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Belittling Horror Excessively: Leprechaun In The Hood06:51 AM -- Mon October 31, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: That’s what IMDB says anyway!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: And physical vs METAphysical interactions...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Haha. Indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Ooh. Ouch. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Hollows Grove07:53 AM -- Sun October 30, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

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

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

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

Solee: Don’t spoil our review now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: Poor kitty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Who was he?

Mikey: Bill.

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

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

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

Mikey: I see you digging for silver linings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: Peer pressure.

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

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

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

Mikey: I’ve seen snippets of Leprechaun movies on TV back in the days when we had cable. Or maybe back in the days when people rented VHS tapes at Blockbuster. I truly can’t wait for what is sure to be the most terrifying movie of the month.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Intruders 201507:29 AM -- Sat October 29, 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.

Intruders (2015)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 5.7/10
Metacritic: 39
Rotten Tomatoes: 47% critics, 28% audience
Mikey: 5/5
Solee: 5/5
We watched on Vudu ($2.99). Sadly it is also on Starz, where it's free if you have a subscription. Like we do.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “Anna suffers from agoraphobia so crippling that when a trio of criminals break into her house, she cannot bring herself to flee. But what the intruders don't realize is that agoraphobia is not her only problem.”

Note: This is one of many movies with the title Intruders, and it also has an alternate title, Shut In, which is also the title of another movie released in 2016. So to be clear, this is the 2015 (or 2016 - it was released in January 2016) movie starring Beth Riesgraf, with cover art of a house floating in the air with assorted knives and axes hanging down from it. Cool cover art.

I also reviewed the 2011 movie Intruders here: Hamumu Journal - I recommend it!

Solee: So I want to start this interview with a little background information because I’m a little intimidated by this particular review. After we reviewed the movie No Tell Motel, I received a tweet from @TeaJaySee (not someone I knew) saying, “I genuinely enjoyed reading this exchange! Thoughtful, funny and spot-on.” A little research clued me into the fact that he was the writer of No Tell Motel! We had a great little back and forth, which ended with him suggesting that we watch his latest work, Intruders, to see an example of a movie that turned out closer to what he had imagined in his head when he wrote it.

Mikey: So scary! Are we going to make him angry today and feel his wrath?

Solee: Well, he was super chill about the first review, which is cool because it wasn’t particularly flattering. I think he’d be fine with whatever we said. (He’s obviously got a thicker skin and better sense of self-worth as a writer than I do!) However… after seeing the movie, I’m more concerned that he’s going to think I’m trying to kiss up to him by saying nice things. I just want to be clear up front that I actually forgot until about ⅔ of the way through the movie, that it was his movie. So, most of my notes were made without any sense of “ooh… I can’t say that!” I think I got more critical after I remembered because I didn’t want to sound too fangirl. Did you remember we were reviewing a movie by someone who might actually read it?

Mikey: I did, it’s why I picked it! Don’t worry, I will be unflinchingly honest: this movie was a bucket full of turtles!

Solee: Yeah. I don’t know what that means. It sounds good to me, though. Turtles are cool.

Mikey: I guess it does. So, this is our second Leverage connection (and 3rd mention of it) of the month, with Beth Riesgraf starring, and once again typecast as a crazy person.

Solee: Stereotypes are created for a reason… just saying… I was actually really excited to see her. I am a fan. And she just has one of those faces that make you want to fix everything for her if she’s sad. Like Willow or Kaylee. She’s the “heart” of a cast.

Mikey: Yes, just jumping right into mega-spoiler territory, she was not the in-control mastermind of this house of terror that she was supposed to be. That was something unexpected that brought a big dose of realism and empathy to things: she was barely holding it together, despite having an elaborate deathtrap on remote control. One could argue she wasn’t holding it together at all.

Solee: Not really. I don’t think anyone who is so trapped in place that they can’t walk through an open door to escape three guys who are definitely going to kill her is really holding anything together. I don’t know what it feels like to be so agoraphobic that I would rather face certain death than stepping out my front door, but I liked the way she portrayed it. In those moments where she was frozen, you could see the internal struggle.

Mikey: There were a bunch of times in the movie where she ‘let’ somebody escape, or gain the upper hand, and just based on Hollywood convention, I was waiting for her to let the other shoe drop, like a huge blade on a pendulum slicing them in half. But every time it turned out she just wasn’t doing a good job of controlling them. It was just a very unique thing that made her more of a real person than a movie villain. And for that matter, her victims, who were in some ways the actual villains of the movie, were also drawn in an empathetic way.

Solee: For sure. The brothers had some interesting interactions that felt real, with the irritation and bickering turning to protection and grief so quickly. I know that feeling. And I thought Danny’s character and her relationship with him was fascinating. There was a will-they-won’t-they thing that kept getting overshadowed by the actuality of their lives.

Mikey: I guess there was one true villain: Perry. And in fact, killing him was her one time she acted like a supernatural killer herself, just popping up behind from out of nowhere and taking him down. Once he was out of the way, everything was very muddled and grey.

I had a note that it was great that we were seeing people (both sides) being smart and tough, instead of hearing them scream and whine about their situation like most horror movies.


Solee: That stood out to me, too. I absolutely hate the screaming and flailing about that most horror movie characters do, falling down and rolling around on the ground while the bad guy catches up to them instead of getting up on their freakin’ feet again, or huddling in a corner instead of finding SOMETHING to protect themselves with. These were people I could relate to. And you know how much scarier I think things are when they are relatable instead of supernatural.

Mikey: Oh oh oh! Back to where we started, I think we’ve found T.J. Cimfel’s trademark: in this movie, there are some stairs, which are controlled by a remote to slide away into the wall. She stores the remote in a drawer, so in fact in this movie, as in No Tell Motel, we find characters looking in drawers for a set of stairs!

Solee: You were so happy to see that! :)

Mikey: It was my favorite part of No Tell Motel.

Solee: We still talk about that. I don’t think we’ll ever talk about stairs or ladders in our house again without referencing No Tell Motel.

There’s another commonality I noticed: rape victims who get revenge. Both movies have female characters who have been victimized, but who do something to throw off the mantle of victim. Not necessarily in a healthy, therapist-approved kind of way in this case, but still...

Mikey: No, her coping strategy wasn’t really straight out of the diagnostic manual, but I guess it works for her. I had a note about the ending of the movie, in that it felt too low key, not like the big dramatic showdown it should’ve been, but that kind of ties into everything in the movie - everything kind of subverted expectations to go a little more simple and real, instead of the big bang you expect. I don’t know why I made a note of it negatively in the ending when I liked it before that.

Solee: I want to share the sequence of notes I made at the end…
“She killed rapist herself… will it change anything?”
“Nope. She still can’t go out.”
“Culkin eye roll. LOVE IT.”
“Or maybe… YES!”
“BURN THAT [house] DOWN.”

I thought it was great that there was a moment where everything she had just experienced might have been for naught, that she might still be trapped by what had happened to her as a child, as so many people are. I would have accepted that as an ending - I’m sort of a fan of the really depressing ending - but I got VERY excited for her when she finally took those steps out and removed all chance of her retreating back into her shell.

Mikey: Removed them pretty thoroughly. Yeah, it’s kind of sad for her that she is about to end up trapped again for the rest of her life in an even smaller space, but for the purposes of this story it’s cathartic.

Solee: Woah. I didn’t even think of that. I think she will be less confined than she’s been for the last 10 years. Even if she’s physically confined, her mind has been freed.

Mikey: Deep. Although maybe by burning it down, the evidence that’s left just points to surviving an attack by the three guys and engaging in self-defense, and not decades of murder and torture. Who knows?

Solee: It depends on how well the contents of that chest-freezer survive.

Mikey: Oh man, I completely forgot the freezer! It’s probably worth noting that every time we are in a Home Depot, I like to check out the chest freezers and see if there is one big enough to hold you.

Solee: I’m glad you pointed that out. Now it’s on record, should I make a sudden disappearance in the future.

Mikey: That would make me sad. I wanna keep you by my side!

Solee: Hence the Solee-sized freezer!

I think it was interesting and a layer deeper than I expected that JP decided to try to rape her himself. She was using him as a surrogate for her original abuser, but he put himself into the role for real. That had the dual benefit of making her actions more acceptable to me as a viewer (she didn’t just kill him because she’s screwed up, he was putting her in actual immediate danger) and giving her actions the extra realism that “fixed” her agoraphobia.

Mikey: That was one of those moments I was expecting more Hollywood than I got - when he shoved her down, I was thinking like “Oh man, that was a big mistake.” and it was… he did get killed, but in a way that realistically was very much on the edge, could’ve gone either way. What I had expected was some hidden switch to drop bricks on his head or whatever. Something where she’d give a little evil grin and destroy him. I’m really actually glad we never got that kind of fake stuff, but just a rough and real situation. So many times I had those “ah yeah, here it comes…” moments in my head, always subverted.

Which leads me into my alternate ending. About midway through the movie, I had an idea of a huge twist that was kind of blowing up in my head. And my twist would’ve been really cool… but it would’ve flipped the entire movie on its head, and we would’ve lost all that subtlety and realism, because I was thinking big and crazy. My idea was that Conrad had never been her brother. He was just the latest in a long line of surrogate brothers, drugged beyond comprehensibility (notice nobody but her ever saw him coherent and speaking), and by the end of this movie, she was going to make JP the next one (“put on the shirt in the drawer!”). It kinda would’ve been cool… but it would’ve made her a standard horror villain.


Solee: That would have been fun. It’s become clear to me that we both enjoy a good “unreliable narrator” twist, but I agree… it would have been a much more Hollywood plot then. I really loved the interactions between her and her brother in the beginning. They were obviously very close. It was kind of fun to suddenly realize that her sweet, caring, protective brother was also a massive serial killer. For what some might consider a good reason… but still a serial killer. I suspect he would have killed one way or another. This just gave him a sense of justification.

Mikey: I’m glad we have a legal system and vigilantism is illegal. I do so love a big twist. But this movie really was all twists, because everything always went a different direction than I expected. Pretty impressive.

Solee: What I find impressive about that, is that the writing, acting, directing, whatever, made the twists flow together smoothly. We’ve seen plenty of movies that were constant twists and turns, but that end up just being exhausting. There’s a fine line between a well done complex storyline and a convoluted rat’s nest of ideas (ahem, Beacon77, I’m looking at you!). This movie did a great job of staying on the right side of that line.

Mikey: Cease your prattling! No twist is ever bad! ALL TWISTS ALL THE TIME.

Solee: Ugh.

Mikey: They always kill the pets first :(.

Solee: I know. It’s awful. That’s a psychological thing, I think. Build up the tension by killing off something less than human. It backfires with people like you, though.

Mikey: Yes, I like animals much better than people. Case in point: they don’t smash peoples’ heads with hammers.

Solee: Very valid point. I want to bring up Perry again. We mentioned his death earlier, but we didn’t really talk about what a completely waste of skin he was. He was just a horrible, horrible person - in a very realistic, I’ve met people like this kind of way - and I was very much looking forward to his demise.

Mikey: Don’t let those people near your birds. I would add that he had some really funny lines, in a horrible way. He was well-played by Martin Starr.

Solee: “He WAS your friend. Now he’s a doorstop.” That was a terrible thing to say, but Martin said it so brilliantly. He makes a really good jerk.

Mikey: That may not be to his credit… seems like he played that in Party Down too. Less murdery though.

Solee: Well, if you take away the murdery bits, he’s just a snarky guy. I can relate to that.

Mikey: Yes you can. What else you got here?

Solee: I’m trying to come up some criticisms… Oh. The Lawyer Lady was stupid beyond belief. “Oh, sure… of course that’s your radiator shouting “help” from inside that locked wooden box. I’ll just be on my way.”

Mikey: She just didn’t want to get stabbed. She was so far from stupid, she saw the knife block missing one, and she even had you fooled!

Solee: Maybe that’s the case. I honestly don’t have any other complaints about this movie… Wait. I did struggle just a bit with the initial premise that she’d just bust out her duffle bag full of money and shove it at the Meals On Wheels guy. Except that she had just lost the only person that meant anything to her, and she obviously had feelings for Mr. M.O.W.… so it wasn’t that much of a stretch. How did you feel about that?

Mikey: That totally works for me, because I identify with it: total shut-in, doesn’t know how people interact, who is at her greatest stress level possible at this moment having just lost the only person she interacts with… once again I am identifying with the crazy serial killer. It made perfect sense to me.

Solee: Yeah. Me, too. I just was hoping to find something I could be harsh about… but nope. I’m totally fangirling over this movie.

Mikey: Sorry. Give me your shocking twist of a rating.

Solee: ZERO OUT OF FIVE!

Mikey: SHOCK!!! TWIST!!!

Solee: Just kidding. I’m giving this a 5 out of 5. It was scary enough to fit in a horror marathon, but did such a nice job of avoiding stereotypes and tropes that I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were some truly gruesome moments - Danny’s knee!! *shudder* - but mostly it was just a really good foray into the horror that is humanity. My favorite kind of horror. What is your rating?

Mikey: This is where my problem lies. I am so stuck. I really want to give this a 4.5 out of 5. But I don’t know what is wrong with it to knock it down from 5. It is doing something very unique and I really respect that, but somehow I feel like I need to not give it the 5 (maybe because I’m no fangirl!). I just don’t know how to justify it. What should I do!?

Solee: Trust your gut. Ratings are about how the movie made YOU feel. Sometimes it’s hard to explain exactly where those feelings come from… but that doesn’t change them. If the movie didn’t WOW you in the same way that the other 5 out of 5s did… then 4.5 is very respectable.

