You’re Next

YoureNextNew1Upon seeing the trailer for Adam Wingard’s You’re Next, you can deduce a view things:

1. Home invasion genre

2. Looks violent

3. Awesome opaque animal masked killers

All three of these points are definitely true, but those are just the tip of the fun ice berg that is this movie. If you’re a fan of Mr. Wingard and writer Simon Barrett you know they always have a few tricks of their sleeves.  I feel like these guys really know what’s up when it comes to crafting a quality horror movie (like V/H/S, which both worked on) that strikes a cord with die-hard horror fans. I love watching these movies made by genre enthusiasts. Now obviously they’re in the same class as some other relatively “new” filmmakers too. There is so much talent out there that totally get what us fanatics want to see. So, when it comes to these guys,  I am totally drinking their kool-aid and will watch anything they’re involved in at this point.

I also have to point out that the opening sequence of the movie is awesome. Horror movies need to have a spectacular opening sequence. I am getting pickier about this in my old age. It doesn’t need to be flashy or violent, but I am really looking for it to hook me and reel me in. Also, I love how both behind the scenes and on the screen You’re Next is packed with horror favorite actors and technicians. I was geeking out hardcore.

There are some tricks and twists in this movie. If I wanted to really break the thing down and talk spoilers, I could. Because there are some really unexpected little turns here and there. But to be honest there is only one spoiler-ish thing that I wanted to touch on here today with you. In fact, I knew about this one element before seeing the movie. I have no clue if this is a spoiler or not.  So, you’ve been warned.  **SPOILER??** I really appreciated them resurrecting the concept of the Final Girl. There are still movies made with this archetypal character. But I feel like You’re Next really celebrates that concept. Sharni Vincent gives a wonderful performance as Erin. Erin is having the first meet the fam visit with her professor-turned boyfriend’s parents, siblings and their spouses. (Side note-I love when slasher have a big-ish cast. C’mon, we need people to kill off! That’s the point! ) Anyway, when the masked weirdos start to terrorize and kill (RIP Tariq) the party, Erin steps up. She really takes charge. Right away she’s shouting orders and making plans to try and get a handle on the situation. This comes as a shock to every one including her man-friend who all know nothing of her un–traditional and bad-ass upbringing. Erin gets pretty banged up during this movie. Yet she doesn’t back down. And, she can rig up some pretty insanely sick traps and weapons ala Home Alone’s Kevin McCalister. Erin is a girl after my own heart. She slices, she dices, she makes you wanna root for her, and most importantly, she doesn’t disappoint.

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The Conjuring: Conjuring up a little love in my cold heart

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This poster is rad.

Forgive me while I totally give into the hype surrounding this movie. I can’t help it, I could deny that I totally enjoyed this movie. I could write cynical things about the faults of the movie but I don’t really want to. In my humble opinion, none of the little faults are deal breakers or anything that stuck with me in such a way that I feel the need to “warn” you about it. No, I just want to enjoy and nerd out a little bit.

Let’s tip the hat briefly to James Wan for directing this film. He’s great, right? It doesn’t matter if he writes, directs, produces, or some combination of those. I will even be seeing The seventh installment of the Fast and the Furious because he’s directing it. (In case you were wondering, I dropped out after we drifted off to Tokyo a few F&F movies ago.) When a film is really good, its due to an awesome director, writer, actors, technicians, everything is just coming together. And for the most part, I feel like that magic little soup happened here. The Conjuring was written by Carey and Chad Hayes. Twin brothers and screen writing dynamic duo. I wasn’t too familiar with their repertoire. According to IMBD we have them to thank for the remake of House of Wax and several episodes of Bay Watch, AND Bay Watch Nights.  None of those titles are relevant to this movie. But there, it is.

You will know from either the trailers or opening credits that this whole thing is based on a real event. The Warren’s are a well known husband and wife team of paranormal investigators/demonologists. Lorraine Warren’s superpower is being a gifted clairvoyant. Ed Warren has the ability to rock a mean gray flannel suit. (Just kidding. I got nothing but love for Ed). Anyway, they come to the aid of the Perron clan. The Perron’s and their tribe of daughters live in an extremely old house that is haunted infested with evil. And now the game is afoot to help this lovable family before it’s too late.

For your convenience, I am going to list my favorite parts. This will contain SPOILERS…I think. Just in case, read it after you’ve seen the movie. And, please do go see it! I feel it’s not to be missed if you’re a horror fan.

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Can I please have both?? I will give them a good home.

A few of my favorite things….

– The opening! Duh! It features one of my most favorite dolls I have ever seen in a movie. Annabelle 🙂 Needless to say, I want her for my creepy-ass doll collection I cultivate. I have seen that the IRL doll was actually a Raggedy Ann. I love me some RA, but this Annabelle was 10x’s more interesting. The opening scene just sort of hits the ground running and I loved that. Clearly, this was foreshadowing the something in the overall plot to come, but I really admire the way they laid that out. Of course it was then followed by…

– The title! It was yellow and looked perfectly retro. I was instantly put at “ease” by this! It was like watching one of my old, favorite classics. I hope you felt the same.

– The story is set in 1971, and EVERY little detail of this movie looked totally vintage. The costumes, the props, the set and so forth was on point without looking corny. I am a costuming geek and I always appreciate attention to detail in clothing.

– The damn movie was actually scary. I can’t remember a movie freaking me out like this in recent memory. The first/biggest thing that got me was the notion of “something” non-living pulling your leg while you are asleep in order to both wake you and  scare the beejeesus out of you. I am one of those who often sleep with one or both feet above the blankets at night. And the thought of something grabbing my leg like this has crossed my mind before.

