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Hamumu Revumu: Oceanhorn02:37 PM -- Tue November 10, 2015


TL;DR: A modern Zelda clone! Cute.

Gameplay Gist: Top-down action-adventure. If you know Zeldas, you know this - you travel from island to island, and on each one you encounter a dungeon, during which you gain a new item that lets you do something new, then you have to beat a boss using this item. You can then move on to the next dungeon, or go back to earlier places to use your new item to reach various bonus items you couldn't get before. I didn't realize until I wrote that how Metroidvania-ey Zelda games are.

But this has all the other Zelda stuff too - when your life is full your sword shoots, there are little bloopy enemies that look like Zelda enemies, your life is made of heart icons, there's a little tune for secrets (although it seems to play at all the wrong times in this game), you smash pots and chop grass for gems, dungeons have regular keys and a master/boss key, bombs and arrows are a major element, etc. All sorts of little touches ripped straight out of Zelda. Intentionally though. This is an homage more than a rip-off.

Kombat Kuality: The combat is not great. Like older Zelda games, it's basic and not super compelling. It's also super easy. Mainly the enemies are just there because running through empty dungeons to get to each 'puzzle' would seem much more dull.

Story Stupid? You bet. It's right out of Zelda, just the most basic Macguffins to pull you along to collect all the pieces of the Triforce (not called that in this game, but yeah, that) and reach the final boss. It's a little bit compelling, in that there's definitely a sad feeling to the whole thing, like this is a run-down world that is sort of falling to pieces, and everyone you meet is the last of their tribe or something similar. But no, not much of a plot.

Wrapid Wrap-Up: All in all, I was honestly quite hooked. In hindsight now, I say the things I wrote above - not super interesting, nothing compelling about the gameplay, the puzzles are as mindless as in any Zelda (the definition of a puzzle is basically "you have to recognize that you need to use a certain item", as opposed to anything you truly have to figure out). But like any Zelda, those little rewards and cute animations keep you hooked. You just have to know what the next new item will be, and you get a thrill out of completing each dungeon, even though it feels equivalent to successfully moving the beads around on one of these:

You know? Like you solved a puzzle made to challenge an infant. But it's still solving something, and triggers that endorphin hit. So I'm hard-pressed to "rate" this game. I don't have anything great to say about it, but it was a very polished work of art, and it did its job as a game - hooked me in and kept me playing non-stop to the end. So why don't I love it? I don't know. I did when I was playing it, but that was a month ago. I guess you should play it. It's a nice game. Just don't expect anything groundbreaking or life-changing. Just some simple fun.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: App06:14 AM -- Sat October 31, 2015

Well, this is it! 31 days, 31 movies. There were several other movies I watched, which I didn't review for various reasons (there was one I didn't even feel comfortable mentioning on this website! So I'm not going to now, sorry), including about 10 extras I watched before October started, just to warm up. Netflix is really chock-full of horror movies! Not necessarily good ones, but there sure are a lot of them. Without further ado, the Halloween finale!


My Review: This is what the title sounds like: the story of an evil smartphone app that collects all the information about you that it can, and uses it to ruin your life. It sends your private videos to everyone around, it magically infects other nearby phones or computers every time the phone it’s on is set near one, and spreads like that, causing people to kill themselves or hate other people, or whatever. In one case, it also uses some kind of totally-not-made-up electronic power system to turn on a boombox really loud so the boombox bounces itself until it falls off the scaffolding it’s on, and into a swimming pool to electrocute someone. I was going to mock this as silly, but decided to google it first, and it turns out you actually can die from that much electricity in a swimming pool! It’s not likely or common, but it can happen. That’s actually scary when you think about the electric lights in pools and how often they have their wiring checked, if ever. Anyway, the bouncing radio is still silly.

