my cerebellum.

I think it’s more of a writing trick - he’s just a nice guy, in every scene, even the ones where he is killing someone. Pretty easy way to make you like him! Kind of cheating, really.

Lemme ask you, speaking of writing tricks: a major element of this movie is the unreliable narrator. We never really knew how it was going to turn out, not just for the usual story reasons, but also because we couldn’t even trust what we were seeing. The movie showed us things from Jerry’s perspective, and it was only through occasional glimpses from another character, or the one time he takes his medication, that we see what things really look like. How do you feel about that particular trick?


Solee: Personally, I really like it. I like the extra effort it takes to follow the story and really understand what’s going on. I think in a visual medium like this it’s easier than in a written format, for sure. I enjoyed that element of “Wait… is this really happening?” that followed me throughout the story. Often it was easy to tell what was really happening, but other times I was really left wondering. For example, the deaths of Fiona and Lisa are portrayed as accidents (although less so with Lisa, now that I think about it). Do you think they were really accidents? Or do you agree with the cat that he meant to kill them all along?

Mikey: That’s one of my favorite things in movies! Thinking later not so much about what things meant or what themes underlie them, but actually trying to understand what you saw! That kind of sounds bad, but depending on the situation it can be very very good. And indeed, we are left in this movie with no real proof that he didn’t just viciously murder these women in a calculated way, and it was just portrayed to us (through the Jerry Filter) as an attempt at being friendly that went wrong. Interpretation is fun. I’m not sure of the correct interpretation, really. My guess is that in this movie, they meant those things to have occurred as we saw them, but that’s not as interesting as what I imagine. What if none of it was like we saw? What if Lisa was never interested in him, and Fiona never reluctantly went out with him - that could all have been catching them somewhere and kidnapping them and murdering them. He just doesn’t know it, so we don’t know it.

Solee: Hinting at that would have made him much less likeable. It would have changed the whole feel of the movie, that’s for sure. I suspect there was some element of that, though. The patterns that are established in our childhood follow us a long way down the paths of our lives. I like to think that he felt he was “helping” them, just as he did for his mother. At one point he says to the cat, “The only time I ever felt truly alive…” He trails off and we assume he means when he killed Fiona, but what if it was when he “saved” his mother? And if he has to set the stage for them to need his help… well, that makes for a good story, no?

Mikey: I noticed him trailing off too! You’re making me think I liked this movie even more than I thought I did. There’s a lot going on under the surface! Buuuutt… speaking of how much I liked it and how long we’ve been chatting, I think we need to wrap this up. What’s your rating for The Voices?

Solee: It had ALL the elements that make for my kind of scary movie: singing, Ryan Reynolds, clever plot twists, brain stuff, and something to think about for days later. I give this my very first 5 out of 5. I liked it so much I’m willing to forgive the couple of parts that were gross enough to make me turn away. What about you? How do you rate it?

Mikey: I don’t think singing or Ryan Reynolds enter into my calculations for scary movies (nor does a complete absence of scares like this movie offered), but I do always enjoy musical bits in movies, and I do like Ryan Reynolds. I’m going to give this 4.5 out of 5. It needs to twang my psychological confusion a little harder for that last half point.

Solee: And one final question… are we the only people on the planet who don’t know how to pick locks?? I think we need to take a class or something.

Mikey: Oh, you don’t know how? Hmm.

Solee: Very funny, Mr. Hommel. I’ll meet you back here tomorrow to discuss our next movie!

Mikey: YAY!! And that movie will be The Legend of Hell House from way back in 1973. Come on back, ya'll.

Comment on this entry...Back to top!
  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Legend of Hell House 05:46 PM -- Sun October 9, 2016  

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Rated PG
IMDB rating: 6.9/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: 56% critics, 57% audience
Mikey: 2/5
Solee: 1.5/5
We watched on Netflix.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “Physicist Lionel Barrett and his wife lead a team of mediums into the Belasco House, which is supposedly haunted by the victims of its late owner, a six-foot-five serial killer.”

