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Belittling Horror Excessively: The 2016 Wrap-Up Part 308:59 AM -- Thu November 3, 2016

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

TWISTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Wait. You DIDN’T do that???

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

Solee: And weird mutant creature combinations?

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

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

Mikey: The gears are already turning...

ARTWORK

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Solee: Except the mini Butterfingers. Those are mine.

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

Solee: Better than a leprechaun!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The 2016 Wrap-Up Part 208:57 AM -- Wed November 2, 2016

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

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

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

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

Solee: With age comes wisdom…

Mikey: Wisdom is laaaame pbblblblltltbbtltt.

SCARY STUFF

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

THE CHARACTERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 3!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The 2016 Wrap-Up Part 107:59 AM -- Tue November 1, 2016

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


PART I

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

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

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

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

Solee: And when you add in drawing the picture…

THE STATISTICS

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

THE RATINGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Solee: Sooooooooo bad.

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

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

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

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

Mikey: And one case of Sir Patrick Stewart.

That's the end of PART I. Come back tomorrow to continue the tale of the movies we watched... hey, it's interesting to me at least!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: 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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Belittling Horror Excessively: App06:14 AM -- Sat October 31, 2015

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

App

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 2/5 AI Spines.

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

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

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

Blood Glacier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let Us Prey

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 3.5/5 Val Kilmerlessnesses.

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

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

Dark Summer

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

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

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

My Rating: 3.5/5 Ankle Monitors.

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

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Proxy07:07 AM -- Tue October 27, 2015

Proxy

My Review: I kind of doubt this movie really counts as horror at all. It’s definitely full of seriously nutso people though. The horror is that everybody might be as crazy as every character in this movie is.

The movie begins with a woman getting a sonogram near the very end of her pregnancy. Shortly after, she’s mugged and beaten, and loses the baby. When she goes to support group meetings for the trauma afterwards, she meets up with another woman who has lost her own son and husband. Then later she catches that same woman in a shopping mall screaming that her son is missing, and follows her to find that she had her son in her car, which she brings in to show the guard like “oh okay, I found him outside”. So she does have a son, and she likes to pretend she has one issue or another to get attention.

From there, things continue to spiral further out of control in crazy crazy ways. She looks into this woman, finds out she has a husband too, she gets obsessed with the woman, and... well, I feel like I wouldn’t want to spoil any of it, which is probably a good sign for the movie. But it’s not really that great of a movie, it’s just such a nutty plot that my jaw was just dropped the whole thing going “is this what is really going on here?” There are lots of twists and surprises, but I’m not sure any of them qualify as clever, just more out of left field than anything. All in all, the story ties up neatly with a lot of coincidence. It doesn’t make any sense, but not because of broken logic, just because there’s no way that many totally insane people could be living seemingly normal lives and come across each other.

The worst thing about the movie is the extreme slowness of the beginning half. I mean that in two ways: the traditional “long slow shots and not much movement in the plot” sense, but also holy burritos is there slow motion in this movie. At one point, the woman is in a bathtub being morose (which kind of shows you how the plot is slow, huh?), and we watch one of those 1000fps shots like on Mythbusters, of a drip coming from the faucet and falling down and splashing on the water. It’s cool to see in the Mythbusters sense, but I’m trying to watch a movie. This does not add to the plot. Then later, the pivotal scene in the movie where everything goes off the rails (a shotgun is involved) is entirely in slow motion. It’s probably 3 minutes long of slowly cocking the shotgun, firing a blast, guts flying everywhere, people screaming, water splashing, and wait we’re not done, more screaming, actual words being shouted in slow motion, cock the gun again, carefully position it, consider what you’re doing, and then another blast, more guts flying... it’s so brutally ludicrous that it looks like something from a parody movie. It was almost funny, but just whoa.

So yeah, it’s all very overly-affected, melodramatic and super-depressing. But wow, it was interesting too. It’s akin to a lot of 90’s movies, like Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, movies where there are a bunch of characters whose lives intersect in overly-coincidental ways and it all leads to a big mess.

My Rating: 3/5 Hoodies.

My Movie Idea: Watching this movie actually made me think of an old idea I had. This is a truly horrible concept, so maybe turn away now. Anyway, my movie is the story of a woman who gets pregnant as often as she can, has the baby, and then moves to a new town where nobody knows her and starts again. Where does the child go? Well, that’s the horrible part. The woman is a very unique sort of cannibal - she has children in order to eat them. Obviously that’s not all she eats or she’d die, but that’s her disgusting obsession. As to what the plot is for this movie, I couldn’t tell you, but it would obviously involve somebody discovering what she’s up to and trying to get evidence and save her latest child before it’s too late. Hard to rescue a baby that’s inside someone though, so it all hinges on a climactic sequence right after she gives birth. Probably like Proxy, it would rely on a lot of coincidence, like this is a person who also moved to the same new town from the woman’s old town, so they recognize her and wonder what’s going on.

I apologize.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Lazarus Effect08:43 AM -- Mon October 26, 2015

The Lazarus Effect

My Review: It’s a Frankenstein movie! But not a very good one. There’s more than a little hint of Lucy in this movie (the movie where Scarlett Johanssen gradually gets an increasing percentage of her brain activated and gains psychic powers), including the same silly “we use 10% of our brains” premise.

Oh, so the plot: these scientists are working on a drug that you can inject (along with a jolt of electricity, of course) to reanimate a corpse. They say it’s to give doctors more time to work on somebody before it’s too late, but for some reason they are testing it with days-dead animals instead of killing something and using it immediately, which makes so much more sense, both in general and for the purpose they claim. So of course they manage to bring a dog back to life, and it acts weird and vicious. Then they end up in a situation where one of them dies while they’re in the lab, so they bring her back. She becomes very evil, and starts killing them all with psychic powers, without the slightest indication of what her goal is in doing so, it’s just to be evil.

The ending of this movie (semi-spoilerish?) is an extreme letdown. It’s almost like the story had just barely gotten started. We’ve seen one little encounter with the main characters, but it’s left completely wide open as to what will happen from there. And worse than the open-ended nature of it is the fact that it’s preceded by a climax in which we have a hero figuring stuff out and defeating the evil, and that just gets undone instantly, so it just feels like we completely wasted our time watching it. It’s equivalent to “it was all a dream” which is never fair to the audience. It was really the ending that tanked this movie for me, although at no point was it ever really a good movie. Pretty lame all around. They had some ideas that could’ve gone somewhere, but they did absolutely nothing with them. And didn’t explain anything. At all. It’s truly like it was all just for the action and shock value, there was no story being told to us at all.

My Rating: 1/5 Electronic Cigarettes.

My Movie Idea: Man, I totally had an idea while watching this and forgot it since then. I wish I had written it down. Well, you could do this movie in a non-terrible way: Start with the same situation, inventing the drug, testing it on an animal, then being forced into using it to resurrect a person because it’s not like it can make them any worse. But from there, we slow things waaay down. Instead of her going on a rampage immediately, she gets checked out, she gets to go home, the whole lab is under all kinds of investigation and they are working very hard to hide the fact that they raised her, as she begins to experience weird symptoms. Mental lapses, tremors. She can’t get any treatment due to the secret cause of the illness.

Then she starts discovering bad things happening during blackouts. She is in her kitchen, chopping some onions, she blinks, and then the wall has words carved into it with the knife stabbed into the end (I don’t know what words, they’d be important though). Also her fridge is open and all the contents have been thrown on the floor. She has knowledge she shouldn’t have, but she can’t remember it, it’s only there during her lapses.

In the end, there’s so many ways this could go. She could be the goodguy or the badguy, there could be entities from “the other side” that only she can see and fight, she could be totally innocent but a psychotic murderer during blackouts, we could run scenes out of sequence or flashback to find that she has actually already killed somebody and didn’t know it until much later, so many possibilities (so many other things we could discover much too late for big twists!). Yeah, if I actually spent some time thinking this out it could be a good movie. Too bad I’m not going to!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Inner Demons02:03 PM -- Sun October 25, 2015

Inner Demons

My Review: There’s a girl who is suffering from an addiction problem, and her family is very concerned. They get hooked up with a reality-TV show that is going to document the intervention. Thus we have found footage!

So they have an intervention, she agrees to go to rehab, and they continue to cover her recovery (or lack of one) there. It turns out her problem isn’t actually addiction. She’s addicted to the drugs because they keep the demon that’s possessing her under control. So as the drugs get out of her system in rehab, weird things start happening, including a lot of fairly silly jump scares (like she’s looking in a mirror, and the face in the mirror contorts and screams at us while she stays normal). There’s one guy in the rehab crew who believes in the truth of her problem and tries to help her and gets fired for it. Then of course in the end, there’s a big showdown and exorcism, and things happen. There’s some twists to how it all comes out, though probably nothing you haven’t seen before.

I felt like the ‘scary’ side of this movie was kind of a flop. It didn’t stress me out to watch this. But as an interesting story, it was alright. Not too bad. To be honest, I’m very sick of “if only you guys would have believed the insane supernatural story you were told, you could’ve saved her!” because in real life that is literally never the right answer. When someone tells you an insane supernatural explanation for what’s wrong with them, they’re wrong, and they probably need even more help than you thought they did. It’s funny how it’s backwards in movies - you get mad at the characters who won’t listen, but in real life, you’d think the people who do listen are gullible idiots. That’s because in the ‘reality’ of almost every movie, the magic stuff is real, and it’s often pretty obvious that it is, which makes ‘skepticism’ a truly unskeptical position - you’re ignoring the evidence. So you have to work with that, I guess. I suppose without that, you’d have a more boring movie, though I know there have been some movies where it all turned out to be fake and they can still be interesting. But as a standard thing, I think we’re better off with what we have now - magic is more often interesting than reality, so keep the magic in the movies!

My Rating: 3/5 Codex Daemonicas.

My Movie Idea: Like zombies, exorcism is really played out. So hmm, what’s left to exorcise? As I mentioned above, it’s fun and different when things turn out to be fake, but The Last Exorcism did that (well.... not really). One thing you don’t see often, though it is out there, is the flip of an exorcism movie: the parents believe their child is possessed and have exorcisms, lock the kid away, abuse them in various ways, but there’s nothing to it - the horror is the fact that parents can be so evil. I’m pretty sure this scenario has happened in real life too. It’s awful. How about this...

The dad is a meek little guy who begrudgingly goes along with what his domineering scary wife says. The kid is normal, but one day the dad comes home to find the kid is locked up and the wife has a bandage on her arm. She says he bit her and she had to put him away to protect herself. His wife says the kid is possessed and keeps him locked up, feeding him gruel through a slot in the door and stuff like that (some business about purifying his insides with plain food). The dad goes along with it but behind her back he helps the kid some, letting him out for a short time when he can, sneaking him snacks, talking to him. Always very careful not to get caught, as the wife is a cruel taskmaster. When he tries to question it and says the kid seems as normal as someone could be while locked up, she slaps him down hard.

Eventually they have an argument with the dad saying they should just get an exorcism and solve this, starving and torturing the kid isn’t a solution even if he is possessed. The wife is aghast at the notion and fighting it every step. The dad finds her almost-frightened reluctance to be odd (not to mention her change in personality in the last year, she wasn’t so bad before), and eventually consults with some kind of paranormal people who check out the house and are like “yeah, this place has mega bad vibes” and especially in the room where the child is locked up. So when the wife’s not home he arranges an exorcism after all, or maybe some kind of ‘cleansing’ to get the badness out. It doesn’t seem to fix anything, but they pronounce the bad vibes gone. The wife comes home and burns her hand on the door to the kid’s room or something, or just complains of a massive migraine going near there or whatever...

Anyway, it all comes down to him realizing that not only is his wife possessed, but she was infusing evil energy into that room to do something bad to the kid (not possess him, that’s too simple... maybe eat his soul to open a portal or something, I dunno), and there’s a big showdown where she brings out all the usual stuff like throwing people across the room, and for an added dose of fun, the kid ends up beating her with a touch to the forehead and forgiveness for the abuse, because the reason the demons wanted to evil-energy-box him was that he’s actually some kind of holy person (oh maybe he IS possessed, but by an angel? That’s interesting!). Something like that. Details shmetails.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Mr. Jones10:02 AM -- Sat October 24, 2015

Mr. Jones

My Review: Whoa man. Whoa. Okay, to start with, we have a couple heading out to a cabin in the woods (you’ve never heard this premise before, right?), to film a nature documentary - which of course means this movie is found footage. What it’s about is totally unclear. I think they’re just kind of going to film anything they think looks interesting and figure out what to do with it later. But as they’re filming stuff, they stumble across these creepy weird totems made of sticks and animal bones and mason jars all strung up together, and eventually encounter the creepy-looking guy who made them. For some reason, after stumbling across his house, they decide to sneak inside and check it out (it’s full of more totems, pretty much), and barely escape without getting caught by him as he comes home. They realize that he is the pop-culture icon “Mr. Jones”. That’s a guy who mails these totem things to random people.

So the man goes home, leaving the woman there to continue checking out the totems. He films a bunch of documentary interviews with various people about the Mr. Jones phenomenon, and that’s how we get the backstory. Mr. Jones is a weird guy, and some people believe he protects our world from the dream world with his totems. Some weird stuff like that. The man goes back, he and the woman invade Mr. Jones’ personal space some more, and then everything gets insanely weird. The end.

The last half-hour or so of this movie is entirely trippy. You have no idea what’s really happening, because it’s all basically a dream. One really interesting part is that the found-footage format sort of breaks down. You get shots the characters can’t possibly be filming, but it’s still hand-held - it turns out its being filmed by other copies of the man, who end up chasing them around (hey, it’s a dream). It’s very weird, like I said. What actually happens during this part doesn’t really add up, but it’s not really supposed to because it’s a dream. It goes on for too long, as a result - since none of it really makes sense, it’s really just giving you a style, not any substance, so you really only need a taste of it to get the idea: it’s a weird dream, anything can happen. It does wrap up in a way that works out relatively well, and has a twist to it. At least, if I understood it properly it does.

The characters are kind of annoying as usual, and make weird choices. There’s a lot of times they don’t seem to be anywhere near concerned enough about what’s happening, but that may be something of a dream thing. It’s hard to say. There are also a couple other obnoxious things in this movie. One is many many minutes of the man running through tunnels underground. It’s just rock walls and darkness, totally pointless to watch. Another is at the beginning of the movie, there are several minutes of just voice-over questions... “What if you went into the woods to film a documentary? What if you saw things that were really beautiful? How about if it was windy out? Would your relationship withstand all this hanging out?” It just goes on and on. I imagine there’s some artistic point to it, but it is so annoying. That entire sequence could be cut from the film without losing a single thing.

But in the end, I enjoyed the sum total of it. Not a ton, but I was caught up in the concept, and the way it came together was good. There was a lot of fluff to sit through, but it all felt like something powerful was lurking underneath. It leaves a lot of questions, but it resolved enough of it for me anyway.

My Rating: 3/5 Mason Jars.

My Movie Idea: Dreams. That’s a thing for movies, for sure. But it’s also something you really have to be careful with or you are making something dumb. There’s “it was all a dream, phew!” which is a total cop-out. There’s “I thought I woke up, but it was just another dream! (and another, and another...)” which is another cop-out. There’s “anything can happen because it’s a dream” which isn’t really a cop-out, it just leads to pointlessness. Who cares what happens if anything can happen?

There’s a scene in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, where Ramona off-handedly mentions that she takes a shortcut through Scott’s dreams to deliver packages, which is why he sees her in his dreams. That is an amazing concept, just throwing dreams and reality together like that - why not just take a shortcut through a dream? So I think my movie idea relies on this.

It’s about somebody going into dreams, not to do something to the dreaming person, but just because the dream is a way to get somewhere else. Perhaps there is an ultimate-security room. There is no way to get into this room at all, except to use some kind of funky technology that powers this door that goes into a dream of someone sleeping in an adjacent room, and you have to get them to dream about a door, which you open to enter the room. Obviously, whatever is in there is really really valuable. Also here are a few exciting moments in this movie: when the person going through the dream ends up damaging the psychological state of the dreaming person, when somebody ends up trapped in the room because the dreamer wakes up, when somebody ends up trapped in the dream itself when the door gets shut and the dreamer isn’t dreaming of a door, the dramatic countdown regarding the fact that if the person wakes up when you are in the dream, you cease to exist completely.

Other than that, I don’t know what happens in the movie, but it seems like it could be an interesting Charlie Kaufman kind of crazy thing, where nothing in the movie makes any sense in reality, but it’s all a metaphor for some other stuff. Too smart for me to actually write!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Tremors 5: Bloodlines07:51 AM -- Fri October 23, 2015

Tremors 5: Bloodlines

My Review: It’s Tremors! I’m a Tremors fan, but I just mean the original movie. I’m pretty sure I saw one of the other sequels once, but it left little to no impression. All I really recall is that it had two guys who were fulfilling the role of the two heroes of Tremors - not playing the same characters, but obviously rehashing the same thing. Pretty disappointing. But I was sad when I got into this movie and realized how much mythology I had missed.

The original Tremors is a great movie, highly recommended. Horror comedy about giant worms tunneling underground and sucking people under. But I discovered by watching this movie, that since the first film, we have learned much more about the graboids’ life cycle, and it turns out there are other variations on them. There are flying creatures and walking creatures too. Seems like that’d make those intervening movies interesting, but I strongly suspect they were actually direct-to-video garbage nonetheless.

So to this film: This is the story of Burt Gummer, who was a survivalist nut in the first movie, but has now become a famous reality show star, having cameras follow his graboid-hunting exploits. He is called away to Africa this time due to reports of graboids there, which he believes to be impossible. Then for the rest of the movie they run around trying to kill them, and (spoilers? Nah) finish off the last one with a completely impossible death-trap. There’s some interpersonal junk too.

This movie falls flat. It’s supposed to be funny, but it isn’t really. The biggest problem I think is the character of Burt Gummer. He’s just not very interesting to build a movie around. He gets wacky at one point when he’s trapped in the burning sun for hours, but even wacky, he’s just not interestingly wacky. It may just be nostalgia (I haven’t seen the first movie in at least 10 years), but I think the same character was much more fun in the first movie. Maybe it’s just the fact that somebody like this doesn’t fit as a main character. He’s just too unlikeable.

Aside from that, there’s no particularly exciting monster chases. There’s a scene where his cameraman (the other main character) is walking through a pitch-black cave that he knows is the nest of the graboids, and his only source of light is flares, which only give him short periods of light. This could’ve been unbelievably nerve-wracking, but it’s just not presented in a scary way at all. He kind of fumbles along, comes across a single monster at one point and manages to avoid it easily, and that’s that.

There’s also hacky writing, like incredibly obvious foreshadowing (for example, this girl who for some reason uses a car battery to electrocute the ground to make worms surface for fishing bait... hmm, wonder if that will have any relation to the giant killer worms at any point???), and really cardboard characters and relationships doing everything exactly how you would expect. And broken physics - a car that’s lit on fire will somehow explode if a flaming arrow hits it. It’s the arrow that pushes it over the top into explosion territory. Just not good.

My Rating: 2/5 Graboid Eggs.

My Movie Idea: This is a vague one, but this movie got me thinking about the idea of humankind’s place in the world. The Earth is a safe place for us. I mean, we have completely mastered it, we are the deadliest thing here by a mile, and as a society, nothing here poses any threat to us (except us...). So what if that changed? Aliens are boring, so the best I can think of is just digging a hole that breaks into an underworld that we never knew existed, and all these subterranean creatures come storming up onto the surface. Not smart ones, just wild animals, but animals so dangerous that life on Earth completely changes. How different would the world be if you spent every day fighting for survival rather than punching buttons for a paycheck?

In the end, the philosophical idea is interesting, but the reality of it as a movie is nothing new at all: it’s every zombie movie, every alien invasion, all kinds of other things. I just had fun thinking about it, though I don’t know how to make it a special and different movie.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Mercy07:18 AM -- Thu October 22, 2015

Mercy

My Review: This movie is based on the Stephen King short story “Gramma”. Very loosely. What they really do is have a totally different story, which ends in the short story’s plot. The last quarter of this movie is the short story, but expanded with some other weird stuff.

So what that means for those who haven’t read the story is that this is the story of a pre-teen boy who liked hanging out with his Grandma. She was clearly a witch in some way, definitely some weird stuff going on there (which later gets explained in detail), but she was pretty much a mother to him, even though he had an actual mother. Later on, you realize their whole family is really messed up due to a lot of ancient history, which is really Grandma’s fault (and of course the demon she made a pact with, as usual), so that explains why his actual mother wasn’t a really good mother. Anyway, a year or two later, Grandma has gotten strangely and nastily senile, and the family takes her home from the care facility she’s been in, because it’s a really bad place. Eventually she dies, after a lot of inter-family drama, and sadly for the boy, he’s the only one home when she dies. And then things get weird, because she’s not acting the way dead people normally do, what with all the running around and trying to kill him.

You know, I’m not sure what I think about this movie. It’s definitely not really bad, but it also definitely has flaws. It’s interesting to dig into the family drama and how it all got this way, but in the end when all the supernatural stuff is flying, there aren’t any real rules to what’s happening. It’s one of those things where what happens is convenient for the plot instead of what would really happen - with the insane superpowers exhibited, Grandma would not have had any problem accomplishing her goal. There’s a bit of a final twist, which I should have guessed, which is kind of nice. There’s also sufficient lore in there to make everything make sense, and it all just kind of works. It’s not amazing, but there’s nothing truly broken there.

My Rating: 3/5 Wood Chippers.

My Movie Idea: I like the core concept here. In my movie, a big family all comes together because a very old member is on their deathbed. Everybody knows it will only be a few days, and it’s important for them all to be there for various reasons (maybe for some, it’s just because the old codger is crafty and mean and has a lawyer nearby - if they don’t show up, they can be sliced out of the will really fast). But of course, the family has a lot of ugly secrets and interpersonal problems. Couples that refuse to talk to others, old resentments hidden underneath that aren’t talked about, and all of that. All of these bad things come bubbling up when everybody’s not only stuck in very close proximity (it’s too small of a house for so many people, so there’s not a lot of escape and privacy), but also under a lot of emotional strain just waiting for this old man to die.

That’s actually all the plot I have, and it is indeed the plot to a heavy drama rather than any kind of horror movie, but first off, I never said my ideas were always horror, and secondly, I suppose that’s a matter of perspective. It depends on how far things go, right? How about a kind of old-school style movie: one of the people ends up murdering the dying old man who would’ve died within days anyway. So we have a whole murder mystery going on, and several other people end up dead, a cop shows up and gets much too involved (and has his own connections to the family). I can’t actually think of the motive for that murder right now, but you figure it out. It gets convoluted, people get dead, and a lot of people get really paranoid. And of course, nobody is allowed to leave, since everybody is a suspect. Yeah, it’s nothing original and I don’t have a big twist, but it sure could be interesting to watch it all unravel.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Frozen10:11 AM -- Wed October 21, 2015

The Frozen

My Review: Ugh this movie... okay, it starts with a whiny entitled girl and a whiny know-it-all boy going out into the frozen wasteland for a “fun trip” (according to the guy). Now I feel guilty mocking these people, because I’m no better than them. Just like them, I would die in 2 seconds in the cold, and I would be totally incapable of putting up a tent, or fixing a snowmobile, or doing anything. But the difference is, I’m not in a movie. You don’t have to watch me be whiny. Oh wait, you’re reading me doing it. Oops, sorry.

So they go on their trip, and it’s really cold and snowy, and they stay in a tent, and ride around on a snowmobile. Eventually they crash the snowmobile and can’t fix it, so they’re stuck ten miles from the road with no way back and no way to communicate. This is followed by hours and hours of the exact same thing over and over: it’s daytime so they try walking somewhere and give up and go back to the tent. It’s nighttime and they try to sleep, but hear a noise outside so they look back and forth with a flashlight. Now the big twist is that sometimes they see nothing, and sometimes they see something. But even if they see something (a person), it goes away in a few seconds and it comes out the same as if they saw nothing: they go back in the tent all nervous, and go to sleep anyway.

All that stuff is interspersed with occasional nightmares. That’s it. That’s what you get out of this movie until about the last 10 minutes. It’s so monotonous and just exhausting, because each time they look for something, there’s always that hope that this time it will lead to something new, but it never does, so you wait some more. Then in the end of the movie, one of the people they kept seeing actually decides to stick around, and kind of chases the girl around, until eventually there is a confrontation and I won’t spoil the big, massively over-expositiony finish.

Sure, there’s a twist. What was happening was not what you thought, but that doesn’t explain why we had to sit through endless night after night of the same thing every time. It was just pure padding. The script for this movie must have just been xeroxed pages throughout the middle. They were like “well, we’ve got 30 minutes of movie... let’s just photocopy the middle five pages about 20 times to pad it out.” And that is what they had - about 30 minutes of legitimate movie. That 30 minutes would’ve been an okay short story, if very derivative (you’ve seen this twist a lot), although the ending was just so over-explained that even that wasn’t good.

My Rating: 1/5 Wet Socks.

My Movie Idea: The frozen woods make for a nice film setting. There’s a lot you can do (Insomnia, Fargo, Devil’s Pass which I watched last year for Halloween). So hmm, what would I do... my brain was numbed during this movie, so I didn’t think of anything while watching. Something based around the fact that it’s so silent in the woods, but there’s always the occasional cracking of a branch or slump of snow.

So maybe we have stealthy near-invisible monsters (just being white would work for that!), stalking campers trapped up in the mountains, and a lot of the movie is these very tense scenes, kind of the negative version of a normal horror movie: protagonists standing in bright white light, but still totally unable to see what’s coming for them, and they are constantly turning their head, trying to catch the soft crunch of snow underneath a claw. To make it a true negative image, the monsters could sleep during the night and only be dangerous in daylight.

The monsters are drawn to heat, as you could imagine, which adds some other scenarios like burying yourself in snow to hide your heat, and tense moments as they walk directly overhead, and of course the balance between not freezing to death, but not giving them heat to track (you know at some point the heroes do the opposite - light a bunch of fires to distract and confuse the monsters. Maybe the climax involves a forest fire). I don’t have any interesting twists in mind, I just think that would be a fun basic premise to then build a good story around. You go do the hard part, I’ve suffered enough sitting through The Frozen.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Burying The Ex05:20 AM -- Tue October 20, 2015

Burying The Ex

My Review: Hmm. Well, this is a romantic comedy, where a guy is struggling to break up with his girlfriend, but can’t get up the nerve to do it right. Eventually he does, but she gets hit by a bus right before he can actually dump her. “Lucky” for him and her, there was a Satan Genie statuette in front of which they had previously promised to be together forever. Through its evil magic, the girlfriend is brought back as a zombie, just as the guy is trying to get involved with someone new. The zombie ex remains clingy, and thinks a great plan would be for her to zombify him too, so they can be together forever as advertised. Three’s Company-style antics ensue as the guy tries to keep the two girls from knowing about each other (one so she won’t eat his face in rage, and the other so she... well, I mean, I guess it’s just weird to tell people there’s a zombie around). Like most such situations, it could’ve been resolved by just being honest all around in the first place, although there is the risk that his ex would just kill all the humans, so maybe not.

At times, this movie felt like not just a sitcom, but the kind of sitcom they have on the Disney Channel. Really low-brow ultra-simple humor with super cheery people who have no clue what’s happening around them. Not all of it was that bad, but it just has this bubble-gum flavor to it which is not great, and is pretty badly at odds with some rather gruesome scenes. Not many, but it’s just weird to combine that at all. I’m not sure who the audience is here, because it’s too gooshy for horror fans, and it’s too gooshy for romance fans.

I’ve seen horror comedy before, and it has been good. Shaun of the Dead is definitely good. This is not Shaun of the Dead. It actually wasn’t terrible, but it definitely wasn’t worth watching.

My Rating: 2/5 Runners.

My Movie Idea: I don’t know, I got nothing for real.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead09:28 AM -- Mon October 19, 2015

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

My Review: I knew things were looking up already at the 2nd line of dialogue in this movie, because they immediately referred to the walking dead as “zombies”. Yes, a movie that actually admits that’s what they are! I’m so tired of hearing about “Zeds” and “Walkers” and “Infected”. If this stuff happened for real, “Zombie” is the only word we’d use.

But that isn’t the only good thing about this movie! It’s the story of a few people surviving in the first days of a zombie outbreak. I don’t need to go into detail, that pretty much covers it, but they have some fun original elements (this stuff constitutes mild spoilers, so hang on to your hat): the zombies breathe a flammable gas and change their behavior from day to night, there’s a mysterious military conspiracy (okay, that’s definitely been done), and there’s a character who develops the ability to mind-control zombies. Now there’s the big game-changer! This movie looked and felt like a comic book all over, with no worries about reality, just all kinds of campy over-the-top action and insanity, and you just have to be along for the ride. There is one plot element that seems completely gratuitous and invented solely for the purpose of giving them a reason to capture zombies: without explanation, gasoline (and similar substances) have stopped being flammable. They don’t know why, and we never find out. Good thing the zombies breathe flammable gas so they can rig up their Mad Max truck to run on zombies! That felt really contrived if you ask me, but it was fun.

The whole situation with the zombie mind control added a big layer to what would otherwise be just standard zombie-splattering mayhem. Without that, I probably wouldn’t recommend this movie, but that took it over the top for sure. Like so many of the movies this month, the movie ends right in the middle of the story. It’s basically an origin story for The Zombie Queen superhero, as it ends with the team set up to do battle with the mysterious government, and with us lacking explanations for anything. Actually, I would say more than anything that this felt like the pilot to a TV series. And it would be a great TV series, I have to say. Way more fun than The Walking Dead. This is not a story of mopey people at each other’s throats, it’s a bunch of nutjobs going crazy and having a blast as they blast zombies. Which is pretty disturbing, but that’s the kind of movie it is.

I also happen to be right in the middle of an obsession with playing Dead Island, and this movie just fit right in with that. Good choice, me.

My Rating: 4/5 Air Harpoons.

My Movie Idea: I think zombies are pretty played out (maybe?! They’ve only been the focus of 80% of pop culture for 5 years), but I thought this might be an interesting twist on them: there’s a tiny invasive vine that infects people and gets under their skin and begins to take them over. But the victim doesn’t become a zombie, they just sorta get sick and eventually comatose. This kills you after a while, as your organs just shut down. The vine grows chloroplasts in your skin, and draws energy from the sun that way. If it manages to suck up enough solar energy, it can reanimate your corpse in a very slow and clumsy way, sort of the classic zombie that lumbers along slowly and is easy to evade. But if that zombie somehow manages to catch a victim, and eats enough meat, it evolves further, with the strength and energy and improved brain function to be one of those “rage zombies” from more recent zombie moves - fast runner, jumper, desperate to eat people (or animals, whatever). This zombie in turn is trying to eat brains specifically (still eating meat for energy, but it wants brains), and if it can eat some brains, it gets smarter...

And this process continues on and on, with smarter, faster, crazier zombies (flying, why not? Acid spit, super-jumping, using weapons and tools, whatever!). So the structure of the movie is kind of in chapters - they’re dealing with the current kind of zombies, and then they see something worse plowing through the crowd toward them, and we get a big title card “Phase III”, and they start having to deal with those. So the situation just keeps getting worse and weirder.

Something like this would probably end with a weird twist where the ultimate zombie form is smarter than we are, and it’s trying to build human farms, keeping us alive as a food source. I’m not sure how the humans win in this scenario, seems hopeless to me, but in Hollywood it’s usually something like this: the zombies evolve into a hivemind, and they kill the leader-brain which kills them all. Seems like a weakness to me, not a very good evolution at all. But hey, here’s a fun bit of backstory: at some point they discover that this is an alien invasion. It’s cheaper and easier than intergalactic war to just send the plant seeds to our planet to start taking us over and turn us into them (and maybe eventually receive signals beamed from space to actually put their consciousness in our bodies without them having to travel at all? Could be).
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Terminal Invasion06:13 AM -- Sun October 18, 2015

It's a two-fer, since I had no time to turn on my computer yesterday, and thus no BHE review! I was at a TEDx conference. Pretty cool.

Terminal Invasion

My Review: Okay, so I have actually seen this before. But it’s Bruce Campbell! I wasn’t sure I had seen the whole thing (not a good sign?), so I watched it. It’s definitely not his best work, or even good work in any way, although he is the best thing in the movie by a mile. He isn’t doing his usual wisecracking, he’s basically just a tough-guy criminal, but he actually plays it realistically and well, unlike every other person in the movie. Let’s be clear: this is a SyFy Original Movie, made for TV, and it looks the part. So cheap, so crappy, no money wasted on actors. It looks like an episode of Wings gone horribly wrong.

The plot is that there’s a big blizzard so everybody at this little airport is stuck there for the night. Bruce is a convict who was being transported by car nearby, and their car failed, so they had to walk him to the airport. He goes to the bathroom along with the cops guarding him, and an alien disguised as a priest tries to kill them all. He does kill the cops, but of course you can’t stop Bruce Campbell, who smashes the alien to death. The rest of the movie consists of him sort-of holding the other airport denizens hostage (but most of the time he gives them the guns, so I’m not sure why they are still kowtowing to him), while all of them wonder who among them is secretly an alien. One by one they ferret out the aliens, or in some cases the aliens just decide to transform into big rubbery creatures right in front of them, and they kill the aliens.

It’s so hard to discuss what is good or bad about this movie. It’s a terrible movie, of course. And the writing especially is awful, but what’s strange about that is that there are a lot of good ideas in there. The overall premise is certainly good - there’s a lot of tension in knowing some of them are aliens (and the priest-alien explicitly declared in a fit of masterful writing “We don’t like you”, so you know they’re not aliens that like us!), and the paranoia that causes. There are also some clever scenes, most notably that they decide to use the baggage X-ray to scan each other and see if they can see who’s an alien, which leads to another clever idea: a fight inside the x-ray where all you can see are the snapshots it takes every couple of seconds, eventually seeing somebody get dismembered. And that further makes one more clever idea, which is that that ends up breaking the machine, so while they found one alien that way, and cleared two or three normal people of aliendom, the rest of the people are still unclear.

That one scene is just all kinds of clever (except for the very odd decision to make the X-ray start beeping and freaking out when an alien went through it - the fact that the body contained green goo instead of a skeleton was sufficient for me), and there’s also a good little twist involving the children which is well-written and comes as a surprise, but you could’ve figured it out yourself. It just makes solid sense. But the rest of the movie is full of utterly brain-dead characters doing stupid things. It’s hard to watch a movie where every character is so phenomenally dumb. It really makes you wonder about the intelligence of the writer. Like if he thinks these are the kind of choices a normal person would make, does that mean he’s that dumb and they’re the choices he would make? Or perhaps he’s not that dumb, and he just thinks he’s better than everyone else, so he assumes other people are. Either way, it’s not good.

My Rating: 1/5 Chins.