But wait, that’s not all there is to it! The reason I decided I just had to watch this movie was that I checked it out on IMDB first and discovered that it has an actual app that goes with it! You install the app, turn on the movie, and the app listens to the movie through your microphone, popping up little video clips and things at appropriate times during the movie. That was fun! It was really underutilized - probably 95% of the movie, it just sat there showing its idle image and made me wonder if it was listening at all (I hope it didn’t miss some cues? My sound system is pretty weak, and my iPad is in a thick case...). And a lot of what it did was pointless, but there was some fun to be had. One of my favorites was absolutely pointless, but did add to the feel of the movie: the main character heard her phone buzz, and rolled over in bed to pick it up and see what it was doing. At the same time, on my iPad, the camera of her phone was displayed, so it rolled around and showed her face as she picked it up and held it overhead. It was just a cool connection, and made me wish that the entire movie I could look over and see the phone’s POV on my device (most of the time, the inside of a pocket).

Other things it did included showing a newspaper article about a death that had just occurred, continuing the outdoor shot as someone drove into a parking garage, to show you the building she was going into, and showing you what was happening in a room she just left. Then there was one fairly pivotal use: there are two characters in the movie that aren’t overtly shown as evil for a long time, but before it’s revealed in the actual movie, the app shows texts going between them to reveal it. That’s a pretty interesting element, although the content of the texts was silly and terrible dialogue, not at all something a real human would’ve said.

So the app stuff was a fun idea and I’m glad I checked it out, but I don’t think it’ll catch on or ever be a good idea. Mainly all it did was totally distract me from the movie. Even though it was almost never showing something, I was constantly glancing at it because when it did show something, there was no noise or advance warning (it was intended for use in theaters, so of course it didn't use sound), and it would be over in 5 seconds, so I really had to pay attention to catch it. It was pretty good symbolism for the so-into-texting-that-you-ignore-reality message of the movie, since it actually forced me to be a distracted person, constantly glancing at my device instead of paying attention to the movie (which was subtitled, so this was extra problematic).

Oh, and back to the actual movie: it was okay. As usual, the technology didn’t make any sense, though it’s suggested at the end of the movie (not really a spoiler) that the app is ‘haunted’, which means they can get away with whatever they want. Still, the plot itself didn’t make sense, as the app seems to have been created for two different purposes which don’t match up, and... it’s just weird. It’s almost like two movies crashed into each other and spilled out onto my iPad.

P.S. I watched Kung Fury immediately before watching this (I give Kung Fury 5/5 Viking Chainguns, by the way! Catch it now!), and you know the scene where Hitler shoots people through the telephone? That pretty much happens at one point in this movie too! I liked the connection.

My Rating: 2/5 AI Spines.

My Movie Idea: I’d love to come up with something for the “app with a movie” concept, but I just don’t think it’s a good idea to begin with. How about instead, something you can’t actually play in a normal theater or video player: a choose-your-own-adventure movie? But something well-written. Like it’s this big crime drama with supernatural elements (or not, depending on how it goes...) and based on the decisions you make, it could end up with lots of different twist endings: they all did it, one of them is an undercover cop, something about time travel, etc. etc. Every 10 minutes or so of movie, it’d ask you to make one of four choices. Not about what happens, but rather there are 4 main characters, and you’re asked which one you want to follow with the camera. You’d have about 10 seconds to decide, and then majority rules.

So what happens is that whichever character you follow has the most interesting life of the 4 for that segment, since otherwise it’d be a boring movie, so that dictates the plot. You follow Bob and he ends up in a high speed car chase, but if you didn’t follow him, his drive to wherever was just uneventful, and so that means there isn’t a shadowy government agency following him. You follow Janet instead, and her meeting with the guys who kidnapped her son turns into a tense Mexican standoff. If you hadn’t, she’d just appear on a phone call to Bob during his crazy drive saying “yep, I got the kid, everything went smooth!”