Mikey: So, I looked at the list. Green Room, The Uninvited, and House of 1000 Corpses are the other 5s. Can I say this is less than them?

Solee: See for me, Intruders is just as good as The Uninvited. And possibly Green Room. I should have given House of 1000 Corpses a 5.5.

Mikey: Illegal! And still amazing to me to hear coming out of your face (or fingers)!! I should note that you have one other 5/5 that I don’t: The Voices. Anyway, I don’t see why this is any worse than those movies for me. I will begrudgingly allow it. Five of five.

Solee: I will say that watching Intruders makes me wish I could see what No Tell Motel looked like in T.J.’s head. I bet it was interesting. I’m looking forward to more stories by him.

Mikey: I am dead certain that in the original script, those stairs were in the drawer.

Solee: Hahahaha! Maybe he’ll tweet me and verify that. Tomorrow, we return to the world of found footage.

Mikey: Hooray! Yes, I felt that with only 3 found footage movies this month, the ratio was much too low for my usual October, so it was time to kick it into gear one last time.

Solee: You like your shaky-cam.

Mikey: I’m not even sure I do. I must, because I always want more. I just don’t know why. This one is entitled Hollows Grove, and not Grover’s Hollow, which is the terrifying story of a beheaded muppet on a rampage.

Solee: Hahahaha. You’re so dumb. <3
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Belittling Horror Excessively: House of 1000 Corpses06:59 AM -- Fri October 28, 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.

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 6.0/10
Metacritic: 31
Rotten Tomatoes: 19% critics, 65% audience
Mikey: 5/5
Solee: 5/5
We watched on Fandango ($1.99).


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “Two teenage couples traveling across the backwoods of Texas searching for urban legends of murder end up as prisoners of a bizarre and sadistic backwater family of serial killers.”

Solee: Today’s movie was one I went into with equal parts trepidation and curiosity. House of 1000 Corpses, written and directed by Rob Zombie, promised to be a gore-fest and it kept its promise in a big way.

Mikey: Not nearly as big a way as I expected! I’ve been watching Ash vs. Evil Dead on the side, and I have to say it’s about 100x as gory as anything we watched for these reviews. This movie really surprised me with how reasonable it stayed, in terms of torture and gore. I’m not sure I even averted my eyes at any point. I was surprised by a lot of things in this movie, not the least of which (in fact, the most of which) were outbursts by my own wife during and after it…

Solee: THEY PEELED THE FACE AND CHEST OFF A GUY AND WORE IT AS A COSTUME TO TALK TO THE GUY’S DAUGHTER.

Mikey: Oh come on, who doesn’t do that at a family event?

Solee: I’m not going to any more Hommel family gatherings. Period.

Mikey: I think the gist of my thought here is that this movie wasn’t nearly the insane grotesquerie that I had been led to believe by the mass media. It’s kind of like hearing about GTA turning our kids into killers and then finding out how lame it actually is (man, I hate that game - the shooting controls are scarier than this movie).

Not that this movie was lame. It was a ton of fun. I think it’s worth pointing out that two of our “heroes” in this movie are played by Chris Hardwick and Rainn Wilson. This movie is completely filled with intentional comedy, and we laughed a lot (though it’s pretty far from a horror-comedy).


Solee: Seeing Chris Hardwick totally made my day. He played the role of someone who is obsessed with “freaks” and is excited about the strangeness of it all when he should be terrified perfectly.

It was the intentionality of the humor that really grabbed me, I think. Seeing this movie makes me think that Rob Zombie must be pretty freaking smart. You can’t hit all those right notes by accident.

Mikey: I’ve seen him discuss things, he’s definitely a smart guy! Artsy. Half the fun of this movie was just, as somebody who has watched hundreds of episodes of @Midnight, seeing Chris Hardwick being this ridiculous guy. It was like watching your buddy act like an idiot in a movie.

That was kind of where the fun came from in general: all the characters were so over-the-top and wacky. Captain Spaulding was this charming, affable guy who just gets along with everybody (in a kind of nasty way). With great fashion sense. Not at all the mass murderer he actually is. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a murderer portrayed in that way, just so personable. And all the Firefly family each had their own crazy way about them which was unique and a little out of left field. Except maybe Tiny.

About halfway through the movie, Rufus shows up and says “Okay, your car’s fixed, you can go.” and I half-believed they really were going to let them go, because everything was just so off-kilter instead of traditionally evil.


Solee: Off-kilter is the perfect way to describe it. And the editing was designed to keep you that way. Much of the story was told in montages of still shots between scenes. Or with family movie style footage. This family was so NORMAL if you removed the murdery bits. They bickered and had their traditions and defended one another from outsiders.

I, too, loved Captain Spaulding. He was a jerk, but I’ve met lots of people who are equally abrasive without being serial killers (I think…). From the very first mention of chicken, I was terrified that we were going to find out they were serving their victims, battered and fried, to passers-by. But that didn’t happen. What do you think of that? Missed opportunity, or normalcy that accentuates the wierdness?

Mikey: That’s totally part of what they were doing… these people were way off, but any time you thought “Oh, they’re going there!” they just wouldn’t. Like they served a big family dinner to the kids they had semi-kidnapped - that was a perfect opportunity for it to be some horrifying slop, or again cannibalist, or full of worms, or something crazy. But they actually skipped right over the majority of that meal, and the implication from what I could see is that it was all perfectly decent food. The weirdness was always hidden around a different corner than you expected. I loved that Captain Spaulding just served really good fried chicken. It was another of his interests besides killin’.

Solee: I think the unexpected is necessary for both humor and horror. And clearly, Mr. Zombie understands our culture enough to know what is expected and how to dance away from it like a bull-fighter from the horns.

So this movie takes place in the midwest in the 70’s where all hitchhiking horror stories come from. Seriously, the 70’s are pretty much we why can’t have nice things now.

Mikey: They were certainly an ugly time. That brings me back to a note you made: this movie was filmed in normal high-quality picture (see my amazing knowledge of film technique?), but every few minutes they’d have a cut away to the nastiest, chunkiest, grindhouse 8mm film that had been aged for 20 years - just to show us what was happening in the other room, or flash back to something. It was a really interesting technique. The whole movie was an ode to grindhouse cinema of the 70’s, but rather than subject us to a terrible quality image for the entire movie, he just used it to highlight these little cutaways. It was another great little touch. I keep being surprised, I just didn’t expect this to be so well done.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, only 19% of critics thought this movie was good, and their criticisms are absolutely vicious: “Possibly the greatest waste of celluloid since Jerry Lewis was first allowed to stand before a camera.”, “Mr. Zombie's shameless pilfering, derivative and uninspired writing, and ham-fisted direction result in a chaotic mess.”, and so on. I don’t get it! This is not just a great movie, but it’s also a very artistic one (in a very low-brow way). They really put a lot into making this, and it makes me wonder that critics completely miss what’s going on here. The same critics who probably applaud everything Quentin Tarantino does, which is virtually identical. Disapproving of the outsider musician trying his hand at movies?


Solee: I’m sure that’s part of it. But I absolutely DO NOT get “professional” reviews of movies. They are almost always 180 degrees off from what I think. The fact that they couldn’t see the genius in this movie is why I don’t feel bad about disliking movies they rave about. Movie critics are just people with opinions they put on one leg at a time like the rest of us. The soundtrack selections for this movie were perfectly surreal, too. Baby Firefly lip-syncing to the Betty Boop song was hilarious. And I will never hear the song Brickhouse without shivering again.

Mikey: Hmm, I don’t remember when Brickhouse was in there. I jump right into my opinions with both feet though.

Solee: Baby was doing something horrible as Brickhouse played. It was perfect.

Mikey: Agatha Crispies! Just wanted to be sure we said that in this review.

Solee: I even included them in my picture! I wasn’t sure what I was going to draw until I saw that box. That makes me think about Tiny. Despite having been set on fire by his own father and the injuries he sustained from that, he seemed to be the most mentally stable of them all. I think he was truly going to let the girl leave.

Mikey: Yeah, he was just like whatever. I think maybe more out of obliviousness than mental stability. We didn’t get a whole lot of insight into his thoughts. Whenever I see one of those giant guys in a movie (the actor was an actual “giant”), I always think about how they try to portray them as hugely intimidating and powerful, but they move like they actually are: crippled and constantly uncomfortable. It’s not very believable. Not that he was doing big Andre The Giant moves or anything.

Solee: With characters like that - and with anyone who is cast as grotesquely fat or ugly - I always wonder how the actor feels about being seen as the perfect person to pull that off. Starlets have nervous breakdowns because they start being cast as the older sister when they reach 40. How must it feel to constantly have Hollywoodland tell you that you are the perfect amount of fat to play a guy everyone mocks for being fat?

Is it weird that this movie feels almost more respectful? I mean, everyone in this movie was screwed up in some way, but those things were celebrated, not mocked. Or maybe I’m giving it too much credit.

Mikey: It doesn’t feel as bad as a lot of movies in that way. I always appreciate when they don’t include a little person in their cast of “look at these weirdos!” That’s a rough Hollywood life - there’s always work for you, as long as you like being portrayed as either a freak or an elf. I think about that stuff all the time. It doesn’t even have to be “grotesque” - it’s “This girl is playing the hot girl the guy is after, we think you’re perfect to play the one who’s not good enough!” There’s a lot of self-esteem issues in Hollywood… but if you want to have somebody play the role of “so ugly the main character makes a face and ducks out of the room”, I guess you have to find somebody to play it. Maybe it’s the script you need to fix.

Solee: Hollywood needs to fix a LOT of their scripts, that’s for sure. Game of Thrones has put a dent in the little person in film stereotype, though. Actually, Peter Dinklage has consistently played characters that challenge that stereotype.

Mikey: Yes, that seems to be his thing! I hope it’s making a dent. Really, all the freaks of this movie other than Tiny were just ordinary people who had really bad thoughts in their heads. And bad teeth. And bad hair usually. Pretty reasonable, and kind of shows the rest of Hollywood that you can do that. But then I suppose the people who do have deformities are then out of a job. Heaven forbid they get cast as normal people.

Solee: I like that we’re slowly moving in that direction. There’s a lot of road to cover, still, but I think the voices of all sorts of minorities are being heard more clearly and one of the things they are saying is “I want to see people like ME on my television.” Gradually that sentiment is overtaking the “Eww, seeing two boys kissing or a person who looks different than I do makes me uncomfortable!” voices.

I’m not sure what more I have to say about this movie. It was amazing. There are too many clever little bits to mention them all. You really have to watch it to appreciate the artistry.

Mikey: I have this to say: I was surprised by the movie, sure, but I was blown away by the reaction it got from you! This was not the kind of thing I thought would be rocking your socks off, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen you happier with a movie in your life! It was quite a thing to witness, especially considering this is a grindhouse gorefest about people being tortured to death. It’s just like a Halloween miracle. So, I guess we should get to your rating, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise at this point.

Solee: I was pleasantly surprised by my reaction to it as well. I am not sure what caused me to feel so positively about this flick, but I really did like it. I think there’s a very dark and scary part of me that doesn’t get to see the light of day very often, but every once in a while something with the right combination of depth and darkness and unexpectedness comes along. Or maybe I’m just a fan of Rob Zombie. I tend to react positively to his music even though it’s well outside my normal Beatles-Pink-Taylor Swift-Creedence Clearwater Revival rotation. I am giving this movie a 5 out of 5. I loved everything about it. The writing, the acting, the set design, the soundtrack, the editing… literally everything about it. The critics are idiots.

Mikey: There’s a real difference for me between a movie I’m enjoying and one I’m not. When a movie is fun, I get lost and will suddenly ‘wake up’ and go “oh hey, I’ve been lost in this movie for a while!” When a movie is not, it’s just pictures on a screen and I’m using my mental energy to keep the plot and characters straight in my head (or I’m ignoring it instead…). I’m surprised how often this month I have had lots of fun, not just with the high rated movies. This movie was of course very engrossing. I was hooked from the first scene, watching Captain Spaulding just do his jabbering (and by the way, the guy who robbed him was practically Yosemite Sam, that’s a note I made).

As far as downsides, I think there were too many characters in the movie - it’s weird that Dr. Satan was a whole different thing and we had to find him down there (along with a random ‘zombie monster guy’ of his), instead of being one of the family, and there were just an awful lot of family members. Plus Captain Spaulding and his buddy. And the three cops. And the four victims. That’s a lot of characters, which could have been condensed. But they were fun characters.

I want people to watch this movie. I was really torn beforehand over whether we should see this, or the sequel The Devil’s Rejects, which gets much better reviews from both humans and critics. I’m really glad we went for the original. Hope you all don’t mind seeing a skinned face (I had forgotten about that, it really was the grossest thing in there)! I grant this the official 5 out of 5 from Hamumu.


Solee: It was the grossest… but there was also some skeleton hanky-panky. That was pretty disturbing, too, in a whole different way.

So, next we watch a movie I’m a little nervous to review, Intruders. We’ll talk about why it makes me nervous tomorrow.

Mikey: For those watching along, be aware that there are like 100 movies named Intruders or similar. The one we are watching is a 2015 (or 2016, according to some sources) movie starring Beth Riesgraf and Rory Culkin, and the cover art for it is a house floating in the air with knives and axes hanging down from it. It is also known as Shut In, which conveniently is also the name of another 2016 movie. Check it out!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Altergeist07:04 AM -- Thu October 27, 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.

Altergeist (2014)
Rated R
IMDB rating: 3.9/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A% critics, 25% audience
Mikey: 2/5
Solee: 2/5
We watched on Hulu.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “King's Ransom Winery is one of the most haunted places in America, with a long history of bizarre suicides. Six ghost hunters have been given the rare opportunity to conduct a paranormal investigation. What they discover terrifies them.”