My Movie Idea: Well, let’s give Bruce Campbell a role he belongs in! How about he’s the captain of a spaceship. It’s an ark ship, filled with people in stasis (including him - it’s a thousand-year journey, so everybody’s sleeping), and the crew is unfrozen mid-flight when the computer detects a problem. There’s something attached to the hull, and after some suiting up and spacewalking, and the death of whoever does the spacewalk, they discover that it’s some kind of alien blob with tendrils injecting into the hull, cracking things open and getting inside. They come up with some radical plan to burn it off with the engines or something, which succeeds, and it’s gone. So good.

They set about trying to fix the hull damage it caused, only to find that there are bits of it still burrowing through the hull (somebody else dies finding this out, sure!). Eventually we discover that the burrowing tentacles are getting into the stasis pods and turning the people inside into freaky twisted zombies who smash out of the pod and run around the spaceship, crawling on the ceilings and contracting their bodies to squeeze through small vents and other weird inhuman things. Bruce and his remaining crew set about blasting the aliens with high-tech guns and being stalked in dark corridors and all the good stuff that happens in Aliens movies. And lots of one-liners. Probably culminating in Bruce alone getting away in an escape pod while the entire ship is destroyed. I don’t know though, that’s pretty bleak if you had a thousand people on board.

Okay, it’s not the most original, but it could be done well, and it gives Bruce his chance to shine where he deserves it - in a high-budget, really scary but really funny, action-horror thriller.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Traveler06:08 AM -- Sun October 18, 2015

The Traveler

My Review: This is a straight-up 80’s movie that came out 30 years too late. Val Kilmer walks into a police station on Christmas Eve with just a few cops in it, and says he wants to confess to murder. They lock him up and interrogate him. As he confesses to murder, it turns out he’s actually describing what’s happening exactly at that moment, in another part of the building, as one of the cops is mysteriously killed by ghostly forces. There’s mayhem and freakouts, and 5 more confessions as one by one, he confesses the cops to death.

I don’t think it’s really a spoiler to tell you what the movie reveals in the first 20 minutes, so it turns out that he is the ghost of a man that these six cops beat up to try to force a confession from, leaving him in a coma and eventually to die. So it’s like revenge. There’s a twist, of course, which is kind of silly and breaks the logic a little, but is not too crazy.

I was really interested at first in this movie. The premise is intriguing, and you are getting an interesting mystery at first as this very strange, very silent guy shows up, but the big problem is, they reveal everything about him in that first 20 minutes. After that, there’s no more mystery, just waiting for him to kill everybody. There’s nothing they can do about it, since what he does is plainly magic. Things just happen. And it’s sad, because this could have been a truly great movie. If Bryan Singer had directed it, and somebody good had written it, it would’ve been some kind of supernatural Usual Suspects. Keep those revelations in check, let the audience figure things out bit by bit. Get a real twist! Make the characters have some depth!

But instead, it’s a very strange movie, that feels completely out of the 80’s. The run-down police station, the non-cell-phone, the random usage of heavy metal which seemed totally out of place every time, the crazy gore with chunks of guts flying around - every bit of it just looked and sounded pure 80’s. There was another weird and annoying thing about it - dozens of times they show something in slow motion about 4 or 5 times in a row. Not something especially exciting, like the cop is trying to shoot out a windshield, and it just repeatedly shows him pull the trigger and the muzzle flash. It was like they were trying to impart this huge importance, but for no reason at all. And it happens many times. It’s a terrible effect.

My Rating: 2/5 Best Daddy In The World Pens.

My Movie Idea: I pretty much said it above - let’s do this basic idea and do it well. A guy walks into a police station and wants to confess to murder. Now let’s put the rest of it into the realm of mystery - make it possible that he has accomplices, make his confessions vague and not blatantly describing exactly what is happening, reveal tidbits of the backstory for why he is there instead of dumping the entire thing at once in one big flashback (which by the way is repeated 3 or 4 times, almost in its entirety. I got so sick of it). Make it so only one of the cops is actually responsible for this and deserves to die, and so if he would’ve just come clean early on, the other people would’ve survived, just to turn the guilt knobs up a little. Have some misdirects, like the first death looks like a suicide and there seems like a plausible reason for it. Leave the cops guessing before it turns into an all-out fleeing for your life. Just tone everything down so there’s lots of room for mystery, and some quiet somber moments instead of crazy bloody mayhem. Let’s get spooky, people!

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Belittling Horror Excessively: They05:44 AM -- Fri October 16, 2015

They

My Review: It’s at least the second “monsters under the bed and in the closet” movie of the month, although in this case, the children scared of the monsters grow up and the monsters do too, I guess, because once the kids are adults, the monsters start haunting pretty much any old place, as long as it’s dark. Apparently (according to a crazy guy who killed himself), there are these monsters that either are attracted to kids who have night terrors, or perhaps the kids don’t have night terrors, they’re just seeing these monsters. They mention it the first way, but since these are the only specific night terrors we see in the movie, I get the feeling the second way is more the case. Anyway, when they are children, the monsters take them into their world and mark them in some way, then when they are adults, they come back to apparently take them for good. For what purpose, we never learn. The monsters can’t go in the light, only in darkness, but that’s okay for them because they have the ability to make lights go out.

That’s the backstory you learn as it goes. This movie is the story of a woman whose childhood friend shows up out of the blue, is clearly crazy, puts all those ideas in her head before killing himself, and then she and two other friends of his spend the rest of the movie trying not to get taken by the monsters. It’s really kind of a straightforward thing, pretty much just a slasher movie - there is no real point to the movie other than watching the monsters come after them and seeing them narrowly escape in various ways until they don’t escape. But that didn’t make it uninteresting. I enjoyed it, mainly because the monsters were very creepy (as usual, moreso when we saw less of them) and we gradually figured out the backstory, although nothing really meaningful is ever learned. They’re just random monsters, who targeted random people, and took them to an unknown place for unknown reasons.

It is effectively creepy, and the device of trying to get to where there’s light while monsters come crawling (very rapidly) out of the darkness is good. Oh, there’s also the matter of the night terrors - the victims are in a semi-sleepwalking state, so they’ll lash out at friendly people, thinking they are the monsters trying to take them away. In fact, right up to the end, it’s ... well, almost possible that this whole thing is not real. Spoiler: it is real. But since it’s intertwined with nightmares and distorted reality, you can’t really be 100% sure until the end. There are some real Nightmare On Elm Street elements with the “is it a dream” parts of the film. It’s all relatively standard horror stuff, and there’s not much point to it other than the thrill of the chase, but the chase is pretty thrilling, so I enjoyed it.

My Rating: 4/5 Black Canvases.

My Movie Idea: At one point in this movie (during what is probably a dream), the heroine opens her medicine cabinet and finds an entire creepy nightmare world inside. It reminded me of this notion we’ve probably all experienced, of how you can look into a mirror and turn your head and see that there is clearly a world in there going on beyond the rectangle of the mirror (technically, it’s the same world as the one outside of there, but that’s beside the point). So for many years, I’ve had this image in my head of a character who could step inside the mirror, and behind it they’d find a vast empty void in which they can somehow float freely, with the backsides of all the mirrors in the world just floating in space, in their relative positions. Each one is like a window, through which you can watch what’s going on, and then step through if you want. You could use this power to effectively ‘teleport’ and do all kinds of mischief and steal unlimited amounts of wealth, and get out of almost any danger (even in prison, there are mirrors!).

You’d run into weird logistics of what exactly qualifies as a mirror, and what about car mirrors and pocket mirrors and shiny lake surfaces and all that, but for the sake of any story or movie we’d blow that off and stick with stationary, man-made mirrors that aren’t all scratched up and ruined. I guess there could be a stream of car mirrors zooming by in the void world, that’d be kinda cool, and potentially dangerous - would they slice you up if one went through your body? Probably! Imagine a meat chunk popping out of your rearview mirror! Okay, it’s better not to imagine that.

But the only actual story I ever came up with for the mirror man was less pleasant: he’s a teenage boy, just discovering this power, and he becomes obsessed with the neighbor girl, watching her through her mirror, trying to use the information he finds out to get her interested in him, failing miserably because it’s creepy when someone knows everything about you, trying harder with exotic presents stolen through other mirrors, failing more miserably because unwanted big gifts are even creepier, and finally feeling hurt and lashing out in very bad ways. By the end of the story, she’s seen him go through mirrors, is terrified of mirrors, and maybe eventually kills him by smashing a mirror he’s sticking halfway out of, trying to grab her.

So... that’s where my mind went with that idea!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Intruders08:09 AM -- Thu October 15, 2015

Intruders

My Review: This is two stories at once - a girl and a boy in different countries who are facing the same problem. A man with no face is trying to steal their face. We can all identify with this problem, I’m sure. It’s very strange because other than the victims, only the father of the one girl, and the mother of the one boy, ever see the faceless man/monster, so is it real? If it were imagined, wouldn’t only the kids see it? And why do they both have this same fear? I also thought it was interesting and telling that the monster appears differently to the two kids. These questions and more spin round and round as some interesting facts come to light with some big twists, and eventually it all resolves quite neatly.

I really enjoyed this actually. It was quite a mystery, and it made sense in the end mostly, though I can’t decide if there was really any supernatural stuff or not. I suspect not, but it seems open to interpretation. It was not my favorite movie ever, but it was really solid in every respect, and I can always get behind a convoluted mystery that actually comes together in the end. I really can’t think of any complaints here, or anything interesting to say. It’s a good movie, why don’t you go watch it?

My Rating: 4/5 Little Wooden Boxes.

My Movie Idea: My movie takes place in a children’s hospital (bringing to mind the “Der Kindestod” episode of Buffy, of course). There’s a really creepy ghost hanging around the cancer ward, like rags floating in the air above the bed with huge razor claws hanging down that slice kids to pieces. I didn’t put a ton of thought into this, so you fill in the blanks of how it all comes together, but the gist is that people see the ghost, try to stop it, kids end up dying, and the big twist is that eventually they discover that the only reason anybody is dying from this ghost is because they are chasing it away. What it’s actually doing is cutting kids open, extracting their tumors (it eats them I guess?), and then closing them back up in some magical way that leaves no trace. The hospital had a weird record of miraculous cancer cures they couldn’t explain, and it turns out this creature was actually why. At least until they started interfering so it ran off, leaving kids open and bleeding to death. In the end, you can either have a big happy ending where they make peace with the ghost and it keeps fixing people forever, or the painful irony of exorcising the ghost and feeling like a hero right before realizing it was providing an invaluable service.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Dark Was The Night12:29 PM -- Wed October 14, 2015

Dark Was The Night

My Review: Well, that’s a silly title. Dark still is the night, by the way. So, these people live in a small town and suddenly all the animals are fleeing the surrounding woods, and cattle are disappearing and all that stuff, and strange hoof-prints are appearing all over town, so you know something bad is around. It’s not long before the sheriff figures out there’s some sort of big scary animal out there and he tries to protect the people and kinda-sorta hunt it. It really echoes Jaws in a lot of ways, probably intentionally, with this lurking beast out there out of sight and the mass panic and the sheriff who is on the case. But it’s also extremely grim and bleak throughout, for no real reason - everybody is super mopey and depressed, the whole movie is filtered in blues and greys, and it’s really a wonder they don’t just let the monster eat them to get life over with.

This is a very well-done movie, and for most of the duration, I was pretty hooked. It feels slow at times because of the super depressing tone, but that also lends it an air of dread as well. It’s not actually a great movie though. The plot does nothing spectacular, it’s all about what you’d expect, with a lot of very basic Hollywood cliches (the sheriff is distraught over having failed to save his son’s life in the past, so that drives his obsession with protecting the town now; the deputy is new to town and getting involved with some girl), but it’s all put together really well.

SPOILER PARAGRAPH! There is a final-final twist in the last fifteen seconds of the movie which is actually pretty shocking and unexpected. It’s the standard horror trope of “the monster is not gone!” only really amped up in a scary way. So that was enjoyable to see, but it again comes down to what I’ve harped on with a couple of the previous films: you can’t end the movie there. If the threat still exists (and hasn’t even left the area), and the characters are still alive, then the movie is not done. In this particular case, I can 100% guarantee that every character in the movie would be dead within the next half hour if the movie continued. So I guess in that sense, this is a valid ending, but “everybody dies” is also a pretty dumb ending, especially after working so hard to find redemption for the main character. They were just going for the shock, like so many horror movies do, and it worked well in that regard, but that little trick is really anti-storytelling. I understand the classic “hand pops up from the grave”, because that one just says that we’re going to have a sequel. Something like this (or what happened in The Guest or Haunt) really does leave the narrative hanging. It’s not a sequel, it’s this story that you forgot to finish.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Bridle #88s.

My Movie Idea: My movie idea is a similar premise to begin with: Cattle are turning up sliced apart, people are hearing noises at night, there are strange animal prints in the mud, all these clues that some kind of big bad monster is lurking outside of town. So the town gathers up a posse and they comb the woods, everybody doing their part to ferret out this monster (monster ferret?).

Twist time! There isn’t a monster. Someone faked the whole thing, and obviously it’s someone with serious issues since they cut up living cows to do it. He’s a member of the posse hunting the monster of course, and he’s set up traps in the woods to murder tons of townspeople. It’s an insidious thing where you still think there’s a monster at first as people get yanked into bushes and blood flies out (but it was really a rope trap of some kind). Then you learn that these are traps after a couple of them, but then you’re wondering “wow, super intelligent monster?” before you finally get to the revelation that it’s one of the people in the posse who arranged all this killing. And he finishes it all by ‘finding’ the monster’s lair in a cave (perhaps with some recorded monster noises coming out of it so they know they’ve got it trapped), getting lots of people to go in, and blowing up the cave. Truly, man is the worst monster of all.

You could also swap scenes back and forth with a hero who is working in the police lab trying to figure out what animal makes these wounds while everyone is out hunting, and they could save the day by realizing it’s a person, figuring out who it has to be, and showing up just in time to stop the cave-in explosion. Or better yet, they don’t figure out who it is, they show up just in time, but there are 3 or 4 people outside the cave who haven’t gone in... which one is it, and how can we stop him before he sets off the bomb? Actually, this movie sounds pretty cool. Get on that, Christopher Nolan.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Ouija Experiment05:31 AM -- Tue October 13, 2015

The Ouija Experiment

My Review: Oh my pickles. It has been a long time since I’ve truly seen a movie that was “so bad it’s good”. I mean, I like Sharknado movies, but they’re doing it on purpose. This is a terrible movie, that I really enjoyed. I engaged in actual real-life LOL behavior with this one, on at least two occasions. And just so we’re clear, it’s not supposed to be funny. Well, some parts are, but those parts were agonizing, not funny.

The plot goes like this: some college kids get together to use a ouija board. One of them is the official Super Annoying Guy With The Camera, although I’d say every one of the characters in this movie is about as annoying as the classic Super Annoying Guy With The Camera, so the fact that he’s even worse is pretty spectacular. It is found footage indeed, as we watch these kids misuse their ouija board, flip out due to interpersonal drama, make video skype calls and call that “using youtube”, reference popular youtube videos very LOUDLY, and eventually run from and get killed by some reasonably scary ghosts.

The acting is unbelievable. Easily the fakest found footage movie I’ve ever seen, by a mile. In fact, it could be that it’s the only thing wrong with the movie, but it’s so far beyond the pale, you can’t see anything else. It’s like a high school production, and not one that earned an A. I would say the writing was terrible too, but I suspect that’s just a matter of ad-libbing, since it was found footage. The overall gist of the story is actually entertaining (if a little flawed), although the specifics hinge on the horrible behavior of the characters. The special effects are pretty good... or rather, the CGI ghost stuff is. There are some hilarious other effects in the movie. There is a decapitation that was one of the times I laughed out loud, and then there’s a floating camera (held by a ghost) that is even worse. That was the moment that sold the movie for me. I will definitely be sharing that moment with anyone willing to suffer through it.

There is zero excuse for this movie being done in found-footage format. In fact, the plot would be twice as good, and probably the movie would be too, if the characters didn’t constantly interact with cameras and discuss how they were going to film themselves for the night, or specifically set cameras in just the right place before going across the room to confront a spooky sound they heard. It really was the worst of “convenient camera placement” I’ve ever seen. There’s actually a flashback that semi-inexplicably switches to normal cameras (which totally belies the point of found footage - if we are admitting this is a fictional movie, why do we have to view it through the characters’ cameras?). Just in case you’re wondering, it’s just as embarrassing as the other part.

Oh yeah, and: “the film you are about to see is based on true events - although there have been numerous documented cases in which users experienced unexplained occurrences and bizarre happenings while playing with a ouija board - scientists disregard them as ... coincidences” Stupid scientists, when will they ever learn!?

My Rating: 2/5 Cameras On A Fishing Line.

My Movie Idea: Uh oh, I was too distracted by the art on display to come up with ideas of my own. Umm, let’s see... how about a woman uses a ouija board to learn some stuff, and gradually what she learns makes her kill her husband (he’s cheating and probably all sorts of worse things too), as she gradually gets told true things and weird psychic stuff like “green falls” - what’s green falls? Huh? The next day somebody in a bright green rain slicker slips in a puddle right in front of her and falls down. She’s like “whoa!” and she trusts the information even more since it’s clearly magical knowledge. Of course, it turns out, the ouija board has magnets and such in it, and there are cameras in the room, and somebody set all this up to manipulate her into doing this. I don’t know why, but I bet it’s something good!

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The American Scream01:42 PM -- Mon October 12, 2015

The American Scream

My Review: Wait! This isn’t a horror movie at all! Nope, it’s a documentary, about “home haunters”. That means people who build their own haunted houses at home. I thought it would be fun, and I was right. I like documentaries. This one covers 3 guys, all in the town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, who build elaborate haunted houses every halloween. I have a real interest in this stuff. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I love all the decoration and trappings.

It’s pretty much all the things you’d expect: the guys are obsessed, their families are exasperated, they’re going broke, their home is buried in Halloween stuff, and come Halloween, it all turns into a hugely successful show. That’s pretty much the story of all three families, to varying degrees. But it’s always interesting to step into their lives and see the problems they face and the little triumphs of making these fun creations and seeing people enjoy them.

Towards the end, one of the guys makes a point that I had never thought about before: He says that Thanksgiving and Christmas are family holidays, but Halloween is the only real community holiday, where you don’t just come together with your family members, but with everybody around you, and you share fun with all these strangers and welcome them into your life in a way. I really like that. I’m even doing that in my own little antisocial way right here with these movie reviews. I toil quietly in obscurity on my games all year long, but every October I put myself out there (to the degree I am comfortable with...) to share myself with you readers.

My Rating: 4/5 Tubing Aliens.

My Movie Idea: Not a movie this time! This is an idea I had a few months ago, I call it a Haunted Game. A normal haunted house is just a continuous line of people going in, seeing each scary thing, and coming out the other end (chased by a guy with a chainsaw, we presume). Well, a Haunted Game is a little less practical - you only let people in with their group of friends (maybe up to 6 or so people at a time), and everybody else waits outside, listening to the screams. Maybe you could entertain them with a traditional haunted house while they wait. Inside, you don’t have a linear ‘haunted house’, you have an actual house, though with more padding than a normal house for safety. The group of people are given extra-large plain white t-shirts to wear over their real shirts, and then they step inside the front door, it slams behind them, and they now have 5 minutes to escape from the house alive. Only a few rules: don’t break anything, don’t hurt anyone, and if your shirt gets bloody, you have to lay down and play dead until the end is called.

Of course, there’s a murderer in the house too. And a lot of secret passages. The murderer is armed with a plastic knife that retracts and splurts out fake blood, so he’s going around trying to murder you all, and he knows the house well, so it’s not easy to escape! There are several possible places you could escape from, but only one of them is unlocked on each run (in case you do it multiple times... keep it interesting!). If everybody dies, it’s over and you lose. If people get out, they win a prize (a discount on their next visit maybe? Definitely some candy). If the 5 minutes runs out, strobe lights come on all over and you are all dead from some ghost or something. So it’s just huge adrenaline-spiking fun, as you stumble over your friends’ dead bodies and try every window and door and listen for the murderer creeping around.

Oh, and there’d have to be lots of cameras set up so the operators would know if anybody got hurt and so they can tell when to call the game over. And maybe so they could guide the murderer to make it even less fair... but I kind of think that’s not needed. More fun to make it ‘real’! And ironically, this is a haunted house where you would be far better off splitting up than staying together. Hooray for horror tropes.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Beast of Xmoor07:34 AM -- Sun October 11, 2015

The Beast of Xmoor

My Review: No idea why this is the title. They’re actually referring to Exmoor, which is a real place. I guess they were making it hip and edgy. Anyway, this is the tale of two filmmakers who want to capture the legendary beast of Exmoor on film. It’s not that amazing of a beast, it could easily be real. It’s a panther that happens to live in Exmoor (which, if you didn’t catch on, is a moor), a place where a panther wouldn’t generally live, but I mean, there’s things to eat there. If you set a panther loose there, it’d be okay. So there could be one, and if you found it, it wouldn’t be like finding Bigfoot, it’d be like finding a lion that escaped the zoo. Not very magical, just sort of out of place.

But nonetheless, they want to film it! They hire a local hunter to help them find it, and hike into the moor after a couple of completely extraneous interludes with rapist hooligans and a crack addict (that was less extraneous - she claimed to have encountered the beast, so they interviewed her). Pretty quickly, they discover the body dump of a serial killer, just a big pile of dead bodies. It turns out the hunter knew about this, and was actually hoping to get to catch the serial killer. Why he needs the filmmakers, I don’t know.

So they stay the night, hoping to catch him coming back to visit his corpses, and he does show up (lucky catch!). A lot of silly things ensue. This movie is ridiculous. I don’t even entirely know how to describe what’s wrong with it. The major thing is that the things the characters do never make even a little bit of sense. Like loudly shouting while you’re hiding in a tent next to a serial killer’s body dump. Lots of screaming and shouting. At one point, the girl finds the car of the killer and gets inside to check it out. She hears something in the back, and instead of being very quiet and careful, she loudly says “Hello? Is anybody there?” She knows this car belongs to a serial killer!! If this was how human beings functioned, we would have died out long ago. It’s just so illogical, stacked on more illogical things, that it’s like...

Okay, here’s the thing. I’m a total social outcast and introvert. I don’t interact with people. But most of the time, I watch movies and I still totally understand every character. Their motivations make sense, I can guess what they’ll do (within reason), I can understand the choices they make. People are people, I can relate to them as anyone can. But every so often I see a movie and I just can’t click with it. I feel like I can’t understand anything that’s happening because the characters are just alien. That is the case with this movie, but whereas with other movies it seems like they’re just a different kind of person that I don’t relate to, with this movie I think it’s different. I think the writer of this movie does not understand how people act. I think he is completely clueless on basic human behavior. He’s the one with the social problems, not me! Not me I tell you!

P.S. The way the killer is beaten at the end is hilarious. It looks like a scene from Benny Hill. It’s not worth watching the movie for, I’m just pointing out how bad the movie is.

My Rating: 1/5 Torn Pants (if you do watch this, check out how her clothes are ripped up towards the end. It doesn’t make any sense and is not remotely similar to what would actually happen. It’s like an anime outfit).

My Movie Idea: I have to admit, I got stuck on my idea this time. All I know is this: there’s a documentary filmmaking crew, and they end up kidnapped by their subjects, who then turn the documentary cameras on the filmmakers. It’s kind of an interesting plot, but it’s also kind of the same as half the found-footage movies out there. I couldn’t figure out what to do with it, but I also couldn’t let go of the basic premise enough to get a different idea. The details shall be left as an exercise for the reader.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Haunt06:24 AM -- Sat October 10, 2015

Haunt

My Review: This is finally a classic ghost story! There is a very effective and creepy first scene that really got me into this movie, setting up the situation. There is a ghost that’s haunting this house, and it’s killed everybody but the mother. She of course moves out, as you do, and another family buys the house. The son of this new family, and the girl next door who becomes very attached to him amazingly fast, end up encountering this ghost some more, things go down, people die. That’s pretty much it.

But I was very engrossed. The story all checks out for once, the ghost’s motivations make sense, the backstory comes together bit by bit, the twists are there (no brain-ripping ones, but some good surprises nonetheless), fairly reasonable decisions by the characters, it’s all just solid. All but one thing: the ending is a major letdown. It actually feels very much like the setup for a climax to the movie. Kind of the second-to-last major event. Only in this movie, it’s the last event, so you’re sorta left hanging. Much like in The Guest previously, the movie ends in a state that is unresolved - the danger is still there, some of the victims are still present to face the danger, so why are we stopping now?

My Rating: 4/5 Otherworldly CB Radios.

My Movie Idea: Here’s a fun one! It’s an anthology movie, which I always love. You know how many movies feature an ancient book that is evil and should never be opened or read? You always end up coming across the notes of somebody who went mad studying it, and the current characters in the movie just read one passage and cause all kinds of havoc. But what about that guy who went mad? The wrap-around story in my movie is the story of that guy. He is the first to find this book, in some old tomb or whatever, and he’s going through it and cataloguing it, figuring out what it is and where it fits historically.

The movie then goes through a sequence for each chapter: the chapter begins with a brief story of how this particular dark magic was discovered, and we have a short tale of that (so some random guy in the middle ages bargaining with demons or something, and meeting a messy end after recording how the ritual works). Then back to the present with the book-studying guy trying out the spell and accomplishing something - so the wrap-around story is a real story, not just some excuse for the flashback stories. He has all sorts of problems like a bad boss and a cheating wife and whatever else, and he tries these spells to fix them. Each chapter goes through that sequence, where it’s a story from the past about that spell, and then a story from his life about it too. So you get the anthology fun, and the structure that you can get excited about - “this spell is dumb, I hope the next one is better” - but you also get a straightforward movie about him trying to use magic to solve his problems and learning why you shouldn’t do that.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Guest06:58 AM -- Fri October 9, 2015

The Guest

My Review: This is not necessarily a horror movie. It’s pretty iffy, but hey, it’s probably good that you can’t always nail movies into specific boxes. I declare the massive overabundance of jack-o-lanterns to justify it as a BHE review. Anyway, in this movie, a soldier shows up at a family’s house and says he was friends with their son, who was a soldier that died recently. They invite him in to get to know him and practically adopt him because they’re a little odd. Turns out, he’s evil.

Towards the end, the movie kind of transforms into a crazy military action showdown with all sorts of machine guns and walls getting blown apart, but with Jason/Michael Myers as one of the sides in the conflict, practically. It’s a little different. I thought this whole outcome was relatively disappointing (and the final twist even more disappointing - it was the kind of twist that really says “the movie shouldn’t end here, but hey, our run time is up!”), but it was still pretty fun. It seemed like the mystery of this clearly weird soldier who insinuated himself into their lives, and taught their kids some really dark lessons, should’ve come out to a more interesting resolution. But what they did works, it’s an okay story. It’s just not amazing, and definitely didn’t melt my brain with shock and surprise. Oh, and the soundtrack was straight out of an 80’s movie (it turns out the music was made with the same type of synthesizers as John Carpenter used for Halloween 3, so there you go!).

My Rating: 3/5 Butterfly Knives.

My Movie Idea: Okay, this is a very transgressive idea that would never be allowed by Hollywood, and probably will deeply offend half the people reading this. But I’m going to share it because it is actually the idea that came into my head while watching this movie. In my movie, there’s a kid in high school who is badly bullied and mistreated, and he’s all goth and sullen and withdrawn. And angry. The classic profile of a school shooter. Which is exactly what he intends to be. He is secretly obtaining an arsenal and making plans with a buddy or two who are similarly abused, preparing to shoot up the school and kill whoever they can before dying themselves. Yeah, it’s dark.

Anyway, before they get the chance to enact this plan, something big and bad goes down. There are a lot of things it could be, from a military invasion like Red Dawn to an alien invasion, but I think what I want it to be is that there are demons who are entering the world through a portal to witness the shooting to come (you can see a premise like this in Odd Thomas, by the way). Normally such demons are invisible and of no import, they just enjoy the killing and move on, but another goth kid at their school happens to be into witchcraft and fools around with the wrong spells, causing the demons this time to fully enter our reality, and they start going on a rampage of their own, murdering people and eating brains and whatever demons like to do. So guess what? Redemption, that’s what! The school shooter crew is very heavily armed and entirely prepared. They go in and wipe out the demons and in the process, they learn to care about other people, have self-esteem, and have empathy and become heroes as well. It’s a happy ending.

Oh and they get in huge trouble afterwards since all their guns and homemade bombs are highly illegal. Ooh, maybe the movie is framed with the homeland security interviews of them after the fact, and it goes back in flashbacks, so at first you think maybe they did shoot up a school.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Blood Lands09:40 AM -- Thu October 8, 2015

The Blood Lands

My Review: What an exciting title, right? Surely this is some epic adventure into a nightmare world. Well, SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT!, here is the entire plot of this movie in a single sentence leaving out not a single important detail: This British couple buys a house in Scotland, then a group of guys in pig masks show up during the night and chase them down, kidnap them, and dump them back in England somewhere. The end.

I think they were going for “ooh, what a twist, they aren’t trying to kill them at all!” But who cares? I’m not okay with people stalking me to violently kidnap me either. Those people aren’t going to get up and say “Oh, those crazy fellows! Gee whiz!” and let the pig-men keep their house! The unfilmed aftermath is pretty straightforward: Police will go to the house and arrest all the guys who are now squatting there, and the people get their house back (which they’ll quickly sell, seeing as how they know now it’s a pretty bad neighborhood). Nobody wins! Everybody is unhappy.

But regardless of what a crappy plan it was, it’s just a crappy movie. It was tense and suspenseful, in the sense that the people were trying to escape through the woods and the pig-men were looking for them, but not much point in suspense by itself. There has to be a plot, and they didn’t bother with that. It just seemed like half of a movie. It seemed well-crafted, but it’s like if somebody crafted a Teletubbies movie really well. I still wouldn’t watch it. I was extra-mad because of the title and because I had been expecting ghosts (just guessing from the brief plot description). Nope, just pig men.

My Rating: 1/5 Potato Sacks.

My Movie Idea: I couldn’t really formulate any creative ideas while watching since this movie sapped all creativity from the room, but off the top of my head, if you’re gonna make “The Blood Lands”, how about some kind of epic adventure where a heavily armed ninja nun goes into a demonic underworld to recover her daughter’s soul that Satan has stolen? Also she has to battle demons (with machine guns and martial arts naturally) which we later discover are actually manifestations of her own true inner demons (she wasn’t always a nun, folks!), and in the end none of it is real, it’s just representative of the mental journey she’s going through in rehab as she gets clean to save her daughter from the abusive father who now has custody because she’s in rehab. And the very end of the movie is her in the real world doing nothing magical but standing up and being strong and getting him arrested and getting her daughter back. I mean come on, the three words of the title are the most creative thing in this movie.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Jug Face06:31 AM -- Wed October 7, 2015

Jug Face

My Review: This is the story of a really weird backwoods village somewhere in the South. The people there worship a pit - an actual pit. It’s a dirty hole in the ground with muddy water at the bottom. But apparently it has healing powers, provided they feed it a person’s blood every so often when it asks for some. How does it ask? Glad you asked! It sends a psychic vision to a guy in town who sculpts a jug with the face of a villager on it, and that villager is the one they have to sacrifice. That’s just the backstory though - the actual story is about a girl who finds a jug with her own face on it, and hides it so she doesn’t have to get killed. Things go badly.

This movie is really well done. It effortlessly creates this fantasy world and pulls you right in. It just all makes sense and builds together into a totally real world without holding your hand along the way and insulting your intelligence. You have to figure it out, but it’s easy to do. There are only two downsides that I see to an otherwise excellent cinematic experience: First, the shunned boy is initially very creepy, until he opens his mouth at which point he’s like Mr. Friendly Exposition Man. It’s downright odd, and I feel like they could’ve easily kept him far more cryptic rather than just blabbing out whatever the girl needs to know, in plain English. He even comes when called and answers questions directly. It’s so improper. That is not how ghostly messengers are allowed to work!

SPOILER PARAGRAPH! Secondly, and this is the big problem, the ending of the movie is garbage. All that great buildup, I just know it’s coming together into something amazing, and... nothing. If there is a moral to this story, it’s not a very good one (like “don’t buck the system” - not a good message!). It’s just weird. And dramatically, it’s just a flop. There needed to be some element of change at the end, something happening, not the equivalent of “this was just a rough patch, things are back to normal now.” That’s what makes a story!

So great movie, right up until the last two minutes! I say make up your own ending. I was having such a great time up until the end.

My Rating: 4/5 Jugs With Faces.

My Movie Idea: I couldn’t think of a movie while watching this one because I was too busy boggling at the fact that this movie is so similar to a story I already created! I wrote a short story a few years ago, and it was about an Inquisitor in a nazi-type world who goes to visit a remote village, where it’s his job to look for people who aren’t properly following the culture (in this world, culture is dictated by the totalitarian government - you WILL listen to Bieber!!). He ends up stumbling across, you guessed it, a big muddy pit in the woods behind the village, which the villagers worship because of the gifts it brings them. It’s almost an identical setup, right down to many of the specifics, though this movie is from a villager’s perspective while I brought in an outsider. And I had less jugs and more tentacles. I would share the story with you, but it’s much too long for here, and it was just a first draft so I assume it’s absolutely terrible and I’m not going to check for myself or I’ll even ruin my own memories of it. But anyway, what’s up with that? Brainjacked again.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Rigor Mortis06:27 AM -- Tue October 6, 2015

Rigor Mortis

My Review: First of all, let’s note that this movie is in Cantonese and is deeply steeped in Chinese culture, so I know that a lot of it was way over my head. But from what I did understand, it’s the story of a guy who moves into a really depressing apartment building and hangs himself within the first 5 minutes of his arrival (literally). He’s cut down before he dies by a very spry old man, and ghosts swirl around the two of them as mystical kung fu occurs. There’s a bunch of that in this movie, and when I say mystical kung fu, I don’t actually mean any kung fu at all, which was kind of surprising. In truth, the few fight scenes in this movie would’ve been cooler if they had actually done serious kung fu in them, but it was much more about the mystical - they threw a punch or two, but mostly they’d scrawl bloody symbols on their hands and touch the enemy, or tie them up with bloody string (blood was definitely a big factor). So don’t get me wrong, it’s not a kung fu movie, it’s more of a violent-exorcism movie.

Anyway, back to the plot: there’s an old guy who dies falling down the stairs, whose body is used as a vessel for the twin ghosts who almost possessed our hanged hero, and he becomes a vampire. And yes, this is China, so vampires hop! The few people who are still alive at the end (including a retired vampire hunter) have to battle the vampire with crazy mystical powers, and it’s quite a special effects extravaganza.

SPOILER PARAGRAPH! There’s a final ending tacked on after our hero sacrifices himself to beat the vampire, which possibly reveals that he did die when he hanged himself, and actually the rest of the events were more of a dying delusion than reality. The guy was a famous actor and he was sort of wanting his death to be the heroic stories he played in movies, rather than a mundane forgotten fade-away. At least that’s my interpretation. It definitely added a layer to the movie, though it also felt seriously tacked on, since it only occupied about one minute of running time.