Mikey: You picked this movie, Solee (well, sort of - you picked it from a list I had), on the basis that you wanted to see an older movie. What’s the draw? Did this fulfill your wish?

Solee: This did fulfill my wish. I felt like we’d only been watching very modern horror films (of many genres) and horror has evolved a lot in the past decades. This was exactly the kind of old-style movie I was looking for, especially with its penchant for crazy lenses and spinning camera effects. How do you think this movie held up?

Mikey: I was surprised at how minimally different it felt to something released today. The spinning camera I’m sure was a formative memory for Sam Raimi. Other than a little extra chauvinism (very little - horror movies are pretty bad about it), this could’ve been released today. Well, with better special effects.

Solee: They so rarely use fog machines anymore...

Mikey: No shortage of those here! I wonder how they managed to put out so much fog.

I have a bunch of questions in my head, but I feel like they belong later on. Where do we start?


Solee: Well, one things I noticed right off the bat was that this is another horror film set around Christmas. Their time in Hell House spans from Dec 20-24. I know there are other horror stories set in December - Gremlins being the one that always springs to mind. Do I just notice them more readily? Or is terror at Christmastime a popular theme?

Mikey: Oh yes, Gremlins is all about Christmas! I am not sure why this movie is set then, as there isn’t a single mention of it. We only know because of the timestamps. It’s actually a little abnormal how these people fail to mention Christmas in any way during the four days leading up to it.

Solee: Maybe that’s a British thing? These people were SO VERY British.

Mikey: Maybe. I know they treat it differently than we do! That reminds me of another fun fact about this movie’s beginning: “The stuff you are seeing is fiction. But it could totally be true! For serious!” the screen tells us at the beginning (possibly paraphrased). You think?

Solee: I think there are people out there who believe that to be true. I’m not one of them… but I’m no physicist with a focus on paranormal psychology. There are people to call for that sort of thing.

Mikey: If only they had hired Peter Venkman instead of this guy. Hey, here’s my big issue that kept bugging me throughout: the last visit to this house was 20 years ago (maybe there were others in between, but we know that at least it wasn’t “lived in” for the intervening time, and probably hadn’t been for a long time before that). These people moved right in. They ate off the plates, drank from the glasses...

Solee: They slept in the beds!!! I had the same problem as I was watching them get ready for the first night. There would have been so much dust and musty smell. I mean, we could SEE the cobwebs everywhere. Gross.

Mikey: Cobwebs, yes, but in between the cobwebs there was pristine wallpaper, nicely upholstered furniture, and clean shot glasses for your late-night toddies. Is there a cleaning staff that comes in and dodges around the ghosts once a week? How is this place so tidy?

Solee: I don’t know. Maybe we can find out who does their cleaning. Having a ghostly housecleaner would sort of negate the awkwardness of having to watch a stranger do your chores, right? If they were invisible, that is…

Speaking of sets, I was noticing that the items that are put in front of the camera to indicate wealth - chandeliers, heavy furniture, marble busts on pedestals, velvet drapery - are the very same items used to indicate that a house is haunted. Why is that?

Mikey: Wait… maybe rich people were ghosts the whole time!! I don’t know, but the statues and stuff are always pretty creepy. Velvet drapes too. I was actually thinking during this movie, “the first thing they should do is just start hauling out the furniture”. If they just took that stuff out, it wouldn’t be nearly so creepy.

Solee: There were some “Game of Thrones” level chairs in that house.

Mikey: I didn’t notice any made of swords, but yeah, it was a bit opulent.

Solee: Fun fact. My grandma was born in 1919, the same year that house was built. Okay… so that was not really that fun.

Mikey: Seems like maybe it’s a coincidence. Or is it… anyhow, there was a cute kitty. Cats have a long history in horror movies, and that history is riddled with absolute ludicrosity. One of the things that always gets me is that they’re so cute. They want it to be creepy and stuff, but those big eyes are just staring at you and you wanna snuggle. The other thing of course is that in order to fake a cat attack, they throw a fake cat at the victim. It’s never not funny.