Mikey: Another horror movie about a pregnant woman! I was going to say that’s all we watch, but I dug through our list and we’ve avoided them pretty carefully, which is hard to do since there are millions. This was our third this month, I think.

Solee: This movie makes up for our efforts to skirt this issue, though. There were LOTS of pregnant ladies in this one.

Mikey: As in Holidays, so I think we probably have about 31 pregnant women even if we didn’t have them in all 31 movies!

Solee: Yep. That’s not a trope I find necessary or even all that palatable. Although, given the somewhat creepy nature of growing another organism inside oneself (sorry, all you pregnant ladies!), and the great plot opportunities for one thing - alien, ghost, etc - sneaking into another thing - sweet little baby, hormonal lady, etc - I can see why it’s used so often.

Mikey: Like Russian nesting dolls!

Solee: That makes me think of ghost inside alien inside baby inside mother. The horror-birth equivalent of a turducken.

Mikey: Not nearly enough turduckens in horror movies. My final word on pregnancy-related horror movies is that I understand how it gives you some new plots that require it (like this movie - all about the pregnancy), but it bugs me when they just throw it in there to make the woman more vulnerable and/or raise the stakes (killing her is a twofer!).

Solee: Even in this movie, where it’s integral to the plot, I don’t love it because I think it’s pretty lazy, unoriginal writing. Rape and incest are too often used as a convenient launch pad for completely unrelated plots. I could go on a huge soap-box rant, but I’ll leave it at… lazy writing.

Mikey: Yes, same idea: look how traumatized this woman is now, we can go anywhere with this.

Solee: Exactly.

Mikey: But there’s more to this movie! There’s arguing couples, and arguing couples, and couples arguing simultaneously while we cut between them to enjoy all the arguments at max intensity!

Solee: Which was clearly upsetting the spirits. Spirits are very sensitive to things like that. They really prefer when couples calmly talk things out.

Mikey: They’re like relationship counselors in that way. So, spirits… were those ghosts, or were they some kind of artifact of alien technology? Was this Ghosts Vs. Aliens, or alien tech that left behind ‘energy remnants’ or something?

Solee: I completely missed any alien tech aspect. It felt like an alien invasion story where the victims of the aliens stuck around as ghosts. To help future victims? I’m not so sure about that part.

Mikey: That just bugs me, in a way akin to Beacon 77 - they’re asking you to accept too many premises. Like why are these deaths so very ghosty, if you’re not going to use the aliens as an explanation? I mean, these ghosts were seriously ghosty! Not just vague whispers.

Solee: There were also some pretty strong time-travel undertones. There was a girl ghost who was seen on video near the middle of the movie, who I suspect was actually footage of one of the people watching that video much later in the movie, after she died and was doing her ghostly thing.

Mikey: Yeah, I had no idea who she was. Speaking of time, that’s what I would’ve been into: if the ghosts (which looked kind of technological, like snippets of floating video footage, you know? That helped push me towards an alien idea and not being sure they were normal ghosts) had not been interactive, but rather had been people unstuck in time, repeating loops over and over, due to the aliens. Heck, if the aliens were so into fear, they could’ve used that to study them in their most frightened moments over and over.

Solee: Once again, the ghost/alien/badguy was reaching into their victims’ pasts to use their memories and experiences against them. That’s been a fairly common theme this month.

Mikey: Did they? Seemed like they just (very lackadaisically) were using human wombs to make alien babies, and everything else was kind of a mess because they weren’t very good at their jobs.

Solee: It was weak, but it was there… The one guy was afraid of guns because his cousin shot himself. He ended up shooting himself.

Mikey: Oh wait, actually that’s one of my notes as well! I remember it now! Everybody dying in ironic/meaningful ways. Right, because the aliens sorta possessed all the males, and used them to either kill the females or themselves, in the most ironic way they could think of. They bred out fear, not irony.

Solee: I actually made a note that I HOPED the aliens were possessing the men, because otherwise every male in this movie was domineering, abusive and/or misogynistic in some way. It would be sad to think that’s all the writer could write.

Mikey: Yeah, I think it was control though. Like especially the guy with his brother and the gun, it’s obvious. Oh, and Ashen (some name!) killing everyone in the car. Very directed.

Solee: That’s the conclusion I came to as well.

Mikey: Which all brings to mind the part I least understood, also my favorite part: when the guy went into the room they weren’t allowed into, and had the scariest part of the movie (the only scary part of the movie), where he found all the dolls and eventually got “killed” by a ghost. Then later, he’s back and we never have a single moment explaining it, or him looking at the camera with an evil grin, or anything. He’s just normal. Possibly possessed by aliens, though how that fits in, I don’t even know. And even if so, no evil grin.

Solee: I did note that he had a voice in his head telling him to kill… but I was very confused as to whose voice it was.

Mikey: He apparently pushed the girl off the bridge, but then made a very convincing argument that he didn’t. I believed him!

Solee: Apparently he was possessed by an alien with a shaky grasp on reality. Can we talk about the alien storyline and the “lesson” it presents for a second? If I understood correctly, it goes something like this:
  1. Aliens breed fear out of themselves.
  2. Lack of fear, somehow being representative of all impassioned emotion in their culture, leads to lack of sex.
  3. Stealing human babies is how they choose to reproduce.
Is that pretty much how it goes?

Mikey: No, I have some corrections from my understanding: Apparently if you remove fear, you lose all emotions automatically. They said it, so fine, that’s how it works. But they don’t steal babies - she wasn’t pregnant at all. She came to this place, got abducted and injected with an alien fetus. Now she’s back and they want to harvest. They just use human wombs for their alien babies.

Solee: Ooooohhhh. Right. I remember the scene with her floating in an empty room having a tadpole inserted into her bellybutton.

Mikey: Those scenes remind me that this movie was surprisingly polished and high budget for otherwise being very SyFy Original Movie.

Solee: Indeed. There were some interesting things done with cuts and flashbacks and such, too. Although I don’t think they were as clear as the director/writer intended.

Mikey: Back to the alien babies for one more remark: Okay, so they didn’t have the desire to breed anymore. Couldn’t they just do it out of duty? I mean, come on. You don’t have to cross the universe - if you have the technology to insert tadpoles in bellybuttons, you don’t even need any desire! And they probably grow better in alien bellies anyway.

Solee: OR. Do some de-evolving and breed fear back into themselves. Find that one alien who’s still a little twitchy during thunderstorms and start him having some babies! It would take time… but, c’mon, aliens, it’s about the ethics of the situation!

Mikey: They bred out morality! But you know, these aliens must have been really scared of fear to not think to undo that change. So they had nothing to fear but fear itself!

Solee: Bet you never thought you’d be quoting FDR in a horror movie review.

Mikey: It has all been foreordained in the Bible Code.

Solee: Also foreordained: the obligatory up-the-nose-of-a-hysterical-female shot in found footage films.

Mikey: Hey, I don’t remember that happening! Also, we should let our viewers know, this isn’t a found footage movie, which is weird since it’s entirely about a camera crew filming stuff. It’s just that most of the time, it’s not their footage we see.

Solee: There are found footage elements. Dax-cam! Mike-cam! Jason-cam!

Mikey: Yuppers. The very beginning of the movie was crazy to me - it was a guy running around filming himself on his iPhone, but instead of showing us that footage, they were filming him doing it. I liked the Mike-Cam.

Solee: I thought we’d be using the phrase “Thirteen times!” regularly in our review. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

Mikey: Oh no, I forgot about that at least thirteen times! I remember saying it in the next movie we watched at least (Spoiler: we watched our next movie before writing this review).

Solee: Even the characters in Altergeist failed to stick to “thirteen times”. I counted 28 stabs to take out Maya. It was… gruesome.

Mikey: Yep, 13 would’ve been much more proper.

Solee: I also noted that while most of the women (and some of the men) spent a lot of time crying onscreen, the make-up designer apparently has never cried or seen crying people in real life. “Crying” was shown, every single time, by making a big perfect triangle of wet under the eyes. I found it quite strange.

Mikey: Anime tears! In the end, I was confused by this movie. Of what was happening, I couldn’t tell what was being caused by ghosts, what by aliens, and what was just really bad decision making. Or even if the ghosts were good (some clearly were, but were others murderers?). It was a mess.

Solee: Agreed. It falls into the category of movies that leaves me questioning all the wrong things but fails to give me anything of real substance to mull over. I was more irritated than challenged by the plot twists.

Mikey: That all adds up to a rating of 2 from me, I think. Not really worth watching.

Solee: That’s exactly what I was going to give it! There are some stronger elements… the sets and mechanics weren’t bad… but overall, it just wasn’t worth the time. 2 out of 5.

Mikey: Right, they clearly spent a bunch of money on this bad story. So, are you prepared to face the unlimited terror of the House of 1000 Corpses!?!?

Solee: I am SO ready. Bring it on, Rob Zombie!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Beacon 7708:03 AM -- Wed October 26, 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.

Beacon 77 (or The 7th Dimension) (2009)
Not Rated
IMDB rating: 4.7/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A% critics, 50% audience
Mikey: 2/5
Solee: 2.5/5
We watched on Hulu.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “Two young women arrive at a curious penthouse apartment, led by one's crush on her tutor….He's part of a trio of computer hackers about to embark on the ultimate job on the world's most mysterious mainframe.”

Mikey: Do I need to shout “SHUT UP ZOE!” at another movie, right after Behemoth?

Solee: Yes, yes you do. That girl couldn’t decide what level to dial her emotions up to.

Mikey: I did feel like she got a lot more acceptable as a character after the first third of the movie, but wow, in the early going, she made the other Zoe seem positively pleasant.

Solee: The first third?

Mikey: Yeah, I made that note before any of the crazy stuff happened, when she was going nuts at Malcolm, in a very Behemoth-Zoe style.

Solee: Yeah, the thing is, one minute she’s so in love with him that she’s going to give up everything in her world to be with him, and then the next minute she’s raging at him because he’s going to do something that’s clearly important and part of his job. It’s like she was only happy when she was the center of his attention, which is not a healthy foundation for a relationship.

Mikey: Not that Declan and Kenny offered an example of healthy relationships either.

Solee: No… but they weren’t an actual relationship anymore.

Mikey: Some of them knew that more than others.

Solee: So this movie was jam-packed with every philosophy 101 concept that I ever talked about with anyone during a late-night sleepover as a teenager. Like it wanted to be clever, but it just came across as trying too hard.

Mikey: It’s funny that I can see a movie about a ghost killing everybody, and a psychic comes in and explains how it’s all being caused by energy in the house which was triggered by angry emotions… but this movie, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief hard enough to get even close to believing all twenty of the conspiracy theories they were intertwining.

Solee: Wow, every single thing that they looked up turned out to be a conspiracy. There was not a single “Nope, that was just a coincidence! The roads were just bad the day Diana’s bodyguard was driving too fast.”

Mikey: Of course they were all conspiracies, because the Vatican, the CIA, and the Pentagon were all working together to track down these bedroom hackers, using their MK-Ultra remote viewers and Bible-Code-powered Dan Brown assassins.

It was just too many ridiculous things, that some people in real life actually believe, all stacked together, to make this movie super implausible.


Solee: So what I think is interesting is that you focused in on all those conspiracy things, and what I focused in on was all the physics things they tried to put in there, the strange physics stuff of “the dimensions just beyond our powers of observation” and the idea of a 2-dimensional world. When Declan was drawing on the toilet paper, he was obviously representing wormholes or folding space.

Mikey: Which was never talked about or referenced again - he did it in private, apparently solved the universe doing it, and that was that.

Solee: Yeah, by drawing some lines and dots on toilet paper, he gained psychic powers. Which he used to throw his ex-girlfriend off a building.

Mikey: RIGHT! That’s the big thing I want to bring up. This might take some words. First of all, I find this kind of apocalyptic stuff very interesting, where somebody figures out how to break the rules of the world, and our reality falls apart. That’s fun, deep philosophical story stuff. But, in this movie, as in several others I’ve seen (Lucy comes to mind, as well as a few time-travel movies), all that fancy philosophical world-changing stuff ends up funneling down to somebody getting stabbed with a kitchen knife, and that’s pretty much the whole conflict. That is such a massive waste of interesting ideas.

Solee: I suspect that that funneling down happens because most people can’t think about the massive world-changing outside-our-powers-of-observation type concepts for too long.

Mikey: I feel like if you just wanted to write a story about somebody stabbing other people, even if it’s somebody with psychic powers, you can do that. You don’t have to spend half the movie discussing philosophy to bring it up. Just have him sign a contract with the devil, or get struck by lightning, and go with it.

Solee: I think it all boils down to they were trying to do something science-based, only they totally failed because their science was drowned in conspiracy theories.

Mikey: But all I’m asking for is that the guy, instead of pushing his girlfriend off a balcony, stabbing his friend, and shooting glass through a psychic girl… just have him tear the world open, or turn into pure energy, or anything that would be magical enough to justify all the philosophizing.

Solee: Okay, you get that he destroyed the world at the end, right? He brought about the end times. Not on schedule, but still. He just had to mundanely kill all the people that were trying to stop him doing that for some reason.

Mikey: I know - he destroyed the world off-screen. What I’m asking for, is for the movie to provide this payoff instead of being a simple slasher in the end.

Solee: I don’t think there’s any way the movie could’ve provided that in a way that didn’t come across as disappointing. It’s like how the scary monster is always scarier off-screen than when they bring it on-screen and you see that’s crappy CGI or a marionette in the shape of a mangy rabbit.

Mikey: If he could’ve just been as impressive as Neo, that would’ve been alright.