Overall, it was pretty interesting, and the people on IMDB seem to think that if I understood Chinese culture and mythology, I would’ve gotten a lot more out of it. There were plenty of things I didn’t understand, that’s for sure, though for the most part the mythology was delivered in a pretty clear way, just as it would be in a movie that made up its fantasy for itself.

My Rating: 3/5 Coin Masks.

My Movie Idea: You know how in some movies, there’s a building that’s been around a hundred years and people check out the blueprints and realize that it was designed from the ground up to be some sort of demonic temple, or spiritual resonator, or other evil thing? Ghostbusters is one example. Those movies always take place years later, when the building is done. In my movie, we have the story of such a building being created, in the early 1900s. Maybe we flash-forward to after it’s built sometimes too, but the real story is about the creation. All the intrigue and backstabbing (and satanic rituals) as the crazed megalomaniac funding the creation keeps different teams working on different parts and never revealing the full picture to anyone, so they can’t piece together what is actually happening.

Our hero is one of the contractors working directly under the owner, and he figures things out gradually. In the dramatic finale, the building is finished, an apparent success, which is bad news for our world, as the madman summons a demon in the penthouse. He expects it to go flying off and kill stuff or whatever, but it turns around and eats him, as we cut to the contractor in a coffeehouse elsewhere (perhaps he was telling this story to a friend in voiceover the whole time?) who says “Yeah, I did my job alright. I mean, I cut a corner or two, I guess, but hey, what contractor doesn’t?” And we probably get a cutaway view into the floorboards where we see the steel pentagram under the floors is missing one piece, which is where the demon got out.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Would You Rather?06:23 AM -- Mon October 5, 2015

Would You Rather?

My Review: This is an entry in one of my favorite genres: the rich guy who invites a bunch of people to participate in a “game” which actually entails very bad things for them. In this case, he offers them enough money to solve any problems they may have for life, if they can win an unspecified game against a bunch of other people who also need money. It turns out the game is “Would You Rather”, as in “Would you rather stab the person to your left in the thigh with an icepick, or whip this other guy 3 times with a whipping stick?”

Of course it gets very brutal and unpleasant, and also of course they shoot anybody who won’t decide or tries to leave. There’s only one part I couldn’t watch though, when someone is forced to cut their own eye with a razor blade. No eye stuff for me. No way. So it was actually pretty entertaining all around, wondering what would come next or how they would get out of this. And it has a pretty standard twist for an ending, but it was still fun. I enjoy these kind of movies as long as they focus more on the psychology and less on watching people be tortured. That is not my interest.

My Rating: 3/5 Water Barrels.

My Movie Idea: You’d think I would want to make an entry in this genre myself, and there are many such I would love to do, but in this case, something else came to mind in the early scenes of this movie. In my movie, there’s a megabillionaire philanthropist. Somebody like Bill Gates who is so rich that he makes millions (billions?) just from the interest on his money sitting in the bank. He doesn’t have to do anything, all his time is free, and he has limitless funds. So he is a truly amazing human being - he spends all of his time on charity work, and donates billions of dollars to every worthy cause. Every step of the way, you see that this is all completely sincere and real - he absolutely is giving all of his time and money to help others. He is a fantastic person, who is directly responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of lives with his charity work.

Ah, but there’s the twist. Since he has saved so many lives, in the after hours, he truly and honestly (and just as sincerely!) believes he can kill people if he wants. It’s not even balancing the scales, it’s just a tiny drop on the bad side compared to an ocean on the good side! He’s kind of like Batman, except instead of fighting crime at night, he stalks and murders people, maybe torturing them even. Maybe they’re people he thinks deserve it - others from his social circle, super rich people who don’t help others with their money. Or maybe not, maybe they’re just homeless people who won’t be missed, but that seems counter to his helping-people thoughts. Either way, he is totally above suspicion as how could this guy possibly ever commit a crime?

Maybe the story is about one cop who is onto him and pursues him relentlessly and gets no support because of how loved the guy is. Something like that. It’s something of a character study, of a really twisted character who truly believes that he is just having one tiny little vice on top of all the great stuff he does. And probably there’s a bit in there about “okay, maybe he does kill somebody once a week, but if we lock him up, he won’t be helping thousands every week. Is it really better for the world?” And in the end, the cop probably has to shoot him to save someone. So he saved one life, but now the whole charity train is dead (maybe his will gives all his money to his good-for-nothing nephew instead of to charity as you might expect for a guy like this) and on balance, a lot more people will suffer than be helped. Weird and scary.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Monster Squad04:42 PM -- Sun October 4, 2015

The Monster Squad

My Review: This is a movie from the 80’s and it shows! It’s a classic like Goonies I suppose, only without all the quality. Dracula, Frankenstein, a swamp monster, and a mummy all show up in this town (and some guy in the town becomes a werewolf - it’s not clear how he gets that way, he seems to be a normal guy who ends up wolfified, but I assume Dracula must have caused it, as he is the mastermind of this whole invasion). But there’s a group of kids who hang out in a treehouse and call themselves the Monster Squad because they’re way into monster movies, and know all the stuff about garlic and crosses and silver bullets that everybody knows (maybe in the 80’s not everybody did?). Said group of kids then proceeds to defeat Dracula at his sinister game.

What’s so annoying and dumb about this is the reason they succeed: all the badguys are unbelievably slow and impotent. There’s a scene where 3 vampire women are walking towards a kid with a bow and arrow (he has stakes tied to the arrows, I think?). They are first spotted about 100 feet away, and over the next two minutes of movie, they slowly inch forward as he first manages to shoot one with a stake, and then sits there fumbling for another arrow for the entire rest of the two minutes until he can just barely stab the next one with a stake at point-blank range. It’s so pathetic on both his part and the vampires, it’s just cringe-inducing.

In another scene, the wolfman is threatening two boys and he literally stands between them, snarling and hopping back and forth to face them alternately for about 30 seconds as they have a conversation over whether it’s possible to kick a wolfman in the genitals. They discover it is possible, by kicking him and running away. I mean really, this is the level of threat they face, seriously??

Oh yeah, and also, the coolest and toughest kid in school is for some reason desperate to join this group of geeky losers. I didn't get that at all. Maybe he knew there would be monsters and they'd end up heroes.

My Rating: 2/5 Stephen King T-Shirts.

My Movie Idea: Okay, this time there’s only one movie I could do: do this movie right. It’s a great idea for a movie, it’s just so badly done! In my remake, the monsters would be very dangerous. Fast moving, superpowers, a werewolf that can run you down and cut you in half in 5 seconds flat. All that stuff. But the kids will win in the end because (as silly as it is) they’re the only people in the movie who believe these are monsters and know all the legends and are willing to try them. They keep the vampire away with a cross and garlic, wolfsbane for the werewolf, whatever. And then they go all Home Alone on this stuff and do that movie thing where kids are smarter than adults and beat everybody with improvised traps and witty cleverness. That’s fun stuff! To be honest, every time I picture this, all I can see is The Lost Boys, which is basically what I would do, only with non-vampire enemies. That’s a good movie.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Abandoned Mine (or “The Mine”)07:34 AM -- Sat October 3, 2015

Abandoned Mine (or “The Mine”)

My Review: This movie is in IMDB as The Mine, though even there, the poster art clearly says “Abandoned Mine”. Whatever. This is a weird movie. It looks and sounds like an ABC Family after-school special, all bubbly and light and colorful. And it is almost that. It’s kind of a Goosebumps movie, like horror for kids. It’s a little too intense for young kids, but I’d definitely say it’s horror for pre-teens. It’s so lightweight and harmless, it’s really weird actually. I mean, that’s a reasonable niche for a movie to fill, but I just didn’t expect it and I’ve never seen it before.

Anyway, it’s almost a found-footage movie (mixes shakycam and regular camera), about a group of kids who go into an abandoned mine together, all wearing video-camera helmets. They’re led by one kid who gave them all the helmets and wants to arrange this get-together as kind of one last hurrah before they all are going to different places, for college or not-college as the case may be.

SPOILER PARAGRAPH if you care! For most of the movie, the “ghosts” are actually that kid messing with the others, in a ridiculously elaborate and really uncool way that would make me glad I was moving away, personally. At the end there are real ghosts, in a vague minimal way.

My Rating: 2/5 Cardboard Masks.

My Movie Idea: You know how in every found-footage movie, there’s one character who is really obnoxious and continues filming all the time when everyone else is yelling to just put the camera away? My movie is a found-footage movie, and that guy is in it, as the one with the camera of course (in this movie, he’s the only one filming). He’s as annoying as always, and just won’t seem to put the camera away no matter how crazy things get. Isn’t that always so weird, like why are you still holding a camera (and pointing it the right way) as your friend is bleeding out on the floor, right?

Weeeellll... in this movie, you find out why: the guy with the camera is the killer. He’s arranged all these elaborate traps and he’s getting sadistic pleasure from leading all his ‘friends’ to their deaths (maybe he’s a social outcast who’s paying them all back for some slight he percieves in the past). This is not made clear for most of the movie, but it becomes more obvious as things go on, until eventually the second-to-last victim he actually kills directly, stabbing them on camera. Unfortunately for him, the last victim walks in on this, realizes what’s up, and overpowers him and beats him unconscious with his own camera. The very end of the movie could be shown from police cameras, or maybe footage from the interrogation of the killer, something like that. A nice little dark coda.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Exeter08:26 AM -- Fri October 2, 2015

Exeter

My Review: This movie really surprised me. It’s presented like it’s going to be a found-footage “bunch of kids go into an old asylum to party and ghosts get them” thing. It is not that. What it turns out to be is very nearly an Evil Dead movie, with cackling demons, ridiculous gore, and campy insanity. I’m not saying it’s Evil Dead quality, but it’s definitely inspired by it. Probably not really worth watching, but kind of a fun ride anyway.

My Rating: 3/5 Baby Bracelets.

My Movie Idea: So there’s this party at somebody’s house, the usual kind movie-teenagers (played by 20-somethings, of course) throw when their parents are out of town, where hundreds of people they apparently know all come pouring in and there’s kegs of beer and so on. You’ve seen it in a hundred movies. But on the way to the party, one group of guys had some beers early, and ended up hitting someone in their car. You don’t see who it is they hit, and neither do they, because they freak out and drive off, standard hit-and-run scenario. Then later at the party, I’m not quite sure how this gets introduced, but you realize eventually that one of the partygoers is the person they hit - and they’re dead. It’s a ghost (which in this movie can be solid), who is acting like a normal partygoer in order to stalk and kill the guys from that car, one by one.

After the first kill, the party’s kind of over, with everybody running around and trying to hide and figure out where the serial killer in the house might be, and of course a bunch of people are all hiding in one room together, some of which are the hit-and-run guys, and one of which is the ghost. But you still don’t know which one! The tension! The drama! Everybody thinks they’re all in danger, but after the second kill, the remaining hit-and-run guys figure out that they are the targets, but to cement their villainous nature, they make sure to convince everybody that they’re all in danger, so the other people can be human shields for them. And of course, the rest of the movie is them getting caught alone one way or another and murdered, and an eventual reveal of who the ghost is.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Woman In Black 209:40 AM -- Thu October 1, 2015

Welcome to another fine year of me watching a horror movie every night of October and attempting to justify it with a flimsy premise and sharing the experience with you! So, to date, we’ve done video reviews, written reviews, and even drawings based on the movies. So what is it this year? Well, I figure, why not jump into my own personality and share something inside me that just happens automatically when I watch a movie: For each movie we watch this month, I’m going to share the (usually totally different) movie that it inspires me to wish I had the skills/money/equipment/friends to make! In other words, every movie I watch makes me think of a different movie I would make if I could, so I will share a brief description of that movie with you, in addition to a little review of the movie I watched. Got it? Good luck figuring out the connection between the two!

The Woman In Black 2

My Review: Let’s start by pointing out I never saw The Woman In Black, so I lack the backstory here. Also, let’s add that I really didn’t pay enough attention while this was on, which definitely hampered the experience. So given all that, I have to tell you, I found this movie to be dull as dishwater. So boring, so slow, and though there was a mystery behind the ghost that tied into the characters (which is what I am after in a ghost movie!), it just was not exciting at all.

It also suffers from the very classic problem of 80% of ghost movies - the ghost has no specific set of powers, so it can kind of do anything, only it chooses not to do the worst things it could (like simply dropping a piano on you, or making the room you’re in have no exits at all and leave you there for eternity, or anything else, since it can do anything), just to keep the movie going. I would rather there were some logical consistency to what exactly the ghost was capable of, and it worked within that framework. I’m sure people would argue that the unknown is the scary thing, but I’m not even saying I need to know the set of powers the ghost has, it just needs to have one, and if this ghost could do the things it did at the end of the movie at the beginning, it could’ve accomplished its goals instantly without puttering about for 2 hours.

My Rating: 2/5 Cardboard Airplanes.

My Movie Idea: It’s a hundred years in the future, and we have cures for all forms of cancer, all major diseases, and even broken the code to make cells continue regenerating forever instead of shutting down (i.e. the end of aging). We all live forever, barring extreme physical harm (most of which can still be fixed with regrowing organs, etc). All very plausible future tech. Here’s the problem though (not overpopulation, that’s some other movie): with hardly anybody dying ever, Death is getting really bored and angry. He’s bored out of his mind, and given his line of work you can imagine he has a bit of a dark side, so he comes to earth and starts evening the scales, mano a mano with his big scythe.

Basically, it’s a Godzilla movie, but instead of a 4 story lizard, it’s a man-sized skeleton in a robe with a scythe plowing through downtown, knocking down buildings and cutting people in half. It’s maybe a black comedy since it’s a pretty darn silly premise. All the usual Godzilla stuff happens - national guard comes in to fire missiles at him to no avail (obviously, you can’t kill death), scientists try to figure it out (not much hope, Death personified is not very scientific), and... hmm.

The only real ending I could come up with is that once he’s killed enough people he walks away, deciding things are fair for now, but he’s gonna be back next year for more. That’s a pretty anti-climactic ending though, but I can’t really think of a reasonable way to defeat him. Maybe discover an alien civilization he can go manage death for, and leave us alone. Or here’s a bit of a twist: in a last-ditch effort, they nuke him. Obviously that has no effect, but since it kills hundreds of thousands of people who couldn’t get out of the city in time, he’s satisfied and leaves.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: ...And The Rest!09:42 PM -- Fri October 31, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THESE REVIEWS CONTAINS SPOILERS

13 Sins

This movie is the story of a guy who gets a mysterious phone call from somebody who's obviously watching him, offering him $1,000 to swat the fly in his car. From there, it escalates - 13 challenges ensue, with each one worth more money, and being more transgressive and illegal. He is allowed to quit at any time, but will lose all he's won if he does. It's a scary game show!

This is a fun movie. I was completely enthralled just because I always wanted to know what the next challenge would be. And of course, you knew it was going to get murdery, so I kept waiting for that. I was not disappointed, though it was surprisingly far into the challenges before they actually wanted anybody dead.

It's your typical global-conspiracy-with-magical-surveillance-abilities movie. Pretty fun. The main character is an American Martin Freeman, which instantly makes him more sympathetic, despite him gradually turning evil. There are a ton of twists crammed into the ending portion of the movie, and while most of them are pretty guessable, there's some fun stuff going on. My favorite is the absolute last scene in the movie (I don't recall, it might even have been after the credits started), which starts off seeming like your typical horror movie ending that sets up that the evil will never die... but then actually turns around and becomes the moral of the story. Our hero didn't need to get himself into so much trouble, he invited it with greed.

In the end, the body count is large but hard to track thanks to one memorable and horrible scene. It's around 14 people, 2 flies, and we can reasonably infer that a 3rd fly also died. This movie is a pretty fun 4 out of 5 Cups of Coffee.


Truth or Die

This is the story of a group of horrible college kids who abuse another kid (Felix). Long after, they're invited to Felix's birthday party, and they go, not because they like him, but because he's rich and they assume that means lots of free booze. They assume wrong, and Felix's brother kidnaps and tortures them to find out which of them sent the nasty postcard which caused Felix to hang himself. Revenge ensues.

This is in the 'torture-porn' realm of movies like Saw, but it's kind of unique in that it's more like how that would go in real life - the torturer has only one very simple Evil Torture Device, and he doesn't have any complex grand schemes or backup plans, he just struggles to keep control over things and pretty much fails.

This movie is mostly very frustrating. Though the killer is army-trained and has a gun, he still has pretty minimal control over these people. They know he intends to kill them, and yet despite a million opportunities - including the killer giving his gun to one of them - they never take the chance to stop him or escape. Well, they do eventually, but I feel like this was just poorly written. It wouldn't have been hard to make the scenario less escapable, like for instance if he actually tied up all of the victims instead of enlisting one to help him corral the others.

On the plus side, it all wraps up in a way that makes sense at the end and reveals some surprises, and ties into something that otherwise seemed like an excessively horrible personality trait for most of the movie. Turns out it was a plot point!

In the end, there's a body count of 7, and the movie passes by with 2 out of 5 Grenades. It's not really worth seeing, but it wasn't badly done for what it was. Oh yeah, and Felix's brother is harder to kill than Jason. There's really no proof he's even dead at the end of the movie, and I wouldn't count on it after all the things he shrugged off.


100 Bloody Acres

This is the story of 3 people who hitch a ride in a "bone and blood" fertilizer truck (well, there's nutrients in bone and blood...). You just know that's not going to go well. And yes, the fertilizer-making brothers decide to grind up the hitchhikers into fertilizer because apparently living people have a lot of potassium in them. Comedy? ensues.

This is a horror-comedy, but I realized about halfway through that I hadn't laughed once... it's just not a funny movie. It's light-hearted, unrealistic and sort of silly, but there aren't really any jokes. I guess you're just supposed to laugh at the situation, but I'm a tougher nut to crack than that!

I'll cut to the chase on this one, because I don't think it's worth my time. There's a body count of 6, and it earns just 2 out of 5 Diamond Rings. It's nothing terrible, but there's nothing about it to recommend. Try Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil if you want to have fun with people ending up in grinding machines!


Beneath

And our final movie of the month is the story of a coal miner's daughter (hey, they exist!), who insists on joining her father on his last day at the mine before retiring. Of course there's a cave-in and... hmm. Craziness, ghosts, zombies and murder ensue.

Once the cave-in occurs, the people have a lot to contend with. They don't even realize there are ghost zombies because they're too busy trying to ensure they have oxygen and don't get crushed by falling rocks. This lack of oxygen is very stressful for me. Her father ends up doing a whole lot of wheezing and saying "I can't breathe!" which I do not like!

Then when it comes to the whole ghost/zombie/madness thing, I'm honestly not sure what was going on. Some people definitely got killed by other people who had gone crazy, but other people seemingly couldn't have. The main character saw peoples' faces as zombie faces sometimes and freaked out, but it definitely wasn't as simple as people having hallucinations and protecting themselves from the 'monsters', because we saw people turning evil out of the blue, not just freaking out. I'm sure there's some explanation that covers the combination of things that happened, I'm just not sure what it is. Was it just methane poisoning their brains? Ghost possession? Doesn't feel like either of those covers everything that happened, but whatever.

That said, it was enjoyable and suspenseful. With a body count of 8ish, and a score of 4 out of 5 Oxygen Tanks, it's a pretty decent way to end the month.


So now, as I sit here with Spiders 3D playing in the background, I must bid adieu to my month of scary movies. This is I believe the fourth year of Halloween Horror reviewing, and feels like the most disappointing. Nothing worthy of 5 stars this month. A bunch of pretty decent movies, a bunch of mediocre and bad movies, and one awful movie (Absence!). But it's always fun to find out what lurks in the next movie, and I always end each October wanting to keep watching a movie a day. I just don't want to have to write reviews or draw pictures!

Yet here is one last picture, just a generic Halloweeny one! Is it bad that I'm glad I'm not forced into doing a drawing every day after this? And that I copped out by only having one drawing for the last four movies? It's just so hard...
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Taking of Deborah Logan11:35 AM -- Fri October 31, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Hey, it's Halloween at last! By my count, I actually need to review 5 more movies to reach 31. I've watched 3 of those movies, so I have to watch two movies and write 5 reviews today. That seems like a lot, actually. So I better rip through it quick!

This is your classic possession movie, though it's not so classic because it's quite different. Deborah Logan is an old lady just beginning to suffer from Alzheimer's disease. A documentary crew has come to film her inevitable decline (not because she's anybody special, just to educate about Alzheimer's). Unfortunately, she's not just losing her wits, she's also being possessed. Teleportation ensues.

We're back in the realm of found footage! In a slight twist, this one contains some high-profile actors that I recognize, so it's not playing the "these are unknowns, so maybe it's real" game that is a wee bit played out. I'm good with that, because it's not like anybody was falling for it anyway, and famous actors usually got that way via talent, so it only helps the movie. Found-footage-wise, this is fine, nothing too believable, nothing too ridiculous, although there is no real good reason why a documentary crew would install security cameras all over the house. That is not typical documentary stuff. To be honest, I mostly forgot about the cameras, which I consider a win. I would rather be wrapped up in the actual story than arguments over whether somebody should stop filming or whatever.

Alzheimer's is very awful. It's one of my bigger fears. It's sort of like dying, only you get to be there as everybody grieves. Pretty horrendous. It also means that this woman is under medical supervision, which takes some weird possession stuff and puts it into medical hands, in an interesting twist. For example, she got a horrible rash, where her skin turned all red and monstrous, which of course was something demonic, but the doctors ran all kinds of tests and named a lot of things it could be (but wasn't).

Some other random tidbits:
  • This takes place in the town of Exuma... which is pronounced eczema. That kept bothering me the whole time! Why would you name a town that? Update: I googled, and there's a district of the Bahamas with that name. I bet they pronounce it ex-ooma.

  • It seems quite cost-inefficient for every hospital or asylum in every movie to have an abandoned wing or floor. Why not renovate that sucker and put some patients in there? I guess for the potential horror movie value.

  • The house in this movie has three attics and a basement. What?

  • The ending 'twist' is well-handled. It just hints at what has obviously occurred, rather than beating you over the head. Well, more than hints, I guess, but at least it doesn't come out and say it, or have the girl stab her parents or something like most movies.
So, in the end there is merely a body count of 2 (and several injured people who might not survive), and I think we can award this one 4 out of 5 Trowels because it really kept me interested throughout.

Here is a drawing of Deborah Logan herself. She's pretty creepy.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Carrie (Remake)08:12 PM -- Thu October 30, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is a remake of the Stephen King story of a girl who discovers she has telekinetic powers in high school. That's the cool thing in her life. The bad stuff is that her mom is totally nuts, and the other kids treat her badly. Some much more than others. Accurate high school life ensues.

Well, this is definitely a remake. I haven't really seen the original Carrie in full, but I've seen many parts of it, and all those parts seemed to be here! I'm not sure why they do remakes like this. The only thing akin to an update to the story is that the kids have cell phones and make videos of things. Which doesn't change the course of events in any way. The main thing that makes it a remake is the extensive crazy CGI, explosions, and mayhem in the finale. I mean everything goes seriously Michael Bay for the last fifteen minutes.

I'm not sure what else to say about this movie. It works, it's a story. It's kind of weird in that most of the people in the high school actually treat Carrie just fine. There's mainly just one psycho girl who's out to get her (and that girl is quite an over-the-top caricature of evil, along with her equally nuts boyfriend). Most of the rest of the population is not only nice to her, but actively tries to help her and stop the psycho girl from bothering her. It's too bad that in the end she murders everyone anyway.

What's weird about the big finale (spoilers I guess, but who doesn't know what happens?) is how instead of losing control of her powers and lashing out indiscriminately, Carrie really just turns evil and specifically murders everyone in a very calculated way. That doesn't feel right at all, and kind of ruins any empathy you might have for her. It seems like a sour note, really, not the right way to play it.

So in the end, there's a body count of 1 pig, 4 people of note, and a whole mess o' promgoers. This movie deserves an acceptable 3 out of 5 Melted Deadbolts.

Because I didn't want to draw people, here's a bucket!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Mine Games02:33 PM -- Thu October 30, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Note: This movie is also known as The Evil Within, which rather strangely is the title it showed at the start of the movie, despite it being listed as Mine Games on Netflix. Also note: no kidding about the spoilers. Be prepared to be spoiled.

This is the story of... wait for it... a group of teens driving a van out to a remote cabin! Man, what a fun and unique thing to do. When they arrive, one of them finds a mine in the woods, and for some reason they all think the coolest thing ever would be to explore this mine (actually, that does sound cool). They find strange things like a wall that has "This is the first time" written on it. Oh, and also one of the kids takes anti-psychotic medication and he's been skipping it. Inverted causality ensues.

This is definitely one of my favorite types of movies: the time loop movie. They never really make sense in any complete way, but they have their own little set of internal logic that is fun to puzzle out and play with, and it allows you to feel smart and have a lot of little revelations as you see things coming. In this movie, it basically works out that everything that happens 'the first time' is taking place after 'the second time', but even with that rule in place, things are kind of wonky. It's not quite a loop, more like just two times through, in reverse order, with some weird overlapping.

There is of course no explanation for the time loop, and I'm fine with that. If I get to see a time loop, I'm not going to be picky and demand any more than that, I'm happy.

But there is another thing with no explanation or purpose I did not like: the psychic girl. One of the teens in the group is psychic and is constantly flipping out due to the effects of the time loop (for instance, she starts seeing some of the people who are going to die the 2nd time around as dead already). I can't actually figure out why she's in the movie. In the end, all her freakouts put her in a semi-catatonic state, and the killer ends up picking her up and dumping her in the cellar, possibly fatally as she tumbles down the stairs, I don't know. That's the extent of her existence in the movie. She adds nothing, and it seems like psychic powers should be an important plot point if you're going to include them.

One other big complaint with this movie: the killer, spoiler, is the psychotic guy. There is a motivation for what he does - he thinks the other people are out to get him, and I guess the filmmakers thought "needs to take anti-psychotic medication" was a big enough excuse for a seemingly-normal guy to go super paranoid. I don't know, it didn't feel right to me. He gets so paranoid that he murders ALL of his friends - including the couple that they were going to meet, who had nothing to do with anything - just to ensure they don't lock him up. In a room he knows he actually has the key to get out of (he gave it to himself earlier!). It's kind of clever in that it's the classic social trap - they want to lock him up because they think he's gonna kill them, but due to the time loop, he only wants to kill them because they lock him up. That's fun, but I just didn't buy that he would go so nuts and turn so instantly and totally evil. Not to mention capable. He does some seriously complex murdering and scheduling, and a whole lot of very heavy lifting, to pull this off.

I don't know, now that I write about it, I kind of like it. I mean, the other kids found their own dead bodies, so they had plenty of reason to be scared. They were all in a very strange and incomprehensible situation... maybe he would go nuts and kill them all. Or maybe I'm just underestimating his mental problems.

Anyway, the most important thing I want to share about this movie is that it is almost identical in concept to the movie Triangle. I highly recommend Triangle, a five-star horror movie that will really mess with your head. It perfectly executes the time-loop idea (I guess that sort of spoils the movie - I went into it not knowing only that there would be some sort of big twist, which made the loop a huge surprise) and all makes sense in the end. Mine Games does not reach those lofty heights, but hey, it's fun.

So in the end, I think the body count is 5 and a half (Schrodinger's psychic girl), and the movie just barely pulls out 4 out of 5 Minecarts. You can't really go too wrong with a time loop! Oh, and the final moment in the movie doesn't really make any sense in a lot of ways. That's a common issue with horror movies, always wanting to get in that shock right before the credits. It does explain why there were only two loops though!

Here's a picture of the broken bridge that is featured a few times in the movie.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Banshee Chapter07:47 PM -- Wed October 29, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is not a found-footage movie, though it strangely pretends to be. Everything is shot handheld, or occasionally a security camera or something, but the cameraman isn't a character in the movie and you never see him. That just sort of makes it a cheaply made movie, really. But it's the story of a woman investigating what happened on some actual found footage (the first bit of the movie), when her friend takes a mysterious drug and shortly after that disappears, with a lot of weird stuff going on. She ends up learning about a government conspiracy to give people this drug and experiment on them. Bad trips ensue.

This movie is pure Lovecraft, and a character actually calls out the story it's sort of based on at one point (I forget the name, but it's a famous one about a guy who makes a radio device that tunes into another dimension and lets the things in that dimension see him and get him). Which is probably a little tacky, but it was about 2 minutes after I said to myself "This is a Lovecraft story!"

It also pulls in the mythology, if you can call it that, of "numbers stations". I happen to have just recently learned about those thanks to Stuff You Should Know. It's some really weird stuff. There are (in real life!) these shortwave radio stations scattered around the world which are transmitting robotic voices saying series of numbers. The speculation, which makes sense to me, is that these are actually sending coded messages for spies. If you tune in at the right time, and have the magic decoder ring, you can turn the numbers into a message. The rest of the time, the numbers are just random, so your enemies will never break the code since they don't even know when they are hearing a coded message or just noise. The numbers only play for a certain time period each day, and they are always preceded by a specific sound recording to indicate the start, and that makes it even creepier. The weird creepy music that pours out of random radios in this movie is a recording of an actual numbers station. The gist of this movie is to give an alternate, and completely crazy, explanation of the numbers stations (and of the CIA's MK-Ultra program, which was about trying to mind control people with drugs). Aliens, of course. DUH.

This movie (so far) wins the Scariest Of The Month award. Some good jumps, some really disturbing (not gross!) images, and a very creepy overall feeling, the kind that leaves me nervous to go outside in the dark to put my dogs to bed. I must confess that I had subtitles turned on, as I usually do, and for some reason, the subtitles started getting ahead of the movie as it went on. Rather than get up and fix it, I took advantage of it to make the movie less scary. When somebody was wandering in the dark with a flashlight, I could see "[Aaaah! What is that!]" on the screen a couple seconds earlier, so I didn't get anywhere near the jumps I deserved. Whatever, I use the tools at my disposal to protect myself! Speaking of scares, the first one in the movie is almost identical to the scariest moment in the movie Signs. That one made me leap out of my chair in the theater, I tell you what.

So in the end, we have a very mysterious body count: I wrote down 2 for sure, and a few more question marks, because there's really no way to know when or if the characters actually died. I guess that's part of the horror. I award this movie a grand 4 out of 5 Primary Sources. It's a good 'un!

This time, I thought I'd try doing something with a lot of ink, but I don't have any reasonably fat pens, so it's a weeeee bit scribbly. This picture is actually a little creepier than what it's supposed to be. That isn't some horrible dessicated corpse, it's actually a regular person - the black holes in his face are just supposed to be shadow. He's strapped in a chair, in a pitch-black room, except for a spotlight aimed directly down at him (it's also showing the edge of a table next to him). Pretty much a failure.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Friday The 13th Part VII06:03 PM -- Tue October 28, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Well, if we have Freddy on, we need to give equal time to Jason! Interestingly, the one Friday The 13th movie on Netflix happens to be an out-of-character episode just like the one Nightmare on Elm Street was.

In a sense, this is standard Jason: He pops up out of the lake, walks around killing teenagers, and then gets stopped so he can re-awaken for the next movie. Plot over. The unique element here is that he is awakened by a girl with telekinetic powers, who ends up battling him with said powers. It's basically Jason vs. Carrie. Side note: this movie was originally planned to be Freddy vs. Jason (something they ended up doing later), but when they couldn't swing that, they came up with the telekinetic girl to replace Freddy. She is quite different from Freddy though.

This is really exactly what I expected from a Friday the 13th, except for the magical battle at the end. Jason is, as always, a zombie who isn't hungry, though he clearly exhibits full human intelligence. His motivation is nonexistent - he sees people, he kills people. His methods are nondescript - he grabs something sharp and stabs it into them. Boring. The kills are actually super tame, nearly always cut away before anything happens. This is done in a very clunky way that just looks like the tape got cut short rather than an artful edit. A little research told me that this is because the movie originally got an X rating, and they had to trim it way back, so all the good stuff was snipped (poorly). Seems like they went too far, but hey, it was the 80's.

The ending of this movie is totally honey nut clusters. Spoiler: the girl with the powers somehow summons the spirit/corpse of her dead father out of the lake to strangle Jason and drag him down. There's no way in which it begins to make sense, and the list of problems with it is too big to even start in on. It is the equivalent of the Monty Python foot coming down and squishing him.

Some quick notes from the movie:
  • The Crystal Lake sign is written in one of my favorite fonts, Insaniburger. You can find it all over this website!

  • This movie opens with a "Previously on..." montage, which is super weird for a movie to do, and not particularly helpful (much like the "THEN" montage that starts most episodes of Supernatural, but without the rockin' tunes)

  • If Jason can stab through a person's body with his bare hand effortlessly, why is he wasting time with weapons?

  • At one point, he kills someone by throwing a knife at them. This is entirely too human and skilled for him. It just doesn't feel right at all!
So in the end, we have a hefty body count of 16, and a well-earned 1 out of 5 Live-In Therapists. It's close, because they're both terrible, but I have to admit this might be marginally better than the awful Nightmare on Elm Street film from yesterday. At least it has a psychic girl to spice it up. Overall though, I will still rank Freddy a hundred miles above Jason anyday.

Here's a scribble of something that could be Crystal Lake.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Nightmare on Elm Street 211:35 AM -- Tue October 28, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is the story of Freddy's Revenge. Or at least, that's the subtitle of the movie. In point of fact, Freddy engages in precisely zero revenge in this entire movie, and I think they just called it that because it's the first sequel. This story is actually a very non-traditional Nightmare on Elm Street, in which Freddy (some dead guy who normally kills people in their dreams) is trying to get into the real world by possessing the body of a teenager who's moved into a house on Elm Street, in which much action from the first movie apparently took place. Claw scraping ensues.

I wanted to dip into the classic serieses this year, which I guess I always shoot for, but this was the only Elm Street movie on Netflix, which is pretty disappointing, as it completely ignores the entire premise of Elm Street. There are definitely some dreams here, including the really cool opening scene of a bus driving right out of town and straight into the underworld, but most of what happens is actually Freddy running around in the real world... I was going to finish that sentence with "chopping people up" but honestly most of what he does is flipping over tables and gesturing angrily. He's really not that threatening (he's actually a skinny guy, not very imposing) other than his completely random magical powers like making everything get hot, or shorting out electrical things, or locking doors with his mind, or walking through hedges (well, we can all do that one, he just can do it without getting stuck). This movie completely disregards the formula of Elm Street, and that's what I had been looking to see, so I was pretty disappointed.