I suspect this movie would require an awful lot of film! Not to mention custom technology to play it. Seems fun to me, but then I like video games.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Blood Glacier07:41 AM -- Fri October 30, 2015

Blood Glacier

My Review: So some climate scientists studying a glacier discover it’s run through with red stuff (see how the title works?). They investigate and find that it’s some kind of fungus or bacteria or some such. I’ll just tell you how it works because they reveal this early on: it’s some kind of organism that randomly combines the DNA of the creatures it comes into contact with, and grows a new hybrid creature inside the host body. Since insects are everywhere, it always involves insect DNA, which according to this movie means it grows gigantic in a day (you know, how insects are always so gigantic? Yeah), and also means it’s creepy and black and spiny and armored. So it’s sort of like a zombie movie, where every zombie is some random weird thing instead of a dead person. And it’s fun in that nobody turns into a monster, they just sort of give birth to one.

The monsters in this movie are pretty crazy. They’re all puppets, which range from pretty good to hilarious Birdemic quality creatures (well, okay, not Birdemic... but I was reminded of that movie by a couple scenes), and they’re all sort of like “what would this mammal or bird look like if it were crossed with a bug?” so they’re pretty twisted. The movie is not afraid to show you the monsters a lot, which means it’s not really scary, but it is pretty gross.

There are obvious parallels to John Carpenter’s The Thing in this movie, though this is not a paranoid tale of wondering who is the monster (I do love those...), it’s more like a zombie movie where the monsters are all around and you need to hide out. But it does have the creepy paranoid element because anybody who’s been bitten by a monster has another monster (mixed with human DNA!) brewing inside their body somewhere. So they are hiding out, but all their injured people are bug-monster timebombs. That leads to several interesting surprises during the course of this movie, all the more so because there are tons of characters (12+? Too many to keep track of for me). It’s a strangely large cast, but they start getting whittled down pretty quick.

I definitely had fun with this movie, waiting to see what hybrid was coming up next. And there’s a final twist to it all which is just... just nuts. Actually, this whole movie is nuts, but the final twist is truly odd. This is one of those movies, sort of like The Evil Dead, where part of the fun is seeing how far (and in what directions) the creators are willing to go with their oddball ideas. Is it a good movie? That’s a tough question, but I’d have to say probably not. But it is entertaining, and that’s why I watch movies.

My Rating: 3/5 Fox-Beetle-Woodlice.

My Movie Idea: I thought of an interesting twist on a zombie movie. There’s the plague as always, but the only symptom of this virus is a specific sort of paranoia. You don’t become a raging zombie trying to eat brains. Rather, you become afraid that everyone else is a raging zombie trying to eat brains. So yeah, lots of people end up dead, but not eaten by zombies - they get killed by people who have the virus who think they are zombies! I’m not sure how that would all play out, but it would certainly be violent. And it turns the typical scene on its head - instead of the one sick guy in the room turning into a zombie, one guy in the room suddenly starts seeing everyone else as a zombie. He still goes nuts attacking them, of course, but he could also run away, which is not something zombies tend to do.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Let Us Prey11:39 AM -- Thu October 29, 2015

Let Us Prey

My Review: Wow, this is a remake of the movie I watched earlier this month, The Traveler! Now, I don’t think it is supposed to be a remake, but it’s so incredibly similar that I have trouble believing it wasn’t at least based on that movie. It even has the same kind of super-retro synth soundtrack that sounds like John Carpenter made it.

This is once again the story of a very empty police station, into which a guy shows up who doesn’t talk a lot, and who they throw in jail. This time he doesn’t confess crimes though, he just kind of sits around fiddling with a box of matches and causing people to die magically. Oh, and at a couple points he whistles a short tune which I am pretty sure is the same one the guy in The Traveler whistled. Anyway, as before, it turns out that the cops in the station are all evil for various reasons (as are the people locked up in the jail cells), and we learn about their crimes and they get punished for them by dying horribly. There’s even a situation like The Traveler, in which two of the cops conspired to beat a suspect to death previously (hey, at least it wasn’t all of them this time).