Solee: There were a lot of moments where this movie was trying to be The Matrix. Like how she could hear the code well enough to know whether they were being tracked.

Mikey: There was some classic hacking excitement in here. Like how the Pentagon had a letterhead for their hacking screens, and how they had to type a bible passage to get past Vatican security, and how they had one guy who they had literally chosen because he’s really good at typing fast and accurately. No computer skills whatsoever, just an awesome typist.

Solee: “He’s the fastest accurate typist.”

Mikey: It’s like a superpower.

Solee: Of course, some college student was able to do the job for him for about two-thirds of the time, as they tried to “configure the matrix”.

Mikey: I have to say, that’s pretty much how things are gonna go for you if your superpower is fast, accurate typing. No matter how fast or accurate, the average college student is still not that far behind you.

Solee: One other quote of note was that, when the CIA disconnected them, it was okay because they were still “just about connected”.

Mikey: Close enough!

Solee: It’s like horseshoes.

Mikey: Actually, what it was like, towards the very end of the movie, was The Tommyknockers. That was a vibe I totally got when he was using his super-brain to wire ordinary computers together into a special super computer.

Solee: True. Reference accepted. So can we talk for a moment about how Declan was basically Hugh Laurie? He looked similar to him, he had the same mouth structure so he sounded like him, he had a lot of similar mannerisms, and he was similarly condescending and sarcastic, right down to the facial expressions.

Mikey: So not so much Hugh Laurie as House. Also, he was crippled. And a genius. I guess. Sorta. I didn’t notice that but trying to picture him in my head I see it a bit. He sure wasn’t a nice guy.

Solee: I think it’s interesting that the Bible Code knew everything about everything except that Declan and Ragnarok were the same person.

Mikey: That search system didn’t make a lot of sense to me. But it sure did bring up the most useless prophecies ever: “JFK - Oswald, conspiracy, grassy knoll”. Uh yeah, we knew that.

Solee: And they couldn’t look up Princess Diana because they didn’t know what had really happened, so instead they bring up JFK’s murder, one of the most questioned events in US history? She’s like “I think we can all agree on what happened there, right guys?”

Mikey: Yeah, good move. Oh, I did like the “butterfly effect” montage at the end of the movie, kind of showing you how everything ended up where it did, except that none of it was really strongly consequential enough to give you that “Oh, that’s what that meant” feeling. It was a bunch of minor mishaps that were vaguely related.

Solee: Yes, by the time they revealed what happened to the vagrant woman, it was no longer of any importance compared to the fact that Declan was ending the world.

Mikey: I think the gist of the montage, and a lot of other elements in the movie, was to say that everything led up to this moment, there was no other way it could have happened.

Solee: Which is interesting, because I have a quote of Declan saying “Time is not linear.” Maybe that relates to what he was drawing on the toilet paper, but everything else in the movie points to time being a step-by-step thing that you cannot break free from. It’s almost like Declan was in a different movie that we didn’t get to see, because he had these huge breakthrough moments that we were told nothing about. Like it was a cross-over event. We need to find the movie that he was crossing over from!

Mikey: I think I’ve seen enough about Declan in this movie, I’m good. Yeah, the whole idea of the Bible Code was that the Bible secretly contained a blueprint of everything that would ever happen, which meant that you couldn’t stop it, because if you did, that would’ve already been talked about in the code. So why did Declan have to do anything? It was just happening.

Solee: Because earlier on, they were talking about the reason they wanted to decipher the Bible Code was because it would contain things like the cure for cancer, which could then be implemented earlier than it would have happened, saving lots of lives. But what they really did was implement the end of the world earlier than it would have happened, ending all lives. College kids are stupid. Well-intentioned but stupid.

Mikey: And really into amateur philosophy! But I don’t think they brought about the end any earlier, since after all, with the proper Google search, they discovered the code told them that Declan was ending the world tonight. So, there you go. No choice. Not really much of a story then.

Oh wait, I do want to give Declan credit for transcending his human form, at the very end of the movie. That is the kind of thing I wanted him to do. But he still ran around stabbing and being a psycho first, which is boring and not pertinent to the big issues they talked about.


Solee: Well, it fits with the idea that anyone who wants a position of power the most is the person who should have it least, which always makes me think of Douglas Adams.

Mikey: What, that he shouldn’t have been allowed to write books?

Solee: No, somewhere in the Hitchhiker’s Guide series, we meet the true ruler of the universe, and it turns out he’s a hermit who lives on some forgotten planet and has no idea he’s in charge.

So there was one premise to this movie that falls into my list of story concepts I really enjoy, and that is the moment of destruction being a moment of great understanding. I’m always intrigued by the idea of large amounts of time encapsulated within a short amount of brain activity. In real life, I often experience this when I have lengthy, elaborate dreams because I’ve dozed off for five minutes.

Mikey: And I already mentioned mine, but I really like those ideas of just completely up-ending reality, like transcending it and moving to a higher level or whatever. I think this movie had fun ideas, mixed into the pot with every conspiracy theory and amateur 4:20 philosophy idea.

Solee: Alright, I think it’s time for you to tell me how you rate this movie!

Mikey: Ouch, that’s a difficult question. It wasn’t very good. But whenever people are babbling and making diagrams about dimensions, I am interested and wondering how it will all play out (the not-very-good lies in how that played out - not very well). So, I have to go pretty low on the ratings, just to discourage further filmmakers from taking big ideas and turning them into slasher movies. I will give this movie a 2 out of 5.

Solee: I am also going to choose my rating in an effort to curb certain moviemaking behaviors. In my case, I want to punish them for thinking that shouting lots of vaguely clever-sounding things very quickly and in a very sarcastic I’m-smarter-than-you tone will trick me into thinking that this movie is clever. I wanted to like it, but it just was so unlikeable. Much like the character of Declan. So I am giving this movie a 2.5 out of 5.

Mikey: Okay, let’s move on to Altergeist next. It’s like Poltergeist, but altered.

Solee: I suspect there will be less metaphysics in Altergeist.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Ouija: Origin Of Evil07:07 AM -- Tue October 25, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: They’re fictional, you know...

Solee: *leans into mic* WRONG.

Mikey: You’re such a nasty woman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: I would catch on fire if I did.

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

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

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

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

Solee: Creepy. Did you learn anything interesting?

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

Solee: WHERE DO YOU GET THESE SAYINGS???

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: Ooh, a Cube movie would be fun.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Behemoth08:16 AM -- Mon October 24, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

Mikey: SHUT UP ZOE.

Solee: Zoe was the waitress girl, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: Oh it wishes!! Tremors is awesome!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: “Where’s Tab B!?!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: That’s a thing you do?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Mikey: My standards for bad movies are high!

Solee: Tomorrow, we have a special twist: We’re going to the actual theater to watch Ouija: Origin of Evil which came out yesterday!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: JeruZalem07:16 AM -- Sun October 23, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: But not anymore!

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

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

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

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

Solee: Maybe.

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

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

Mikey: Profiling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Ha. I see what you did there.

Mikey: Oh I went there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Huge missed opportunity. Yuuuge.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: TARANTIGERILLA IS ALREADY OUT!?!?

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

Mikey: See you there!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Canal08:49 AM -- Sat October 22, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

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

Mikey: Christmas again!?

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

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

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

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

Mikey: No, proceed onto other topics!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Probably!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Solee: Her mom was awful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: That makes sense!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To correct our relative shortage of both found footage and zombie movies this month, we're gonna check out JeruZalem tomorrow - and that Z in the middle is big and red, so you know where this is going.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Final Girls08:01 AM -- Fri October 21, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: What about it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: All blondes look alike!

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


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

Mikey: Or totally ludicrous like Scary Movie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Solee: I love mysteries! And you love ghosts! This should be the perfect movie for us.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Pact07:41 AM -- Thu October 20, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: YAY! Serial killer! Squee!

Mikey: Better than Ryan Reynolds?

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

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

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

Mikey: He was. He’s basically you.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Mikey: Yeah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: And Daleks have head-cannons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: GOOD protagonists SHUT THE DOOR when they pee.

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

Solee: That makes me think of Pulp Fiction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: She needed an eyepatch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: I like when they get meta and make horror movies about how dumb horror movies are!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Green Room01:38 PM -- Wed October 19, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: That’s some special effects!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: Which this movie accurately portrays.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Time to rate Green Room?

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

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

Mikey: But so horrific. Join us again tomorrow for The Pact!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Needful Things09:14 AM -- Tue October 18, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Mikey: Scream Queens is pretty fun!

Solee: Ehhh. It has its moments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Wait. A lump of toss??

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

Solee: This is classic horror if you ask me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: Tomorrow, we shall see Green Room.

Solee: Sounds like a plan.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: i-Lived07:14 AM -- Mon October 17, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Oh, right! I forgot about him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Ugh. The rent. What a jerk.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Mikey: I was gonna say that!

Solee: We’re totally geeks.

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

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

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

Solee: Whew.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: I guess I won’t know whether it’s a good deal until after we watch.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Amityville Horror (2005)07:23 AM -- Sun October 16, 2016

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

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: You ain’t afraid of no ghost?

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

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

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

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

Solee: Mmmmm….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mikey: They always kill the dog :(

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

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

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

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

Solee: Sounds like a plan. How about i-Lived?
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Belittling Horror Excessively: #Horror06:51 AM -- Sat October 15, 2016

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

SECOND WARNING! This movie is absolutely awful. We both gave it zero out of five. Don't watch it. You will regret it.

This conversation also appears on SoloRien.wordpress.com.

#Horror (2015)
Not Rated
IMDB rating: 3.3/10
Metacritic: 42
Rotten Tomatoes: 50% critics, 9% audience (note that discrepancy!)
Mikey: 0/5
Solee: 0/5
We watched on Netflix.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “Six preadolescent girls face a night of terror when the compulsive addiction of an online social media game turns a moment of cyber bullying into a night of insanity.”

Solee: I hated this movie from the opening credits. They were flashy and fast and noisy. They were everything I hate about the internet all crammed together. I knew this movie was going to be a problem as soon as they started. You?

Mikey: They were a big shock to me. First of all, the movie opens with quiet snow, and a bloody murder, very dark horror style, then jumps into these Bejeweled credits. There had to be less than a second that each person’s name was on the screen. And I know there are serious rules about credits in movies. I have to wonder if this violated some kind of SAG rule or something. It violated my eyeballs for sure.

Solee: It was horrible. But it definitely set the stage for the rest of the horribleness of the film. The acting? Horrible. The characters? Horrible. The storyline? Horrible. Blegh. The only things that weren’t horrible were the sweeping exterior shots. Those were quite beautiful in a stark, unsettling way.

Mikey: I made a big note about those. Whenever there were no characters onscreen, and it showed the environment, this looked like an amazing movie. It was like Fargo or something. Then they’d cut to a bunch of girls doing a dance routine in masks.

Solee: This felt like a student film… like something someone would make as their final project. They took everything anyone ever told them would build tension or increase the dramatic effect and shoved it all in there. It was like a video collage.

Mikey: Who told them to slap in emoticons and high scores!?

Solee: Well, that was their attempt at being modern and unique. Also… it was a very important part of their VERY PREACHY message. This movie was super moralistic and judgemental. Maybe that’s why it got such a low score from normal people. It basically told normal people that they suucked.

Mikey: Oh no, that’s not why. It was because normal people had to watch it. From what we’ve said so far, it sounds like this movie is fast paced and frenetic. Let’s clarify: the opening credits are fast paced. The random cutaways to this weird hybrid of Bejeweled and online chat are frenetic. But between those brief moments, this was the slowest movie ever created.

Solee: SOOOOO sloooooow. And I went on a first date in high school to JFK, so I KNOW long movies. This was waay longer than that. This movie actually breaks the laws of time and space in our universe. Not the plot of the movie. The movie itself. It’s like a Tardis… bigger on the inside.

Mikey: It is, because it’s an hour and forty-one minutes long. But we spent at least fifteen hours watching those girls put on a synchronized swimming routine. And that’s just one scene.

Solee: Yes. That movie is several days of my life that I’m not getting back.

And here’s the thing… I am a girl. I was a teenaged girl for several years. I went to my share of sleepovers. That is NOT what they are like. Granted, I was a teenaged girl in the stone ages before smart phones existed and I didn’t hang out with obscenely rich people… but none of that rang true to me. It was as if someone who never got invited to a sleep over was trying to imagine what one would be like.

Mikey: Oh no, now you’re making it a sad story. I feel bad for the writer. But speaking of false rings, the ‘internet’ stuff in this movie was the exact kind of tone-deaf random weirdness that you see old people make. This was supposed to be some young director (I actually don’t know she’s young at all, to be honest) who is all hip and decided to make something about cyberbullying, so how did she make the modern equivalent of an X-Files episode about VR?

Solee: Haha! Actually, that brings to mind one of the things I kind of liked about this movie. The kids and the adults were living in two separate worlds. The adults in this movie were very self-centered and obsessed with themselves to the point of having no idea what their children were doing. And then they would randomly jump in to parent by shouting about random threats things they’d seen on social media (Cat’s dad) or by trying to be cool and toss around awkwardly broken slang (Sophia’s mom). THAT part rang true.

Mikey: I don’t know about true, more like over-the-top crazy version of true. Allegorical. Nate from Leverage was a psycho. Of course his daughter was too, so I guess that’s cool. I think that was actually a good element. They were aiming for something here - they just flailed around too hard and smashed everything. They were doing this disaffected youth, bad parents, look what the kids have come to as a result, that kind of thing. It can be done well, without emoticons.

I liked the idea that “Horror” isn’t just the slashing at the end of the movie, but the horror of how people treat each other. But I didn’t want to watch people be horrible for hours to experience it.