I was also disappointed because it's really dumb. The plot is pretty much nothing (Freddy gradually gets more control, then eventually burns up and re-dies because the kid's girlfriend loves him), and without a comprehensible mythology or set of rules behind it, there's not even anything to think about. You have no idea what will happen from one moment to the next because what can happen is anything. There's no explanation as to how Freddy comes to inhabit this boy's brain, or why he's the target. It just happens. A normal Freddy movie is full of rules, and the goodguys win by taking control of those rules. This is just random nonsense, including exploding parakeets, cheesy lightning, a near-total lack of quips from Freddy, terrible acting (shockingly bad for a big Hollywood movie), and really bad foley work. I don't normally notice foley work at all, but when picking up a claw glove causes loud clanking noises, it stands out.

So in the end, the body count is quite unclear - 2 parakeets, 6 people, and possibly around 6 more killed at the pool party, but it's not made clear. The final score for this embarrassing chapter in Freddy's existence is a dreary 1 out of 5 Dreams of Better Times.

For this movie, I was just imagining what life was like before Freddy died. Nothing creepy about a gardener who uses a claw glove to trim the hedges!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Blair Witch Project02:01 PM -- Mon October 27, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Ah yeah suckas... we going to the original! I figured since I watch so many found-footage movies, and I haven't seen Blair Witch since it originally came out (in the theater!), and I am always comparing found-footage movies to it, that it was about time I actually watched it again and saw how it holds up. Actually my thought process was more like "Hey, Blair Witch is on Netflix! [add]" but I find my retroactive justification also of interest.

This movie is the story of 3 documentary filmmakers who wander out into the woods to film a movie about the legend of the Blair Witch. They end up very lost, and river-map-kicking ensues.

Well, I have always said this was one of the scariest movies I've ever seen, so did the fear hold up? Absolutely not. The main kick in the teeth to any sense of fear with this repeat viewing is simply that: it was a repeat viewing. Spoiler alert (you really should see this movie unspoiled if you can, it is pretty intense): when you know that nothing is ever going to pop out of the woods at you, then the endless shots of creepy woods are no longer scary. It was that anticipation and the unknown that was so nerve-wracking. Because in truth, nothing happens in this movie. Almost.

But nonetheless, the movie as a whole did hold up for me. It's interesting to see it now, after a decade and a half of clones, and I honestly think it's right at the top of all the found footage I've seen. Maybe not as a piece of entertainment, there are probably others (which I can't think of offhand) that are more interesting than people being lost in the woods while nothing happens, but in terms of the elements that are unique to found footage, the pretenders have still not surpassed the original. This movie looks totally real - perhaps because it practically is. Everything in it is ad-libbed and most of it consists of the actors reacting to things they didn't know were going to happen. It also is not nauseating and awful in the use of the camera, and the rationale for always filming is handled much better than in almost every other found-footage movie (they even turn off the camera sometimes, if you can imagine that!), though it's still not plausible by any means.

As a video documenting 3 people getting lost in the woods and freaking out, this is utterly convincing. I saw a lot of talk about bad acting in this movie, and I think it's insane. I can't picture how you could act more realistically than they did. You may not want to hear people be screechy and whiny, but that's what happens when you're lost in the woods.

As a magical ghost/witch/whatever story, it falls a lot flatter. The legend is really just a bunch of disconnected tales, and the few supernatural things that occur have no relation to any of the tales. They hear a lot of sticks snapping in the woods around them, something scratches at their tent, and their packs get tossed around and rummaged through while they're gone. None of which relates to the legend at all. In fact, I'm not really sure what the legend is, because the ending connects to this story they heard about a serial killer, but he wasn't the witch, so who knows. Maybe he was possessed by the witch (who is a ghost. I think witch means ghost in this movie. Or it's just a witch who's dead, and thus a ghost). Anyway, it all manages to be plenty creepy, it just doesn't make any sense when you try to piece it together.

So, in the end, we have 3 bodies of course (otherwise these wouldn't be lost tapes!), and a score of 4 out of 5 Wet Maps. It really is good, and I think better than the found-footage which has come out since. Though I have seen many people say Blair Witch itself is a "rip-off" of The Last Broadcast. I haven't seen that, and I'd like to. Anyway, watch this one with the lights off!

Fun facts I learned on IMDB after watching:
  • They considered, but didn't shoot, an alternate ending where a giant stick man chased them through the woods (now that would've been something to see!).

  • The actors had to stay in character, actually out camping, for 8 days straight, and if anybody did have to break character for any reason, they used the safety word "taco" first.

  • They were given less food each day to make them more and more irritable.

  • When they're running through the woods in terror at night, and Heather yells "What [on earth] is that!?!" she's actually referring to a member of the crew who's standing on a hill in an all-white outfit with a ski cap on. He's not visible on camera, which is probably good because what would that be in the context of the movie?
For this movie, I decided to step back into the past to my own creation which was itself inspired by the Blair Witch originally - the Happy Stick Witch! (note: I don't think she actually looks anything like this, but I did it from memory. Should she have hair? Seems like she should)
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Grabbers06:58 PM -- Sun October 26, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is the story of a comet crashing in the ocean near an Irish island. Like any comet, this one is filled with aliens. They are tentacley and like the water but are happy to chase people onto land too. What they aren't happy to do is come in contact with alcohol. So if you'll pardon the stereotype, the inhabitants all get seriously drunk in order to keep the monsters from attacking them, and proceed to try to put a stop to them. Rain ensues (otherwise the monsters couldn't get to the people!).

This is like a Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright movie, but without any of those people. And it does suffer for the lack. So as that implies, it's a horror-comedy, and it's fairly light-hearted, with none of the characters really being quite as terrified as they ought to be facing giant balls of tentacles, and making jokes.

However, that's where it sort of falls down - it is light-hearted and amiable, but there really aren't very many jokes. It's like the mood is there, but I'd say there are probably only 10-20 jokes in the entire movie, many of which are minimal at best. So you're smiling a little bit the whole time, waiting to be amused, but you never quite get there. It's likeable, just not funny.

New fact I learned: Irish cops are called "garda".

In the end, we have a body count of 10, plus 20 or so whales, and a score of 3 out of 5 Gardas. It's fun, but not fun enough. It's hard to complain, like it's good all around, just not great. Nothing really... grabs me. Eh? Eh? Now that's comedy.

Here is what the tentacle monsters in this movie look like:
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Barricade12:01 PM -- Sun October 26, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is a story about pro wrestlers pummeling each other... Or so you would think when you see that it's produced by WWE Entertainment! In fact, it's actually the story of a non-wrestling man whose non-wrestling wife has died recently, so he's having to take his non-wrestling kids on a trip to the cabin (yep, trip to a remote cabin!) his wife had wanted them to go to before she died, all by himself. It's stressful and depressing, and none of them are too in the mood for fun. Lucky for them, horrible (non-wrestling!) evils lurk in the darkness, so they don't have to worry about fun! No wrestling ensues.

This is one of those depressing horror movies, more sad than scary. It's loaded up with cheap false jump scares, like the classic scene of somebody stepping through the door suddenly along with a shriek of violins when they turn out to just be somebody who is supposed to be there, and who you should've heard coming rather than being surprised by. When it gets down to the actual scares, it's alright... there's something mysterious stalking this house, and they end up going back and forth trying to decide if they need to get out or "Barricade"(tm) themselves inside the house to be safe.

Big spoiler alert, it's time to reveal the big twist! There's not much to this movie other than the twist - the family goes to the cabin, they are sad, everything seems weird, time skips, people act strangely. There's a lot of fairly pointless action, repeated times where he has to search the house for his suddenly missing kids again and again... and then the twist is that the father had a high fever messing with his head for most of the movie (an absurdly short incubation time, by the way - he contracted it from the guy they met a couple hours earlier). So all the weird stuff either didn't happen, or was things he did while feverish, and then didn't recognize he had done later. It all makes sense in the end, as they flashback through it (not to too much excess, thankfully), and you see what really happened, which is that he mostly did all the right things to save his kids from this disease, he just didn't know he had done them. So that's pretty good.

It was an interesting and semi-original twist, a different form of "it was all a dream" that could actually happen. Although the one thing I found really odd was the way the sheriff, who the father tied up and stuffed in the attic while insane, reacted to it all. I couldn't quite understand it. He seemed pretty cool with having been kidnapped in the end, although then he adds, "He'll get what he has coming..." ominously, which makes him seem quite the opposite of cool with it. It was strange.

In the end, this is probably going to be the record low body count for the month: 1 death. And it earns an acceptable 3 out of 5 Monster Nails. Not the greatest movie ever, but it works.

This movie inspired me to draw a barricaded front door, because that's something in the movie. Plus I wanted to nail it shut because until they actually did nail it shut in the movie, they left that thing open way too much! It drove me insane that in a snowstorm, he'd run outside and leave the door open. Was he raised in a barn?
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Absence08:52 PM -- Thu October 23, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Guess what? A group of kids decided to get together and drive out to a remote cabin in the woods to party! Specifically, this group is a husband and wife who lost their unborn baby mysteriously (it just disappeared from inside her during the night!), and the wife's brother who is the token Obnoxious Cameraman for this found-footage film. So they go out to the cabin, and nothing ensues.

Firstly, there has never been a human being alive who was remotely as obnoxious as the cameraman in this movie. And it is also completely impossible to believe that he meets a girl who is willing to talk to him during the movie.

The entire film is just these people hanging out at the cabin and trying to relax and get over the loss of the baby. That's it. You just watch them be sad, or get annoyed at the insanely annoying brother. Every so often there's a moment of weirdness during the night, but only a couple of times. Then in the last few minutes of the movie, a little bit of stuff happens but who cares at that point. And it's not interesting, it's not explained, it's not scary, it's not anything.

So we have a body count of anybody who tried to sit through the movie and didn't have the iron will to carry on, and a score of 0 out of 5 Whatevers. Your life will be better with an absence of this movie, avoid it.

This movie did not inspire me at all. There was nothing interesting in it to draw, and it sapped all creative energy from me, so here is a triangle.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Dead Silence05:06 PM -- Tue October 21, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Who doesn't love evil puppets? I guess the people they kill don't. In this movie, there's a ventriloquist who owned 101 puppets, who was murdered and then buried according to her will: not only buried with all of her puppets, but actually cut up into a puppet herself after death. Yeah, that's really weird, and I can't imagine anybody fulfilling that request. But they did! Anyway, that's all backstory. In the actual story, a puppet is delivered to a guy's doorstep, it kills his girlfriend, he goes back to his hometown where it was sent from, discovers the aforementioned backstory, and battles evil puppets and a ghostly old lady. Puppetry ensues.

This is a James Wan film, like Insidious 1 and 2, and it shows. It was instantly obvious that this was made by the same guy. He must have fallen into the coffin at his grandma's funeral when he was young, because he has a terrible fear of old ladies. He also makes very polished-looking horror movies, full of red lighting and people covered by sheets, which aren't really very scary. They're almost like Disney Family horror movies. They're too neat and clean, and the music is too overblown, and he doesn't seem very good at jump scares. There's a scene in Insidious 2 which starts out really creepy, where a boy is looking into his half-open closet at night, hearing noises inside and the camera is zooming closer and closer as we fear what might pop out. In the end, somebody does pop out and runs across the room, which should be very frightening, yet somehow it's not sudden enough or something, because it just has zero impact. It's more like a feeling of relief after all that tension rather than a shock. Hard to explain, but you watch the scene and you won't be scared!

That's not to say his work is all bad, it's just that I wonder if horror is really the place for this guy. He should try a nice romantic comedy or something. It can't be that bad though, because I'm willing to see what else he's going to do.

The big reveal at this end of this movie is big enough and fun enough that I won't even spoil it here despite my spoiler warning. It's not a world-changer like The Sixth Sense, but it does what I want a twist to do: makes you go back over the movie and change your view on earlier scenes, and realize that you could've figured it out if you had just noticed certain things earlier. That trips a fuse in my brain and joy just sparks out.

What it does wrong is what about 80% of all twists do: it manually takes you back over those earlier scenes and shows them to you again, far far too many of them, to beat the twist into your head as clearly and completely as possible. I got it after the first two quick flashes, I didn't need to rewatch the whole movie, and if I wanted to do that, I could hit the rewind button. This is a cardinal sin that so many movies commit, the massive over-explanation to the point where you actually get bored and want to get back to the climax of the movie you were trying to watch. I'm sure it's a fine line, as there are bound to be some people who need all that extra reinforcement (as evidenced by the reviews of movies I see that flat-out miss entire chunks of the plot). I'm sure they test this out with test audiences until it's "just right", but it sure never feels just right to me.

So in the end, we have a body count of 4, and because it's kind of fun, but by no means good cinema, and with a bonus point for the disturbing final twist, I'll award it 4 out of 5 Missing Tongues.

I of course had to draw a puppet here. I did a terrible job.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Kill Theory08:47 PM -- Mon October 20, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is a story all about how some kids' lives got flipped, turned upside down, when a guy who once cut a rope while mountain climbing to save himself at the expense of 3 other people traps them all at a remote cabin they are of course all going out to visit as kids like to do, and forces them to kill each other or be killed by him. How's that for a sentence?

Yes, once again the teens (well, 20-somethings - they so often play teens I'm not actually sure which they are supposed to be in this movie) find the idea of a cabin in the middle of nowhere to be the most delightful notion since being murdered one by one. Though the two experiences are generally interchangeable.

So, huh. This movie is, according to a bunch of the reviewers on Netflix (I like to check sometimes!), full of twists. What they mean is that the people you think are dead come back and kill other people. And that does happen quite a few times, but I'm not willing to call it a twist. It's just kind of eh. Similarly, the movie actually ends with a final revelation that some have called a twist, but it was completely what I expected, and unlike an actual twist, it didn't change your view on anything you had seen. It's more like just another piece of irrelevant information really. I was pretty mad about that, because I'm a sucker for twists. As soon as I saw a review that said "the final twist was a real head-spinner", I couldn't just go without knowing what it was. I guess my head is just screwed on tighter than some, because the only spinning was me shaking my head.

As you can probably guess by now, this movie didn't do much for me. It was okay, there was a level of interest to see who would snap and decide to kill who. But it just had nothing fresh or anything to get excited about.

I do see two other notes I took while watching: first is that it was kind of refreshing to see the "put down the camera and stop filming everything already!" scene in a movie with no found footage element at all. It was just an annoying guy who liked to film people. I guess those must exist! The other note, I don't quite remember writing, but it reads "White people all look the same, but they're so hard to kill." Good advice for life.

In the end, we have a body count of 7, plus 3 more in the past, and I rate this a disappointing 2 out of 5 Gas Balloons.

I just drew the first thing I remembered from the movie - an axe stuck in a stump. But don't look a gift axe in the mouth, because there's probably a bear trap around it (not pictured).
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Insidious 206:35 PM -- Sun October 19, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is the continuation of the story of a family in which a certain sort of magical power resides. The father and son can see, and be seen by, the world of the dead. Something like that. Anyhoo, in the first movie some stuff happened, and now in this movie, the father has been possessed by an evil old lady who's actually a dude. So the father's soul is actually wandering the world of the dead wanting to get out, while his body is running around the real world being evil, and his son is continuing to connect to all this and be freaked out, and a team of wacky comic-relief ghostbusters run around and bungle things up. Ghostly child abuse ensues.

Honestly, this movie was pretty hard to follow, in part because the wife of the family, and someone who I believe is her mother, were too hard to tell apart. That's probably insulting to the daughter, but hey, let's say I'm being flattering to the mother! It's also confusing in other ways, it kind of jumps around. Anyway, like the first Insidious movie, this one isn't really scary... it has a scene or two that can creep you out, but mostly it's just telling a story. Just like the first movie, it's a fantasy story by my calculation rather than a horror story. I can't quite define what the difference is, but that's how it feels to me. I did enjoy the sort of 'time travel' between the two movies (more between the end and beginning of this movie, but there's a bit of it tied to the first movie).

One thing I did not enjoy was the climactic battle with the evil ghost... the image of all the women standing underneath sheets was creepy, but it all came down to this cartoonish pop-up screaming old lady, and smacking her on the head with a rocking horse. Yes, that's literally how the evil ghost was slain. They smacked her with a rocking horse. Spoilers.

So in the end, there's a body count of 17, I think, and I rate this a passable 3 out of 5 Rocking Horses.

For this movie, I drew the set of 'spirit dice' that the medium guy uses to talk to ghosts. It seems the spirits have a special Hamumu message for us...
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Sharknado 208:20 PM -- Fri October 17, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

It's the second one! I've been dying to see this since it came out, and of course my sister, who is a huge Sharknado fan, Tivo'd it for me to see when I visited her this past weekend. As you might expect, it is the story of Fin Shepard, and his Bruce-Willis-esque problem with always ending up in the middle of sharknados, as one heads in to New York along with the flight he is on (a flight he ends up landing himself, after sharks somehow eat the pilots). For those who aren't experts at meteorology, a sharknado is an apparently common weather pattern where a waterspout (not a tornado!) forms in the ocean and sucks up some sharks, which then gain the power of flight and air-breathing for the duration of the weather event. I'm sure it's happened in your hometown once or twice, so I probably didn't need to explain.

This movie is sort of a new breed in the past 10 years or so, where it's intentionally stupid for the entertainment value. It has to ride a pretty fine line - it has to take itself seriously (otherwise it's just a bad comedy), and yet still have enough "jokes" to keep from being boring, since it is by intent a bad movie. This movie is really pushing that line, it's almost more like a joke that you are in on - there are a lot of references to other things like a comedy would have (there are about 10 references to 'Airplane!' in the first 10 minutes), yet they're thrown away and ignored by the completely serious cast, whereas in a comedy they'd be front and center like "look at this!". It's easter egg overload.

One thing I found interesting that I don't think I've seen before is some really well-done use of making a 'mistake' for the viewers to catch and mock, as part of the fun. My favorite one is when Tara Reid, whose hand has been bitten off, sneaks out of the hospital dressed in a button-up blouse with a necklace, full makeup, and a glove on her remaining hand. She accomplished this by herself, off-camera, with a missing hand. The fact that they had her wearing a glove is what tips off that they did this on purpose and it's not just bad writing - it looks ridiculous that she's wearing a glove in the first place, which makes you think about it, and realize just how hard it would've been to put on. I actually think that's pretty clever.

There are also things that go over the top into true joke territory, like weather reporters having actual sharknado displays on their weather maps and discussing how many feet of sharks will be falling. But even these things are presented in a completely serious and 'real' way, which makes it better. If it had been done like a spoof comedy, it would not be nearly as good.

So anyway, it's Sharknado, you know what you're in for. You're in for 27 bodies and 4 out of 5 Buzzsaw Hands. This movie is significantly better thank Sharknado 1, and that was fun to begin with! I feel like The Asylum is really getting things together. Maybe they're learning how much better it feels to put out original movies instead of trying to clone every blockbuster. Of course, the super shady cloning act (where they try to make money entirely on the basis of people choosing the wrong movie from the cover) is surely more profitable. So sad.

I have drawn for you today a climactic moment from the film, the conclusion to Fin's rousing speech to the citizens of New York:
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Crow's Nest05:19 PM -- Thu October 16, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

As always, a group of teens have decided to take a trip to a remote cabin. Nothing kids today like better than being in the woods with no amenities. Apparently! I'm so out of touch with today's youth, I like internet. So anyway, these kids are taking a trip, and they get sidetracked because they heard beer was cheap in a town called Crow's Nest. Sadly, that's the whole point of the title of the movie. Don't you think there should be something more to it? I'm expecting ghost pirates at least!

So the kids get run off the road and hunted down by rednecks in an RV. The end.

This is found footage once again. I think I could've filled all 31 days of October with found footage movies and still had plenty to spare in Netflix's collection. I do like found footage as a general concept though, so that's not so bad. But this one was filled with really annoying people, and a lot of time wasted showing off how annoying they are (including of course the classic character of somebody who refuses to ever stop filming things and everybody else being annoyed with them for it). It takes 22 minutes for something interesting to happen in this movie, I checked. Whoever found this footage really should've edited it before releasing it as a horror movie (and how perverse are they to be profiting off of this tragedy??).

One fun moment is when they are driving at one point, I think shortly before they get rammed by the RV, you can clearly see a member of the film crew is laying down in the back of their SUV, reflected in the back window. I liked that part, it made me feel like I had defeated this movie at its own game.

As a film though, there's nothing here really to watch. It's everything you expect - they head out to the woods, and get hunted down and killed. No story, no twist, no message, not even any hint of an explanation for what's happening. It just happens. Also no interesting villain or anything - I was hoping for a ghost and I got a couple of cannibal rednecks driving by in an RV. What it does have going for it is a Blair Witch Crying Selfie scene. Classic. It also has bad digital blood effects, and about 50% of the movie is people yelling "Shutup!" at each other. I agree with them.

So in the end, we have a body count of 6 plus 1 deer, and a pathetic 1 out of 5 Cheap Beers. Bleh.

Since there are no interesting things to draw in this movie, I drew an RV!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: World War Z09:53 PM -- Tue October 14, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is the story of Brad Pitt roaming the earth seeking Patient Zero of a zombie plague and failing at every turn. Zombie pyramids ensue.

I admit to enjoying this. The science is no good at all (magic disease-sniffing zombies... that's technology we could use today!), but the drama and action are fun and feel very real. It feels like what an unstoppable zombie armageddon would feel like.

This was an interesting time to see this particular movie, in juxtaposition to the current ebola epidemic (is it an epidemic yet? It's not looking good, that's for sure). It really got me thinking how ebola could cause almost this exact movie to occur. Sure, there'd be no zombies tearing at people, but in an absolute pandemic, countries would wall themselves off, trade would shut down, and Brad Pitt would roam the earth seeking a nonsensical magic bullet to shut it down. Angelina Jolie would probably go help him though, in real life. It's a scary prospect (what will happen to their kids??).

Oh, and the one note I took while watching this movie was how it reminded me of Dead Rising, when he started piecing together a a weapon with duct tape.

So in the end, we have a body count of somewhere between 3 and 6 billion, and I rate this a healthy 4 out of 5 Arm Magazines. It was fun. Stupid fun. Oh, and not scary at all, not really a horror movie, just sci-fi action.

Inspired by this film and by not wanting to draw an entire pyramid of zombies, which was the obvious picture, I tried to draw a Dr. Lunatic zombie from memory. It didn't go very well:
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Haunter03:53 PM -- Mon October 13, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is the story of a family of ghosts. They can't leave their house, because they're ghosts. The daughter in the family somehow becomes aware of the surreal nature of their existence (they just keep repeating the same day over and over), and has to find out why they're so stuck and solve the problem. Hauntings ensue.

This is a fun and interesting story, as the layers peel back and answers slowly emerge. I'm not sure it all wraps up with complete logic, but since I saw Shallow Ground the day before, this feels like a masterpiece. It's not my favorite movie ever, but I like mysteries, and I like ghost stories, so why not to enjoy?

Overall, this has a rather murky body count, maybe 15 or 20? They're all ghosts, so they died sometime! And I shall award it 4 out of 5 Surprising Cigarettes.

My drawing for this movie is simply the furnace door that appears prominently a couple of times (done without reference while on an airplane, so don't blame me if I have no idea what bolts and hinges were actually on it):
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Shallow Ground05:44 PM -- Sat October 11, 2014

This is the story of a young man without any clothes save for gallons of blood, who goes traipsing through the woods to meet some new friends. He then... uh, I don't know. Stares at them mainly. Writes cryptic stuff on the walls in blood, leaks blood all over, causes people to have visions with his blood. Look, blood is his thing. He's kind of like a Terminator, but made of blood instead of liquid metal. Then there's an old lady who murders people, and a lot of really bad decisions (by the characters as well as the filmmakers).

This movie is fun. It's like an Evil Dead movie in a lot of ways, with some rather outrageous gore, and over the top stuff that doesn't bother to make a lot of sense. When it first started, based on the description, I was expecting a serial killer real-world type movie. My jaw was dropped for a while trying to re-adjust from reality to abject insanity. The movie also has some really well-done gore, despite obviously being a very tiny budget. There are these strung up corpses that are just thoroughly disgusting.

I honestly don't think this movie actually makes sense. There may be some connection between things in the writer's mind, but the end result is totally disconnected. It follows no logic I can discern, and the ultimate sign of that is the hilarious 'twist' in the last 2 seconds of the movie. It's totally out of left field and verily didst it cause me to LOL for realsies. I mean, you could come up with an explanation for what caused it, but if you do, you're a better man than the movie's writer.

Oh and the music... wow. It tries so hard. It needs to stop trying. Actually, this movie reminded me quite a bit of Pumpkinhead. It's just overwrought overserious silly fun. With foggy woods.

So, in the end, there's an actual body count of 9, in addition to a mention of 36 other bodies, and I have to give this movie just 1 out of 5 School Buses. I hate to do it, because I totally had fun, but I'm still not sure I can call it "so bad it's good". If you like bad movies though, it might be a good choice. I just can't in good conscience give it points for being so insane.

In the movie, there's an issue (which again makes no sense) of women being strung up from trees and stabbed. I didn't want to draw that, but I like drawing trees, so I put a noose on this one.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Entity09:01 PM -- Fri October 10, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Similar to Devil's Pass a short while ago, this is the found-footage story of a documentary team heading into Russia to find out what happened to a bunch of people who died years ago. Then come the differences: these guys are heading into the woods (and end up in an abandoned government facility for most of the movie) instead of the mountains, and they're bringing along a psychic so it's one of those ghost hunter type movies that are pretty common. Backwards N's ensue (that's how they make it Russian!).

Actually, this movie mixes found footage and regular filming. It should be a lesson to the typical found footage makers – rather than contriving absurd reasons for people to keep holding cameras or pointing them at the right thing, it's actually less disruptive to the viewer to just drop the pretense and shoot things like a real movie. We all know it's fake, you don't have to bend over backwards to try to trick us.

Also, this movie takes place in Sadovich, which sounds like a very sad place.

There are some really creepy scenes of the sort found footage can do well – you can't see things clearly, but you know something is there. When you get a good clear view, it ruins the fear factor. But I felt like things didn't really make that much sense here, it was kind of just "ooh, scary ghosts!". And the ending was pretty inexplicable. I liked the idea of it, but there is never any explanation as to what the ghosts are all about or why they can cause that ending. I don't know, I guess movies can't win with me – either they overexplain it, or they don't explain enough.

Well, in the end, there are 34 bodies before the movie starts (that's what they're there to learn about!) and then 4 or so during the movie. I award this film a middling 3 out of 5 Sadoviches.

I was not particularly inspired by this movie into any feats of artwork, so here's a pirate puppy.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: You're Next07:30 PM -- Thu October 9, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This story hit close to home. It's about an awkward family get-together where everybody is being awful (and awfully loud and screechy), and at one point, one guy says he's a filmmaker who makes documentaries, and another tells him how commercials are where it's at and he should make those. Oh yeah, I've been there, folks. Games and apps are not the same thing!!

So (twist spoiler incoming) it turns out that some of the family members hired killers to kill off the rest of the family so they could collect the inheritance. What they didn't count on is that the girlfriend of one of the family members (one of the evil ones, as it turns out in the final twist) grew up as a survivalist nut with all the trap-laying skills of Macauley Culkin and Wile E. Coyote rolled up in one. She kills the killers, then kills the people who hired them, and even kills a cop or two (on accident) before all is said and done. This is basically what I wanted to happen in The Bleeding House a few days ago, and I couldn't be happier!

Well, I could be happier. It's not a great movie by any means. The worst part is how awful the people are, and when crossbow bolts start flying, they all start screaming so discordantly and endlessly that it's just torture to even watch the movie for some fairly hefty chunks of it.

Aside from that issue though, I don't really have any notes of stuff I really didn't like. It was kind of enjoyable to watch her take out the badguys. You don't get a lot of that in horror movies, usually it's all just heroes being slowly killed off until it ends with a sudden SPLUT and credits. So we have a body count of 15, and I'm going to award this movie the coveted 4 out of 5 Spike Traps.

For this one, I just drew the face from the movie poster – the killers all wore these sort of plain animal masks under hoodies. It's pretty creepy.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Below Zero11:46 AM -- Wed October 8, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

In this movie, John Connor is a writer who takes the perfectly reasonable step of traveling across the country to lock himself in a meat locker in order to write a story about a guy who gets locked in a meat locker. What ensues is almost like an anthology movie – it cuts between the story he's writing and the reality he's in (and intermingled confusion between the two) as it goes on. That's a fun premise, and I was really looking forward to it. Can you guess yet whether it pays off on that premise?

Of course not, it's dumb like they always are! From the description I saw beforehand, I really expected some trippy delirium, blurring of reality and fiction, and to be truly confused about what was really going on. The truth was not that. It had a few sort of twists to the action, like a fun scene where, in the story, the characters suddenly step forward and start discussing what should happen (as in 'reality', the writer and the woman who ends up locked in there with him are discussing it and things are changing as they go). But for the most part, it was just the one straightforward cannibal meatlocker story, and the 'true' story of him just trapped in a locker writing (which also goes bad, but in a very silly and contrived way).

The twist at the end is good in the sense that it changes everything that came before a bit, but bad in the sense that it was pretty obvious, and doesn't feel right even so. It's a little too "easy" of a twist, and yet at the same time doesn't seem plausible.

So in the end, we have a body count of 2 plus 1 cow, and a rating of 2 out of 5 Electric Tubs.

Just like the last movie, I gave a shot at drawing a murderous monster for this movie. Kind of the same result – it turned out pretty good if you don't mind the fact that it looks nothing like the guy I was trying to draw. Two tricky things about ink drawing sans pencil: you can't lay out shapes in advance, so you have to guess at proportions and things and imagine where future parts of the picture will go (that craggy shape in his elbow is actually his previous elbow - I was way off!), and you can't make very light subtle lines. Everything is very sharp and linear.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Bleeding House09:37 PM -- Mon October 6, 2014

Wow. This movie was a bit of a surprise. It's the story of a family that is kind of shunned in their town because of an unexplained event that happened in the past. Then a guy in an old-timey suit shows up at their door asking to spend the night because his car broke down. Old timey murderin' ensues.

Just wow. The gist of the family's secret (I told you there'd be spoilers!) is that their daughter is a psychotic murderer. Which, when the visitor shows up to murder the family and she escapes, sets up a fun situation that could've been good – the old "He doesn't know what he's getting himself into" situation. Only, it doesn't happen. She doesn't toy with and eventually destroy him, she's more your regular old slasher heroine who barely escapes time and again. It doesn't particularly matter that she is also a psycho. Very disappointing.

But that's not the real disappointment! That would be the horrendous acting, the complete lack of suspenseful music, the total blase nature of everything that happens, and just the weird and stilted feel to the entire proceedings. This is bad stuff, for sure. I really enjoyed one scene – when the daughter comes across a frizzy-haired woman who turns out to be something like the visitor's girlfriend, out in the woods. The visitor's girlfriend is hilarious! It usually takes something pretty special for me to notice bad acting, and boy did I notice it here.

So in the end, we have a body count of six people and one bird, and the movie fully earns its 1 out of 5 Ball-Peen Hammers. Ridiculous.

The old-timey visitor was a fun character, it seemed like this movie could've had a chance based on his "charm", so I drew a picture of him from a Google image search. I'm kind of proud of the picture, I think it looks alright, except for one thing: it doesn't look anything like him. Faces are subtle and tricky things, and I just didn't capture his essence. But it looks like somebody and I give myself credit for that.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Den10:03 PM -- Sun October 5, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is a movie told entirely through webcams and phone cameras (used in the most unrealistic way imaginable, like somebody just walking up to their neighbor's house with their phone camera held out and filming as they visited), about a woman who for some reason is given a grant to just sit on a fictitious equivalent of ChatRoulette for a month straight or something. Of course, somebody uses it to stalk and potentially kill her. Realistic Youtube comments ensue.

The most fun thing about this entire movie is that almost all the computer stuff is completely realistic. There are absolutely horrid youtube comments, she downloads a trial version of some software to use it once, and Google street view gets used, among all sorts of other little things (like the kind of awful people you find on stuff like ChatRoulette). Of course, on the flip side, some hacker can control the main character's computer and make it turn on and start filming her when she's asleep, so it's not exactly documentary material.

Overall though, it's completely silly, and impossible to suspend your disbelief for all the ways cameras get used. At one point, a camera is dropped at a crime scene, and later bagged and taken into evidence and we continue to watch it as it's picked up and carried around and pointed exactly at what it's supposed to be, filming through the plastic bag. As found footage goes, I think this movie actually goes more insane with the usage of cameras than any I've seen before. You can't take it seriously.

So in the end, this movie earns 2 out of 5 Series Of Tubeses, and delivers a body count of 6, I think. It's pretty absurd as a story, with a halfway fun twist/explanation at the end, and the most fun you get out of it is the silly/realistic internet stuff in it. It probably would've worked better as a comedy, actually!

There wasn't much of anything I found drawable about this movie, so I just drew some sort of "network" as inspired by this movie being about computer networks.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Devil's Pass09:56 PM -- Sat October 4, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is the found-footage story of a group of filmmakers who go to Dyatlov Pass in Russia - a real place, where people really did die mysteriously (they tore their tent open and ran out into the snow barefoot, where they were found frozen to death! Google away, it's quite the mystery) - to make a documentary about the aforementioned incident. Surprisingly enough, the process ends up killing them as well. Finding of footage ensues.

This movie seems interesting as it gets going. They start discovering strange things that don't seem to add up, and seem kind of silly (like bigfoot footprints), leading you to wonder just where this is going. Where it goes gets interesting, right before it gets dumb.

The last 20 minutes or so of this movie get seriously scary. It's the first movie I've done this month which did actually scare me. It's wandering through the dark in an abandoned compound, knowing something bad is in there. Which is great... until they reveal the bad thing that's in there, which turns out to be mutant zombies borrowed from a video game. They are lame CGI monsters, not at all hidden in shadows, but just right there in front of you to marvel at how lame they look. It was amazing, I was right on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going on in the dark up ahead... and then the second it appeared, all nervousness evaporated and I instantly become bored and annoyed. That's certainly a lesson in filmmaking.

But that's not where the bad ends. After running away from the cartoon monsters, the movie devolves into the ultimate in over-explaining and extreme exposition overload, trying to make sure nobody misses anything about what's going on. It's so fakey and weird, and it's capped off by a final shot where it zooms in on "the big reveal" which is revealing something you'd have to be brain-dead to not already know, and yet it spends 30 seconds zooming in closer and closer, and the monster it's zooming in on obligingly turns its head to make sure you can clearly see the thing it's trying to show. It's just so insulting.

And back on the flip of the flipside, the actual explanation of things is pretty good. It all kinda works out and makes interesting sense. If only I had figured it out for myself from clues instead of having it repeatedly drilled into my skull, I would've liked this movie! That kind of fun twisty concept is just what I want out of a movie. I just don't want it spoon-fed to me.

So in the end, there is a body count of about 14, and the movie gets a frosty 2 out of 5 Tongues.