Solee: Truth. This is two movies in a row with “scary” cats that were actually just adorable. I have never understood why directors think they are getting away with anything when they throw a cat to make it look like it’s attacking. It always just looks like someone is throwing a cat at the character.

Mikey: There’s a totally ridiculous swarm of them in Let The Right One In.

Solee: I think I remember that. So we’re not crazy about the cat effects. What did you think of the level of profanity and sexual content, given that it was rated PG. Seems to me that PG meant something different in 1973.

Mikey: Yes, I think so. I was half-expecting that, because I remember fairly recently hearing about how ratings were less strict in the past, but this movie sure would not have been PG today. It’s funny that in terms of language there were (I believe) 2 mild swear words, and for gore there were a few bloody scratches. But there was nakedness, and lots of talk of doing inappropriate things.

Solee: Yeah. That Belasco was up to some pretty naughty things. He really checked all the boxes of questionable actions. I kind of felt as though the writers, in an effort to be shocking, just listed off all the depraved things they could think of. It came off as pretty lazy writing, rather than shocking, to me.

Mikey: I really noticed that - I bet in the ads they talked about how this movie contains such shocking naughty stuff, but what it really contained was a person listing naughty activities, in clinical language. Like once. I happened upon some info on IMDB regarding the writing, though: this is based on a book by Richard Matheson, which apparently does contain said depravity, and lots of it. People were saying it’s a very intense horror novel, where the characters are psychologically torn apart by the house. He also did the screenplay, and I think you do see that in this movie. That’s basically the plot: they come unhinged over the course of their stay, each in different ways. I’m not sure it was taken far enough to really be that powerful though.

Solee: It wasn’t taken nearly far enough. I was hoping for some Hitchcock level terror, but it was super tame. Just like the naughty bits, the horror was mostly hinted at. The final showdown with the big, bad ghostie was pretty much a shoving match with some name calling thrown in for good measure. This was probably the least scary movie we’ve seen all month.

Mikey: Yeah, I think so. (Spoilers!) It’s so odd that figuring out (somehow?) that the ghost was a short guy made him go away forever. That’s about the strangest way of defeating a ghost I’ve ever heard of. It was a bit like The Dead Room in some ways though, with the ghost ‘hiding out’ in his lead-lined Fortress of Solitude. Oh, and they had a magic ghostbusting machine that used energy waves. And a psychic girl with a tech guy and a skeptic. Although those were the same guy. These movies are twinsies!

Solee: Huh. You’re right. I hadn’t noticed all the similarities. I did notice that the ghost (?? Daniel??) said, “You’re my only hope”, which was apparently a very popular line in the 1970s.

Mikey: And then shoved people around with The Force. Oh wait, I forgot another issue with the house cleaning I had. The house’s cleanliness is clearly a major issue for me! In previous attempts to exorcise this house, lots of other people died. So we can surmise that it was similar to this time, with furniture being smashed, chandeliers dropping, and so on. So… did somebody come in and clean that stuff up too, and put in new (antique) furniture in place of it? Who is managing this property? They’re saints. Or sick and twisted.

Solee: They made a big deal out of all the people who had died. And then when he was actually listing them off, it sounded as though most of them had actually lived. They were crippled and paralyzed and what-not, but very few of them actually died. And NO ONE from this adventure died.

Mikey: No, I have a body count! 1 cat (killed by getting wet apparently - now we see why cats hate water so much), 1 long-dead corpse (we never actually find out who that is, if it’s not Daniel), 1 medium (crushed by a crucifix - quite dead), and 1 physicist (crushed by like 30 things). We got kills.

Solee: Oh. Yeah. I guess those two did get crushed… it was so uninteresting that I forgot. This movie was very disappointing.

Mikey: Does that mean we’re rating it now?