Solee: Oh, definitely, the horror was a metaphor or whatever. It wasn’t about the actual deaths. I almost felt like the slasher aspect was thrown in just to get people to watch. Prior to watching it, I was expecting something ridiculous like No Tell Motel. Do you think that was intentional because they were targeting that same audience? You know, to teach them something.

Mikey: I don’t know. If it was they failed miserably by making them all very angry. And thus more bullying toward each other I assume. Plus, the whole fake internet thing probably ruptured half their retinal muscles from eye-rolling, so they weren’t really set up to be ready for a lesson. It’s kind of like trying to feed your kid a giant broccoli sandwich instead of slipping in a little bit of healthy bread on their PBJ.

Solee: Haha! Or your husband.

Let’s talk about the fact that they made one of the parents be an art critic so that they could fill the house full of terrible art. Was that necessary? Did it add anything to the story? Was it because Timothy Hutton’s house is really full of terrible art??

Mikey: I tried googling, but I just saw a normal house. Maybe it’s not really his. I’ll check more later. I’m sure they had some deep reason to do it (I’m guessing there’s a deep reason behind all the crazy decisions in this movie - like the pulsing egg wall art), but like all the deeply-reasoned elements, it was completely unnecessary. These kids could’ve hung out in a normal house and it would’ve been less distracting from the actual point of their interactions.

Solee: There were several lines - many of them variations of “I hate you” - that were said almost as if they were internal dialogue being voiced, even to the point of the other characters not reacting at all. Did you notice that?

Mikey: I didn’t! But it did feel like the conversations they had were extremely odd. The main thing was how they’d say truly horrendous things (like “You’re a fat slut and should die” - that level of bad) to each other, then be quiet for about 5 seconds, then just jump back into “so, do you like this necklace? I think it’s pretty.” Like, do they have no emotional memory?

Solee: That is one of the “girl drama” things that didn’t ring true to me. I’ve dealt with my fair share of playground drama in the classroom. BOYS are like that… they get mad, punch each other, move on. Girls, though, Ugh. The girls would hold onto the same bad feelings and grudges for weeks. I’d be helping them talk through the same insult (and the resulting drama) over and over and over all year. Again… maybe the obscenely rich are different?

So I just found this in IMDB trivia: Director Tara Subkoff's husband Urs Fischer, provided most of the art seen in the movie. So that’s who we blame for THAT.

Mikey: AHA! Nepotism. It’s funny you mention boys punching and moving on. That’s actually something I noticed in more than one of the movies we watched earlier this month! Sympathy, Said The Shark was one example, Kill List was another. Guys would get mad (about something very serious like spousal cheating!), have a little fist-fight/wrestle for about a minute, and then help each other up and be cool about it.

I guess that’s how guys are? I might not be a guy. I don’t like people who hit me.


Solee: It was simplistic of me to say that boys or girls as a whole were one way or the other, of course. But I think in a general sense, the male mind tends to let things go once a resolution has been reached, while the female mind holds on to it. Again, that’s a stereotypical way to look at it and there are all kinds of exceptions to this. I’m not sure that anyone of any gender would have taken the ongoing, horrific abuse those girls heaped on each other for more than a couple of minutes without saying, “I’m outta here. Y’all are crazy.”

Mikey: It seems like movies agree with your view, so you’re probably right. I’m always surprised about human beings, they are a very odd bunch. Maybe I should’ve been punching people all this time… that would be fun if they wouldn’t hit me back.

Solee: I think punching people isn’t actually as fun as they make it look in the movies. Plus… I’m glad you’re not the “punch out your problems” kind of guy. I like my men a little more enlightened.

Mikey: Okay, here’s a thing I kept seeing in this movie, which probably contributes to it seeming seven decades long: every couple of minutes, something would happen that seemed of epic importance. Examples include: the girl we knew to have mental problems (hallucinations were mentioned) kind of spazzing out and dancing crazily, to the point where the other girls stopped and told her she was being weird; the ‘internet snapchat’ thingie seeming to select “now it’s time to kill these girls” in an emoticon sense; the egg artwork pulsing. And others, many others. These things looked really important to the story, but in the end, nothing happened with any of it. What was going on here?! You can’t have a girl dance all crazy and it means nothing (sounds weird, but it was like she had totally lost her mind).

Solee: I think that’s what they were going for. The reaction of a mentally unstable person pushed past her breaking point. Which isn’t really that unusual for horror. BUT I agree that way too many of the set-ups in the movie ended up fizzling out or going unexplained. My biggest take-away from #Horror is that I really hate it when plot is sacrificed for message. They were so concerned about making it deep and meaningful and artsy that they completely failed to make the plot coherent. #FAIL. I’ll take a moralistic movie, but you have to make it a story I actually want to watch, or the moral is going to be lost.

Mikey: If she was pushed past her breaking point, she wouldn’t be happily enjoying their company ten seconds later. Ugh, the randomness.

Solee: The girl I was talking about was Cat, who was pushed past her breaking point when they kicked her out of the house into a snowstorm in the middle of the woods. That’s the point when she started picking them off one by one. Oh. Except that she had killed Sophia’s dad and his bimbo before that, huh? I can’t explain that. Or the fact that Cat’s dad was all “I was watching her the whole time”. WTH? Either that’s a lie or he is complicit in all those murders.

Mikey: I think that was another one of the random things. It left me wondering if he was the one we had seen filming people, not Cat. But who knows. None of it means anything in the end! The girl I meant dancing crazy wasn’t Cat, it was Poor Girl! Cat had different mental problems. Poor Psychic Girl, I guess we found out later. Which also made no sense. I really don’t think anything in this movie makes any sense at all once examined. Perhaps we’re not deep enough.

Solee: I’m honestly okay with that. Just like I’m okay with the fact that I won’t ever understand paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a painting of a hard-boiled egg. I’m just not cultured enough.

Mikey: You’re okay with not being deep - you’re not okay with this movie being completely random though, right? It was a special form of torture.

Solee: Oh, no. I’m totally not okay with this movie. I hated this movie. I don’t even think anyone else should bother to watch it. It’s not even good enough to say people should watch for the sake of understanding what we’re saying or having the experience. It’s just pointless.

Mikey: A warning we should probably place above the spoiler alert instead of way down here, when it might be too late to save someone.

Solee: Good point. I’ll be doing that. Although I think my rating is going to maybe do that as well. I’m giving this movie a 0 out of 5. There is NO reason to watch it. I’d give it negative numbers if they were allowed. What about you?

Mikey: I didn’t even know zeroes were allowed! If that’s on the scale, I’m taking it. ZERO. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen something worse as a piece of entertainment in all my Halloween reviews.

Solee: Agreed. I certainly haven’t. I hope tomorrow’s movie will help cleanse our palates a bit. And speaking of palates… I’m hungry. Let’s have lunch!

Mikey: And that movie will be the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror (Ryan Reynolds again?). Watch with us, won't you?
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Exorcism of Emily Rose07:46 AM -- Fri October 14, 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 Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)
Rated PG-13
IMDB rating: 6.7/10
Metacritic: 46
Rotten Tomatoes: 45% critics, 60% audience
Mikey: 3/5
Solee: 4.5/5
We watched on Starz.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “A lawyer takes on a negligent homicide case involving a priest who performed an exorcism on a young girl.”

Mikey: “I object, your honor! On the basis that it is silly.” That’s not Monty Python, that’s Emily Rose!

Solee: This movie was terrifying in a so many ways… but none of them the typical “ooh! Ghosts are scary” way most horror movies aim for. This shined a big old spotlight on the fact that our country is based on individual beliefs and choice and that sometimes means we’re letting uninformed or mentally incapacitated individuals make faulty decisions about their health.

Mikey: It’s true, and that does happen, but what it made me think of is actually a few cases that have happened in real life recently: where people’s religious beliefs or non-religious adherence to a strict diet, resulted in them letting a child die. In every one I can recall, the people were convicted.

Solee: I really struggle with this. On one hand, I think it’s necessary to protect people from themselves if they are actually incapable of making safe decisions. On the other hand, it’s very easy to cross over into “I don’t like your decisions, so I should make decisions for you” territory. Whether someone is incapable of taking care of themselves is often open to interpretation.

Mikey: It definitely is interpretation. It’s one of those things where people who think you can set strict rules for how the world works and it will all just work out are so wrong. You have to take every case and decide it with good judgment rather than a specific single standard, and even then you can’t always be right.

Solee: In this case, I ended up feeling as though there really wasn’t a case. Normally, I’m on the other side, but Emily Rose was an adult and while she was still capable of functioning normally, she chose religion as her solution. It’s not as if she were a minor whose parents refused to let her get medical treatment, or as if she were being held against her will. Even near the end, she chose to keep suffering so that her story would become known and spread the word of God. I thought the priest was pretty much in the clear. You?

Mikey: I think if what we saw on-screen was really what happened (and this movie didn’t really act like it was unreliable), then he didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t malnourish her or abuse her. However - that’s something I have a little bit of a problem with. This Hollywood drama is actually based on a true story for real (for once), and in the true story, the facts seem very horrifically different. That girl underwent 10 months of exorcisms, and I think (without knowing anything beyond the Wikipedia entry) that that kind of ignorance of actual care most definitely led to her death. That’s horrible, and it’s awful to think that this movie exists to sort of whitewash that. Less awful if you just think of this as an unrelated story, but they did make a point of connecting it.

Solee: I was just looking at some info about the real case and I agree… this movie, while “based” on a true story, probably doesn’t give anything close to the truth of the story. I’m not sure how much of that is because it’s impossible to tell a “true” story, with all the real complexities and contradictions, in movie format and how much of it was because someone had an agenda to peddle and how much of it was because this made for a more saleable flick.

Mikey: That’s one thing I was kind of thinking about towards the end: in the story of this movie, this was definitely a real demon, and all that (as usual in movies). Though it does kind of leave room for the mental illness option, there’s a lot of imagery of real demonic stuff seen by people other than the victim (like the guy who gets bus-bussed by a demon!). So what’s the difference between this mainstream horror movie and a Christian proselytizing movie like God’s Not Dead? Because it’s not just a real demon - there’s a whole element of “let’s tell the world so they know the wonders of God!”

Solee: I’m not sure there is a difference, and that’s honestly what was scariest about it. If we accept that Emily (or Anneliese) believed she was possessed by demons and agreed to how the treatment went, that opens a new question for me. What responsibility (or right!) do we have as a general public in ensuring that children are educated in science and reality? Is it okay to allow children to be indoctrinated within a specific religion’s beliefs to the point that they deny generally accepted science? Today, that is definitely how things are done. But I have an issue with it. Especially since, again, we end up on a very slippery slope between beliefs that give comfort and beliefs that cause problems. I’m sure it’s not something with an easy answer, but I think it’s important to talk about it.

The story was obviously quite thought provoking. Were there other aspects of the movie you thought were noteworthy?

Mikey: Well one comment about the “Christian Movie” angle: did you notice the prosecutor was such a jerk? That kind of screamed propaganda. Somebody being that nasty and snippy at the jury wouldn’t make an effective lawyer at all.

Solee: He was clearly represented as a Christian, though. Maybe an example of what a non-Christian Christian looks like?

Mikey: Well, he was going against God’s Plan in the movie, so he had to be evil. He represented the evils of secularism. But another noteworthy thing I found was that you made me pause the movie about 400 times so you could take a picture for consideration of your drawing later. Does that mean this movie had good cinematography?

Solee: This movie had some very striking images. The house, with all its lines and angles out in the stark gray of winter, and the numerous stained-glass windows caught my eye in particular. There were also many recurring themes I noticed, one of them being the drinks representing the different aspects of the characters. Emily’s mother served tea from a very formal looking set, the lawyer drank martinis when in more secular states of mind, and of course, the water glasses present in the courtroom. I’m not sure if this was an intentional motif, but it stood out to me.

Mikey: That wasn’t water, it was moonshine. But that’s quite an observation! You’re a movie pro, much deeper than me. All I saw was that there was a wild cat attack in this movie just like we’ve had multiple times already this month!

Solee: Indeed. It never doesn’t look like someone throwing a cat.

Mikey: Speaking of animals, I had this other thought when in the barn. All of a sudden, rats started running around, snakes came in from nowhere... oh and a tarantula crawled around. Now think about it: those are just classic symbols of evil, that’s why the movie included them. But you know what they really are? Animals. Perfectly fine, normal animals that don’t want to hurt anybody. If you think about the real ‘magic’ in these scenes, it’s just really weird to imagine these ordinary animals suddenly getting possessed or something (or formed out of nothingness? Were there really 3 snakes in the barn?) and having to … well, just sort of wander around looking scary. Such maligned creatures.

Solee: Yes, snakes are one of the more abused and misrepresented animals in movies. Our human brains are just so programmed to be frightened of them!

The scene in the barn with the conveniently-timed lightning and the overly-dramatic animals really pulled me out of the story. I actually made a note about how unrealistic it all was and how it comes across, not as the story of a possession, but as an extreme exaggeration of what was probably a normal seizure. And probably not all that intentional, at that. I have been in situations where something unexpected or scary happened and it was so quick that I didn’t REALLY know what had happened. My brain immediately started to fill in the blanks with something that would explain how scary it felt.

Mikey: You mean you imagined snakes and spiders because you didn’t know why your brain felt so scared?