For this movie, I just drew some of the scenery. The fun thing about drawing mountains, which proves I am not an artist, is that I can just sort of randomly crosshatch in different directions rather than match any sort of real thing. Which is nice, because real stuff is hard to do.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: 388 Arletta Avenue08:51 PM -- Fri October 3, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is a found-footage movie, and you know I love those. In this one, the cameras we are viewing the action through are all hidden cameras that a stalker has placed in a couple's home. Which is a clever idea, but there are some really silly cameras, like he has one installed inside their car, which is fine, except he has another camera attached to the front grill of their car like it's a racing game switched into a low-down perspective. Another one is inside their alarm clock, where you can see the giant digital numbers half-obscuring your view. Odd.

Anyway, the stalker kills the wife of the couple, but hides the body and leaves a note that she's just left, and then he does various things to try to drive the husband insane. Like he kills their cat and replaces it with a very similar-looking one, but that doesn't fool the husband, because who'd be fooled by the wrong pet? So the husband looks really crazy as he tries to explain to cops that the cat isn't his cat.

Really, all this strange stuff is pretty interesting, but it is kind of slow-moving. The one thing that really got to me is that this movie looks and feels like a Paranormal Activity movie - you see long shots of empty hallways, waiting for something to happen. Only since you know this isn't a ghost movie, you know no chairs are going to suddenly move or anything, the most interesting thing that could happen is one of the couple walks across the hall. Later in the movie, that gets a little better as the stalker is actually in their house just being creepy, so he shows up in some shots, which is somewhat akin to spotting a ghost in Paranormal Activity, but still lacks some creepiness.

So, all in all, it was okay, but a little slow, and the ending was to me a big letdown. I expected something different as it got towards the end, and what I expected would have been way more interesting. I had that epiphany moment you get when you've figured out the twist just before it's revealed, only the filmmakers didn't figure out the twist, so they didn't manage to film the twist. Thus no twist. I give this 3 out of 5 Mix CDs, and it has a body count of 1 cat and 3 people.

For this movie, I drew a comic of my alternate ending. There's a point right near the end where, one by one, the various hidden cameras in the house click off, presumably because their work is done. But the second I saw that, I thought the comic below was going to be the ending, and it would've made the movie ten times better if it was!

(In case my storytelling skills aren't quite up to par, in this ending, it turns out there was no stalker. The husband had killed his wife himself, because he is NUTS and the stalker was in his head. There are no actual cameras switching off, it's just him having the realization that there aren't any cameras as he snaps back to reality. And isn't that fun to watch a found footage movie which turns out not to be footage at all?)
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Plus One09:41 PM -- Thu October 2, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This movie begins as a standard teen "party at the rich kid's house at the end of senior year and this is the nerds' last chance to fit in and become popular magically" movie. Then a meteor crashes down, which obviously (as we all know from SCIENCE) makes time skip into weird little loops. Basically, time moves on as normal, but every few minutes, the people nearby are duplicated with versions of themselves from a few minutes ago, who go on living out those few minutes until they disappear again. So the regular-timeline people have to deal with these copies for the time that the copies are around. Yeah, that's pretty weird. Luckily for 90% of the characters in the movie, they happened to be in a different place a few minutes ago, so they don't even see their duplicates until near the end. Only our heroes, the nerds of course, are in on the weirdness from the beginning.

The horror comes in in that each time, the duplicates are from sooner back in time, so the characters know that eventually they'll 'catch up' with the present. Which leaves them wondering what happens when they do. Their solution to this potential catastrophe is to try to murder their duplicates so that they get to be the only survivors. This is quite an overreaction. Clone Wars ensue.

This movie does not click for me. It's so weird how the people react with such violence and horror at seeing copies of themselves. I mean, I'd freak out, it's certainly not normal, but my instincts wouldn't jump right to grabbing a knife. And did nobody worry that killing the copy, which they realized was themselves from an earlier time, might result in their own death? I mean that's some high stakes to completely ignore! But for the record, no, nobody once suggests that. Strangely, the instant somebody brings up the idea that the timelines are going to merge eventually, everybody just goes nuts and gets ready to start bashing heads.

That does make for an interesting change of pace - the regular timeline people turn out to be the badguys here, lashing out at the clones before the clones have any idea that anything is wrong. But like I said, it just doesn't ring true that people would be this violent in the face of confusion.

So, there are moments in the middle of this movie that feel like Donnie Darko, and make it feel like there's some big mystery that's going to come together (spoiler: there's not). But for the most part it's just a bit silly and teeny-bopper. And makes almost no sense. The "hero" of the story is a guy who murders his girlfriend because he likes her clone better after Groundhog-Daying her into un-dumping him (and once again, how is he so sure that you can kill one to make the other be the 'right' one? No concern at all that you're just plain killing them?).

In the end, we have a body count of somewhere around 10 (there's a very confusing twin battle at the end), and the movie earns 1 out of 5 People in one timeline, and 2 out of 5 People in another, for an average of 1.5. Not really a movie I'd recommend, but it's certainly original. It felt like it might become something good by about halfway through, but then everybody just went nuts and it was a slasher movie starring everybody as Jason.

Today's picture is a very bad cartoon about how odd the people in this movie acted. And yes, I know the guys on the bottom are strange stretchy-armed mutants, with no shading or background. I'm terrible at drawing people to begin with, but especially after I spent an hour on the top, I was just ready to be done! I need to speed up and just do quick sketches. Please keep in mind I am not doing any penciling or practice, so hopefully I'm learning stuff as I go. Maybe day 31 will rock!

Belittling Horror Excessively: Die10:02 PM -- Wed October 1, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

It's October! And I just love watching a horror movie a day. So I'm doing it. This year, I was wondering what to do with the movies I watched - I've done video reviews, I've done written reviews, what's left? Well, it wasn't until today that I came up with the answer. I encountered Inktober, and decided to draw my reviews!

Well, not really. But I am going to do a drawing a day, in ink with no penciling at all, so it's gonna get messy, and the drawings will pertain to the movies. So prepare yourself for no further ado, and keep in mind that spoilers be everywhere this October, so watch the movie first if you care...

Die

So, in this movie, we have a bunch of seemingly unconnected people who attempt suicide, and then wake up imprisoned by somebody who then puts them through Saw-esque situations in which a roll of a die (Get it? A DIE!) determines whether they live or die.

What's interesting here is that there's a sort of non-traditional structure to the story. There's no real protagonist, though there's definitely a villain. There are basically two stories: one is the people imprisoned and what happens to them, and the other is a cop who's investigating the situation (come to think of it, this is exactly the structure/plot of Saw). The cop is the person you could best describe as the protagonist, but she never interacts with the villain at all, which makes one of the prisoners more of a protagonist, actually battling against the villain a few times. But then he shoots himself. Pretty strange. Although that was sort of a highlight. You don't often see a "hero" just kill themselves (and in the process, sort of win... sort of).

What's not so great is that there's a lot of stuff in the story that's "artistically" not shown. Like one person is presented with the scenario where rolling the die (GET IT!?) will either kill them or set them free, and then they roll the die offscreen, and it cuts away to the next scene. It's only later that you see how they turned out, and you never actually find out what the roll was or what happened, only that they survived it. This is just confusing and not so artistic.

In the end, we have a body count of 5, and the movie earns 2 out of 5 Dice. Not a great movie, with a pretty silly ending, but not really bad. I dunno. I didn't know quite what to think.

So let's celebrate with this picture inspired by the film! There wasn't really anything I felt like drawing, so I kinda just made the movie poster (without any reference, so maybe it's totally different, but it's how it looked in my head).


And no one who speaks German could be evil!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: V/H/S 204:37 PM -- Thu October 31, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A couple who do P.I. work are hired to find somebody's son. They break into his house to find a whole lot of TVs and VHS tapes (those are like DVDs, only rectangular, kids). The wife/girlfriend feels compelled to watch them as the husband/boyfriend wanders the house looking for the kid. And we share in the videos she watches as we cap off Halloween month by combining found footage with anthology movies! Hooray ensues!

Scariness Type: There are four shorts in this movie, plus the wrap-around story, which vary in scary. But overall, you will find tons of horrific gore in this movie, as well as some hearty jump-scares and classic creepy horror.

Rating: 4/5 Barbecue Forks.

Body Count: It's probably a good sign that I completely failed to track the body count. I know it was very high though, maybe 50 or so, most of them in the 3rd story.

Fun Fact: VHS tapes can absorb ghostly energy. This is a fact because it's stated with authority by a guy on a webcam.

Best Story: Untrue to standard anthology form, the first story is the best one in this anthology. It's about a guy who is given a bionic eye because he lost one of his eyes in an accident. It's a clinical trial of a new technology, and the doctor warns him that he may see strange things. Also, as the way of explaining how this can be found footage, they say they are recording everything the eye sees as part of the trial (which seems like an outrageous privacy violation, as well as something they just wouldn't and couldn't do). He goes home, and of course, he starts to see ghosts. This is a downright scary story, with all sorts of jumps and really well-done effects. The device of having the entire story shot from his eye actually works very well, with the only odd thing being that he clearly has to reach his hands out extra far to check his watch and do other things like that - you can tell it's really a camera, not something compact that would be right on his face.

Worst Story: I'm gonna split this one. One of the worst stories has a clever idea: a guy is riding his bike with a camera mounted to his helmet, and zombies attack. He ends up dying and becoming a zombie, but of course the camera's still on his head. So it's a zombie movie, from the point of view of a zombie. That's a fun and original idea, but you know, it's just a zombie movie, not that great (not terrible either, but really nasty gore). The other one to share last place seems really interesting for most of its running time - it's about a documentary crew visiting a weird cult to document what they're all about. You know they're actually into some weird demonic stuff and it's all going to come out, but for almost the entire story it just keeps building up and seeming weirder and leaving more clues. Then when everything gets crazy, it's still interesting and compelling. It's only in the final reveal sequence where it all goes wrong with a very silly rubbery monster straight out of Godzilla that is born with the ability to speak English. It might have been my favorite story if they had just found a sane, non-ludicrous way to end it.

The Other Story: The second best story is the last one, where kids are having a slumber party at a lake house when aliens land. It's never clear what the aliens are trying to do, they just sort of come at the people like zombies, but it's well done and very scary how they do it, and there's this awful deafening noise and light show that (I guess?) their spaceship spews out every couple of minutes that just really amps up the stress level. It's reminiscent of the smoke monster in Lost, this terrible noise you can't really identify. The really lame thing in this story is a silly dog puppet - there's a camera mounted on the back of a little dog for most of the story, and it's clearly a puppet, and the people clearly work way too hard to make sure it's always facing the right thing, and that it never runs off on its own.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: It's all the problems you know from found footage movies - why are they still filming, what are the odds the camera would drop facing that way, why is that camera still working, why did you take the time to set the camera down before doing this, and so on. The bionic eye story gets around this entirely though, with just the one silly bit where it's explained that they'll be recording everything he sees. And by the way, right after I watched this movie, I watched The Office, and you know what? That show is done in the style of a documentary, and the characters acknowledge the camera regularly, but they don't mess around with it or worry about the reality of it - they never have to wait for camera guys to get in the car, they never have to argue with people about whether they can film where they are, the camera guys are never in anybody's way. It's fiction, done in a certain style. I don't know why found footage movies can't do this. There's nobody out there who thinks they're real, so why not just roll with it? Use the style without all the contrived nonsense! I don't care if a shot is suddenly filmed from the other side of a room where nobody is, that's okay if it makes the story work better. It would ironically be much more believable if they didn't try so hard to make it believable.

Horror Tropes: We have the found footage rules, like I said. There's also a crazy cult impregnating people with demons,a standard zombie attack, a standard alien invasion that made me think of Signs repeatedly, ghosts doing their usual thing of screaming or disappearing or being behind you, dead bodies getting up when you think they're dead. Fun stuff!

My Take: I loved it. I just had a lot of fun throughout, although I had to cringe a bit as intestines were munched on a few times. I saw V/H/S last year or so (I didn't review it, it looks like? I wonder if I have another set of reviews somewhere... I keep not finding movies I know I saw), and it wasn't that great. This is far better. The bionic eye story is great, despite a weak ending. The other stories are all worth seeing, and the wrap-around story isn't particularly a good story, but it's scary and keeps you wondering. It's not a perfect movie, I had many little issues and a lot of it was kind of dumb, but I certainly got my fun out of it, and I'm glad I'm wrapping up with something so good. Which, by the way, was suggested to me by Netflix Max. Thanks, Max. You obnoxious pile of garbage. I hate that guy. I gave him a chance to suggest movies for me almost every day this month, and he did choose maybe 7 or 8 of them, but mostly he's just an idiot. Also, the ones he chose weren't usually any good.

Missed Opportunity: I don't know, I really could've gone for just one more story in there.

The Lesson: Only watch DVDs, BluRay or streaming. VHS is just no good anymore, what with all the murder and possession. And low image quality.



And that's it folks! 31 movie reviews, with nary a one missed or late. And I finished watching two days early, so on Halloween I can watch Cabin In The Woods, as is my tradition. Since last year. And maybe make my wife watch Resolution. And I think I want to watch Evil Dead 2 and compare it to Evil Dead. Whatever, I'm free to do it all! Or none! Anything I want. Free at last!

Then the ultimate question... I did this all this month, it would take about the same amount of time next month to do Nanowrimo, so...? Maybe? I guess I'm rapidly running out of time to decide, aren't I?
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Ju-On: The Grudge12:32 PM -- Wed October 30, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: There's this house where a woman and her son and a cat (yes, it too) were murdered by the father. As some text at the start of the movie explains, when someone dies violently, there's a special kind of ghost/curse created, a grudge. It is said to kill anyone who enters the house. There is then a series of different short stories that are fairly tightly intertwined, in which anyone who enters the house is killed. Hypothesis confirmation ensues.

Scariness Type: This is much like Silent Hill in that there is very little gore, and not really any significant jump scares, just rather a sense of horror - you see a lot of things coming at you that are simply wrong. They aren't hidden, they aren't popping out at you, they just come at you slowly and you sit there thinking "I don't want to see these things!"

Rating: 3.5/5 Teddy Bears.

Body Count: 10 I believe... a lot of people disappear with bodies found later.

Fun Fact: This movie was originally a pair of TV movies in Japan. Then this movie was made as a sequel to them, then a sequel was made to it, then an American remake, then an American sequel, then some spin-off mini-movies in Japan, then a 3rd American movie. I think. There's been a lot, is what I'm saying.

Best Moment: I really liked the part when one of the characters was riding in an elevator, and she wasn't looking out the window, but we could see, and on every single floor she passed, the ghost of the dead boy was standing there staring at her. It wasn't particularly scary, it was just unexpected and abnormal.

Worst Moment: Hmm. The ghosts were generally very unscary - we hearken back to A Haunting At Silver Falls here, where the ghosts are literally just people covered in white makeup, no special effects of any kind. It's very strange and most of the time it's just not effective. Though that little boy sitting under your table drumming his fingers on his knees, that's a bit off-putting! There are many bits where they are used to good effect (or most effectively, where they aren't used, and there are scary shadows and such instead), but they could've been more effective if they weren't just people in white makeup to begin with.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There are a bunch of times in this movie where people just seem too overly scared before they have encountered anything supernatural. They hear a noise upstairs and immediately they're cowering in the corner, then slowly inching up the stairs, bracing for the worst. Dude, it's probably a cat. A GHOST CAT (the ghost cat, by the way, was played by a normal cat, in no makeup of any sort. It was cute).

Horror Tropes: There's some J-Horror funtimes here - long black messy hair, only used once but really quite odd; distorted faces on TV; photos magically messing up the faces on them; evil ghost phone calls; people dying of fright apparently; themes of alienation and loneliness... this is one of the 'original' J-horror movies (I assume Japan had horror movies before the 90's, but this was when they started hitting America all at once).

My Take: At first I felt like this movie was pretty silly, and I couldn't believe it was worshipped alongside The Ring which was incredibly strange and terrifying (well, as far as I remember now, years after seeing it - maybe it doesn't hold up either). But as I got further into it, it got creepier and more interesting. I still think The Ring was far better though. There are some disturbing personal-space issues with the ghosts in this movie. In the end though, it felt like the last scene was the first point where people began to piece together clues and figure things out, and that was way too late (spoiler: the woman who figured things out died in that same scene). The movie was also really hard to follow, due to language challenges and a non-linear structure, and I confess to reading up on the internet to fully understand what I had just seen. For the longest time I thought the retired cop had a younger daughter and an older daughter (and I couldn't figure out why he was dead all of a sudden either...), until the internet pointed out to me that that was years later and his daughter had grown up and he had died somewhere in between. So I couldn't enjoy it as much when I spent half the time trying to figure out who people were, only to gradually realize this was later, or earlier. That time-jump stuff is not as easy to follow without the handy language cues! I feel like I'm all set to watch the American remake now though. Too bad Netflix only has the third one.

Missed Opportunity: For a film with a ghost cat, they sure lacked the classic scene where a cat jumps out and yowls at somebody even though cats never do that in real life.

The Lesson: Stay out of that one house. I'm not sure which one exactly. Watch the movie so you know what it looks like. You do not want to go in there. It's in Japan though, so you're probably fine.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Evil Dead10:05 AM -- Tue October 29, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Like in every horror movie, a group of twenty-something teens heads to a cabin for a weekend of beer and reefer madness like the kids like. But this time (well, like most times) they find an ancient book bound in human flesh in the basement. Bruce Campbell ensues.

Scariness Type: There's gore by the gallon, including some things I just couldn't watch (that pencil!).

Rating: 4/5 The Classics.

Body Count: 4

Fun Fact: The first credit at the end of this movie is for a bunch of Fake Shemps. A quick google informs me that a Fake Shemp (term coined by Sam Raimi, in this very film!) is a person standing in for an actor, only shot from the back, or only their hand or something is visible. This is based on the fact that when Shemp Howard of the 3 Stooges died, they still had to complete 4 more shorts, and they did so with a stand-in, the original Fake Shemp.

Best Moment: The best thing overall about this movie is that they just went for it. They never stop to say "is this too much?" It's all too much, and it's supposed to be. Movies so often dial things back, and I don't mean sex and violence and all that, but rather just weirdness. Most movies wouldn't dismember someone right in front of you while they're still alive (and even semi-alive afterwards). A lot of things in this movie are the things other movies wouldn't include because it's too over-the-top, too unbelievable, going to look silly no matter how good your effects are. Sam Raimi doesn't care (or didn't back then!), he will film what he wants because it's the story he wants to tell, whether that's gonna come out looking ridiculous or not. I've actually observed this same thing in Hercules and Xena as well. Other shows would never have Hercules swallowed by a sea monster and doing battle with its internal organs, because there's no way to do it without it looking stupid. And believe me, that is true! But it's the story they wanted to tell, so they don't water it down by saying "well, maybe he just wrestles a big shark" (okay, that would also look stupid...). Don't let your limitations fetter your expression, put it all out there like Sam Raimi!

Worst Moment: This movie includes an interesting notion, perhaps unintentionally. You see, demons are evil, right? So they'll kill you, or torture you, or destroy your soul, we all know that stuff. But what no other movie has dared to consider is that another very evil thing to do is to annoy someone! There are demons in this movie that will have you reaching for the volume knob just to stop the laughing/screaming/screeching/giggling. They are truly driving the characters insane, and sadly the audience at the same time. I actually think this is a brilliant notion - why wouldn't demons try to be as annoying as possible as well as deadly? They're supposed to be the epitome of evil, after all. But anyway, the worst moment is sitting through extended scenes of one of the possessed girls, who sits there giggling like a baby for five minutes. Just because it's a good idea doesn't mean I want to hear it! Overall, this whole movie is very loud and noisy. It's not a slow burn, it's exploding in your face and pretty grating.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: In a movie this crazy, you're either in or you're out. But one thing that pushed my limits was the two separate times that Ash found himself with a bookcase falling on top of him. They'd break apart and then he'd be laying there under a board, like the little particle-board boards that make up the side of a cheapo bookcase, and he couldn't get up. He'd have to struggle it off of him over a minute or so. It was so absurd. I'm sure they could've found heavier-looking bookcases to make that work.

Horror Tropes: Well, I already told you there's a group of twenty-something teens going to a cabin! And an ancient evil book with a curse in it you should never read aloud. They don't actually read it, they just play a tape of somebody else reading it, which leaves me wondering why the curse ever stopped being active in the first place, or why the cabin is in decent shape and everything is put away. I guess the demons got bored after they killed everyone, so they left and then somebody came and cleaned up the place for the next visitors. Anyway, this movie isn't too tropey, nobody else would dare copy the madness. Few tropes unless you count Sam Raimi tropes - it's about 99% Raimi-Cam. Nearly every shot is through some crazy angle, from a demon's perspective or just insane.

My Take: This movie from way back in 1981 really does hold up, at least for me. As I mentioned in other parts, it's just sheer insanity on film. But in a fun, goofy way, not some kind of disturbing Cronenberg thing. And there's Bruce Campbell! The budget was nearly zero, but honestly most of the effects are solid and still hold up. The "river of blood" effect in this movie, almost 20 years before Event Horizon, is infinitely superior (because it's actual corn syrup blood stuff, not red water. To be fair, it's also about 1000 gallons less, but I bet the budget is about 1000 times smaller as well). This is definitely an amateur production, and it shows, but it shows in a way that you can easily see that Sam Raimi is going places. It's not any wonder at all that he's one of the biggest directors today when you see what he accomplished here with nothing, and how much style he put into it. Oh, and hey, there's a claymation ending! I told you, they just went for it.

Missed Opportunity: In my mind, Evil Dead 1 and 2 are a bit mixed up (understandably, since Evil Dead 2 is basically a remake), and I kept waiting for Ash to chop off his own hand in this movie, but it never happened.

The Lesson: Never read books.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Paranormal Activity 411:12 AM -- Mon October 28, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A family gets a new neighbor: the woman who got possessed and kidnapped her sister's son in the previous movies and then disappeared. One night, she's taken to the hospital and the family has to care for her son for a few days. Kinect advertising ensues.

Scariness Type: This is the classic found footage! Long shots of empty rooms with nothing going on, until suddenly you notice something moving in the corner! That can be quite scary sometimes, but a lot less so here than in previous installments.

Rating: 2/5 Kinects.

Body Count: 4

Fun Fact: This movie was like a huge product placement for the XBox Kinect. A significant portion of the movie is actually spent showing the sparkly disco dots you get when you use night vision to look at the output of the Kinect camera. Which the family leaves on 24 hours a day for some reason.

Best Moment: When the possessed woman's son leads the other family's son across the street to his house, that's a pretty scary sequence. There's just something that works about furniture draped in white sheets and filmmakers know this - it was also in The Amityville Haunting, and at least one of the others I watched this past week, not sure which. So this strange house, with sheets over all the furniture, and it's almost a maze, and you know something bad is going to be in there, as you turn corner after corner, searching for this missing child... pretty good. Not great though, not even then.

Worst Moment: There's a whole bit where the ghosts/demons/magical powers have locked the family's daughter in the garage, and magically started up the car to choke her with carbon monoxide. It's super ridiculous, in part because the scenario just isn't 'spooky' enough, it's more like something somebody would plot to get some life insurance money or something, but also because it's just so silly, and the room fills up with this thick smoke in under a minute. I guess it's mainly the idea that the ghosts are operating the car that just ruins it all. That's so mundane and non-creepy. It just doesn't go along with randomly sliding objects around in the house, it's this very complex intentional act instead.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The smoke in the previously mentioned scene was pretty ridiculous. As is the final moment of the movie (spoiler alert!) which I have two major problems with: first, there's an absolute army of what I presume are supposed to be witches. I paused it and tried to do some math and I think at least 50 women are clearly visible, and it seems to continue on from there into the shadows, all jammed into the backyard of this house, not making a peep. It's just insane! I guess the craziness of it does make it creepier, but it just left me with so many questions. Did they bring in porta-potties for this event? Were snacks provided? Where are they all sleeping, and where are their cars? My other issue is that the little brother who the big sister is trying to rescue is standing right in front of her, and she's just saying "Come on, let's go! Come on!" instead of grabbing him and pulling him or carrying him. And it'd be nice if she'd set the camera down to do it, but hey, found footage movie.

Horror Tropes: Found footage standards are all around. This movie is so full of completely unbelievable obsession with cameras. They end up rigging all the laptops in the house (of which there are for some reason many, and they're all on 24/7 and never have their lids shut) with some kind of spyware to run their webcam at all times and record it, which apparently doesn't take up much hard drive space since they do it for days straight. Another thing that happens in horror movies (recently anyway) is that you see an ancient pagan symbol of some kind and then in ten minutes, you can google it up and learn all about it, all kinds of plot-appropriate information that perfectly hints at what the threat is going to be. And they believe what they google. Oh hey, here's a non-horror trope: the dad is sitting watching TV in one scene, and you can't see it, you can only hear it. And what do you hear? What you always hear when people on TV watch TV! A machine gun noise, followed by somebody screaming. Always. People on TV just love war movies, I guess.

My Take: I'm a Paranormal Activity fan. I love the thrill ride of looking for the scary thing in the corners of each scene. But even I thought this movie was lame. Like big time lame. One thing it had was too much paranormal activity! At one point, the kid is riding his Big Wheel in the house, and in plain sight in front of him, a chair scoots into his path. He backs up and then another one does. He gets off his Big Wheel, and it starts driving itself around. I mean, this is major major stuff. If it really happened, that family would be outta there! While Paranormal Activity movies are normally lambasted for the boredom of staring at empty rooms, this movie swung too hard the other way. It's just a riot of nonsense happening, and the plot is silly and not at all believable. What made the first movie good (and to an increasingly lesser extent with each sequel) was that it looked real, and it was subtle enough to go unnoticed at first, and then gradually grow until it got them. I still remember the really scary ending stuff in the first movie, when they finally went down into the basement. I don't know if the makers are too wrapped up in the mythology they've built around the movie, or they're not taking it seriously enough and just trying to up the scare ante. All I know is they're doing it wrong. They should watch their first movie again and see what they were doing.

Missed Opportunity: Surely that knife could've done something more than just dropping and sticking in the counter...

The Lesson: Never take in stray kids.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Final07:44 AM -- Sun October 27, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: It's the Revenge Of The Nerds sequel we've all been waiting for! The kids at school who get bullied secretly arrange a party for the popular kids who abuse them, then trap them all at the party. Torture ensues.

Scariness Type: This is what we call torture porn. Not my usual interest, but I was curious because of the plot. But yes, people get tortured, you cringe as they suffer horribly. There's plenty of disfigurement and mutilation, but the psychological torture is the worst of it.

Rating: 2/5 Acupuncture Needles.

Body Count: 8

Fun Fact: I don't know who to root for... this is some truly terrible bullying before the torture party.

Best Moment: The moments when people weren't being tortured were nice.

Worst Moment: Probably the worst thing (aside from nasty torture you don't want to watch, but you can't really label that a failure, right?) is when the Heroic Popular Kid With A Heart Of Gold escapes and returns with a gun, and he actually says the line "Fate brought me here, to stop you." Maybe that's realistic... teenagers would probably want to go for something melodramatic. But it sure sounded cheesy to me. Also, on another note, acupuncture needles don't hurt. That's why they're so super skinny. This girl was jamming them into someone and he's screaming in agony. I know you could apply them improperly (as she was) and they wouldn't be painless, but they're teeny tiny, there's only so much they can hurt!

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: I don't know why movies insist on this, but in this movie, the villains invented their own "acid cream", a mix of acid and nicer things that you can smear on someone's face and it gradually eats it away, hurting more and more over time. Now, that could happen, I imagine, I'm no chemist. But why invent some special new substance? They could've just sprayed acid on the person's face for the same plot effect. No, it wouldn't have been slow, but they never do anything much with the fact that it is slow in the movie anyway. Replace the slowness with sprinkling a little bit on them so they know the threat of a lot of it. Movies always like to invent new things, which is unlikely, when existing things would work fine.

Horror Tropes: Dead body jumps up and attacks you... hmm, I'm sure there's a few others, especially in the Heroic Kid's escape sequence, but overall this was not your typical horror movie.

My Take: Well, I was very interested from the beginning, and the movie even opens with a weird black and white sequence that pulls you in wondering what's going on. And frankly it remained very interesting, right up until the torture! I mean, the story of how horrific the abuse of these kids was (I hope that's not realistic, but... I remember high school, I'm not sure you could overdramatize how awfully kids treat each other), and their plotting of revenge. It was also a little hard to watch, not just because of the torture, but because this was basically Columbine. It was hard not to think of it in real terms, which made it more powerful. And the costumes that the villains wore were downright creepy. Except the leader in his gas mask. That just looked dumb. So this was a very difficult watch all around. I think in the right hands, this story could've been some kind of twisted Oscar material with all the complex issues it brings up. But these aren't the right hands. I can't point to much that is really bad about it in terms of filmmaking or acting, it's just not elevated above an ordinary schlocky horror movie, despite being about something so much more important and complex. What we end up with is a complex-sounding excuse to show some torture porn, really. And that's why I can't rate it too highly. That and the fact that I don't like watching people get tortured.

Missed Opportunity: First, the villains missed an opportunity to guard the people they crippled - they literally dragged them into an unlocked room and left them there. Secondly, the movie missed the opportunity for any of them to escape, or jump out and attack the badguys! I mean really, they were injured to varying degrees, but I guarantee you most of them could still walk at least. What was up with that?

The Lesson: Never get acupuncture.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Amityville Haunting08:33 AM -- Sat October 26, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Oh no! I didn't notice until I was googling to find the exact title for this movie... it's another one by The Asylum! Well, that makes a lot of sense, as you will see. Anyway, today we are wrapping up our "Haunting" trilogy with this 'sequel' to The Amityville Horror. In this movie, a family moves into the infamous Amityville house because it's all they can afford (famous houses being cheap and all), and immediately the realtor who showed them the house drops dead, then a moving guy drops dead, then everybody else who ever visits drops dead. The cops don't mind, the family doesn't mind, and eventually everyone drops dead. Found footage ensues.

Scariness Type: This is a little different from your standard found footage, simply in that there is no searching for what might lurk in the corners most of the time - it's right there. There are many many shots with ghosts (actually just ordinary people, in most cases) just standing in them, not bothering anybody. There are also some creepy ones where shadows move around, or a transparent person is lurking, or a normal person is just jammed in a corner. And occasional bits of gore as people explode.

Rating: 1/5 Why Didn't I Realize This Was An Asylum Movies.

Body Count: 7

Fun Fact: This entire family, except for the son, is deaf. I'm pretty sure that wasn't the writer's intent, but you watch the movie and try to explain it any other way. No human being could possibly ignore another so intently without simply being unable to hear them. The kid is constantly trying to talk to his parents or his sister and they just show no sign of response whatsoever. For that matter, the security guy who shows up later on is a mute. The kid asks him questions and he at least looks at him. And looks at him. And then turns away. Nobody does that! This is bad writing!

Best/Worst Moment: Best and worst have no place in an Asylum movie. It's all the worst, which makes it the best. There's the moving guy falling down the stairs and by the time the camera gets to him (in under 2 seconds), there's a pool of blood around his head, and not a single drop more coming out. Must've been quite a gushing head wound. For a second. There's the security guy (with bizarre unexplained black ops connections??) who has an electric line fall from the sky onto him in one of the most hilarious electrocutions ever filmed. There's the dad's violent beating of a ghost, where he's just punching and kicking the air. There's his mental breakdown where he decides he's in the army again and does a bellycrawl across the living room floor after dispatching orders to his family and saluting the bookcase. It's just all amazing.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The acting.

Horror Tropes: Well, you got your haunted house, your kid with a camera welded to his hand permanently (and I mean permanently, wow), your teens being murdered for having sex, your falling down stairs and breaking your neck (apparently an Asylum favorite - once in this movie, twice at least in Whaley House, maybe three times?), your kid's imaginary friend that's actually a ghost, and your family that doesn't just move out after the third or fourth unexplained death in two days.

My Take: Whaley House had some fun. This one was just terrible. It was the crazy military dad, and the terrible acting from the main kid running the camera (also everyone else, but he had to speak directly to the camera up close, with long rambling descriptions of what happened between scenes). To be honest, this movie looked a whole lot like it would have if that actual kid had really made it, with his buddies, as a fun after-school project. It even kind of seemed like the parents were his parents, just barely willing to participate, but not act, so he'd leave them alone. Wow, I'm giving myself a whole new perspective on this movie. Actually, for a middle school kid, I think he did a pretty good job after all. Congratulations, kid!

Missed Opportunity: What this movie really could've used was some semblance of logic I think. If there had been a plot, a sequence of events that tied the ghostiness together and made it make sense rather than people just randomly being killed, that would've held my interest and given me something to think about. That's a real missed opportunity right there.

The Lesson: Stop accidentally watching Asylum movies! These are the things you have to check for before you choose a movie.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Haunting of Whaley House08:25 AM -- Fri October 25, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: The makers of Snakes on a Train, Transmorphers, Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, The Da Vinci Treasure, Alien Vs. Hunter, and so so much more, bring you a movie that as far as I can tell is not a direct rip-off of anything specific. In it, a group of twenty-something teens (yeah, that's a thing in movies), one of which is a tour guide at the Whaley House (an actual house in San Diego, which the movie is not filmed at, and which they're being sued for defaming), all go into the Whaley House at night after being told not to, and bring along a famous psychic because why not? Enraged spirits ensue.

Scariness Type: I jumped once! I forget why now, but hey, it happened. So yeah, it's a haunted house movie, with your usual jump scares and lurking horror.

Rating: 2/5 EMF Meters.

Body Count: 9

Fun Fact: My favorite line in this movie is repeated at least 3 times, and I can't say it on this blog. It's a simile, explaining just how haunted the house is.

Best Moment: It's so hard to pick just one. I might have to go with the time when a guy was stabbed through the chest by a chair. Not only was it amazing to be stabbed by a chair, but you could see the plate under his shirt that held the chair in place, which just elevated the entertainment one notch higher.

Worst Moment: I hate to say anything like this is the worst, but the finale of the movie is wrapped up by somebody walking backwards and falling down stairs and dying. On accident, when she's the only one left in the house. Quite a dramatic finale for somebody to just trip and die.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There are too many to count, so let me just generalize: this movie, like a lot of horror movies, has this idea that human beings are incredibly fragile (except sometimes horror movies do the exact opposite, and seemingly normal people will just get up and run around after being shot four times). You've got a guy run through with a chair, a guy who stumbles into one of those water hand pumps, and it plunges right through him. Of course, shortly after that he walks into a thick metal wire (not a thin one, I must emphasize!), and his head pops off instantly. It's the kind of thing that would make you stumble back and cough a couple times, but for this guy it's instant decapitation.

Horror Tropes: There's a real classic at the beginning of this movie: walking backwards into the street and getting hit by a bus. Not horror-specific, but always grand. Speaking of not horror, this movie also contains a Star Trek Earthquake, where the camera jiggles and everybody has to act like the world is shaking, which is great too.