Solee: Well, almost. I have one last question. Why on earth was the physicist’s wife along? I just don’t get it. They made it clear that she always goes with him… but to what? Any sciencey event he has going on? Or does he do a lot of these haunted house things? If so, why was she so bloody useless??

Mikey: Oh, I’m sure he does lots of haunted houses, it seems established that this is his specialty. I just had an amazing thought. Maybe she comes along to clean up the houses and repair the damage! True, she was no good at the ghostbusting, but that fact combined with the mysterious cleanliness just comes together perfectly. She’s the mystery housekeeper. We just didn’t see the cleanup this time because she was rather upset over the crushing we previously mentioned.

Solee: He did mention that the technology was “just too complicated” for her. Maybe she’s a more traditional housewife.

Mikey: I think this movie (and probably most of the era) would assure you that all women are that.

Solee: Well, that leaves me ready to rate it! I’m giving it a 1.5 out of 5. It wasn’t scary, it wasn’t compelling, it fizzled at the end, and it failed to impress me. I did like the sets and the acting was acceptable, so it didn’t get a straight up 1. You?

Mikey: Okay. That’s harsher than I shall be! Definitely not scary in any way, but I don’t agree it fizzled: the finale made no sense at all, but it had the style of a dramatic showdown with a ghost, all yelling and wind and objects flying around (well, the guy getting flung around), so not a fizzle, just a confuzzle. That doesn’t make it good, though. I hate to be mean to this movie for some reason. I feel like it tried, and I like that it was so psychological about things rather than just objects flying off shelves making people run for the door. So I give it a 2 out of 5.

Solee: Fair enough. I think it’s time for something REALLY scary tomorrow. I’m going to let you decide what that is.

Mikey: OOH YEAH. That movie will be Kill List - watch for yourself and decide how it measures up.

Comment on this entry...Back to top!
  Belittling Horror Excessively: Kill List 08:33 PM -- Mon October 10, 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.

Kill List (2011)
Not Rated
IMDB rating: 6.3/10
Metacritic: 67
Rotten Tomatoes: 76% critics, 58% audience
Mikey: 3.5/5
Solee: 4/5
We watched on Hulu.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “Nearly a year after a botched job, a hitman takes a new assignment with the promise of a big payoff for three killings. What starts off as an easy task soon unravels, sending the killer into the heart of darkness.”

Solee: Today, we watched Kill List. Do you remember what caused us to choose this movie?

Mikey: Yes, ma’am - when I went to read things about The Invitation, which we both enjoyed, I found several movies people were recommending based on it. Kill List and The Green Room were the top ones I remember most, so I’m sure we’ll check both out before the month is through!

Solee: Right. I remember now. So let’s start by discussing how this compares to The Invitation. Better? Worse? Apples and oranges?

Mikey: It’s more like apples and fire-breathing walruses. But I can definitively say it’s not as good as The Invitation. It just also happens to be super weird and different from almost anything out there. What do you think?

Solee: I found this movie to be equally compelling in a lot of ways. I enjoyed the acting. I thought the relationships were portrayed very well. I was pulled along throughout, never quite sure what was going to happen next.

Mikey: Oh, yes, you know now that you mention it, I think the characters and acting are exactly where the comparison to The Invitation came from. It’s really similar in that super-real improvised “just human beings” kind of way. Very different storyline though.

Solee: Often, when I see characters doing things I wouldn’t have done personally, I end up thinking “that’s not how PEOPLE act!”. Both of these movies had characters who were nothing like me, but who still felt very real. I think that must be a challenging thing to accomplish because I don’t see it happen very often.

Mikey: I thought it was interesting how the husband and wife had these awful blow-out fights, but then turned around and loved each other and all that. In normal movie language, those fights are code for “this relationship is over, just watch”, but this was more like life.

Solee: Yes. There was lots of “like life” parts to Kill List. Where it lost me was the ending. I enjoyed the ending of The Invitation for the most part. I did not enjoy the ending of this movie at all. Let’s start at the beginning though. I’m always intrigued by that point when a horror movie goes from “this could happen” to “nope… this isn’t real life”. Was there a moment like that for you in this film?