Solee: No. But I know I’ve imagined more aggressive tones or body language than really existed in certain situations. And there’s one instance of a car accident happening in front of me: I wasn’t looking in the right spot to see what really happened. One minute I was parked at a stoplight waiting to make a turn and the next minute there was a car sticking out from an electric pole. As far as my brain could tell it appeared out of nowhere. That’s not real, but that’s how it felt. It just APPEARED. I can absolutely see how a more traumatized or fractured brain could create snakes and rats out of shadows or instill horses with demonic strength rather than just normal scared of lightning and shouting people strength.

Mikey: I didn’t feel like there was anything weird about those horses, they were being severely traumatized!

Solee: The door to the stall flew across the room in one piece! Realistically, I believe a scared horse could have broken out of that stall, but the door would be hanging by a hinge or cracked in half or whatever. It was exaggerated to the point of looking silly to me.

Mikey: You object on the basis of silliness.

Solee: YES!

Mikey: I think that is just Hollywood magic. Just like when cars explode in balls of fire when they get shot. But also, what we were watching was the priest’s telling of the story, so there is that element of not knowing what really happened, or how it really felt or looked. I think between that element - the unreliability of memory - and the kind of unreliability of actual senses that you were talking about, we come full circle to where we started: that’s why you can’t have hard and fast rules for everything. Because everything is subjective, and nobody can really ever be sure the exact specifics of any event, even when it’s caught on tape really. There are subtleties, context, angles you missed, so much more. The world is infinitely complex and can’t be boiled down into simple rules.

This movie inspires long diatribes.


Solee: Indeed. There’s a strange paradox in our world right now. It’s become fairly common knowledge that memory is unreliable and susceptible to all kinds of influences. But instead of applying that knowledge to ourselves and recognizing that what we think MIGHT not be true, we instead apply it solely to our understanding of what other people are saying, thinking or feeling. Everyone is becoming deeper and deeper entrenched in their own interpretation of the world and becoming more and more aggressive in their defense of that ONE interpretation.

Mikey: Oh yes, polarization. So, now that we’ve not talked about this movie at all, but have been inspired extensively by it, what is your rating of it?

Solee: Well, I thought the directing showed lots of inspired thinking… the tone of the movie was established well and it felt as though a lot of thought had gone into the more subtle aspects. The acting felt real, if you look past the melodrama inherent in the story. And as stories go, true or not, it was pretty captivating. It was told in a way that kept me unsure what the final verdict would be and left me not entirely sure (in a movie sense) what had happened to Emily Rose. This all leads me to give it high marks. I’m going to go with 4.5 out of 5. I’m not entirely sure why I’m not giving it a 5… but it just didn’t have that extra WOW factor, I guess. What about you?

Mikey: I am surprised from how this conversation started to hear it at the top like that! I agree about the sheer quality of the production - it was a well made movie, and it kept you interested and guessing. But where it falls down for me is the actual plot: I always get angry when a movie is premised on being irrational as the right answer. And right here, we have a movie that is attempting to teach viewers that they should just listen to other people, trust them, and go with it. Don’t think. Thinking is hard!

Solee: Huh. That’s not what I got from it. I think that was presented as an option… but in the end, the jury found the priest guilty. They didn’t buy the “demons are real” argument, in my opinion.

Mikey: But the movie bought it.

Solee: I’m not sure what that means. I don’t feel like we can blame the movie for the hysterical tendencies of humans.

Mikey: From what I saw, this movie was aiming in one direction: that (in the context of the movie) the demons were real, and therefore those who don’t believe are wrong. Which is generally fine - it’s an appropriate horror movie direction. But in this movie, it’s taking a real case of someone who absolutely was not possessed by a demon, and putting the demon filter on it. And presenting this hopeful story of “I hope everybody listens to Emily’s story” (and tells us how her grave became a shrine)... the priest got the most minimal conviction possible (and I think he was innocent, so that’s not my issue), it was a “well, we can’t make it a perfect ending!” moment. I don’t know how to express it except to say that this movie had a point of view, and that point of view was “don’t believe evidence, believe anecdotes”. Which is the opposite of critical thinking.

Solee: I think I see what you mean. I guess I took all that as “this is what SOME people thought” rather than “this is what YOU should think”. Maybe I’m cutting it too much slack. Or I’m just too set in my belief that the demons were not real to comprehend that people could watch this movie and believe she was possessed. I know people did just that… but my rational brain writes them off as wrong. That’s pretty judgemental of me, I know.

Mikey: Don’t worry, I’m the one being judgmental! And I judge this movie, which was well-made and interesting, but not remotely scary in any way, to be a 3 out of 5.

Solee: One last note about level of scary… the scariest thing was how twisted and broken looking Emily Rose got when in the middle of her seizures. I felt pain, not just for her character, but for all the people who suffer from seizures and experience that kind of thing on a regular REAL basis. And for Jennifer Carpenter who played Emily Rose, having to recreate that kind of pose.

Mikey: OH! That is at the heart of my discomfort and anger at this movie: We have a real problem in the world with people applying witchcraft to serious conditions like epilepsy. And this movie (I feel) is saying, sure, go ahead and try magic, it’s probably what they need. I think I would’ve greatly preferred the same movie but ending with some dumb little gimmick where they DNA test her bones or something and find out she definitely had epilepsy. You know, “you guys screwed up and she didn’t have to suffer. BLAMMO!” Blammo is how I end movies.

Solee: That reminds me! I kept thinking about the book I read - The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. The poor little girl in that book had seizures and there was a whole cultural misunderstanding that caused a breakdown in her medical care. There is an unspoken element of worry that her seizures were actually uncontrollable while still allowing for normal function, though. Like, they could stop the seizures, but only by depressing her brain activity to the point of near-catatonia. I feel like maybe there’s an element of that in the Emily Rose story, too, since for much of the story she WAS on medications and they were ineffective.

Mikey: Oh yes, that is so much all the issues we talked about through this whole massive conversation! And in the book and movie, her parents believed in the magical solution, and there was some merit to the parents in the book, right? Every case is special, no hard and fast rules!

Solee: Yes, one of the common threads was that everyone involved cared deeply for the child but they couldn’t properly communicate or understand each other’s perspectives or motivations. Being a human being is HARD.

Mikey: And that potential of a problem so bad that there is just no fix in the real world is what is a never-ending drive for people to turn to magic. If nothing real works, at least we’re going to give this magic a shot. Which is totally fine, if they’re not hurting you with it. But I’m all in favor of rational evidence-based solutions, and it’s just sad that there isn’t always a real solution to everything.

I wonder if anybody will actually read all the way through this massive book we just wrote. The secret code is Panda Bear.


Solee: Haha. Well, I suspect tomorrow’s movie won’t be quite so deep. It’s called #Horror. Any title that includes a hashtag is bound to be ridiculous.

Mikey: It sounds deep to me. #deepthoughts #hashtag

Solee: #ridiculous
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Uninvited06:45 AM -- Thu October 13, 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 Uninvited (2009)
Rated PG-13
IMDB rating: 6.4/10
Metacritic: 43
Rotten Tomatoes: 32% critics, 49% audience
Mikey: 5/5
Solee: 5/5
We watched on Netflix.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “Anna Ivers returns home to her sister Alex after a stint in a mental hospital, though her recovery is jeopardized thanks to her cruel stepmother. Her dismay quickly turns to horror when she is visited by ghastly visions of her dead mother.”

Solee: This movie was a remake of a Korean movie you watched previously. How do you feel about remakes of foreign horror films?

Mikey: Hmm. If I think back to ones I’ve seen, I think they probably haven’t been very impressive. I guess a remake in general is kind of a dumb idea - there are only like 5 different stories in the world, why not call your movie something new and just make it inspired by the one you want to copy? More originality is a good thing.

It looks like I didn’t review this one (A Tale of Two Sisters) previously, which is too bad, but I do vaguely remember seeing it! After checking the IMDB synopsis, it’s pretty similar to this remake, but it sure ends up in a different place.


Solee: I want to jump right to the end, but that would be doing a disservice to everything that leads up to the end. I thought this movie did an excellent job of building up the tension and suspense from the very first scene. My first question is actually about the first scene. It’s considered pretty cliche within writing circles to start with a dream sequence. Do you think they managed to avoid the cliche by having it be her telling the dream to her psychologist? Or did that just make it even MORE cliche?

Mikey: It was clear from how she told it that it was a dream (that whole present tense narration, doesn’t seem to ever mean anything else!), so I feel like it’s avoiding the real problem with that cliche, which is “you just watched all this, thinking it was real stuff, but surprise, none of it counts!” And after all, not only did we know it was a dream, it also does count! It contained lots of useful information about stuff that happened in her past. So I approve it.

Solee: That’s a good point. There are lots of useful bits of information scattered throughout her dream. A lot of it was so heavily foreshadowed that I was able to predict things I maybe shouldn’t have been able to predict.

Mikey: There were so many puzzle pieces in this movie, but I like that they smoothly clicked together unlike the last movie! For the first ⅔ or more, it was all about just collecting the pieces and not knowing where they went. I spent the whole movie generating different theories of where it was all going… were you doing that?

Solee: Yes! And that’s one of the things I liked best about this movie. I spent the whole time making guesses about what might happen. Each guess was more interesting and fun than the previous one AND I still didn’t really figure out exactly what was happening until the very end. I found the mystery aspect of this story exceptionally satisfying. You?

Mikey: Oh yes, this is why I watch movies! I want to play that game. I kept re-writing the ending in my head about every 5 minutes as I watched the movie. That’s a lot different from something like a Schwarzenegger movie where you just want to see what over-the-top method he uses to blow up the final badguy, who you knew was the badguy from the first scene. Which is also fun. But the mystery and puzzle is the most fun for me. I don’t know what else I can even say about the movie, it’s one of those cases where I actually don’t want to spoil it, though I do want to discuss the spoiler-requiring elements.

Solee: I know what you mean. I don’t want to give anything away. I want to tell everyone I know “You just have to watch it!” That’s not something I’ve worried about yet this month… except maybe with The Invitation. Something I always struggle with as I watch movies with an element of suspense or mystery is that I create endings in my head, like you said, but I’m constantly wondering if it’s the movie that’s being clever and leading me to this interesting idea I had or if I’m out-thinking the movie. Often it’s the latter, which leaves me super disappointed at the conclusion.

Mikey: Oh yeah, that recalls something in this movie: the stepmom. The movie took great violent effort to make her a nasty piece of work. So much so that I was certain she was not evil. And that’s like a game of cat-and-mouse you play with the movie: do I choose the villain in front of me, or in front of you? Clearly, I can’t choose the one in front of the movie because the movie would obviously poison it with evil…

Solee: Never start a land war in Asia!

Mikey: It’s almost like a test of whether the movie is good: if she was evil, and they made her so overtly evil, that’s lame. But is that really still true? I mean we’ve learned that lesson over decades of movies, maybe it’s time for the double-double-cross. After all, I knew she wasn’t because they made her seem so.

Solee: This movie waited SO long for the final answer of that question - literally the very last action in the very last scene - that it puts it into the “good” category for me. Even after everything went down and we knew most of what had happened… I STILL wasn’t sure whether the step-mom was evil or not. That was very well done.

Mikey: They twisted back and forth so many times that either answer would be un-lame by that point. I think that’s the answer to how to do it right.

Solee: Almost all of the question and criticism I have in my notes were addressed in the movie in such a way that they were no longer a concern. I am very fond of movies and books that create a whole crazy tangle of loose ends but still manage to weave them all into a tapestry by the end. This is a great example of that. I find that often stories that started in a different culture have more unexpected, and therefore interesting, elements. How much of the uniqueness of the story do you think comes from it being a remake of a Korean film?

Mikey: Yeah, it’s nice to be exposed to those different ideas that the culture you’re already locked into just won’t let you think. Mind-expanding! I can’t really spot anything in here that doesn’t feel like an American movie (other than the style of the ghosts, which is not really a plot element)... but I’m glad they were able to yank a bit of originality from overseas, because Hollywood can have trouble finding that.

Solee: I can’t really put my finger on anything that’s not American, either, but there was a definite newness to it. Maybe the sheer complexity of the plot. American movies are often mind-numbingly predictable. It’s possible that the majority of foreign films are the same. They only translate and remake the really good ones.

Mikey: 90% of everything is crap!

Solee: True dat. You mentioned the ghosts. That’s my favorite things about horror from other countries. Their ideas of scary are so different from what we’ve been raised on that I occasionally come across something that’s actually scary! Ghosts from Asian cultures, for example, are SUPER creepy to me. I’ve always wondered why our ghosts float and come at us from above while theirs are slithery and come from below. That would make an interesting cultural study: ghosts from different cultures and why they are considered “scary”.

Mikey: That is a deep thought. I wanna do something special now if you are cool with it… how about we rate the movie, and then make a big dividing line for serious spoiler talk? Folks, you shouldn’t be reading this if you haven’t watched the movie!

Solee: Ok. I think I’ve seen enough movies to feel comfortable giving this one a 5 out of 5. I was trying not to do that too early… I didn’t want to set the 5 star bar too low and not have anywhere else to go, but this is by far the best one we’ve seen so far.

Mikey: The big fiver! I want to go lower for some headroom, but I think you’re right. Let’s give it the big 5. You can’t just hold that thing forever. This was a big mystery that paced it out exactly right. Excellent.

==== MEGA-SPOILERS BELOW. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE. IT WILL BE RUINED FOR REALSIES. ====

Mikey: Okay, you know what was cool? When I said “she was totally sixth-sensing these people the whole time!” and then they revealed that I was super-smart, and they even did the Sixth Sense flashbacks to demonstrate all the ways she had been not interacting with people. I had noticed some, but others were cool. It’s really exactly like The Sixth Sense, where the scenes work as shown, but on second viewing you realize they make just as much sense if she isn’t there. So cool.