My Take: This is the lowest-of-budget cheesy crap, but it still has scarier ghosts than A Haunting At Silver Falls! It's really a bad movie, as you would expect coming from The Asylum, but I had a good time, I can't deny. I also enjoyed Transmorphers, which was about ten times worse. If you want a bad horror movie, this is pretty close to as bad as you can get, in the good sense - you won't be too bored, something stupid is always happening. The one thing they did do sort of right is the completely random monster that appears in the attic at the end. I have no idea what it was or why it was there (the answer may lie in the dialogue, which I half-ignored, but I sure wouldn't count on it), but it was a scary creation.

Missed Opportunity: I don't know, seems like they could've ended this in any way other than somebody falling down stairs and it would've been better...

The Lesson: Be careful on stairs, always use the handrail and watch your step.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: A Haunting At Silver Falls09:59 AM -- Thu October 24, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A teenage girl's mother dies, so the mother's twin sister takes over raising her. The girl finds a ring in the woods and puts it on, and then for the rest of the movie, she can't get it off. She then keeps seeing a ghost everywhere she goes. Everybody thinks she's crazy, like they do. Pointing and wiggly heads ensue.

Scariness Type: Well, you've got a ghost following this girl around (or vice versa half the time), but the ghost is just a person in white makeup, with no special effects most of the time. So it's weird, it's like there's just another person in the movie that only she can see, and it's not really creepy at all. Then there are crazed torturers, much scarier than the ghost.

Rating: 2/5 Ghost Slobber.

Body Count: 2

Fun Fact: Ferrero Rocher is so tasty that even ghosts can't resist eating it.

Best Moment: The twist in the last quarter of the movie made it all a lot more fun, real quick. It completely changes what the movie is about, which is good, since the ghost was not very scary.

Worst Moment: That ghost, man... super lame. I just couldn't get over how dumb it was just seeing this white-faced girl walking around. It was like a ghost in a play, not a movie.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: When the ghosts took the main character for a ride in a school bus, I was sitting there trying to wrap my head around what was actually happening... was it a dream? Was there a ghost school bus that could physically carry her? Was it a real bus they were controlling? How'd she get home afterwards? I could see a driver on it, but they never let you really see him/her, so what was that about? Most of the movie was filled with these "is it real, is it not?" things, but this one just went too far for me (actually I didn't really like any of them, they feel like lazy writing - stuff should have a way to fit into a certain movie reality instead of just saying, "eh, whatever"). I was so busy wondering how the bus worked I don't even remember what she ended up finding when it took her out to the woods.

Horror Tropes: This movie has 3 or 4 "it was only a dream" sequences. Enough already. There's also an old classic: when somebody has a dream about walking in the woods, then they wake up and have dirty feet. I don't really get the metaphysics of that. Did dirt grow on your feet, did you teleport during the dream (usually there's some sort of evidence that you never actually left the bed, so sleepwalking is out), did ghosts collect it and rub it on, are you hallucinating the dirt? We also have a ghost pointing at stuff and wiggling its head around crazily (which just looked really dumb. How do Japanese horror movies make it so disturbing?). And what I believe is the third usage this month of "Ghost does stuff when nobody is around and it's blamed on the main character, who now looks crazy". There should be a short way to say that, but I don't know what it is.

My Take: Nah, it wasn't good. I was going to say it was okay originally, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like it was just dumb. And boy, talk about your conflicts of interest - she goes to see a psychologist, and it's her boyfriend's dad! Who doesn't like her! I can't in good conscience recommend any movie where the ghost just looks like a person in makeup.

Missed Opportunity: Here's the thing... ghosts aren't just people! They're ghostly! It's not just that though, the whole usage of the ghost in this movie was so... normal. Just a person walking around. They missed an ocean of opportunities to be creepy instead of blah.

The Lesson: Don't take in stray rings.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Devil's Carnival11:36 AM -- Wed October 23, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Three people in different circumstances don't actually seem to die as far as I can tell (though all three are probably just about to), yet nonetheless are sent down below, to that place we know bad people go when they die... The Devil's Carnival! So sit right back and you'll hear three tales, three of Aesop's Fables actually, as each of the bad people is taken through a torment related to their sins, and to maximize the torment, the whole thing is done in song! A musical ensues.

Scariness Type: You couldn't get much less scary than this, it only counts as a "horror musical" because the devil is in it, which isn't really fair since he's also in Santa Claus Vs. The Devil, and nobody called that horror (well, some reviewers did, but it was a great MST3K episode).

Rating: 1.5/5 Songs.

Body Count: Although they don't actually seem to die, it's fair to assume the 3 main characters are technically dead. Then one, or possibly two, of them end up dying again inside the carnival.

Fun Fact: It's a musical! What could be more fun than that? By the makers of Repo! The Genetic Opera, which I haven't seen either, but since it contains Giles, it must be better.

Best Moment: The best song by far is the last one, sung by the devil himself. It's catchy.

Worst Moment: The ending is actually truly 100% incomprehensible (to me anyway). There's some concept where one of the 3 souls ... repents? Decides to give in to grief? I have no idea. But because he makes whatever choice he makes, the devil sends him off to Heaven, which is already not making sense to me, but then this somehow leads the devil to decide he's now going to overthrow Heaven by changing all the rules, and it makes even less sense.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Well, this is a musical, set in a carnival run by the devil, and the characters all sing what they feel. It's not exactly buried in verisimilitude.

Horror Tropes: It's a pretty classic horror concept to hoist people on their own petards, with ironic torture. And I guess the devil is a pretty common character. And hey, what horror movie doesn't contain a series of dance numbers based on ancient morality plays?

My Take: I figured what could go wrong with a horror musical? Well, two things really - the horror, and the music. I don't mind there being no horror, but this music was awful. One thing I have a really hard time with in stage musicals is when ten people are singing at once, and it's just noise. I can't hear the words, I have no idea what's going on, and I can't even enjoy the music because it's just this screeching din over it. Same thing happens here. There are a few songs where one person is singing, and that's fine (but not very good music), but the rest of the time you have all these people shouting something together and I just can't understand a word of it. I do like musicals (if they are made by Joss Whedon), but this one is not any good at all. And the plot is a complete mess, at least to the degree that I could understand it (none). Just a big disappointment all around.

Missed Opportunity: I missed the fact that you can't turn on subtitles on the PS3 version of Netflix like you can on PC. It may have helped a lot.

The Lesson: Enunciate, people! Use your words!

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Fourth Kind06:51 PM -- Tue October 22, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Milla Jovovich tells us how to pronounce her name (it's not what I always thought!), and then she, and another woman playing "real her", are psychologists treating several people who strangely all have the same delusions of an owl watching them in bed. She tries hypnosis on them, which tends to break them. Aliens ensue.

Scariness Type: Other than the lurking fear of what might be coming to get the characters, there isn't much to scare you. I've heard this movie is terrifying, but frankly, it didn't do anything for me. I think the big money shots are the weird/paranormal moments during a couple of hypnosis scenes, but hardly anything happens even then. I guess if you have it turned up loud, there will be a lot of noisy yelling that will bother you in these scenes.

Rating: 2.5/5 White Owls.

Body Count: 5

Fun Fact: The "real" psychologist looks so much like an alien herself. I really couldn't get it out of my head that the aliens had done some kind of alteration on her, but I think that's just the actress. And now I feel rude for insulting her. Well, I never said aliens looked bad, I guess?

Best Moment: It's not much, I know, but I can't help but note that at the beginning of the movie, each new major character that came onscreen had the actor and character's name displayed under them. I wish all movies did that, I'd know the names of actors so much better, and I'd even know some of the characters' names too! You'll note I'm still calling the psychologist Milla in this review though, so I didn't learn that much. Pretty sure the character's name was Abigail, in truth. But I did learn that Elias Koteas is that one balding guy - I recognized his name and his face, but didn't know they went together. Oh yeah, and he was Casey Jones in the Ninja Turtle movies!

Worst Moment: Enough with the hypnosis, movie psychologists! Seriously! Real psychologists almost never use that stuff. Yet it's all movie psychologists ever do.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The psychologist ends up under house arrest right when she is all set to get out of Dodge because she doesn't want aliens to abduct her. A cop is sitting outside watching her house, and he has a dash cam recording. So of course the aliens come during the night to get her. The dash cam catches this event, and amid all the static that aliens always cause in video, we can clearly see a huge UFO fly over the house to zap it. The cop gets out and runs to the house, freaking out that a UFO has stopped by. Here's my problem with this: if that was actually how they performed the abductions, then it wouldn't have been a secret for years and years... they would've been caught in the first week! Really, nobody else had ever been outside one of the abductee's houses at 3:33 in the morning ever before this?

Horror Tropes: Hmm, I don't have any good ones off-hand for you. Even though I found the movie's format strange and off-putting (combining clips of "real" footage with the dramatized version), what it accomplished was an anti-trope. It made it so they didn't have to do the traditional found-footage thing of coming up with reasons for everything to happen right in front of a camera. These people only used cameras when it made a decent amount of sense - the hypnosis sessions were filmed, the cop turned on a dash cam when watching the house (I kinda doubt that would happen, but it's not insane), and various interviews were filmed, which of course would have to be. All the stuff in-between was just dramatized. Interesting idea.

My Take: I could never quite get fully invested in this movie because of the two-movies trick. A lot of scenes would be like something out of 24 - the screen would be split into 2, 3, or even 4 blocks with different video on each one, and they had this trick which I'm sure they thought was clever, but totally pulled me out of the movie: they'd gradually stretch or shrink different boxes to emphasize them. That just had me thinking about the changing size of the boxes rather than watching what was going on in them. Now, most of the movie was just straightforward, but it was the key scenes that were done this way, so it kinda killed the mood. The whole proceeding would've been better as just a single movie, with no found-footage element. Anyway, with that aside, I just didn't like it too much. Nobody was really likeable, and a lot of them (most notably Milla's balding friend) were just outright hostile and unhelpful, despite encountering the exact same paranormal events she was. The evil alien threat also didn't do much of interest, and didn't seem to have a very interesting reason for being around. I think they were shooting for some kind of high-concept thing where these aliens had actually created humans in the first place, but they didn't do anything with that, so who cares?

Missed Opportunity: Do something with your aliens. They're aliens, come on! They can shapeshift, give bees smallpox, run for President, eat Reese's Pieces, whisper in Fred Flintstone's ear, cross borders illegally, use Macs, blow up world monuments, tear off human-like skin and eat mice, secretly run the government, dissolve when wet, recite poetry, parasitically infest and control humans, train kids to pilot spaceships via arcade games, fight cowboys, plant babies in your stomach, march in lockstep down the screen until they touch ground, wear Edgar suits, rule Omicron Persei 8, come in peace, and do so much more. You may consider this paragraph a fun game for your amusement.

The Lesson: Just say no to hypnosis.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Dead Snow08:38 AM -- Mon October 21, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A group of Norwegian med students goes to a very remote cabin in the snow for... well, what seems like a pretty awful vacation, I mean like freezing freezing cold, no TV, and one snowmobile. And no skis even! Anyway, they seem happy about it. And then a crazy old man shows up at their door to give them a very cryptic warning. They should've listened, because after that, the Nazi Zombies come for their gold. Intestines ensue.

Scariness Type: Gore gore gore gore gore. And intestines.

Rating: 3/5 Intestines.

Body Count: 9 people, 1 bird, and 35 or so zombies.

Fun Fact: During the movie, I honestly wondered why it wasn't called "Red Snow", which would've been way better. Now I checked IMDB and I find that in fact it was originally called that. No indication as to why they changed it.

Best Moment: It's always fun, and completely unscary, when the heroes have finally had enough of running away from the scary monsters and find a chainsaw and start wailing away.

Worst Moment: Much more upsetting than zombies crushing skulls was when somebody got pulled into the pit under the outhouse. So much worse. Oh, you know what else was bad and really out of place? When one of the students nearly murders another one with a pillow over her face and her hands trapped, as some sort of perverse joke. And that guy wasn't even the "super evil teen" role we have seen in other movies. What on earth was that? You don't partially murder people and then laugh it off!

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Suspending yourself from a human intestine (as it spools out of a body) is too far. I don't think this movie knows how intestines work. They were present in almost every fight in the movie, doing all kinds of awful things, very few of which were anything close to related to actual intestines. Some strange intestinal obsession in this one for sure. Maybe the writer had Crohn's disease and thus had a real fear of issues related to them. Come to think of it, there were even a bunch of outhouse-related scenes. I could definitely see the writer having bowel fears. Now that's just weird.

Horror Tropes: "It was just a dream", a scene that seems normal until the person wakes up and it didn't happen. I'm tired of that, give me blood drips any day. Also a rather specific element stolen straight from Edgar Wright: the quick-cut "gearing up" scenes, where straps are tightened, hats and gloves are thrown on, etc. They stole the style of these exactly from Shaun Of The Dead and other Edgar Wright joints. Many movies have done these things, but Edgar Wright has a specific style to them, which was clearly duplicated here, and yet is somehow lesser.

My Take: This was almost a good experience. It had the hipness factor of Nazi Zombies and the associated bits of humor (although not as much as I would've expected or wanted), and the hipness factor of college kids and the associated bits of humor (although not as much I would've expected or wanted - this was not written by the Norwegian Kevin Smith), and the fun zombie war with chainsaws and sledgehammers. But it just didn't quite hit it hard enough. There was a little too much darkness, kind of an attempt to be actually scary, but that was wasted in a goofy zombie movie, they should've just gone all out with the fun and humor.

The Lesson: Always check your pockets thoroughly when running from zombies - you never know if you may still have a piece of nazi gold on you.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Fingerprints08:53 PM -- Sun October 20, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: You know the urban legend where you can park your car on the train tracks, and ghost kids will push it off? First of all, that's totally entitled of you - don't you think those kids have something better to do in the afterlife? But secondly, that's what this movie is about! A girl returns home from rehab, although her family moved in the meantime, to the town where those train tracks are. People start getting killed, and she investigates the legend of the train tracks, and whatever. Bad acting ensues.

Scariness Type: Well... there are ghosts, and a weird torture/slasher person, sort of like Jason, but dumber. But scariness? It's scary they made this movie.

Rating: 1/5 Stun Batons.

Body Count: 1 busfull of kids, plus 6 more non-kids.

Fun Fact: I am pretty sure the main character's mom is a robot. An evil robot.

Best Moment: None.

Worst Moment: I think you'd have to dig deep, but some lowlights include the attempted rape, the train hitting the bus and causing it to... well, cut to some random spinning cameras inside the bus as blood was splashed around with absolutely no special effects at all, and pretty much everything the villain ever does.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There's a point where the girl and her friends are parked on the train tracks, and of course eagerly awaiting getting pushed by ghost kids. Apparently they're really preoccupied with it because none of them hear or see a semi pulling up behind them until it honks its horn. That is about as believable as every scene in Scream 3.

Horror Tropes: We got our blood drip! I don't actually remember it now, but in my notes it says "modified blood drip", so there may have been something different about how it happened. And of course there's the usual situation where nobody believes the hero, and the supernatural things happening end up making her look like she's doing bad things.

My Take: This was terrible. Just plain terrible. It was clearly direct-to-DVD (or just made-for-TV), as the awful cinematography and ultra-cheapness and low-quality film stock display. I don't know how this can be, but apparently it takes good money to choose a decent font, because I literally could tell this was a TV production based on the fonts in the opening credits. Just so bad. The villain in the end is really unintentionally funny, and pretty much everything else that happens is just terrible.

Missed Opportunity: They could've stopped. They could've said, "You know what? This isn't working. Let's just not do it. We can all go work on something else." They didn't.

The Lesson: Don't watch this.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Pumpkinhead03:13 PM -- Sat October 19, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A group of obnoxious teens heads, as usual, to a remote cabin for partying purposes. Along the way they take a rather odd stop to zoom around on motorbikes for a minute. In the process, they accidentally run over a young boy, killing him. His dad doesn't take the news well for some reason, and finds an old witch in the woods to summon a vengeance demon to slaughter them all. Like you do. Vengeance ensues.

Scariness Type: Oddly enough, this is pretty much a slasher movie, like Friday The 13th, where a guy with a machete runs around chopping people up. The subtle difference is that the guy is a giant alien monster instead, and uses claws in place of machetes.

Rating: 3/5 Stickman Necklaces.

Body Count: 7

Fun Fact: The father who ends up connected with the monster is Bishop, the crazy android from the Alien movies. The monster is a near-exact copy of the alien from the Alien movies. Another odd Bishop note: he (the actor who played him) actually bought the gold coins that he pays the witch with, at various pawn shops and stuff around town. He also used his own gun and some other wardrobe elements. Way to support the team!

Best Moment: I don't know... the final showdown was pretty interesting, I suppose.

Worst Moment: Dare I call this the worst moment? It made me laugh... they used an orchestra sting to turn a friendly dog jumping into a guy's lap into a jump scare. It was stupid.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There's really only two things I can point to here that bugged me, and they're more a matter of degree than just something crazy: The "evil teenager" was just too evil. They do that in a lot of movies it seems, but come on, the guy is locking his friends up in a broom closet and cutting phone lines just to make sure they don't call an ambulance for a dying kid? And secondly, I know it's possible to stumble and end up impaled on a pitchfork, I just don't think it's a likely enough occurrence that the coincidence of that happening amidst all this monster excitement is particularly believable.

Horror Tropes: Is it a trope to have a big H.R. Giger alien? It's been done in other horror movies, I know that! We also had "boy chases his dog into certain doom" (usually in front of a truck, in front of a motorcycle this time), "dead monster reaches out and grabs you to reveal its non-dead status", "cowering in the closet and the monster roars at you rather than just tearing you apart" (monsters hate closets, despite what children think), and probably a lot of others. It was a lot more enjoyable to see a huge alien doing the teenager-stalking instead of some boring guy in a mask, but he still made sure to follow all the rules.

My Take: I saw this movie decades ago, probably not when it came out, but a few years later on VHS. And at least once or twice more. I have very strong memories of saying "It's gotta run its course!" to my friends. Somehow we were attached to that phrase. Which is sad because on this viewing, I barely noticed when it went past. It doesn't sound very interesting at all. There was another line we also quoted, but I forget what it was - it's from the scene where the hog-feed-hauling boy is standing next to Bishop's pickup talking to him. But, nostalgia aside, I was surprised to find this movie isn't that bad. It feels very short, but in a good way: stuff is always happening and it just moves right along. And the people in it are not as ridiculous as your usual slasher movie... well, the people of this little backwoods town aren't. The teenagers that are ostensibly the main characters (Bishop is the real main character) are the one-dimensional machete-fodder you've come to expect. There's a fun concept in the movie, where Bishop and the Alien are magically linked because it was awoken with his blood, but I think that could've worked better in a movie where the linked person didn't actually want to sacrifice himself, so the heroes would have to evade the unkillable monster while tracking him down. In this movie, everybody's pretty much aiming for the same final confrontation and it all just wraps right up neat as you please. Anyway, for 80's horror, this is downright decent.

Missed Opportunity: I think the director - since he was Stan Winston, monster-maker extraordinaire - was way too happy to show the alien (oh sorry, I mean demon) clearly. We could've done with a lot more suspense and not-seeing of it. The creature effects were actually really good, but no movie monster is going to really come off that great when you just lay it out in full light.

The Lesson: Don't run over kids. I think the lesson is very clear this time, it demonstrates the consequences in great detail.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Last Will And Testament of Rosalind Leigh04:35 PM -- Fri October 18, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: This old woman dies, and her antique collector son, who was estranged from her for most of his life, returns home to either move in or sell the house. What he discovers there is a really messed-up house full of crazy stuff, which it turns out is just about every antique he ever sold. She had bought them all, which is nice and all, but weird. Nothing ensues.

Scariness Type: There are a few jump scares, but this is all about dark, gothic mood and an oppressive dread hanging over it all.

Rating: 2/5 Gollums.

Body Count: One. The guy's mom!

Fun Fact: Other than voices over the phone or through a door, and one shot of two people seen through a window at a distance, and a brief videotape of a bunch of people, this movie contains only one person. Well, and a couple shots of the mom who is dead.

Best Moment: This movie contained the first scene this month to truly scare me (I'm pretty sure ghosts inside a house is all that works for me, at this point): things all around the house are rattling and thumping, and he runs and crouches in a corner, wishing it would all go away like a kid would. He calls his therapist/ex-girlfriend (the relationship is never quite made clear...) and she tells him to just close his eyes and meditate. Things stomp closer and closer as he sits with his eyes closed...

Worst Moment: The dumbest thing in this movie is...

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: the magical space computer! When the guy thinks he sees a monster outside the house, he calls up the alarm company that apparently runs security cameras at his house. He ends up talking to a computer, which somehow patches through security footage onto his laptop, and then talks to him about it as it shows him. This computer recognizes the image on the screen and says it's an animal, but it doesn't know what kind. Was this movie set 40 years in the future? What on earth is this random super space technology doing in this haunted house movie?!

Horror Tropes: A lot of things go bump in the night in this movie! But sadly, blood never drips from above. This is actually a very original movie, other than a lot of the usual ghost things with doors slamming and noises in other rooms.

My Take: As I just said, this movie is quite original. I've never seen anything quite like it. Unfortunately, it's also very boring for about the first two-thirds, and the remaining third has a very cheesy CGI monster in it. And finally, it's all wrapped up with the twist (spoiler!) being that everything that happened didn't actually happen - it was all something the ghost of the old woman was imagining. So it just leaves you feeling cheated. I don't know, I can't hate too much, it was kind of powerful and moving, with some symbolic business, but at the same time there's all the things I just said. So it's not a complete failure. I guess the thing is this: if you still find yourself interested after the first 10 minutes of the movie which literally feature no human beings (other than a voice-over), just empty rooms being slowly panned across, then I think you're all set to enjoy the movie. But I don't think you'll be too sad if you skip out on it either.

Missed Opportunity: Where was Doctor Who to save everybody from this house jam-packed with weeping angels?!

The Lesson: Call your mother, she worries.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Unrest02:28 PM -- Thu October 17, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A new batch of cadavers arrive at a medical school for doctors to chop up for some good old-fashioned learnin'. Unfortunately, one of the cadavers was... oh, I don't know, some weird issue involving an Aztec curse happened, so people start dying. Bonus cadavers ensue!

Scariness Type: It actually got kinda creepy, in the standard sort of "lights flickering and going out, things on the other side of a wall are thumping and scratching" type of way. There are also crazy homicidal and suicidal people, and there's a fairly healthy dose of gore.

Rating: 2/5 Formaldehyde Tanks.

Body Count: 5ish, plus four pre-deceased people for medical research.

Fun Fact: The Aztec empire was very large, but it was in Central America... thousands of miles from Brazil.

Best Moment: Well, it's not amazing or anything, but there's a scene where a guy who's been driven crazy is sitting at a desk, holding a homemade shiv in one hand hidden under the desk, and he's telling the guard watching him to come closer so he can give him something. It's very tense, and it does not end up with the guard being stabbed, strangely enough. That was a well-done bit.

Worst Moment: There was a part that was supposed to make me feel this way, but it succeeded, which was unpleasant: this girl (who wasn't a med student) asked her fiance (who was) to take her in to see the cadavers. He was reluctant, but she talked him into it. Then she freaked out when the body settled, ran out of the room and immediately started berating him violently for having 'forced' her to go in there. I was so mad at her, and thought she was the dumbest person on Earth. Which is what you're supposed to feel, but really, can anybody be that ignorant of the immediate past? It was way over the top.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Two of the characters end up (fairly ridiculously) taking a dive into a tank that I believe is filled with formaldehyde... SUCH a bad idea! And yet the worst thing that happens is one bobs up and goes "Augh, it got in my eyes!" but he was fine. He even ended up drowning in it to the point of needing resuscitation, and was fixed just as easily as if he'd drowned in water. Now, I'm no scientist, but I think formaldehyde is signficantly worse for you than water.

Horror Tropes: Blood drip YAYYYYY!! I think that should be a requirement in all horror movies. There's a ton more tropes in this movie, but not ones I can really point out... it just all felt the same as all other horror movies with scenes of lights flickering out, and pulling back a shower curtain with a pool of blood under it, all that stuff.

My Take: One kind of interesting thing about this movie is that there is never a monster/ghost of any sort. Stuff just kind of happens, and that's it. Most of it is mental even, people being driven crazy rather than anything actually happening (although there are some breaking bulbs and that sort of thing, but not a lot of stuff flying off shelves). I kind of liked that because the corpse kept seeming like it was going to get up, but it never did anything at all... that you could see! What I didn't like was the movie. It was just pretty dumb, with a really unspecific and illogical threat. You could've made a very good movie with this premise - a person corrupted by some evil power is dead, their body is cut open by doctors and their spirit gets mad at this intrusion (or the evil in them is released by the physical act of cutting), and starts killing everyone involved. They just didn't succeed. Everything was very vague and nonsensical, and not really that interesting, and plot holes plot holes plot holes.

The Lesson: At the beginning of the movie, a guy presents the lesson for you right in the dialogue: "You know that box you can check to donate your body to science? Don't."

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Apollo 1811:00 AM -- Wed October 16, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Although Apollo 17 was officially the last manned mission to the moon, it turns out there was actually an Apollo 18 mission. It was top secret because they were deploying some kind of missile detector or something to beat the Russians with. Then everyone involved was horribly killed, so probably best kept secret. Until, that is, the enterprising makers of this movie "uncovered" the footage in 2000something and shared it with us all! So brave. Found footage ensues.

Scariness Type: Little bit o' jump scares, little bit o' gore, mainly your usual found-footage tricks: waiting and watching, wondering what's going to be in the corner.

Rating: 2.5/5 Moon Rocks.

Body Count: 5

Best Moment: All the astronaut business in general was extremely realistic feeling, and I'm fairly certain they mixed in actual NASA footage, and they did such a good job that the real stuff looks just like the fake stuff. At least in the early going. Once they're actually on the moon, it gradually gets more and more movie-ish and feeling less real. Especially when the CGI monsters show up.

Worst Moment: Something I really didn't like in this movie is that they took the fun part of found footage - watching the corners of the screen, trying to spot the horrible lurking thing - and removed the game from it. Several times during the movie, they artificially zoom the shot and even put a highlighting circle around the scary thing you're supposed to see in the otherwise empty shot. Ostensibly, this is realistic - this is a 'documentary' and the makers want you to catch that stuff, they're trying to inform the public. But in reality, this is a horror movie, and that's just a total joy-killer.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: One thing I really couldn't figure out was why these guys were carrying flashbulbs to illuminate dark craters instead of a perfectly ordinary flashlight. Maybe it's some technical thing related to actual space travel, but what I really think is that they did it for the classic found footage trick of seeing a pitch-black room in just a series of flashes of light, and waiting for the one flash that's going to reveal the big scare.

Horror Tropes: Blood drip from above! Whoo! Then there's stumbling around in the dark until you encounter a dead body and screaming and running (Dead people can't actually move, relax). And while it's not really horror tropes in general, this movie was full of found-footage convention - setting up motion-sensing cameras (not that useful on a non-horror-movie moon) and then going to bed for the night, demanding that you keep filming when you never would, making sure your camera is pointed the right way, and all that. It was like transposing the rules of found-footage horror onto the moon.

My Take: I was hooked at first. This is, by orders of magnitude, the most expensive found footage movie I've ever seen. Huge sets (they're on the moon!), spaceship interiors and exteriors, a lunar rover, all kinds of things. Things that would be nothing special in a normal movie, but found footage usually costs like $20 to make because they just go out in the woods or in somebody's house and film whatever's there. It also has real actors in it (the main astronaut is a guy from the show Alphas), which is kind of funny for found footage, but I actually appreciated the nod to the audience - "Look, we both know this isn't actually real, so we're not gonna hire no-names just to try to pretend." And just the style and appearance and sound of all of it really seems like legitimate NASA footage from the era. I even think they filmed some space stuff in zero-G (not in space, mind you, but on an airplane). That could be trickery, but it looked right. So where did this great mockumentary go wrong? With the monsters. They weren't scary, and there just wasn't much suspense about them, they were kinda just right there. The astronauts didn't know that, but we sure did! Especially since the filmmakers zoomed in on them for us. I think they had a ton of potential here to make something amazing, if they had just come up with a more spooky threat. The whole space psychosis angle which was caused by the monsters was a lot more interesting of a threat than the monsters themselves. They practically had a "Here's Johnny!" moment. It might have been a better movie to just have an astronaut go crazy for perfectly normal reasons, and I don't even like "guy goes crazy" movies (I want supernatural stuff!).

Missed Opportunity: What this movie needed was... well, any monster other than little rock spiders. The monsters were a total let-down and not at all scary. Give me moonghosts! Space Ghosts?

The Lesson: We should fund NASA! Pure science and space exploration leads to all the incredible advances we need in every other area. Let's GO TO MARS!!! But the moon first. Come on, is there any reason we don't have a functioning moon colony right now? It's sickening.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Collection10:43 AM -- Tue October 15, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Some kids go to a rave, in which 90% of the partiers are mowed down by a giant death shredder, and then the main character (one of said kids, but not one of the ones that is shredded) is kidnapped by "The Collector", a serial killer who apparently slaughters large numbers of people and takes one from each attack back to his secret lair. In the process, for reasons I'm not super clear on, one of his previous victims is set free. Some commando type guys hire/force the previous victim to lead them to The Collector's lair, because they are hired to rescue the main character. Incidentally, the previous victim guy is also a main character, I don't know which one is more main of a character. Traps ensue!

Scariness Type: There's gore a-plenty, jump scares a-few, and a serial killer's creepy house of deadly traps and grotesque 'sculptures' made of human body parts stitched together in incorrect ways. That guy's a weirdo.

Rating: 4/5 Bear Traps.

Body Count: 86 at least, plus 2 dogs. See, it's really hard to count, since in the first 5 minutes of the movie, at least 60 people die as the ravegoers meet a giant lawnmower thing, and then there's also a crusher room and a series of slicer-upper traps. It's pretty brutal!

Fun Fact: That rave looked like it was taking place in Zion!

Best Moment: These movie killers are always so specific about what they do. In this movie, you have a guy whose thing is laying ridiculously elaborate traps (which is fun!). But something I really liked was that when things really turned against him - a swat team was getting ready to beat down the door, and his victims were escaping - he didn't mess around. He picked up a machine gun and 2 big german shepherds (well, he didn't pick them up, but he told them to come with him from wherever they were kept) and just stormed into the room and tried to gun down all the goodguys before things got any worse. Now that's real life. Sure, you want to stick with your gimmick, but when the fan is being struck with waste products, you pull out everything you've got to just get through it and move on to the next genius trap extravaganza.

Worst Moment: I didn't really enjoy the arm-breaking scene...

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Nothing about this movie was remotely believable, it was just fun instead. But two things really made me say "that did not happen that way!" One was when the villain had some gasoline on him, was laying on the ground next to a bunch of cans of gasoline, and the hero (male edition in this case - remember, we have two to choose from) drops a lit cloth on him, and he goes up in a massive blaze... He then later is just mysteriously missing from that spot next time they look. He got away, apparently completely unscarred. Totally insane. The other thing wasn't really one thing, it was just that all the characters in this movie were resourceful to a degree that would make MacGyver jealous. For the villain, that was his gimmick - he made impossibly elaborate traps, fine. But all the goodguys were nearly as brilliant as him, ranging from memorizing the path to his house based on the turns that got him there (and carving marks into his own arm to track it) to re-breaking your own broken arm so you can bend it better. Yeesh, that was a rough scene.

Horror Tropes: I didn't write this down, so I can't verify it, but you just know we had a blood drip from above scene. There had to be. Of course there was also the killer disappearing when you think he's dead (see above as to why that was ridiculous), and a nice case of Extra-Crazy Stockholm Syndrome.

My Take: This movie was tons of fun, and I totally enjoyed it. I hear it's the sequel to The Collector, which I'd be happy to see too. Now, let's be clear - I had a lot of fun with this movie, but it is not by any means a good movie. It's stupid. Soooo stupid. But that's okay, it was fun and silly and my brain was checked at the door. I forgot to get a number with it, but they were able to find it in there and return it to me afterwards. It was like an entire movie of "Well, Mr. Bond, I'll leave you here to die in my elaborate mechanism while I go demand more millions from the U.N.! I'm sure you'll be dead when I return! I don't need security cameras, that's fine, I trust you to die." again and again.

Missed Opportunity: More traps! We could've had more!

The Lesson: Watch your step. Just watch your step.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Silent Hill: Revelation12:12 PM -- Mon October 14, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: This is the second Silent Hill movie. A girl moves to a new town, having moved very often to stay ahead of the law, who are pursuing her dad for murdering someone. What she doesn't know is that they're really trying to stay ahead of the evil cult from Silent Hill, who want her back in their town for some reason. They succeed, and she is in Silent Hill. Mass exposition ensues.

Scariness Type: There are jump scares to be found, and there is gore, but the main thing here is something I can really only call "horror". There are all kinds of monsters and scenes that are just wrong, like people with their entire face being a mouth, or lots of things with no eyes, and so on. They don't jump out at you, they don't really scare you, they just sort of horrify you - they are things that should not be.

Rating: 2/5 Contortionist Nurses.

Body Count: 7, although sometimes instead of dying, people became mannequins, or seemed to still be alive through awful torture that should've killed them and other oddities. If I counted everybody that should be dead (like the prisoners whose arms got chopped off at the elbow), the number would be much higher.

Fun Fact: Hair color is a reliable indicator of evilness. But watch out for completely white hair! It's the worst.

Best Moment: Probably the best thing was the attack of the Mannequin Spider. That thing was very creepy, in a good way.

Worst Moment: There isn't really a worst moment, more of a worst element to the whole thing: the plot is an absolute jumble. Nothing makes any sense at all, things just happen one after another until you get to the conclusion, which feels totally unearned and just as random as all that came before it. Because there is so much stuff in the plot, most of the movie is taken up by really bald exposition, people just rattling off information. And it's funny that despite the continuous stream of information, you still don't know what's going on (in a bad way).

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: This whole movie felt like a sort of amusement park ride. I never felt like the main character was in any danger at all (and, according to what I could understand of the plot, I think rightly so - she may have been perfectly safe!), and that really sapped any drama from the various chase scenes. I'm not actually sure what made it seem so harmless, but it did. She just never seemed to be threatened, and it didn't help that she didn't seem very concerned either. I'd be more concerned with a bee in the room than these people are about giant murderous monsters charging at them. Also, the high school she attends is All Hallows High. Come on, dude. We deserve better.

Horror Tropes: Don't worry honey, it was all a dream... but wait, more horrible things are happening!! Oh wait, that was also a dream. I want to mock that idea more, because it is cliche and stupid, but I have definitely had dreams about waking up from dreams and thinking I really was awake until I finally woke up for real.