Mikey: That was a continuation of the real-life stuff we mentioned: I thought it was very different from movies I’ve seen before, in that this is a movie about some hitmen, but they’re not millionaires in pressed suits with laser sights (although the main guy does have that one super-gun… which apparently his wife bought?), they’re working class stiffs who are just getting by killing people. I think that’s a lot more real, as I have heard it only costs $25,000 to get somebody killed (not suggesting our readers save up). Which means, if you think about how often a hitman can realistically get work, and how risky his job is, they aren’t millionaires, or even making a great living. It’s all about getting by.

But anyway, that was all just to say that it felt real. Eventually things got weird. Real weird. Not supernatural, as the Amazon description would have you believe - there’s nothing supernatural in the whole movie. But I think once they got into the cult stuff, maybe when they saw the cult wandering through the woods in large numbers, I think that is where it didn’t seem like real life at all. It could happen, there’s no magic, but it wouldn’t.


Solee: In my notes, I commented on him eating the rabbit his cat killed as feeling like the turning point, but I think I agree with you. That COULD have happened.

Mikey: That was early! And gross.

Solee: Yes. I think the sheer creepiness of eating something you found dead on your lawn sent my “horror film” sensors into overdrive. I guess that makes it pretty obvious that I’m not a hunter!

Mikey: Me neither. That connects to something I had in my notes… this main character, Jay, was very different from the usual. It was almost like Gal, his friend, was really our protagonist in a way, because Jay was nutballs. He had some serious emotional issues, and was totally unpredictable, and while he was the true protagonist of the story, Gal was our window into him where we could feel a little safe with a more normal human. Did you find Jay hard to understand?

Solee: That’s a tricky question. I agree with your thoughts on Gal. He was definitely the “straight man” of the pair. But I’m not sure I can say I didn’t understand Jay. He had obviously been through something horrific, although they barely even hint at what it was, and he’s got some serious PTSD-like behaviors. I was actually a little disturbed at how much I liked him as a person (minus the killing people for money part) and how much I related to his flashes of anger and injustice. I got why he was lashing out. I, personally, would have handled it differently, but my life has been a lot cushier than his.

Mikey: Yes, he seemed likeable when he wasn’t beating someone to death with a hammer. So, lemme ask you this: naked druidic cults in the woods, am I right? I mean, The Witch did it, Holidays did it (sorta twice if you count the pregnancy cult), and here it is again. And I know it’s in many others, some of which we may be watching too.

Solee: Sheesh. If you trust horror films, there are naked women dancing around fires in every corner of woods you come across. Do you think that’s leftover fear from the witch hunting days? Or that underlying fear of women and their unpredictable, emotional brains? Women be scary, I guess.

Mikey: I’ll say. Those two things you mentioned are certainly connected - all that fear of witches that the real world went through is about the moon, and cycles, and how women confound the male psyche. As to whether the presence of druids in horror movies connects… Don’t ask me! It’s weird though. It always works for creepiness.

Solee: I know a few witches who occasionally dance naked in the woods. They’re actually very nice people.

So, I’m not sure that we can talk about much of the plot of this movie without diving right into the end and working our way backwards. I certainly didn’t understand how the dots connected as we experienced each of the three “jobs”. It wasn’t until it was all over (and I had read some reviews online) that I started seeing a cohesive story.

Mikey: We had a bit of a discussion after the movie, because it was so confusing at the end. You sat there reading stuff online, and the two of us kind of pieced together a vague idea of what we had seen, thanks to the help of random internet people. On the one hand, I like that a movie can inspire us to discuss things, but on the other hand, I don’t like the reason to be that the ending was abrupt and nonsensical.

Solee: I’m still torn about that. It irritated me a great deal as we were watching it. I went from super curious and anxious to just plain confused and annoyed. As we read, I was able to regain some of the enjoyment I usually get from stories with puzzles in them, but not as much as if I’d been able to suss it out for myself.