Solee: Yep. That was super cool. It was subtle enough that I didn’t notice it until you mentioned it. Then, thinking back, there was a “Whoa!” moment.

I was proud of myself for nailing the watering can importance right away. I’m a little concerned that was because it was too obvious, though.

Mikey: What’s cool is that these things were only a part of the sum total explanation of what went down. The Sixth Sense was just that one trick. In this movie, that’s one element of what is really going on. And yet it all makes sense and is actually not overly complex or unreasonably unlikely in the end, either.

Solee: My absolute favorite scene was when Matt showed up in her bedroom, looking all normal, but gradually making it clear that all was not well with him. I thought it was well done, pacing-wise, and also it came across as super romantic. Not so much later, when you knew what had really happened, but still…

Mikey: That’s Bad Romance. That scene was kind of a pivot because for him to have come to her as a ghost, telling her how he died, we now have one of three possible outcomes: she’s psychic, there really are ghosts, or she killed him. In the end, there is nothing paranormal in the movie at all. She just be cray cray.

Solee: And yet, I still feel sympathetic toward her. She didn’t seem actually EVIL. Just broken in her brain. Am I being too forgiving?

Mikey: It’s good that it’s not just Ryan Reynolds the serial killer who gets this sympathy. Just like The Voices, it’s really the movie’s fault - they portray her in a completely positive light. Although in this one, I kinda feel like the very end shifts that a little and goes “oh no, she was happy to kill…” when she’s cutting up the pictures.

Solee: Question: Did you catch the comment by the psychiatrist in the beginning? When he said, “finish what you started”? Because that was a huge red flag for me. I liked that it wrapped around to the start again.

Mikey: I don’t think I really paid attention to it. He was about as effective a psychiatrist as the one in The Voices too.

Solee: Horror movies don’t tend to show mental health professionals in the best light… but if they were doing their jobs correctly, the movies would be way less entertaining.

Mikey: Yeah, “I feel better now, doc! I’ll keep taking these meds.” “Great, have fun!” The end.

Solee: One problem I had was with the age of Anna. She was 14ish… but she was so compliant with this step-mother she hated. I didn’t find that very believable, but it was kind of necessary to contrast with how Alex acted. It made me think she was a lot younger than she was, though. Which got creepy when she was making out with the grocery boy.

Mikey: Her stepmom didn’t seem to like that either. I don’t know, I feel like she was going along with things, surviving as best she could. What a horrible situation to be in, even sane.

Solee: Maybe. Sometimes it felt manipulative instead of getting along to get along. But that ties into that last little smile, doesn’t it? Yep. This was a GOOD movie.

Mikey: That makes sense. She would certainly try to keep things cool if she had dastardly plans (buried somewhere in the back of her head). Also if she had the imaginary sister as an outlet for her anger.

Solee: Oh, valid point!

Mikey: Pretty smart stuff all around. These writers should write other stuff. Hmm, checking IMDB I see some others he wrote we could watch...

Solee: Yes. I would watch more movies by these writers/directors. I was pleased with the acting, as well. I didn’t notice anything crazy about the soundtrack or videography, which is generally a good sign. All around, it was solid.

Mikey: Yeah, five stars earned fair and square.

Solee: That just means I’m going to be that much more disappointed tomorrow… with whatever we decide to watch.

Mikey: And that will be The Exorcism of Emily Rose, so be sure to join us.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Sympathy, Said The Shark06:51 PM -- Wed October 12, 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.

Sympathy, Said The Shark (2015)
Not Rated
IMDB rating: 6.8/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A% critics, N/A% audience
Mikey: 2/5
Solee: 2/5
We watched on Hulu.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “A young couple reluctantly answers their door during a rainstorm and in rushes a soaked, bloodied, and estranged friend who insists that someone is trying to kill him. This triggers a non-stop night that forces all three of them to confront their own darkest secrets as well as an even larger threat that comes knocking.”

Mikey: Well, it was bound to happen - I picked something labeled “Thriller” and it was not horror. I’m not surprised at all. I was very concerned that it might be, but I went with it for two reasons: I couldn’t resist the title, and there was an IMDB review that said “I would recommend this movie to anybody who likes spooky movies”. I don’t know why they said that! How did you feel about the title?

Solee: It’s a great title. It is vague and weird but there’s a depth of meaning possible with it. Great title. I’m not sure I completely understand how it relates to the movie just yet… but I think it works.

I think we should talk a second about the difference between horror and thriller. We discussed it before starting the movie, but I don’t feel like we really settled on anything. Is it like pornography: you know it when you see it?

Mikey: I was having a hard time with that question before the movie too. I mean, by the end of this movie we both agreed it was not horror, on the spot. Very easy to tell. It’s easy to know something is horror if it has ghosts or zombies. But if it’s just people, there’s a real fine line there.

Solee: Like Kill List or The Invitation… they both fit the horror genre. Well, Kill List, obviously. But The Invitation could have easily ended up just a thriller, but they managed to tip it into horror. What’s the difference between that and Sympathy, Said the Shark?

Mikey: I actually think The Invitation crossed the line very late - right when the murdering started. Now, there’s definitely murdering in thrillers, lots of it. But … man, it’s hard to say. I was gonna say someone stalking and killing a bunch of people in a locked room, but you could so have that in something like Seven or those kind of serial killer thrillers. I guess it really is how it’s presented, the feel. Jump scares? But you don’t need jump scares, there weren’t any in The Invitation. It’s music, camera technique… it’s the intent of the director, conveyed via cultural cues we all recognize.

Solee: Woah. That’s a pretty collegiate answer! :) I think you’re right, though. There’s a lot of elements that go into establishing genre beyond the acting and screenwriting. Is Se7en (ha! Did that just to drive you crazy!) not a horror film?

Mikey: I graduated collegium! Ugh, numbers for letters. SeVen is … I’m gonna look at IMDB. Argh, they list it as Se7en.

Solee: HAHAHA!

Mikey: Which is pronounced “Sezen” by the way.

Solee: Agreed.

Mikey: It’s “Crime, Drama, Mystery”. Which is true, it’s not horror. It has these horrific scenes like the bloated body at the table and stuff, yet it’s not horror. Definitely closing in on that line for sure. But it’s funny because Saw and SeVen are practically matching in terms of style and visuals, and in terms of ‘crazy guy doing weird plots that only make sense to the crazy’. Yet Saw is horror.

Solee: Oh. I think I was thinking of Saw. Definitely horror. How much of that is in the eye of the beholder, too? Like comedy.

Mikey: I think it comes down to the previous answer: it’s intent. If the people selling the film declare it a comedy, it is. It may be a terrible unfunny comedy, and they’ll pay the price for picking the wrong genre, since people will be disappointed in not getting what they hoped for. It’s amazing how deeply embedded our culture is in our brains. Side fun: I heard that when they first introduced the idea of cuts in movies way way back when, they were afraid to do it because they thought people wouldn’t understand what was happening, since in real life nothing ever jumps from one scene to another. But people did. So not that fun of an aside.

Solee: That’s dumb of them. Books have had cuts forever. Movie people are silly. Although, I’ve had some personal experiences over the last few years that show you can never overestimate the cluelessness of some people.

Mikey: Ain’t that the truth. Let me grab this discussion about cuts to segue into something different: the actual MOVIE WE WATCHED. If they thought people couldn’t handle cuts, how about cutting between different first-person perspectives?

Solee: I still can’t decide if I love that or hate it. It’s either exceptionally clever and an excellent tool for telling a complicated story with lots of secrets… or it’s super lazy writing. I want it to be the former, but I’m afraid it might be the latter.

Mikey: I don’t think it’s lazy. They had to work really hard to construct the narrative around this gimmick. But I do think it’s a gimmick. It got in the way of the story some, and every time they did something goofy with it, I was really taken out of the movie: we had the guy’s vision turn red when he got mad, the girl’s vision turned blurry when she cried, and the most silly was the blood running down the lens when our POV died at one point.

Solee: Yeah… it was pretty cheesy at those points. But it was also cleverly woven together to give us the story the person WANTED us to hear and then give us the REAL story. I thought that was interesting. I guess, I felt it was almost too easy to do that with this head-hopping POV. I think it worked in the movie’s favor for me overall, though. You had to watch very closely so you didn’t miss something.

Mikey: Yes, it was almost real-time, so if you missed the little moments of someone doing something sneaky, you missed a key plot point. I did feel like - I don’t know if this is a real thing, or just how actors look when you view them from somebody’s face - but it felt like a stage play, kind of stilted weird acting, when they were trying to interact with a camera for a head. I’m sure the real actors were there, with like Go-Pros on their heads or something, so I don’t know why the actors would’ve had a hard time with it.

Solee: I think it does cause the blocking to look different than we’re used to. It should have looked more like real life. You know how TV families only ever use 3 sides of their dining room table? This would eliminate the need for that. But it stands out because it’s not what we’re used to seeing on screen.

Mikey: It’s those deeply embedded cultural ideas again. BOOM FULL CIRCLE.

Solee: Nicely done! I noted that each POV had a different visual style to make them easy to tell apart. Laura looked mostly normal, like the 3rd person POV they threw in occasionally. Church’s view used a gray filter and Justin used a brown filter. I was trying to think of what meaning those choices carried, but I’ve got nothing.

Mikey: Justin’s vision was practically black and white… I kept thinking it was going to mean something. Hey, 8% of men are colorblind, so maybe he was.

Solee: I was expecting something deeper than that… but given the “on the nose” aspect of the blurred screen for tears and red filter for anger, it could be that simple.

Mikey: Speaking of that simple, I felt like the writing was really bad in this movie. Like a complex plot and all, but the dialogue… here’s where I wish Kevin Smith would’ve shown up, because this dialogue was so expositiony and unnatural to me.

Solee: It was almost as though it were being ad libbed, but by people who weren’t very good at being creative. Everything was very cliche in terms of their reactions to things. They didn’t really feel real to me, not like the people in Kill List or The Invitation. Dialogue was more along the lines of No Tell Motel!

Mikey: That’s not the company you want to keep! Maybe it was ad libbed… one thing they did really well was to match up the multiple versions of each scene, to the point where I was starting to wonder if it was all one scene, and they had the cameras on the whole time, somehow hidden or green-screened out. It was weird!

Solee: I didn’t go that far, but I did notice how nicely things dovetailed between POVs. I also noticed that conveniently shiny belt! It was one of several props that felt super forced. The mirror was another. That bothered me.

Mikey: There were moments to me that felt like magic tricks. They were just showing off ideas they had about what you could do with first-person cameras. Like when Laura went into the bathroom - at first she never looked at her own face in the mirror, and I was thinking “oh yeah, she can’t look up or we’d see the camera!”, and then she very deliberately did look at her face, which was probably a green-screen effect.

Solee: And what was up with them walking into rooms, completely closing the door to make the room PITCH black before turning on the lights? Who does that? NOBODY, that’s who. You always reach in and turn on the light in a dark room before or as you enter.

Mikey: I kept noticing the pitch black, but I didn’t think about that. I wonder if that was their moment to make cuts.

Solee: For sure. But they made it too clunky and obvious to be clever. Can we talk about the love triangle for a second? I get that it was part of the secrecy among the characters and it added to the story UNTIL it got super overly melodramatic. Then it just felt ridiculous to me.

Mikey: I have trouble seeing her particularly wanting to hang around a junkie like Church… but the whole pile of secrets and lies was kind of like that. Weird and seemingly random, not really a believable scenario.

Solee: The flashback to Laura and Church in the bar actually felt like one of the more realistic scenes in the movie. BUT. The Laura at the bar was a totally different person than the Laura in the rest of the movie. Rest of the Movie Laura wouldn’t have been so easy and happy with Church. She was the kind of person who got all wrapped up with cops who say things like “You can’t force someone to get clean.”

Mikey: Yeah, the overly villainous villains. But apparently she was actually a mob boss herself… I guess (spoilers!).

Solee: Or something. I’m not sure if they did a crappy job of explaining that part of the story or if I was SO BORED by that point that I wasn’t paying close enough attention. Seriously, I’ve never been so specifically disinterested in the climax of a movie before. I liked everything right up to when the cops showed up the second time. Then I was just waiting for it to end.

Mikey: I was interested, because there were puzzle pieces all around to find and try to fit together. Unfortunately, I feel like by the end that the pieces were just kind of similar rather than matching and they had jammed them together and bent them all up.

Solee: Great analogy. Yes. It felt forced.

Mikey: Well, talking to you is making me like this movie less as we go, and I wasn’t a huge fan to begin with! Is it time for ratings?

Solee: I guess. Wait. One more thing that bugged me…

Church had a huge, ugly wound in his abdomen (which Laura did a crap job of cleaning, btw) and then Laura had a nasty knife wound on her neck (which seemed to disappear). They both made a big show of how much it hurt while the wound was on-screen, but then they both completely ignored their injuries for the rest of the movie. Not a wince or limp or whimper out of them. I blame the director. Did that bother you at all?

Mikey: Well, Laura had an excuse - her wound magically vanished for no reason. I did spot Church one time talking while he had one hand resting on his injury. I thought that was a nice realistic touch at the time actually, but overall, yes, they totally ignored his hugely painful wound. Do people snort tylenol for real? How does that do anything but make you hurt less?

Solee: No idea. Sounds like it would be uncomfortable. But I don’t even like when water goes up my nose.

Mikey: I once snorted Kool-Aid mix. It was really unpleasant.

Solee: WHA? WHY would you do that?

Mikey: Sisters, of course. They may have forced me. I was a tortured soul.

Solee: Yikes. I’m glad I was the oldest. I wonder if I ever convinced any of my siblings to snort Kool-Aid. I suspect not, since Kool-Aid wasn’t a thing we had at our house. Powdered lemonade, maybe. Ready to rate?