My Take: I've never played a Silent Hill game, or really any horror game for that matter. I have Alan Wake in my Steam Pile, I should fire it up sometime. Anyway, I'm not attached to the game series in the slightest, although it's always interested me, and the movies are the same way. I think I liked the first Silent Hill movie pretty well. When I saw there was a new Silent Hill movie on Netflix, I just had to see it. One thing I really love (which the first movie was full of, and this movie only hits a little bit) is the transition from nice normal world to twisted evil version. It looks really cool, and it's a fun device, a faster version of the "Thank heavens the sun finally came up!" element in some horror movies (most notably for me, The Blair Witch Project). But this movie really felt like a video game, with the triforce being pieced together and keys and bosses and just the general sense of non-danger. With all the magic trinkets and rules and tons of exposition, this movie actually felt a lot more like a fantasy film than horror. It was Alice In Wonderland, only more disturbing, if you can get more disturbing than that. My biggest problem with this all is how it wraps up way way too easily. I don't even understand the fight on the carousel, which was so important as to be the subject of a prophetic nightmare at the movie's start, yet when it comes to reality, it ends in a minute flat with zero repercussions, with the entire battle consisting of one hug. It's like a Care Bears movie. The whole thing missed any feeling of an epic quest. She just waltzes into this town, grabs her dad, and leaves. Simple as that.

Missed Opportunity: They missed the opportunity to include some peril! Anywhere! How about getting injured, or narrowly escaping something? How about not instantly solving every problem with zero effort? How about not being literally handed the magical trinket you need to win the game? Then again, I really question whether she needed it at all, it was pretty useless for something they made such a big deal of. Also, I've missed the opportunity to play this game series, I really should.

The Lesson: Monsters with giant swords won't hurt you, don't worry about it!

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Terror Tract07:18 PM -- Sun October 13, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: John Ritter is a real estate agent showing people various houses, only he can't seem to resist detailing the gory details of how the previous owners died in each house. Anthology ensues!

Scariness Type: There are a bunch of jump scares, and some gore.

Rating: 2/5 Grannies.

Body Count: 13 people, 2 cats, 1 dog, a worm and a bird. At least half of the human deaths occur in the last minute of the movie, so that's exciting!

Fun Fact: Bryan Cranston (who's the star of the 2nd story in this anthology) played opposite the exact same monkey (the villain of the 2nd story) in an episode of Malcolm In The Middle.

Best Story: The third story is about a teenager who's been having psychic visions of a serial killer. He goes to a psychologist and is telling her about this (of course she doesn't believe him, and she's worried he's the killer). This segment had an interesting killer (the "Granny Killer" - he wears this old lady mask which is really creepy, way better than the stupid Scream mask. But he also says goofy things in a granny voice like "Why are you scared? It's only Granny!"), and a fun, if small, mystery. I'm not saying it was great, it was still cheesy and pretty lame, but it was the best one.

Worst Story: And for worst story, we have the first story - a woman is cheating on her husband, but he had found about it already, so he snuck back home early and was going to kill both her and her lover, but ends up killed himself. The rest of the story involves the difficulty of hiding the evidence of his death (because nobody in movies is ever willing to consider just telling the truth... he was trying to murder them, they wouldn't have gone to jail!), and of course the possibility of his vengeful spirit returning. It's pretty slow and very cheesy, and just oozes 80's Tales From The Crypt drama. It ends with one of those lame non-twists, the kind of thing that just amounts to "wasn't that weird?" because it doesn't mean anything or change anything.

The Other Story: The middle story is about Malcolm's dad battling an evil monkey that his daughter really likes and doesn't think is evil. It's very silly. It's fun, mainly because of Bryan Cranston's ability to look distraught and freak out about things. But it's very, very dumb.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: This was all so silly and ridiculous. In the first story, there's a guy with no special training who holds his breath underwater effortlessly for at least 2 minutes, just calmly swimming around. I was feeling much more nervous than he was. The second story is one big pile of insanity, I can't really point to a specific element. The third story I find much easier to swallow, nothing was hugely wrong with it, I'd say. And the wrap-around story? Well, that was basically a cartoon. My disbelief remained firmly affixed to the floor for this entire movie, no suspension occurred.

Horror Tropes: The first story is just one giant trope, it's like it's straight out of one of those "101 Weird Spooky Tales!" books, right down to the wet footprints and creaking gate. The second story includes not one, but two, instances of placing your hand in blood without looking and then looking at your hand, and then looking to see what's so bloody and freaking out. The third story includes the classic "I have something for you!" while reaching into your jacket pocket and the other person takes you to be threatening to kill them. Just use your words, people, I'm always saying it.

My Take: This movie, released in 2000, should've been from about 1985. Every single thing about it screams 80's, to the point that I assume it was intended. They weren't just going for silly horror, they intended to create something that looked like it was from the 80's, and they succeeded beyond all reason (perhaps it's why they hired John Ritter, even). It's such a crazy throwback that I feel like there must be some kind of story behind the production, though I can't seem to find it. Overall, it's about what you'd expect - really silly lightweight horror with a Tales From The Crypt feel, so it's more half-intended comedy than it is horror. I had fun watching it, as I am guaranteed to with an anthology, although the stories did get progressively better from a rather uninteresting first story through to the pretty decent third story. The wrap-around story of the real estate agent showing houses was fun to watch, but really wasn't even a story. It did have an entertaining ending though!

Missed Opportunity: It's the opposite problem we found with ABCs of Death - if they had just jammed in one more story in this movie, then the existing stories could've been tightened up more and I think the result would've been something more fun.

The Lesson: Make sure you inquire about the neighborhood when buying a house.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Resolution10:33 AM -- Sat October 12, 2013

This review contains NO spoilers. Nobody should be spoiled for Resolution. Just watch it.

Resolution earns a full 5/5 Meth Pipes, and the coveted Different Review Format Than Normal. You should absolutely see it. Be warned however that, while it doesn't have much violence or anything sexual or even anything particularly scary other than ideas, it has enough F-Bombs that if you bleeped them, you would be communicating in morse code. So be aware of that if you have concerns about language. This movie has more language than the Tower of Babel.

The plot of the movie, at least initially, is very simple: There's a guy who does nothing but smoke meth all day and think that a dog is helping him write a book about squirrels. Another guy who was his friend before he spiralled into drugs sets out to his remote cabin and chains him to the wall to force him to dry out for a week and see if he can convince him to go into rehab. Endless interruptions by incredibly weird people ensue.

It's entirely possible that this movie just caught me at the right moment or just happens to work for me personally, but I thought it was amazing. I was trapped at my wife's office for several hours (on the rare occasions that I leave my house, I usually ride into town with her, which means I'm stuck there as long as she is), so unlike at home where I seek constant distraction, I was glued to this screen with headphones in and nothing else to do for the entire movie, so I paid close attention the whole time. And I was rewarded for my effort with a truly unique experience.

This is one of those really strange meta-movies that's talking about more than what you see onscreen. Everything is operating on at least 2 levels. But if you put that part aside for a moment and just focus on what you're actually seeing, it's still great. The characters are all extremely quirky and interesting, and I hadn't really thought about that until this movie, but most movies have totally generic characters. This is the tough guy, this is the girl who lost her parents. In this movie, every character is totally off-the-wall, nothing you would ever expect, and it feels like there's a huge backstory behind each of them. There most likely isn't, but that's okay, their dialogue makes the movie entertaining, and that's before you even get to the plot. There are parts where I laughed out loud, even though kids were being tutored in the other room.

The plot, I won't spoil. But it's some weird paranormal stuff going on here, and it builds up until ... well, an ending I really enjoyed, and had some difficulty comprehending. I confess that afterwards I read some IMDB discussions and went "OH SNAP" to ones that helped me expand on what I was thinking, and that made me enjoy it even more. So this is definitely a thinker of a movie, and it's got things to say (I won't tell you about what, because you should be as unspoiled as possible), and at the same time it's fun to watch on a pure entertainment level. I actually liked the resolution of Resolution, not just the weird stuff but actually how the human story was resolved. Which in itself sort of breaks the rules of the movie, but I won't get into that. Just watch it.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: 6 Souls08:18 AM -- Fri October 11, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A psychologist is introduced to a patient with multiple personalities by her father who is also a psychologist. Even though it's her dad's job to fix the guy, she gets all up in that and tries to figure the guy out. Unfortunately, she discovers that his various personalities are those of murder victims. And people around her start dying too. Soul-sucking ensues.

Scariness Type: This movie doesn't try too hard to scare you. It's more that it's about scary and weird things that would be quite awful if they happened to you. It was listed as a "crime thriller" on Netflix, though I would call it a horror movie. A few too many ghostly murders for your standard crime genre.

Rating: 3.5/5 Inkblots.

Body Count: 12

Fun Fact: People hang assorted objects all over the place with string and wire. It's a standard decorating strategy, used by many different people. At least in this movie.

Best Moment: The crazy guy did a good job of being a different person in each of his personalities. The final personality in the climax was an especially difficult and potentially hilarious scene, and he did a good job of not making it seem ridiculous.

Worst Moment: See below. Really, I can't pull anything else out when that moment is blinding me with lack-of-science.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There's a security video which contains footage of a ghostly shadow hanging over somebody. When a guy who does audio engineering is examining the footage, he suddenly has an epiphany - "why, this looks like an audio waveform!" (the shadow itself). So he uses that very common piece of software we all have (I'm sure it comes with Windows, alongside Minesweeper), which extrapolates a 3D image of a waveform from video footage, rotates it and converts it into a normal audio waveform (while simultaneously completely changing it, I have no idea why), which he then plays, to discover it is the sound of somebody's voice. So... this visual phenomena was a 3D model of a sound in real space. In the right format. This is no suspension bridge, it's a suspension airship, and it's on fire. Oh the humanity.

Horror Tropes: Like all horror movies, this one wraps up at the end, but then has a sequel set-up moment where the danger isn't really gone. We always see that, but it really bugged me here, because in many movies, you get something like they bury the killer, walk away, and then a hand pops out of the grave. That's fine, gives us a little time before the next movie. In this movie, it was so immediate a threat (the evil ghost had jumped into the body of her daughter, who she was holding at the time) that the story really isn't done. It's not an ending at all, it's more like the midpoint of the final confrontation. And by the way, that is such a dumb trope. The story's done, you resolved it. Let it be done. If you want the killer to come back, then have his hand pop up at the beginning of the next movie!

My Take: Well, first of all, these are the most unethical psychologists I've ever seen. I'm not like an expert on the rules, but they were definitely not following any of them. But anyway, this was pretty enjoyable, and I liked where it was going, all up until the end. The way it wrapped up, and what all the rules of the magical stuff involved were, just didn't work. First of all, I don't think there were any logical rules - maybe I just wasn't quite following it, but it was kind of like "this guy had had his mouth stuffed with dirt, so uh... I guess he can touch other people and make them die from dirt coming out of their mouths!" It doesn't fit the lore that you actually learn during the movie, it's just kind of something related to it. So this is one of those movies where it seems like it's leading somewhere good, but it just sort of peters out and crumbles apart when exposed to the light of logic.

The Lesson: Don't eat dirt - you already know it tastes bad, but it can also keep your soul from getting back into your body! I mean, assuming it's not currently in your body. Your soul, that is. Dirt should not be in your body - see the beginning of this paragraph for details.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: ABCs of Death03:37 PM -- Thu October 10, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: The producers of this movie chose 26 directors from all around the world (many different languages in here!), gave each of them a letter of the alphabet, and told them to come up with a word that starts with that letter and make a very very short horror movie based on the word, with no constraints. A complete lack of constraints ensues.

Scariness Type: You have 26 different stories here, but I think I can safely say there's a whole lot of gore, and I guess the other main thing is just trying to be as weird and shocking and taboo as possible. Not really jump scares or anything.

Rating: 1/5 Ducks.

Body Count: 48 people, 1 spider, and 1 completely unacceptable kitten.

Fun Fact: Zetsumetsu is extinction in Japanese! It's also utter insanity.

Best Moment: As much as I enjoyed "F is for Fart", I think the story for the letter V was the best. Because it was one of maybe two shorts in the movie that actually had a story. It was a sci-fi tale that in the course of its 5 minutes-or-so was able to build up a world with forced sterilization, and mutant psychic powers, and an underground movement, and a secret goverment program to eradicate the mutants. And tell a story in that world. Of course, the story didn't really have much of an ending, but I was still impressed.

Worst Moment: Several of the shorts made absolutely no sense at all. Some because they were being artsy, and others because they were trying to be as absurd as possible. So what is the worst moment? So hard to choose. The one I keep remembering is G is for Gravity. It was all first-person video, and here's the entire story: a guy pulls up to the beach, gets out his surfboard, loads up a bunch of bricks into a bag, and then he paddles out into the ocean and drops in and I guess dies because that's the end. Suicide, I guess. Just nothing to it at all, total waste of time.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Most of what this movie contained was absolutely nuts. It's not something you really suspend your disbelief for in the first place, it's more like the Spike & Mike animation festival (it even included a couple animated sequences!).

Horror Tropes: I don't know, but they probably used most of them in there somewhere.

My Take: I can't turn down a chance to watch an anthology horror movie! But you know what they should've done? Made this a TV series, give their 26 directors each half an hour (or do 2 per show, and give them 15 minutes). The 4-6 minutes each of these stories lasted really meant they couldn't do anything that even came close to a story. It was more like "isn't this weird?" or "here's a bad guy, now he kills this guy! Whoa!" Which is not interesting. It kept me watching, since there was something completely new every few minutes, but it really wasn't worth the time. And if there is anything that offends you, you'll find it in this movie. Really crazy stuff. Only a few of the stories were any good at all, and even those were pretty worthless just due to their length. All in all, not something you should see.

Missed Opportunity: Like I said, they should've made it a series so the stories could be a decent length.

The Lesson: Our alphabet has too many letters. Maybe go Hawaiian next time.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Event Horizon01:57 PM -- Wed October 9, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A rescue team is launched out to Neptune when a signal is sent from a ship that hasn't been heard from in 7 years. Turns out the ship was doing some fancy space-folding experiments, and it also turns out that when you travel outside of normal spacetime, bad things ensue. Bad things ensue.

Scariness Type: A lot of gore, a lot of crazy people.

Rating: 3/5 Captain's Logs.

Body Count: Something like 3. There are also two people who are launched into an evil chaos dimension, but we'll have to count them missing in action. And there's the entire crew of the missing ship, but I only count deaths that occur during the course of the movie.

Fun Fact: Morpheus is here, piloting a ship that is remarkably similar to the hovercrafts in The Matrix. I gotta think there was inspiration there (this came out two years before The Matrix).

Best Moment: The best moment would probably be when we see the ship's engine core for the first time. That's an odd best moment, but it's because the best thing about this movie really is the set design. This giant spaceship which is built like some kind of demonic cathedral, with a puzzle-box for an engine, a meat grinder leading to the engine room, and doors that seal shut with spikes for no reason at all. It's not realistic, and I'm sure OSHA would have something to say about the working environment, but that's entirely not the point. It's just sort of amazing and completely sets the tone.

Worst Moment: I'm sure this doesn't really qualify as a worst moment, but it's what came to mind. When the giant ocean of blood comes pouring out, all I could think about was how it was clearly too expensive (or just messy?) to load it up with enough coloring to actually make a deep red, so what we end up with really looks just like Kool-Aid. You can tell it's colored water rather than something thick and dark like blood, and I just couldn't put my brain into ocean-of-blood mode, all I saw was red water.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Speaking of suspension, the captain's chair in the rescue ship is totally silly. If you really keep your eye on Laurence Fishburne in that chair, you'll see him just sort of gradually spinning around, facing nothing in particular, going in circles, for the duration of any scene he's in it. He looks lost. It's a spacey concept for a chair (it hangs from the ceiling and can slide back and forward on a track, and rotate), but not a very logical or useful one. Especially if he just sits and spins all day.

Horror Tropes: Well you know we had blood dripping from above! Then of course we had the assorted hallucination tropes (see the silhouette behind a sheet, yank the sheet back and see nothing; see somebody, turn to tell somebody else and the person you saw is gone; believe a hallucination so much you just follow it even though it makes no sense and then fall down a hole).

My Take: I heard that the original concept of this movie was "The Shining in space", and while the similarities there are obvious, the real massive inspiration behind this movie is clearly the Hellraiser series. It's all up in there. We almost have Pinhead even, by the end. Overall, I wanted to like the movie, because it has an amazing style, and space-horror is always a good idea, and the core concept is something I always enjoy, but while it seems to be building up to something good (or something horrific at least), the last third just kind of falls apart. Or rather, it doesn't fall apart. It just doesn't get crazy enough to justify all the style. The guy who goes crazy (all space and no aliens makes Homer something something) doesn't have this gradual descent that you want, where he's broken down and loses it, he kind of just suddenly snaps all at once (well, and he's pretty messed up from the get-go), and it doesn't ring true or feel right. I read that about half an hour was trimmed from this movie, and that may have been to its detriment in that regard. And then the crazy guy's super-strength (and return from death) is really the only sort of demonic presence we encounter. I was ready for a full-blown descent into Clive Barker's mind, and we pretty much just got space-captain brawl action instead. And a giant ocean of blood, but come on, when isn't there a giant ocean of blood?

Missed Opportunity: The engine room is basically a sphere, with giant, man-sized spikes jutting out from the walls everywhere. And not once does somebody get impaled on them. Somebody even falls into that room from high above and still manages to completely miss them. It's almost perverse. Perhaps the craziest thing in the whole movie.

The Lesson: Keep your eyes in your face, where they can do the most good.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Broken11:40 AM -- Tue October 8, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: This whole review is mega-spoilers, beware. While a family is having a lovely meal together, a big mirror suddenly breaks for no reason. This is bad luck. Gradually each of them is murdered and replaced by a mirror-duplicate who comes out of a mirror that breaks. Something like that ensues.

Scariness Type: This is a weird movie. It's very slow and quiet. It's got this long spiral of dread for the entire movie.

Rating: 3/5 Jeeps.

Body Count: Four or so? Something like that. But maybe 0 in a way, they all get immediately replaced by exact duplicates. Evil exact duplicates.

Fun Fact: Dextrocardia is a condition wherein your heart is on the right side of your chest instead of the left. It also means you are an evil mirror-person.

Best Moment: There are some shots in the movie that are done from 'behind' a mirror. You see this black, empty world on the mirror side, and then the real world on the other side, like you're looking through a window. Those shots are really cool, and they sort of speak to me, relating to a story idea I've worked on off-and-on for years about a kid who can travel into mirrors and exit from any other mirror in the world. I guess it's a thing we think about - mirrors are weird, so we perceive some sort of magic there.

Worst Moment: I don't know if it's the worst really, but there's this moment when I almost giggled. The main character is investigating a drip in the attic of her boyfriend's house, when suddenly he pops up through the attic entrance, lit from underneath, looking so ridiculously evil it's just hilarious, questioning why she should be up there. He looks like an evil puppet.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Everything the evil mirror-people does seems to suggest they are literally just regular people, who happen to have very bad intentions, and seek to replace the normal people. Everything that is, except when one shows up and pops her fist straight into her duplicate's mouth, right up to the wrist. Just BOOP straight in there, and she wiggles it around or does something inside because it kills the poor girl in a bloody fashion. I have no idea what that was. It was definitely supernatural because you can't just do that to somebody (plus you'd get bit really badly), but it's the only supernatural thing the mirror-people ever do aside from coming out of mirrors.

Horror Tropes: I don't quite remember, but I think we got the blood-drip-from-above in this one! If not, there was still a water drip that she dreamed was blood.

My Take: There was stuff I really enjoyed about this movie, and I have no problem with slow, moody movies in general. At times this one really dragged it out a bit much though, with dozens of replays of a car crash the main character was in, over and over, every time she sat around thinking about it. There is a twist in this movie, and it may not even be entirely obvious what it is, because there's not much dialogue here, you kind of piece things together for yourself. I'll tell you what my theory is, and of course, like the rest of this review, it's a total spoiler: The main character got mirror-murdered very early in the movie, and the person who got in the car crash was actually her evil twin. The twist is that the car crash gave her amnesia, so she forgot to be evil. It was only at the end when she found her good twin's dead body that she remembered she was supposed to be evil and the ridiculously long and boring shot of her driving at the very end was her getting ready to... do whatever it is evil mirror-people do. Go cause more mayhem. Not a happy ending, I guess. But good for her that she got her life figured out.

Missed Opportunity: I think they missed out on making this faster-paced and more involving. Also more clear what is going on.

The Lesson: Don't break mirrors, it's bad luck. Haven't you already heard this? Plus you have to clean them up.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Possession09:42 AM -- Mon October 7, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: There's this old box, see, and it's a bad box. A little girl buys it at a yard sale and proceeds to get way too attached to it. Tantrums ensue.

Scariness Type: Well, it's an exorcism movie. The twist is that instead of being Catholic, it's Jewish!

Rating: 3/5 Yarmulkes.

Body Count: One person, and one moth.

Fun Fact: This movie contains real live footage of Gmail instead of some made-up magical email system. I always appreciate that.

Best Moment: I'm not sure. When the dad took the box away, the ensuing freakout and weirdness and chase and all the issues involved worked nicely, though I don't know that I'd say it was the "best moment". Nothing stands out too much thinking about it now.

Worst Moment: There's a part where a guy is mind-blasted by the possessed girl in some way, resulting in his gums bleeding and his teeth coming loose. This is awful and I don't allow it. I have nightmares like that.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The first thing the girl does when she gets the box open is to remove a ring from it and put it on. For the rest of the movie, she's wearing this evil ring, and it's turning her hand grey. It's plainly visible, and it just makes no sense that neither of her parents, or anybody else for that matter, grabs that hand and freaks out about whatever disease this ring is obviously giving her. On a second disbelief moment, the end of this movie takes place in a fully-functioning hospital, and while the characters are screaming and wind is whipping through and the lights are flickering for twenty minutes, not one person comes to see what's going on. It's totally strange.

Horror Tropes: One that always gets to me is when somebody sees something horrible, and stares at it. Then somebody else sees them looking and asks "What is it? What's wrong?" Instead of replying to them like any human being would, the person in a horror movie always just slowly raises one arm and points at it. The other person should then throw their arms up and yell, "I know where you were looking, I want to know what you are looking at!! Use your words!" But instead they always come running over and stare at it too. One day there's going to be a movie where this just happens in a continuous chain until the entire population of a town is staring slack-jawed at one spot with one crooked finger raised at it. Oh yeah, and we get another fine blood-dripping-from-above scene in this movie too. Those are the best.

My Take: Turn some lights on!! These people live in a nearly pitch black house, lit by 20-watt bulbs at wide intervals. I know they're trying to set a mood, but that was just silly. I thought this movie was just fine overall. It kept me interested, and it was indeed a different take on the usual exorcism movie. A lot of it was the same, but because they had this lore of the dybbuk box instead of just an arbitrary demon randomly hopping into the girl, there was more interesting stuff going on instead of just a priest chanting and the girl yelling at him until somebody wins. I wouldn't call this a good movie, and I don't rate it highly, but it works for me.

Missed Opportunity: One person died? That's it? Come on, some demon you are.

The Lesson: Don't shop at yard sales.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Awakening12:22 PM -- Sun October 6, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Way back around World War I or something (maybe, I'm pretty hazy on this whole thing), there was a paranormal investigator in England who didn't believe in any of that rubbish and was always debunking mediums and whatnot. But as always happens in movies and never happens in real life, she was called to an old house which it turns out has a ghost in it! Zoiks! It also has a creepy groundskeeper who never seems to not be carrying a rifle, a creepy dollhouse that seems to contain scenes of what is actually happening in the house, a creepy housekeeper, a nice guy (with a creepy injury), and some creepy kids. Creepiness ensues.

Scariness Type: Creepiness! Nah, it's not really scary, more just your basic (convoluted) ghost tale with some jump scares.

Rating: 3.5/5 Bells.

Body Count: At least 6...

Fun Fact: No better way to entertain your kids than with crawlspaces in the wall!

Best Moment: Maybe when she looked into the dollhouse and saw a doll matching herself looking into a tinier dollhouse (which I'm guessing had a tinier doll and even tinier dollhouse inside, right?), only behind her there was another doll watching her. Yikes. Actually probably my favorite part was the very first scene, where the investigator debunked a seance. I wish the whole movie had been like that, like a whole Sherlock Holmes thing where she's busting frauds and we get to see all their sneaky rigs and all that. That's a movie I want to watch.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The groundskeeper was probably a bit too horrible of a person. One of those Snidely Whiplash types that I would generally say don't exist, but man, I had a phone call with a government office yesterday, and I don't know if it's because he wasn't getting paid (well, it was state government, so he should've been paid!), but that guy was nasty. So some people are just bad. Especially bureaucrats.

Horror Tropes: The ol' hand reaching up out of the lake routine, and the ghost that always stays just ahead of you as you try to chase it up the stairs thinking it's a person, until you inevitably reach a dead end and wonder where they could've gone. Also, let's not forget the skeptic who is faced with a real ghost! And then there was the ghost face pressing up out of a pillow. And a stretchy-face ghost. And the person you think is alive but was really a ghost the whole time (not the main character!). Really got quite a collection in this one!

My Take: All in all, this was pretty entertaining. It was a fairly convoluted story, and yes there were twists, which I approve of. It was only marginally a horror story (though it was entirely a ghost story), and the few little jump scares almost seemed thrown in as obligatory. That's okay, I really mainly watch horror movies for their twisty stories anyway, and we had plenty of that here. It may have even been too complex for its own good.

Missed Opportunity: I missed the opportunity to watch large chunks of this. I think I was cooking or something. Luckily, Sol Hunt saved the day by watching with me and telling me about all the stuff I missed. Or half-missed, I kept walking in and seeing bits off and on.

The Lesson: Guns don't kill people... tigers kill people.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: From Within02:45 PM -- Fri October 4, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A boy commits suicide, and then it seems to be catching... whoever was the first person to come near the last dead body then kills themselves shortly after too, and the first person to come near their body, and so on. C-C-C-Combos ensue!

Scariness Type: General dread and the occasional sort of jump scare.

Rating: 3/5 Necronomicons. I think. The movie is no longer on Netflix so I can't check my rating and it's been almost a week since I saw it.

Body Count: 9 in the movie, and 6 more in the credits! Those are some unhealthy credits.

Fun Fact: This movie also has teenagers who irrationally hate a fellow teenager who lost a parent through no fault of their own. Why is that a thing? In this movie it makes more sense though, it's a religious thing.

Best Moment: It's never super clear how the people are being killed, except in a couple of scenes. The one that stands out a bit is when the main character's mom is slain by the evil force, and I kind of liked how that worked. It didn't make a lot of sense (and did nothing to explain the guy who hanged himself earlier...), but it hinted at some kind of mental trickery going on and that she thought what she was drinking was a nice healthy beverage.

Worst Moment: Maybe not a moment, but I felt like the cousin who just shows up and acts surly was a needless addition. Maybe that's why the Hebrew Hammer set her on fire. Spoiler! She did have some significance, but anything she had to say could've been said by the guy whose cousin she was, who was actually an important character. And she was surly.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Nothing really took me out of the movie here that I can remember. There was one very low-speed car crash that set the car on fire, but there was ghostly intervention involved, it's not like they were actually suggesting that car crashes do that by default.

Horror Tropes: It's good to be the hero... this evil force that wiped out everybody else it was attacking in 2 seconds flat spends the last 15 minutes of the movie slowly pursuing the hero. Not because she had any sort of special skill or anything, it just came after her much more slowly out of respect for her star status.

My Take: There's a twist at the end of this movie, as there should be in any movie according to me, but especially horror movies. But the twist here (I'm not doing a very good job spoiling these movies, am I? I only spoil when it's necessary!) is of the lesser variety. Twists come in 2 flavors - ones that send you back through the whole movie, re-evaluating everything you've seen in one amazing revelation (always kind of lame when they flashback to do all the mental work for you, though); and ones that don't change your view of the previous events, they just make the rest of the movie take a new direction. This is the latter kind, and since it comes about 30 seconds before the movie ends, it doesn't change much. It does make it a pretty depressing conclusion (and possibly the end of the entire human race, depending on exactly how magic works - spoiler!). But despite that, it's still something fun, because for a minute or so you think things are resolved in a nice way, then they go down hard. Anyway, overall this movie was okay. Didn't blow me away, but it all made sense and worked alright. I found the doppleganger monsters to be ineffective. They did the usual stretched face, black eye type of stuff you get in a lot of modern horror movies, but just didn't pull it off in a way that really creeped me out at all.

The Lesson: Stay away from books. They're evil.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The House At The End of the Street08:22 PM -- Thu October 3, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen and her mother move into a new house. Next door a high school boy lives alone, his parents having been murdered by his brain-damaged sister when he was younger. However, he doesn't actually live alone... his sister still lives there, locked in the basement! Teen angst ensues.

Scariness Type: Serial killer's got you trapped, and craziness is becoming apparent...

Rating: 3.5/5 iPhones (but I must note that I saw on IMDB that the iPhone in the movie is actually an iPod... no idea how the person could tell, and moreover, not a clue why they wouldn't just use an iPhone rather than making fake phone-call images on an iPod!)

Body Count: 6

Fun Fact: Elizabeth Banks, Elisabeth Shue, and Parker Posey are all remarkably similar looking.

Best Moment: The reveal of the twist is really the best part. I didn't see it coming, not exactly, and it was kind of a big surprise that was a lot of fun. I will say they kind of broke it later on though - the movie ends with a very brief scene that's supposed to cap it off with a final mini-twist, but what is revealed in that moment was really obvious to me, and had already been revealed if you were paying attention to the dialogue, so it felt almost insulting to have it spelled out there.

Worst Moment: I don't know if this is truly the worst moment, but I found it really ridiculous when the world's hottest lightbulb was touched to some cloth and skin and instantly smoke starts pouring out, and in less than a minute, the cloth was burned apart. It's a great argument against incandescent bulbs, you can really see the waste of energy.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There were a few things that yanked me right out of the movie here. One was the way the kids in the school would become irrationally violent and set to murder the boy whose parents had been killed. For what? Having suffered a trauma? It just wasn't established in any clear way why they would hate him. Another is somebody's neck getting snapped completely on accident, just because somebody else was trying to hold her tightly and keep her from yelling. That is a very dainty lady. And lastly, there's this hidden trap door, and for plot reasons, Katniss runs down into the room with the trap door and after about 2 seconds of glancing around, not having any idea there would be a trap door, she spots the hinge sticking out from a carpet and goes right to it. Just way unlikely to me.

Horror Tropes: Ah, the classic flashlight failure. Nobody has good batteries in their flashlights in horror movies. Not even the cops apparently! Also, the whole thing wouldn't be complete if the corpse of the killer didn't suddenly reach up and grab you when you thought he was dead!

My Take: I kinda liked it. It was slow to get going, but the ending third or so kind of turned the first part on its head with fun revelations. That kind of stuff is one of my favorite things to get out of a movie. But aside from the twists, you have half a movie of kind of uninteresting teen drama, and another half of pretty ordinary hostage-battling-to-escape stuff.

Missed Opportunity: I liked the ideas and twists, I think the missed opportunity here is making the movie more interesting to support them.

The Lesson: Very simple - never make friends.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Scream 310:27 AM -- Wed October 2, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Well, they're making the movie Stab 3, and cast members start to get murdered. So... well, that's really all. That keeps happening until a final confrontation. Exposition ensues.

Scariness Type: Many attempted jump scares, I guess. Not scary. Also not funny, interesting, exciting, or involving.

Rating: 1/5 Voice Changers.

Body Count: 8 or so

Fun Fact: They just keep making these stupid movies. I'm done watching them now though. This was the final straw. I saw Scream 4 a few months ago, and I know it was bad, but there is not a chance it was anywhere close to this bad.

Best Moment: The best is when Jay & Silent Bob show up for no reason! Which just kind of emphasizes how shlocky and hollywoody this whole thing is. It's a cartoon.

Worst Moment: All the moments that contained Parker Posey. I truly have no idea what she was doing in this movie, what kind of crazy instructions the director gave her, but I highly recommend you watch her in this movie, even though I can't recommend you watch the movie itself. My favorite is the scene where they meet Carrie Fisher and Parker Posey's just boggling and looking disgusted and horrified at everything around. Plus she begins that scene by doing a Scooby Doo wall-sneak. I kept wondering what weird dark secret she had that made her face do the totally crazed expression she made nonstop, until I finally realized she was just doing that. She was practically frothing at the mouth, and everybody else acts like she's being a normal human being. I think they were afraid.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Pretty much every scene in this movie blows apart any suspension of disbelief you could have. There is no logic to anything that occurs, it's basically pure insanity on film. Ironically, it's not the unkillable killer stalking people that's so hard to believe (at least they offer a bulletproof vest as some kind of reasoning there, even though it's a magical super bulletproof vest), it's just the regular interactions. The thing I remember most is one scene where Dewey is walking through a house yelling peoples' names because they got separated (of course) and he's trying to find them. He literally yells at full volume, gets no response, takes two more steps, and the guy whose name he was yelling pops up behind him, scaring him, acting like he hadn't heard a single word. This same kind of non-comprehension of physics happens again and again in the movie, scenes where people clearly had to be standing just outside of the camera's view and they pop in not having heard a word that was going on on-camera. I've never seen anything quite like it.

Horror Tropes: All.

Missed Opportunity: They really missed out by not just turning the camera around and following Jay & Silent Bob for the rest of the movie once they were onscreen. It would have been a hundred times better.

My Take: This was so terrible. I was just shocked. As I mentioned above, I saw Scream 4 recently, and didn't like it, but this was so much worse. I really couldn't believe it. I don't think I've ever seen a movie which so completely disregarded reality. I shouldn't have to suspend my disbelief for scenes of normal human interaction, I think that ought to be reserved for the 'magical' parts. I can't remember ever actually liking Scream movies, but I thought there'd be some fun in the mystery and stuff. Not even the kills are interesting - stab stab stab. Nothing scary or surprising. And that mystery? Like in every Scream movie, the killer turns out to be someone you've met, but there's never been a clue that it was them and the reasons are stupid, and it's just more of a letdown than a revelation. Oh yeah, and the whole "plot" hinges around a totally ridiculous piece of impossible technology - a voice changer box that perfectly duplicates anybody's voice.

The Lesson: Stop watching Scream movies! What are you doing to yourself?!

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Bay06:10 PM -- Tue October 1, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Welcome back for another round of Belittling Horror Excessively! Thirty-one screamtastic tales of terror picked apart to death over the month of October. I wanted to do the Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown again, I do sort of enjoy it... but it's just so much work to film and edit the reviews each day, so I'm going back to the basic written reviews. Besides, I really miss saying that things ensue. The thing I'm doing differently this year is that I will spoil the movies for you! So don't read on if you plan to watch the movies I'm discussing. I'm tired of not being able to talk about the most important parts of the movie and just sounding dumb trying to be as vague as possible, so let's have a nice proper discussion of the movie as a whole!

Synopsis: The mayor of a small town on the Chesapeake Bay decides that all of the following are good ideas: dumping tons and tons of chicken manure into the bay, being near a nuclear power plant, holding a big summer celebration, setting up a desalinization plant to convert the bay into drinking water, and of course drinking that water. Excessive filming ensues.