Mikey: The way you say it makes it sound like we did figure something out with the internet’s help. I’m not so sure we did! We got something, but it’s still pretty floaty. Here’s how my theory goes: the cult worshipped… basically chaos. Money, death, violence. They learned of what happened in Kiev somehow (“what happened in Kiev” was a constant background for the whole movie, it was clearly very bad, but they never described it), and realized that this guy, Jay, was the embodiment of their crazy beliefs -

Solee: WAIT. What does MP stand for again?

Mikey: Member of Parliament!

Solee: Oh. Then THAT’S how they knew about Kiev. Maybe. Except it wasn’t military. It was hit man. So never mind.

Mikey: Well, I’m sure it was political. It always is in Kiev! Anyway, they wanted to do some kind of ritual wherein they’d tear down this guy and force him to kill what he loves, and in so doing he would be their “king” in some way. That’s about as far as that goes in my mind.

Solee: I’m not sure there’s much more to it than that. They completely broke him down, using his own instability and drive for justice to turn him into a weapon which they used to murder his family. That was the final horror for him. I don’t think he’d recover psychologically from that, and they knew it. They crowned him, but not in a “now you’re in charge” way. It was more of a celebration of having caused as much destruction to this man as possible.

Mikey: Yeah, something like that. He was not going to be okay. I just don’t know - I think that all makes sense, but it’s all a little haphazard, not structured enough, not solid enough. It didn’t work for me. And it wasn’t nearly as interesting as the “blue-collar hitmen going on a final job” story would’ve been without the crazy cult business.

Solee: The cult part was actually less scary to me than the hitman part. I believe in hitmen. I don’t actually believe in cults whose sole purpose is to be as chaotic as possible. There are people like that, but I don’t see 30+ individuals in an otherwise normal community all acting that way. Once it became obvious that the cult was the big bad, all the reality - the part that was amping up the tension so deliciously throughout - drained right out of it.

Mikey: Yes, my big problem was that as they proceeded into their 3 targets, we caught glimpses of something really mysterious (the victims thanked him, there was some sort of horrible video we didn’t see, and so on), and there was mystery in how they got hired and who Fiona was. It all felt like it was a part of something amazing, but in the end, the truth (I guess as always!) was not as amazing as it seemed it would be. Is it bad if every movie we say “it seemed good until it fell apart at the end”?

Solee: Not if that’s the truth. I think we do have very high standards. There’s a narrow window of greatness between So Obvious It’s Dumb and So Confusing It’s Irritating. Very few movies hit that window.

I think there was a lot of interesting symbolism that I missed the first time through. I’m not going to watch it again, but someone who did might have a much better understanding of things. The dress made of money, the way the targets acted, etc. I’m sure there’s more to be mined out of this movie. The problem is, I don’t like cult stuff, so I’m not motivated to watch it again like I was with Usual Suspects or that one about the guy whose short-term memory didn’t work.

Mikey: Memento! Okay, we’ve talked much too long and we need pizza! So let’s bring it on home. What did you think?

Solee: I think I’m still going to rate this one highly. I enjoyed the first ¾ of the film so much and I have to reward that. It’s like Bambi… people should turn it off before it actually ends! I give it 4 out of 5. You?

Mikey: I wish it had been something supernatural like the description said. At one point I thought Fiona might be an avenging angel, setting the hitmen up to be destroyed in some way. It all seemed much more important than a cult. Anyway, I did enjoy it, and it made me think, but I’m mad at how it wrapped up into seemingly less than the sum of its parts, so I’ll give it 3.5/5. Let’s have pizza!

Solee: Pizza!

Mikey: And after the pizza, our movie tomorrow will be No-Tell Motel. Join us again, won't you?
2 commentsBack to top!
Page 1/4 2 3 4 > >>
Copyright 2018, Hamumu Games Inc.