Mikey: Okay but now that you mention it, it was probably Country Time after all.

Solee: Of COURSE. That’s the only powdered lemonade worth drinking! It was either that or Tang in those days. :)

Mikey: I didn’t drink it :(. I will say that I am glad I watched this movie. It was an interesting experiment, and fun to see how the first-person mishmash played out. But it was a pretty dumb story, delivered pretty badly. So all in all, I’m going to give it a 2 out of 5.

Solee: I’d be interested in seeing a better director use the 1st person POV. I wonder if it’s just inherently flawed, or if the right skilled someone could make it work.

I want to give it a lower score just because the ending was sooo boring, but I did appreciate the first half of the movie, so I guess I will also give it a 2 out of 5. But I’m being generous.

Mikey: Oh, and I kept thinking Justin was Nathan Fillion, or that he should’ve been. I’m glad we are in rating agreement, it helps soothe my burning nose.

Solee: We need to go deep into real horror for the next one though, because this was NOT a horror movie. I look forward to seeing what horrific nastiness you come up with.

Mikey: Me too me too! Coming up tomorrow, we shall be viewing The Uninvited.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: No Tell Motel07:38 AM -- Tue October 11, 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.

No Tell Motel (2012)
Not Rated
IMDB rating: 3.4/10
Metacritic: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A% critics, 11% audience
Mikey: 3.5/5
Solee: 4/5
We watched on Hulu.


An original work by Solange!
IMDB’s description: “Dirty little secrets are exposed when five friends become stranded at an abandoned motel haunted by a dark secret of its own.”

Mikey: Ah yeah, now this is what I came into October to see! Garbage! You love it?

Solee: I love to hate it! This is my favorite facet of the horror genre (second favorite? I really like horror-comedy) with its ridiculously stupid teenagers and its very simple, yet not completely boring storyline. I spend a lot of time shouting at the screen during movies like this, which is a lot of fun.

It started with a very old-timey, almost Charlie Chaplin-looking flashback. What did you think of that? Did it have the effect the director was going for?

Mikey: I don’t think the director was sober enough to know what he was going for. But I found it hilarious - we got this full-on sepiatone image, with fake film scratches over it, to show us a scene from like 1995 or something. Maybe the director is a tween (explains a lot) who doesn’t realize we had color in the 90’s.

Solee: I think it was supposed to be late 70s.

Mikey: Ha, if that’s true, it’s HILARIOUSER.

Solee: Hey… the 70’s were a LOOONG time ago!

Mikey: No. On that note, this is a topic people discuss pretty often, but I really noticed it in this movie: it’s interesting how modern technology has changed movies. No real phone calls going on in this movie (not sure why not, now that I think about it…), but of course everybody is carrying a cell phone, and they all used them as flashlights. That’s the modern truth: all people are equipped at all times with a flashlight, camera, and phone. Changes plots a whole lot.

Solee: Gone are the days where the writer could completely isolate characters with a single flat tire. Now it has to happen somewhere with no cell reception or they just call AAA and all is well.

The first scene in this movie includes one of my all-time favorite movie tropes: the large vehicle that appears out of nowhere to hit the character we’re very zoomed in on. Do you love that as much as I do? Or am I just a sick individual?

Mikey: I’m always disappointed when it’s not a bus. It’s so telegraphed every time. It’s always like “why is that person going into the middle of the street and then turning to wave to their friend?” I don’t do that. I also watch the street I’m on if I’m in one. I feel like that’s a bit of common sense human beings in real life have. I actually do not know my real opinion on this trope because I so strongly enjoy it ironically I can’t figure out if I hate it or like it.

Solee: Ah, well, ironic love is love, too! The other thing that strikes me right off the bat is how absolutely horrible and stilted the dialogue and acting are. I always wonder if it’s done that way on purpose or if the people making this film truly think they sound realistic.

Mikey: I think there’s just a lot of really bad movies out there, and you don’t know about them until you start looking for horror movies. For some reason, super cheap horror is this thing that all streaming services (and in those 90’s we mentioned, video stores) stock up on. They don’t do that with other kinds of movies, except maybe action/sci-fi movies a little bit, but not to nearly the extent.

P.S. “He died in a most unattractive manner.”


Solee: Hahahaha! There were so many terrible lines. I mean, who says stuff like, “You drove over my best friend. We had to drag her body into a ditch.” NO. You did NOT have to drag your friend into a ditch. You CHOSE to do that because you were too lazy to bring her into the building.

Mikey: Well, teenagers. Speaking of them, two things: The druggie, Captain Football as you kept calling him, first of all dropped his pills in a black, moldy, nasty toilet, and shoveled them back into the pill container, in what is the most horrifying scene in this or any other movie. Then second of all, he was the worst actor! He did not know how to act drugged up!

Solee: Oh, Captain Football. I have so many notes about him. He was the WORST. Well, actually they were all the worst, but he was so, so bad. Watching him scoop his pills out of the black toilet slime was… *shudder*... I can’t even.

Mikey: yeah, they were collectively The Worst.

Solee: I didn’t even bother to learn their names. There was Girl Next Door (GND), Lip Ring, Captain Football, Brown-haired Girl, Football’s Brother. Oh… and Bad Driver, who showed up later.

Mikey: Well, Bad Driver had nothing on whichever kid was driving the RV, who managed to roll it over on a straightaway. Note: I can’t tell the male characters apart unless they’re hopped up on drugs.

Solee: I think Cpt. Football was driving the RV. He was pretty strung out after losing his pills to the Creature in the Black Toilet. So strung out that he ended up taking one of those pills when they settled in No Tell Motel.

Mikey: What a name. I mean really. They… there’s just not even close to a reason for it. It’s like Shadow Puppets - “our movie involves shadows, I’ve heard the phrase 'shadow puppets' before, sound good?” and “Hey, it’s a motel. How about no tell motel?”

Solee: I thought it was because they had all those secrets they were keeping from each other. The hit-and-run, the pregnancy, the drug and alcohol addictions, the suicide attempts. This group was a happy little ball of secretive sunshine.

Mikey: Oh, that’s so deep! I had no idea this movie was over my head. Speaking of their secrets… this movie has a classic trope in it: the ghost that makes you die in a manner befitting your own personal issues. That almost was an interesting part of the plot (each person died in a way relating to the ghost’s history, giving us a piece of the story, but also it happened to be their own personal dark secret as well), except that it hinged on the absolutely nonsense idea that this group of kids happened to all match a specific part of the ghost’s story, and they all decided to come here together. And better yet, this has happened multiple times before!

Solee: Well, that speaks to the idea - which I think many horror writers believe to be true - that every group of friends has a specific set of people. The jock, the class clown, the nice girl, the mean girl, the rebel, etc. Your circle of friends isn’t complete until you catch ‘em all.

Mikey: The funny thing about that trope is that it always (well, not really this time, but usually) includes both the nerd and the jock. As if that’s a standard pairing in real life. There was one movie I saw… oh it was Monster Squad, for BHE last year, where it was a group of nerds who hung out in a treehouse, and for some reason there was this total stoner/jock/bully/leather-jacket kid who was practically desperate to join their group. I think he was concerned about their diversity quotient.

Solee: I remember that movie. I couldn’t wrap my head around that guy. Just like I can’t figure out why Lip Ring was hanging around with this group of very white-bread kids. She clearly didn’t like them and there didn’t seem to be a family connection. Strange.

Mikey: Yeah, she didn’t seem to like them much.

Solee: So what did you think of the directors decision to have the electric lights glow whenever there was a “ghost” scene showing the kids what happened at the motel?

Mikey: You know what, I liked that just fine. I think it was cool. What was uncool about that was how unghostly the ghost scenes were. The ghosts were just people, they didn’t even bother to pull out their great sepia-tone technology from back in the 70’s to spice it up.

Solee: Yeah, it could have been better. And by better, I mean cheesier! I liked how the flashback scenes were all glowing electric lights and the scene where GND gets caught by the bad guy and strapped to the table is illuminated to roughly the same warm glow, but by candles instead of ghostly lights. I thought that was actually kind of clever.

Mikey: Classy, I didn’t notice. Speaking of GREAT things in this movie, I want to make sure to mention a couple things from my notes that were the best. My favorite moment in the entire movie is when Captain Football says he’s going to go find a ladder or some stairs (because Lip Ring Girl has fallen through the floor into a lower level), and he then proceeds into the room next door and frantically opens every drawer, in the hopes of finding stairs inside.

Solee: “I need some stairs. Surely there is a set in this drawer!” That was awesome.

Mikey: Didn’t you end up with multiple pages of notes like that? My other favorite was the attack of the evil rocking horse. It was so awesome. Also awesome was when Lip Ring Girl was looking around the room and the movie tried to jump-scare us (loud music sting, she gasps) when she first sees the rocking horse- completely unmoving, just a rocking horse sitting in a room full of toys. Terrifying. But the best was when it actually attacked.

Solee: Rocking horses are scary, yo.

I did end up with pages of notes (and almost no questions!) because everything that happened was so ridiculous I had to write it down. There were a couple of more serious problems I had with the storyline, though. One was largely factual… the ghost lady gave birth to a baby after being strapped down on a table for at least 40 weeks.

Mikey: A hard wooden butcher block table, with no pillow like the GND was provided with when she got strapped down!

Solee: Yet, her pregnancy and birth appear to be perfectly normal and healthy. She shows no signs of atrophy or starvation or anything. In fact, she says, “Thank you for giving me a second chance!” to the guy who strapped her down and raped her. What?

Mikey: Well, Stockholm Syndrome is your favorite syndrome, so you should appreciate it. Or is Munchausen by Proxy your favorite?

Solee: Munchausen by Proxy! That’s the BEST plot device. I am generally fond of Stockholm Syndrome in stories, too, but I wasn’t buying it this time. Stockholm Syndrome doesn’t keep your muscles healthy after 10 months of inactivity.

Mikey: Surely morphine does, which this motel contained by the gallon. That is one thing - I thought this movie was on the verge of having a good story. Maybe not the verge, but the verge of the verge. Like, well, here’s the thing: the ghost in this movie was more interesting and understandable than the one in The Dead Room. I do like to get backstory!

Solee: Yes, except that the mother’s actions prior to her daughter getting bus-bussed, which we clearly see in all their sepia-toned glory, totally counteract the idea that she was so devastated at her death that she wanted to die. She completely ignored that girl in favor of her book and her iced tea!

Mikey: Sounds like you actually. But she did collapse in tears when the kid got thwacked. So maybe you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.

Solee: Haha. Maybe.

The other thing that really bothered me, although it ended up not becoming as much of a problem as I thought it might, was the Football’s Brother, the alcoholic rapist and baby-daddy. I was legitimately scared that he was going to get to redeem himself by saving GND’s life. That would have COMPLETELY ruined this movie for me.

Mikey: Yeah, but I think that’s another example of how there’s some good writing hidden underneath things here (good plotting maybe? The actual words that came out of their mouths were atrocious). Because it seemed like he was going for redemption, but instead got a big fat comeuppance. Although that made the GND pretty evil, but anyhooo.

Solee: I feel like they all pretty much got what they deserved. There wasn’t a one in the bunch that I would have saved… except for Lip Ring. I liked her. I predicted early on that she’d be the only one to survive. Too bad I was wrong about that.

Mikey: She did not last long. I only have one other note in my notes. Oh two: first of all, I would’ve slept in the sideways RV rather than that motel. How gross. I guess it’s Legend of Hell House all over again, only this time we can clearly see the maid has not been in.

Solee: This made Hell House look downright cozy.

Mikey: Secondly, why on earth did the ghost girl float up off the ground at GND, and then float back down and start walking? Totally random pointless moment. Not a very interesting comment, I know, but it was silly.

Solee: It WAS silly. I thought maybe she was protecting her… but… OH. She wasn’t protecting her at all! She was CHOOSING her. Because I THINK that girl was supposed to enter into GND’s baby and be reborn or something. It didn’t work out that way, but that was the ghost’s endgame.

Mikey: Well, she didn’t need to float to do it. Disappointed.

Solee: Yeah. There were definitely some missteps in this movie. But I think I’m still going to rate it well. Overall, it was quite enjoyable to watch. Maybe not scary, but entertaining. I think a lot of people would love to hate this movie. I’m going to give it a 4 out of 5. What about you?

Mikey: Whoa! I did not see that coming! It’s always tricky to rate movies that are so bad they’re good, but it’s also one of the main goals of October to find them. I had a lot of fun here too. Make no mistake, this movie is horrible. But I will rate it 3.5 out of 5 for how fun the horribleness was… or should I say the horror?

Solee: Horrorbleness?

Mikey: I’m Bob Loblaw and I approve the horrorbleness of this movie.

Solee: Ha! I hope we find a few more of these ridiculously bad gems during the month.

Mikey: This is a special treat for me, I had no idea you would be open to the horror of watching horrorble horror. I can probably rack up a dozen of these easy! I thought you only wanted classy stuff.

Solee: There’s a VERY thin orange line between horrorbly silly and just plain horrible.

Mikey: Yes, that will be tricky, because I have no problem sitting through horrible. It’s all fun. Tomorrow we have a movie with an amazing title: Sympathy, Said The Shark.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Kill List01:33 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?
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Legend of Hell House10:46 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 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.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Voices06:25 PM -- Sat October 8, 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.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Holidays08:52 AM -- 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.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Witch08:04 AM -- 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.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: [REC]12:54 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.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Invitation08:23 AM -- 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.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Shadow Puppets07:00 AM -- 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.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Dead Room12:16 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.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension10:26 AM -- 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.
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