There is one cop who is new to the area and just started there today though, and she is not evil. Or at least, she isn’t until the very end when things get downright strange and she makes a choice that I truly can’t connect to her character at all. If you have seen this movie, please answer me this: “Whaa!?!?!?!” That’s my question about the very last scene.

Everything gets explained pretty clearly in this movie, it’s not left vague and mysterious, but there is that decision she makes that just doesn’t even begin to make sense to me. Maybe I missed some key subtext in there? I just don’t know. But overall, this is a far far better movie than The Traveler. It is, like Proxy, chock full of crazy people (at least two of the seemingly-normal people in this movie turn out to be serial killers in their spare time! And those are just the people with the highest body counts, everybody else is pretty far off the rails too). Oh, and speaking of odd decisions, I still don’t understand what made the captain return to the station to do what he did. I mean, yeah, there were some weird hallucinations and he was into Bible stuff and killin’, but none of that adequately explains him flipping around into a complete nutjob. So that’s weird. I guess you could say on the whole, I didn’t understand the characters’ motivations in this movie. Even the villain, who turns out to be a pretty widely known mythological figure - his entire scheme of making these people die doesn’t really fit anything I’ve ever heard about what he does. It just seems random.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Val Kilmerlessnesses.

My Movie Idea: I feel like this practically was my movie idea for The Traveler! Not quite how I described, but it was certainly that movie done better. I didn’t have any particularly grand notions while watching this in truth. The only thing that sprang to mind mid-movie (this is a bit of a spoiler for this movie, and it’s not super interesting so feel free to skip it) was how they often have something like this: a demon or perhaps the devil driving people to die in some way. They do it because it’s visceral and a clear threat. Nobody wants to die, so an entity causing death is a good threat for a movie. But it’s not really what the devil would want. He doesn’t want people to die, who cares whether you get their soul now or in 50 years, when you live forever? What he should be trying to do is corrupt nice people to make them evil so he gets their souls later on down the line. That I think could be more interesting. Instead of making the bad people kill themselves, make the good people get confused and twisted up into being evil - perhaps by making them kill bad people! Then he gets the bad soul right now, and the good soul has gone bad, so he’ll get it later! Or he can arrange one of the other good people to kill them. Or even forget magically making them do things they wouldn’t, just talk to them and make them see things in such a way that they actually decide immoral stuff is moral, something like that. That’s what the devil should be about - twisting you around so you think you’re doing good when you’re really not. More psychological, less ramming-your-head-into-metal-bars.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Dark Summer12:51 PM -- Wed October 28, 2015

Dark Summer

My Review: This is the story of a kid who’s under house arrest for cyberstalking a girl. He’s not allowed any computers and all that, of course, but his friends sneak one in and through Magic Hollywood Hacking, he sets up a connection and gets back to the internet. The bad news is, the girl he was stalking sends him a video chat request, and when he opens it, she just says some creepy stuff and then shoots herself right on camera. It’s pretty traumatic, but not as bad as all the weird haunting stuff that ensues for the rest of the movie as her ghost torments him in various ways.

Like the previous movie, this one starts off incredibly slow. Ridiculously slow. There’s a minute-long scene of the main character staring at a streetlamp, no fooling. But when it finally starts to pick up, it gets really interesting. There is a whole series of twists, so that what you thought was what is not what and it all turns around on itself. Even the “shocking final moment” that is required of all horror movies is a pretty good surprise. More than anything else, this feels like an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, except none of the characters are full of witty quips. Which is why I wish this was an episode of Buffy, because the plot was fun, it just needed to be less slow and more funny.

There’s really not much wrong with this movie other than the very slow first half. It’s entertaining!

My Rating: 3.5/5 Ankle Monitors.

My Movie Idea: Well, why haven’t we actually gotten a Buffy movie? I mean besides the very very different one with Pee Wee Herman as a vampire. I enjoyed that movie too, but I want a true Joss Whedon Buffy movie. It’s hard to imagine what the plot could be to make it more epic than the season finales from the series, but I know Joss could come up with something. Let’s get a Buffy movie!

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