Scariness Type: Hey, we're starting right off with a found-footage movie! This isn't just one lost tape from a kid in the woods though, it's actually a documentary put together from all the assorted possible sources in the town during this unfortunate incident, from traffic cameras to tourists' videos to security cameras to iPhone Facetime to videoconferencing to news reports and more. What all this conspires to do is create the "deadly outbreak" kind of scariness. Nothing much is going to jump out at you, you're just supposed to worry about the horribleness of the situation. Could it really happen (hint: no)? Are you sure you should be drinking that?

Rating: 2.5/5 Isopods.

Body Count: 700+. I think this movie might win the body count contest this month, kind of a letdown since it's the first one!

Fun Fact: Steroids can make you grow dozens of times faster than normal. That's why you see pro football players that are 25 feet tall. And chew on people.

Best Moment: I'm not sure... Honestly, nothing stands out and makes me cheer (hence the middling rating), the movie just kind of putters along.

Worst Moment: When the movie defies its own fiction. In a scene clearly built entirely for the trailer (well, that's my guess anyway, not having seen the trailer), one infected cop acts like a zombie and shoots his boss before shooting himself. It's so unrealistic and completely out of character for what is really happening that it just makes no sense. Nobody else in the entire movie has any kind of weird mental issue like that, and while I'm at it, what's up with shooting somebody else to save them from the infection you carry? Shoot yourself, be nice! Of course he does, but he shoots the other guy first. And again, why is that? For shock value. Not even close to something that would actually happen.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: This is the moment when the movie went too far for me to suspend my disbelief... When a pair of cops went to investigate somebody's house, one of them walked inside, then after a while a gunshot went off. The remaining cop went running in to see what was going on. A problem for a found-footage movie - there's no camera in that house. The only footage here is being shot from the dashboard camera of the cop car. So how does the movie choose to let us in on what happened in the house? By saying "We enhanced the audio so you can hear what was happening". So this little dashboard camera 20 feet in front of the house was recording people speaking at a low volume in a back room of this house, which they enhanced to perfect clarity. It's the "Zoom And Enhance" CSI moment of the movie.

Horror Tropes: Well, being a found-footage movie, this movie is full of people insisting on recording when they would never do so in real life. "Why are you filming? Stop that!", "Oh come on baby, we're gonna be glad we filmed every second of us walking down this empty street! I refuse to stop despite your reasonable request." But also, let's not forget the ultimate classic: the blood-dripping-on-you-from-above trope! We have a nice example in this movie. Ooh, what's this dripping on me? Is that blood?! I better slowly look upward without even moving out of the path of it.... AIYEEEE!!!!

My Take: Well, what you have here is a mockumentary about a massive disease outbreak, basically. It's not actually a disease (I told you there'd be spoilers! I told you in red!), it's isopods (basically tiny horseshoe crabs) in the water which for Movie Logic Reasons grow to several inches in size in just hours after you swallow them, eating their way through your body. But it might as well be a disease, same difference really. Definitely an eco-terror thing here, the usual "stop polluting or Godzilla will destroy you" message. What it really reminds me of is movies from the 50's, how they would end with a voiceover saying, "With all our fabulous technology, has mankind doomed himself to extinction? When you leave the theater, will YOU make giant mutant ants? The END!?!?!" or something. This doesn't end with that kind of thing, but it feels like it should. What I respect in this movie is how it feels quite different from your usual horror movie, because it really does feel like it's actually documenting a real-life outbreak, something that could really happen (even though it couldn't). And it even sensationalizes it like a documentary would. What I don't respect is that there are no real characters in the movie, no motivations or growth. Just people who muddle along and end up with ocean bugs popping out of their mouths. There's no "story" here at all, except in the sense of a news story.

Missed Opportunity: If you watch this movie, look behind the main character when she's doing her interview thing... there's something on the ceiling. It's probably a smoke detector or something, but it really looks a lot like an isopod, and once I noticed it, I spent the rest of the movie waiting for it to move and give us a nonsensical shock twist ending. Which by the way would've made some sense - this girl washed herself off in a fountain in the town at one point in the movie. Why is she alive?

The Lesson: And lastly, in case you don't watch the movie, I'm here to sum it up into one simple lesson you can carry with you for the rest of your life. If you get nothing else from this review, let it be the powerful and important lesson. The Bay has this lesson for you: Don't drink the water.

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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #29 - The Wrap Up!01:53 PM -- Wed November 7, 2012


Well, it's a week into November, so I thought I'd throw the last 3 movies together and get it done! I was thrown by the fact that I had already recorded a review for Exorcismus, but not The Devil's Rock, yet I had recorded clips of The Devil's Rock, but not Exorcismus. The disorder of it was too much for my brain, so I started over with this.

It's been quite a month of movie watching. Making the reviews was quite a bit of work, but what I was surprised by was that watching the movies started to feel like work! I didn't want to throw away 2 hours of my night every night, I always had other things I wanted to do. Luckily, we went out on a high note with 3 solid movies, and the final one makes it all worthwhile.

P.S. Visit Indie Buskers to pick up 7 really weird and wacky games for whatever amount you want to pay! Mine's an online multiplayer CTF game with stealth. And lava and flappy arms.
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #28 - Trapped Ashes10:28 AM -- Tue November 6, 2012

Fun and cheese. Those are the key words you will hear many times in the video above.
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #27 - Children of the Corn11:31 AM -- Mon November 5, 2012


Creepy kids and high fructose corn syrup, the classic American combination. Fun fact: When Youtube presents me with three choices of stills to show for the video, I try to find the one that makes me look the most stupid. Always a tough choice!
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #26 - The House Of The Devil09:54 AM -- Mon November 5, 2012

The 80's are back, and they are trying to kill you! But not with pixie stix and pet rocks. Oh by the way, don't forget there's a number for pizza on the fridge!
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #25 - The Mothman Prophecies08:53 AM -- Mon November 5, 2012


Sadly, not based on The Tick, it's a Richard Gere big-budget mystery/horror thingorama!
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #24 - Fragile07:30 AM -- Sat November 3, 2012

I'm busy busking, but I had this one already edited. Everything's filmed for all 31 episodes, I just need to get them edited and out to you! FRAJEELAY.
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #21 - Paranormal Activity 309:35 AM -- Tue October 30, 2012

Have you seen this series? What do you think? It's a lot of fun for me, almost an interactive movie game. Other people find them very tedious (and I totally understand why!). Keep your eyes peeled during this review to spot some paranormal activity of your own.
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #20 - The Fog08:34 AM -- Sun October 28, 2012


Johnny C's back with another 80's joint! But remember, manners are important, no matter which order the terms zombie, pirate, and ghost appear in a description of you.
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #19 - Hidden 3D03:13 PM -- Fri October 26, 2012

It's THREE DEEEEEEEEeee
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #18 - 13B10:31 AM -- Wed October 24, 2012

FEAR HAS A NEW ADDRESS. But didn't fear always live at #13? Maybe it moved from 13A to 13B. This Bollywood thriller is filled with a lot of wacky camera tricks. I could've spoken a lot longer about some of the silly stuff going on, like every time somebody is told something shocking, the camera is literally shaken to display their level of unsettledness. In the immortal words of Dana Carvey pretending to be Johnny Carson: weird, wild, wacky stuff. Yes, unfortunately, I am old.
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #17 - Uninhabited10:33 AM -- Tue October 23, 2012


It's spooky stuff on a tropical island, so check out this review of Uninhabited (but don't check out Uninhabited).
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #15 - The Tall Man09:42 AM -- Sun October 21, 2012


I don't know if I recommend this movie or not! It seems very quality and competent, interesting and twisty. And yet... watch above for more!
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #14 - Wake Wood09:56 AM -- Sat October 20, 2012


Pretty much a public service announcement, warning you not to do something that you can't actually do anyway in the real world. I wonder what the deep real-life theme is behind that? Something about letting go of the past or it will decapitate you?
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #13 - The Skeptic09:22 AM -- Sat October 20, 2012

Remember kids, science is your friend. The more outlandish the claim, the greater the evidence you should require before accepting it. Think critically! Listen to the guy from Wings!
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #12 - Doghouse11:30 AM -- Thu October 18, 2012


Boy, I can't really recommend this movie because, well... watch and see! Is this where we still are as a culture? Give a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Sock it to me!
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #11- The Ward11:24 AM -- Thu October 18, 2012


Why can't ghosts just leave the crazy people alone?
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #10 - Apartment 14305:33 PM -- Wed October 17, 2012


If you want a "found footage" horror movie where the action is fast rather than the long silent waits you've come to expect, this one has it. That's a pretty specific desire though, you should really learn to relax and take life as it comes, Mr. Picky.
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #9 - Insidious05:29 PM -- Wed October 17, 2012


Got thrown for a bit of a loop when this movie started whirling down a fantasy road instead of horror!
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #8 - The Stuff01:40 PM -- Thu October 11, 2012

Marshmallow creme is actually a naturally occurring geological resource. Who would've thought?

So, I find marshmallow creme a bit off-putting in the same way Cadbury Creme Eggs are, and yet it has a certain appeal, just like the eggs. A self-loathing sort of appeal. Do you eat candies that simultaneously repulse and attract you? I don't think I usually do. I hope you appreciate me buying that tub for you for this episode! Now my wife has to eat it. She likes THE STUFF.
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Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown #7 - Atrocious12:00 PM -- Thu October 11, 2012

I wanted to wash my brain out with some actual shakycam horror, and Atrocious fit the bill. What do you think of the Blair Witch inspired run of shakycam pseudo-documentary movies of the past few years? They're obviously cheap to make. I like them for the feeling of reality they give, and some people really hate them (possibly for the feeling of waiting forever for a tiny cheap scare). How about you?
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Halloween H2O09:17 PM -- Mon October 31, 2011

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

Synopsis: 20 years after his supposed death, Michael Myers (a mass murderer, if you didn't know) has come back, to hunt down his sister who herself is supposed to be dead, but apparently faked it. Smells like retcon to me. Stabbings ensue.

Scariness Type: So many jump scares that they play organ stings when regular people step in from out of frame. Also a bunch of gore.

Rating: 3/5 Dumbwaiters.

Fun Fact: It turns out that supernatural killer invincibility is actually a genetic trait, as Michael's sister seems to share it.

Good Stuff: Not what I expected to see! This movie is full of real characters, like with motivations and feelings. Really strange and surprising. I was also surprised to see how Michael, except for being utterly indestructible, is really just a regular murderer. It's not only that average people can knock him down with rocks and such, but also in terms of what he is capable of. Instead of being a mindless zombie like Jason, he's out there driving cars, fiddling with door keys, and just generally manipulating his environment like a real live person. So talented.

One other really enjoyable thing was seeing the slasher story kind of played with a bit - the main victim in this movie was completely aware of "the rules". Truly a smart victim, who didn't trust his dead body to be dead. That felt really fun, and it worked both as a wink to slasher movies and in the context of the story - this woman was a traumatized survivor, she knew how it worked.

Bad Stuff: Two contradictory bad things. On the one hand, my wife was yelling at the screen "Just kill somebody already!" after about an hour, and this is a very short movie! It's almost entirely setup, with just a little bit of payoff at the end. But on the other hand, let me reiterate the good thing about the characters being well-written - the fact that they all existed just to be fodder for a silly monster felt like a big letdown. Everybody brings up real issues, all these problems come to a head, and then... everybody runs around and screams for twenty minutes.

And lastly, nothing too interesting about a guy walking around slowly and cutting people up with a kitchen knife. Once again, I defer to Freddy Kruegger and his way of making murder interesting and exciting for everybody involved.

Classic Rules of Film: You know what was fun? Seeing this after recently seeing Behind The Mask. All the classic rules Leslie Vernon discussed were on full display. I loved watching Michael walk slowly after people yet still get ahead of them.

My Take: Surprisingly good really, for what it is. Or rather, in spite of what it is - I don't think this is good at all as a slasher movie. There are very few kills, and most of the movie is just family issues rather than running around trying not to die. But it's an interesting movie and sort of high quality in a strange way. It's not great or anything, it's just a little unexpected. I'm a bit curious what other Halloween movies are like now!

Wow, that's it! A month of movies. I think it came out to 30 movies instead of 31 due to issues, but I enjoyed it all the way. I hope you had a lovely Best Halloween Ever yourself, so good night, and good luck.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu11:31 AM -- Mon October 31, 2011

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

Synopsis: A dangerous relic of Cthulhu is uncovered by the Cult of Cthulhu, so the Council of Cthulhu (no relation) has to send their other half of the relic into hiding, by giving it to the last remaining descendant of H.P. Lovecraft, so that the two halves won't be put together. He is of course a slacker guy, and thus, as he is hunted by Deep Ones and Starspawn, hijinks theoretically ensue.

Scariness Type: It's a comedy, with no hints at horror. There is some gore.

Rating: 2/5 Comic Books.

Awarded: Least Painful Broken Arms Ever. You just gonna let those swing around? Maybe a sling at least?

Good Stuff: There are funny bits here and there. It's also sort of interesting how heavily this movie, despite being silly, relies on the actual Lovecraft mythos. There's a cameo by Martin Starr which is really funny and nicely demonstrates how badly the rest of the movie misses the mark. It's like a ray of sunshine that illuminates the garbage heap. Oh, there are also moments early on that feel like an episode of Buffy, especially the monster costumes, so that's pretty good.

Bad Stuff: It's got some really big exposition (including one rather enjoyable animated sequence in which Cthulhu uses a severed triceratops head to stab shoggoths). There's a problem that happens when comedy tries to tell a fairly involved story, or even just make sense, rather than be silly. It drags it down and kills the fun. It can definitely be done, but it takes a very deft hand. Which is not present here. They manage to stay light-hearted all the way through, but that's not the same as entertaining.

Another big problem lies in some combination of the editing and direction. It's something you'll notice in low-budget movies, where they don't cut between things fast enough, or at the right time, making something that's theoretically very exciting actually end up looking awkward. The thing that exemplifies this is when the sea captain throws a spear at Starspawn, and he grabs it and throws it back. If you watch the equivalent scene (with a throwing knife) in Big Trouble in Little China, it's just awesome - whip-zang-whap-POW. In this movie, it's laborious and slow. These actors weren't any less agile than the ones in the other movie, it's all down to the editing and direction. And of course, if they can't keep the action flowing nicely, they're not keeping the comedy popping either. It's all about timing.

Classic Rules of Film: If you show an ancient relic that can cause the world to end in Act 1, you can't just stop the relic before it does that. It has to at least get started on it in Act 3.

My Take: Pretty lame. But it's comedy, so that's even more subjective than it would be otherwise. It may tickle your funnybone just right, but for me, it fell pretty flat. It wasn't totally stupid, and there were jokes I laughed at, but overall, not a winner for me.

Artistic Nonsense: There's something I've seen in other movies (Paul comes to mind immediately, but I know of some others... Chasing Amy is one, I think?), where a character is a struggling writer/artist/filmmaker who is totally unknown, then they go on this wild adventure (or regular old relationship issues, in Chasing Amy), and they make a book/comic/movie about that adventure which makes them famous because of course it's so interesting that everybody is enthralled. There's a fundamental hole in this premise that goes completely ignored: we just watched that movie, and it was not that amazing. It's like the movie's writers are trying to say "The story we just told is so awesome that everybody will be flocking to see it! Look, here's what that will look like!" And it's inherently ridiculous because of course tons of stories are about aliens or Cthulhu or relationships. Just because in the context of the movie, the characters actually lived this incredible adventure (which, yes, would be absolutely mind-blowing if it really happened) doesn't mean that anybody reading about it would believe that or care. They would treat it like all other fiction of that sort. I just watched Last Lovecraft - it was not amazing, and since I never heard of it before searching through the Netflix archives, I can assume it wasn't terribly popular either.

This is it! Our final movie for Halloween is Halloween: H2O! That's the spirit! Join in!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Nameless10:08 AM -- Sun October 30, 2011

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

Synopsis: A girl's body is found after she has been missing for a while. Her parents are sad. They split up, then years later, her mom gets a phone call from the supposedly dead daughter. She begins to investigate what that means. Weird jump cuts ensue.

Scariness Type: There is some nasty torture in this movie. Most of it is just people walking around and talking, but just a few times in the movie, very very horrible torture is performed on people.

Rating: 2/5 Leg Braces.

Good Stuff: This is one of those movies where the heroes are following a trail of clues, solving more and more of a puzzle. So that's interesting.

Bad Stuff: But in the end, you don't really know anything until the last 3 minutes (literally) of the movie, during which everything is revealed and it concludes, and does so in a way I don't really like, including one villain that looks like Jim Carrey doing his Maskiest mugging. It felt kind of like I just wasted two hours if that's how it's gonna turn out. It's sort of like when a movie ends with "it was all a dream!" That's not the case here, but it feels like the same kind of slap in your face, Nelson Ha-Ha, you wasted your time watching this. A lack of arc, perhaps? A lack of redemption? I don't know exactly. It's quite the horror trope to have a movie end in some variation of "failure", and usually that's okay with me, but here it didn't feel right.

To contradict what I said in an earlier review, this also shows the trouble with adapting from a more complex source (a novel). The movie sort of skips along to somewhat random events, just to squeeze in a lot of different stuff and subplots into a movie length. There are characters that just appear and start being a part of the story out of the blue. In the end, all these things tie together (and it's all pretty simple too, which isn't really a plus), but I felt really off-kilter along the way, always wondering why this or that new thing was happening.

One last bad thing: When transitioning between scenes, for no reason at all, it will flash in random shots of things to be creepy. Like there's a girl (presumably the daughter) stuttering back and forth like broken film. Or in one scene, it's less random - a badguy is talking about how they've caught somebody in their web of deception and it keeps cutting to quarter-second-long shots of a spider crawling on a web. Yeah, on the nose again. It doesn't add anything, and it's quite obnoxious.

Classic Rules of Film: If you say your husband has disappeared in Act 1, he's probably going to turn up sometime in Act 3.

My Take: Simply put, not worth watching. I thought it was going somewhere pretty interesting as it went along, and then it failed me at the end. Man, after all that build-up of the movie not being able to play all month, and this is what I end up with?

Artistic Nonsense: Guys, it's not artistic to insert random jump cuts between scenes. It's just stupid.

Our second to last movie is next! The Last Lovecraft: Relic Of Cthulhu is a comedy. Let's hope it's a funny one!

And just to get you in the Halloween mood and all prepped for Halloween night, I'm going to tell you what our Halloween movie is to watch on Halloween, so on Halloween you should put it in and watch Halloween: H2O with me for a Halloween treat, so we can have a Halloween discussion about it! How could I resist that option? I've actually never seen an entire Halloween movie, except for Season of the Witch (Halloween 3?), twice, which was hilarious and didn't include Michael Myers at all. Or any witches. I'm assuming this will be really stupid as well. I'd probably rather have watched an old one, like perhaps the original, but they only had this one and the sequel to it on Netflix. I'm sure I'll miss all the clever references to the old movies, but oh well. Streamers can't be choosers.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Megapython Vs. Gatoroid09:59 AM -- Sat October 29, 2011

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

Synopsis: Debbie Gibson and Tiffany reignite the cold war of the 80's - the conflict between pop stars. Only this time, it's as an ecoterrorist and park ranger. Terrible CGI snakes and alligators, also appearing to be from the 80's, wander around in the background. Explosions ensue.

Scariness Type: Come on. Well, there's really cheesy gore.

Rating: 2/5 Walkie-Talkies.

Good Stuff: I have a few favorite moments. The first and best is when a giant python is attacking Tiffany's deputy (do rangers have deputies? She does). They ran into this python because they heard a walkie-talkie scritching, so they thought they had found the person they were looking for. She stabs wildly at the python to save the deputy, and in the process, ends up cutting a hole in it, through which a walkie-talkie just pops right out. Awesome.

Secondly, best line in the movie: Tiffany and Debbie have been fighting in the swamp (of course) and suddenly realize they can no longer hear the high-society party of people with guns (of course), so Tiffany says "I think we're alone now... there doesn't seem to be anyone around." Which you younguns won't get. Well that's just a joke for me to get!! And that last sentence was actually a reference to the commentary for the Clerks animated series, if we want to get seriously into references for a limited audience. I like to entertain myself.

Oh, but as far as stuff actually being good, I'd say the cleverness of putting that line in there is about as good as it gets. And that isn't exactly sterling.

So Bad It's Good: The effects are amazing. I know these guys don't have access to top cutting-edge techniques and gear, but even with what they had, they must have done it badly on purpose. They'll cut from a practical rubber snake to a CGI snake that looks completely different, only vaguely the same color. The acting, similarly, is absolutely horrid, and I hope nobody was actually trying to do well. There's also some great 50's-B-Movie level science going on. And my favorite thing, also from 50's movies, is where the effects are so different from the live scenes, and not green-screened over them but just shot separately and cut between. So you end up with completely random threats, like an alligator looking like it's wandering in the swamp, then suddenly a guy is being eaten by it on a street, with no chance to run. You can never tell how close or far the danger is, or how big the creatures are. They really did a great job all around making a bad movie. Kudos.

Bad Stuff: Well, it's all absolutely terrible... horrific. The worst. But let's see... what is bad in a bad way? Well, without spoiling much of the brilliant writing, I will say that the two "heroes" get lauded as heroes at the end when in fact they were both directly the cause of the entire problem. That's really about the only thing that somebody could complain about.

Classic Rules Of Film: If you explain to people that snake's heads can live for up to an hour after being severed in Act 1, then somebody is going to get bit by a severed head in Act 3 (and chopped in half!).

My Take: If you want to watch a bad movie, there's a ton of these movies by The Asylum, and they all do a pretty awesome job. Plus, they're not as boring as the 50's movies they emulate - they have a much faster pace and don't sit there lingering on pointless exposition. In fact, they pretty much don't bother with exposition. Like the awesome scene where Tiffany goes to get steroids and magic super-steroids from... some guy who does steroid research, I guess? They don't even discuss it really, he just says sure, you can have it, but don't use this stuff, it's very dangerous! And uses one science word, once. Myostatin. It all makes perfect sense that this would create Godzilla-sized alligators. Perfectly reasonable.

Artistic Nonsense: I would suggest that there's an anti-steroid message in this movie, but there really isn't. In fact, the steroids seem like a mighty nice thing! The alligators thrived and grew to enormous size thanks to the wonders of steroids. Maybe we should all take them! I guess they did point out that they can cause aggression.

Up next, we have The Nameless, at last! Hooray! Unless it stops working again. Hope it was worth the wait.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Forget Me Not09:47 AM -- Fri October 28, 2011

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

Synopsis: A bunch of utterly forgettable, yet attractive and sporty, teens (AKA actors in their twenties) celebrate their graduation by getting drunk and having a good old-fashioned game of tag in the cemetery. A mysterious extraneous teen joins them, then jumps off a cliff and vanishes. One by one, the other teens become even more forgettable as they are murdered by ghosts and the other characters forget they existed. Attempted J-Horror ensues.

Scariness Type: No scariness. There is some gore, and I'm pretty sure most of the movie is supposed to be jump scares, but they failed utterly at it. It's very odd. They'll quickly cut to a scary ghost face, make a loud noise, but I'm just sitting there going, "Oh, okay, there's a ghost."

Rating: 2/5 Forget-Me-Nots. The flower, not the movie title.

Good Stuff: The idea of the killed people vanishing from memory was pretty fun. The entire world actually changed so that they had never existed, which was a bit odd. After the initial extremely-cliche beginning, I remained interested to see how that would play out as the group was whittled down, so it kept me watching. I also liked the source of the ghosts, to not spoil anything. There was an episode of Buffy that was quite similar.

Bad Stuff: But that's about it. It's a bunch of kids wandering off alone to get killed, one after another. There's really nothing else to it. Towards the end the heroine starts to piece things together and try to solve the problem, but the ending was very disappointing. There was nothing exciting about the kids getting stalked and killed, it was more like "Here goes this one. Now it's this one." No tension of "will they get away?" Well, one scene had some of that, but only because the laws of physics stopped working (someone yelling for help thirty feet away from you in a very sparse forest and an entire group can't find them?). Speaking of laws, this movie didn't really have any logical rules to the ghost stuff. I saw what they were doing, with the nursery rhyme and all, but it didn't actually tie together into anything that made sense, and in the end it came to nothing. There was no sense of "oh, this is how this works, so if they just did X, they would succeed". Nope, just random death.

Also, what an absolutely stupid rhyme. If it were more on-the-nose, it would be a pair of glasses.

Classic Rules Of Film: How many times do I have to tell you people? Don't go off alone when everybody is getting killed! Actually, this movie subverts that, by virtue of the fact that only the heroine even knows people are getting killed. Everybody else forgets they ever existed, so they never think they're in danger. Clever!

My Take: This is a total 80's throwback, to when jock teens would gather and get murdered every time they did something immoral. The heroine is of course the one girl who doesn't do anything wrong, and always looks disapproving at their drugs and drinking. They're really channeling that 80's style. On the other hand, they tried to also capture the style of J-Horror. The ghosts in this movie are ripped straight from any Japanese horror movie - people in monochromatic makeup, with distended faces, that jitter and vibrate, moving towards you slowly, unless they're far away in which case they skitter rapidly. All they're missing is long black hair. Yet somehow, unlike every Japanese horror film, they're utterly unscary. I'm not even sure how, they just have no scariness. I never once jumped even a little bit, I never cringed in anticipation that something was going to happen that I wouldn't want to watch. Whatever it is they did wrong, it was something subtle in the edit timing and sound effects, because all the factors were right, they just came out bad. It's an interesting lesson in horror design. I do know one thing they were missing: they never lingered for long enough on ghostly things before they jumped at you. They didn't give you that time to build up anticipation of when they would attack.

Artistic Nonsense: What a nice anti-bullying message. Don't pick on people if you don't want them to turn into a vengeful ghost and vanish you from existence. Very clear and straightforward. Be nice! I was a little disturbed by the ending of the movie which seems to have forgotten that this was the point.

Our next movie is the epic smash hit of unimaginable chilling terror: Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid! It's got both Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, and my sister recommended it to me! This can't go badly. I've seen Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus (I think that's the title?), and that was excellent, so I have high hopes. Man, it's almost Halloween. Soon no more movies!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Paranormal Activity 209:45 AM -- Thu October 27, 2011

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

Synopsis: A family that's really into filming themselves comes home to find their house all trashed. Instead of getting an alarm system, they decide they need cameras in every room (they really like filming themselves). Every room, because entrances wouldn't be sufficient? Eventually, after a very very long time, spooky events ensue, on film.

Scariness Type: Jump scares, jump scares, jump scares. Plus a lot of tension waiting to see what will happen. And waiting, and waiting.

Rating: 3/5 Toy Trains.

Good Stuff: I would say this is the scariest movie I've seen this month. In fact, I had some real problems with my sleep (but I also had caffeine for the only time in months, so who knows the cause?). This is a movie where it forces you to stare closely, searching the screen for the hint of something strange happening, and then when you're focusing so intently BAM! Huge noise that makes all the cats in the room jump up. I've seen the original Paranormal Activity too, and it's cool how this prequel is very strongly intertwined with it, basically expanding the same story. In effect, this movie explains why the first movie happened, but leaves you wondering why this movie happened. The third movie just came out, and I read a review which indicates that it wraps the whole thing up (it's a prequel to this prequel). That's really nice, rather than just random scares. This isn't Friday The 13th Part 2 where Jason goes and kills some different people, this is all one cohesive story.

Bad Stuff: The very primary issue I have with this movie is much worse than the first movie: their obsession with filming everything. The first movie kind of made an issue of it that was unrealistic, but not extreme. The husband was really into his camera, and when they decided they were being haunted, he was dead-set on getting footage of it. It made sense, and there weren't too many scenes where I asked "Why are they filming this?" In this movie, pretty much every scene has you asking that, except when it's security camera footage, when instead you are asking "why did they get cameras instead of an alarm or just calling the cops and making sure they locked their doors from now on?" It seems very contrived. The worst scene for me was when the daughter was sitting and reading a website on her laptop. Her boyfriend films her doing it, for absolutely no reason. When she passes him the laptop to read a passage for himself, he trades her the camera so she can film him doing it. Now that's home movie excitement! I also liked when the daughter would wake up at night because she heard a noise, and she'd use the camera (recording, of course) to light her way as she looked around. Who doesn't do that? Light switches are so inconvenient. These people went through a lot of hard drive space.

Also, much like the first movie, the final supernatural events are very hokey and ridiculous, after all this creepy leadup. Overall, I think the first movie was notably better and scarier, though I don't remember it all that well, so maybe I'm wrong.

Oh, wait, I was wrong about what the primary issue is. I can pretend like I'm suspending my disbelief on all their filming. The real biggest problem with the movie is the waaaaaaaiiiiting. I totally get that the individual scenes need to leave you sitting and staring at nothing for a while so you're shocked when something happens. But did I need to sit through sixteen days of nothing more than maybe a clunking noise happening once or twice, before something dramatic occurs? It's really painful how long it takes for this to get going, and they could've cut out almost all of that leadup. The characters are established in a few scenes, and the rest is just padding. What I honestly think is that the story is just too simple. To get that story told really only takes about fifteen minutes, so they had to pad that out with as much regular home life and tiny little oddities as they could to reach proper movie length. This, I think, is the biggest flaw in the movie. It'd make a much better short, though it would lose impact if you were being hit with freakout after freakout.

Classic Rules Of Film: If you have a hispanic maid, you can bet she knows all about the occult, especially your particular issues. She just does.

My Take: The good and bad pretty much covered it. It's a scary movie, with a ridiculous format, though the format is what makes it feel real and therefore scary. There's really nothing to the movie other than the scares, no character development or interesting plotline, although I confess an interest in seeing the third just to find out how it all happens.

Our next film is Forget Me Not, another ghost story! It's graduation weekend, and people are vanishing, vengeful ghost style.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Skeleton Key09:17 AM -- Wed October 26, 2011

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

Synopsis: Deep in the swamps of Louisiana, a girl gets a job doing in-home care of an old man who's had a stroke and can't talk. The man's wife is not too keen on hiring her, but needs the help. They have no mirrors anywhere in their house. The girl is quite curious about what's up in their attic. As you can imagine, bad hoodoo ensues.

Scariness Type: There's a few false-scare jumps (somehow they managed to avoid having a cat jump out and hiss at people though, it's amazing how much cats do that in movies), but otherwise it's just tension and mystery. This is more of a thriller than a horror movie.

Rating: 3/5 Chicken Feet.

Upsetting: I wasn't scared by any monsters, but I was sure horribly uncomfortable seeing how intensely flooded their yard got when it rained. I don't know if that's my California sensibilities, or the fact that my current yard is very adversely affected by heavy rains (and like in the movie, I live on a dirt road), but it causes me great discomfort.

Good Stuff: There's a mystery, and you really don't know what kind it's going to be - are there ghosts, is the homeowner out to get her, is it a curse, did she poison her husband, what's the deal? And in the end, it's a little more complicated than all of that. There are no big shocks and surprises, but it does twist around a fair amount, and the movie you see in the end isn't what you thought you would be seeing at the beginning. So that kept my interest going as things kept changing. I feel like I'm not giving it enough credit, because I like what the twists ended up twisting to. No big shocks, but fun minor surprises. While I don't want to see the movie again, it is interesting to think back to earlier scenes and see them in light of what I know to be true now. And as I like to point out when a movie is kind of middle-of-the-road, it's got good acting, sets, lighting, all that big-budget Hollywood pizazz that's pretty much a given with a big budget.

Bad Stuff: In the end, I know I just said it twists around a lot, but it's also rather predictable. Not over the whole arc, but when a new piece of information comes your way, that information pretty much leads right where you'd expect it to. I was kind of counting on a big turnaround at the end, but I didn't get that.

My Take: Nothing really wrong with this, it was reasonable experience. It's a true 3/5. It works, it's okay, it's not pointless and flat, it has a twisty little story to tell, which is better than a lot of movies that are just straightforward from beginning to end. I don't have much else to say. It's just okay, and I'm glad it is of sufficient twistiness that I don't want to spoil it.

Artistic Nonsense: This is a pro-skepticism movie. Don't believe in things without evidence, or bad things will happen. That's just plain good advice.

Our next movie will be Paranormal Activity 2, which finally is one that I know will be scary, because I saw the first one! I wasn't super crazy about it, but it was quite creepy. I guess we're straying dangerously close to mockumentary territory again... it's a "found footage" movie, a la Blair Witch, but you know, those are probably the scariest kinds of movies. They feel real.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Spider Forest08:53 PM -- Mon October 24, 2011

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

Synopsis: Er, I'm not really sure. There's this forest, and a guy stumbles across some bodies in a house in it, then gets beaten down by another guy, then stumbles out into the street where a car hits him. Confusion, altered realities, and marginally successful recuperation from cranial damage ensue!

Scariness Type: There is gore, even one of those lovely (and so realistic) fountains of spraying blood. Mostly though, this is a very confusing mystery, not anything trying to scare you at all.

Rating: 2/5 Hand Scythes. Believe it or not, the same rating scale is appropriate twice in a row.

My Take: I can't do the Good Stuff and Bad Stuff and all that this time... I'm just too confused. The first hour of this movie was completely disconnected, all strange events that didn't seem to fit with the introduction. It was flashbacks within flashbacks within stories being told within flashforwards (I don't think it really had that many layers at once, but it did have all of those things). It wasn't until more than halfway through that the threads start pulling together. Thankfully, they did pull together, and it all manages to make a sort of cohesive sense (well, sort of), even if I don't entirely understand the conclusion. It's doing a certain type of story, that I've seen more than once before, but the end result just doesn't click together for me this time. I know when you mess with time and ghosts (which, I believe we've discussed, are essentially the same thing!), that you can be left with things that the viewers watch, but they didn't officially happen in the final outcome. We have that here, but also some arbitrary changes that seem meaningless.



I have an interpretation of this movie, and if you don't want to be spoiled, skip to the next paragraph. Ready? Okay, I'm not actually going to tell you anything, I'm just going to say that this is the same story as the movie Stay in several ways. So if you haven't seen that, I have spoiled nothing, but if you have seen either this or that, I've spoiled the other. I liked that movie, it fit together nicely and didn't leave me so confused. Hooray for movies made for dumb Americans!



So anyway, yeah! I don't really stand too strongly by my rating. There was a lot of complexity here (and a foreign language to deal with, and making dinner, and my cats interrupting me like five times to deal with their issues, and two phone calls), and I'm afraid that I'm rating it lower than it deserves. It's a fun and complex idea, so if it really does all come together in a good way for people who are smart enough to get it, then it deserves a much higher rating. But part of my low rating is also because it takes forever to get going. I was interested in all the threads they were dangling and the hope of getting to tie them together later, but it just felt like an awful lot of backstory and setup before anything really happened. That may have been the interruptions talking though, so again, not too sure of my rating.

Hmm, to help me write this, I scanned some Netflix reviews just now and I see a common theme in them that helps explain the confusion: it's repeatedly referred to as being in the tradition of David Lynch. There you go. Confusion is to be expected. Although to my credit, I clearly understood things a lot