– I love that this movie really scared a lot of people. There was actually screaming and jumping in the theater! I think that is fantastic. EVERY scary movie should have that reaction from their audience members. Personally, I didn’t scream. But I’m not much of a shriek-er in theaters. However, friends of mine who are also non shriek-ers in general were not immune to this movie and did actually scream. Some did it multiple times. Y’all know who you are 🙂

–  Next is the strong female leads. Lorraine and Carolyn Perron (Vera Farmiga & Lili Taylor). Both fabulous actresses and the glue holding the movie together in many ways.

– The very sparse amount of  seeing the demons/ghosts/creatures. True, we get a few good glimpses here and there, but mostly we are treated to just little teasing winks of things. Like the two distinct images of a dirty nightgown and creepy freakin’ legs just “hanging” there?? Did I ever mention that hangings is one of my favorite scary images?? Like that brief moment in The Sixth Sense when those poor people are dangling in the school. I hate it and I can’t even really describe why. *Shudder* . This movie got that so right for me.

– Okay, there are definitely more moments. But those are the ones that really stand out for me. I am really proud of myself because I was very positive in this review and I think I got my point across. And yet, I want to be snarky for just one moment. I’m sorry, it’s just in my nature. Here are a couple of things I wasn’t keen on:

-If I had to take issue with anything in the film, the major thing would be the climax/near ending scenes. I didn’t like the mob of angry birds and all that ruckus and fanfare. I just really appreciate when scares are kinda subtle and “realistic.” And when the whole wrath of God  Satan comes raining down, it just makes me sigh.

-I’m also not a big fan of demonstrative outpourings of emotion. And the whole end-battle when Carolyn is sobbing through the possession struggle and then we have Lorraine yelling encouraging things to get her home girl through it, it just didn’t work for me. I know I sound completely contradictory because mere sentences ago I praised how much I loved these ladies. But I can’t pretend I liked all the emotional turmoil. Perhaps I am a robot and such sentiments are beyond me. Oh, and I think they handled it as best they could, but that little girl would have gone through some trauma after her mother did some crazy ass shit such as kidnapping her and her sister. Mummy then tried to stab the youngest child to death whilst she looked like rotten apple head doll due to possession. So, I guess that makes it “okay” since  it wasn’t really her?? Yet right after the fight, the family shambles into the sunlight, mom’s face clears up, and she gives a very sincere and tearful apology. So, I guess it’s all good? Hmm. I don’t know how else they could have handled closing that scene, but I wasn’t a big fan of what we got.

Even with a few complaints I still have all kinds of love for this movie. I liked the actual closing A LOT too. Seeing them put the music box in their museum (memo to self: must go to there), and then basically heading off to the next case. I loved that. Regardless of if you believe in anything paranormal, or even if the Warrens were legit in what they claimed to do, it was a great ending note. They say through the whole movie that God brought them together to help people, so that’s what they aim to do! I hear rumors of a sequel. Count me in.

Greystone Park: Looks like Downton Abbey in Hell

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Perhaps the title there is a bit misleading. Nothing about this movie is really at all like the fantastic BBC show. However, the building itself looks like Downton Abbey. Well, maybe only a little. I think what I’m trying to say is it’s a big, sprawling, old building.  Oh! It’s also a real place. A former real-life psychiatric hospital, just as the movie tells us. Now that I cleared that up, let’s press on. This is low budget type of movie I found at times both fun and atrocious. I mean that as a compliment because I was really entertained by this little film. Allow me to introduce Sean Stone. Sean stars in, directs, and co-wrote this film along with fellow writer/star Alex Wraith. Sean looks like Maroon 5’s Adam Levine if didn’t have that emaciated thing going on. Oh, he also happens to be the son of acclaimed director Oliver Stone. His dear ole mum and dad even have small roles in the film. The third lead character is a girl named Antonella. All the leads use both their IRL names as their character names too, which is convenient for our purposes today. But, it also makes things kind of fun in a real/not real, could-this-be-based-on-actual-events territory. Sean seems like the level headed type, I daresay even a bit boring. Alex is impulsive, scattered and a smidgen cray-cray. Antonella is obsessed with Medusa. She also has a tendency to swing back and forth in various scenes from talking a big game about going into an abandoned mental hospital, and then freaking the fuck out in others and constantly repeat silly phrases such as, ” I have to leave here, I can’t be in THIS room any more!” Forgive the paraphrasing. So what are these kids doing here? The three are making a documentary of sorts about the titular location, Greystone Park. Now in ruins, it once was a mental hospital known for using extreme methods (electroshock therapy, etc) on their patients. There was an infamous client there called Billy Lasher who could still be hanging around in an un-dead sense. In fact, the whole place is reportedly haunted and has a way of messing with the minds of those who go exploring within the building.

So this movie has one of those opening sequences that always remind me of music videos. Kind of flashy, jumpy, cut scenes, all black and white creepy images, you get the idea. So, imagine my surprise when the pacing of the thing suddenly slowed down to a crawl. Everyone knows I enjoy a good slow-burner, but this was getting silly. When I was really feeling the drag, stuff got interesting. There starts to be subtle little clues in the background of shots, I love that kind of thing. And then Alex is acting more crazy. Not just reckless, but obsessive.

Let me digress from one moment to talk about an issue dear to my heart. I happen to be doll collector. And I love a creepy doll. We get some good doll spooky-ness here. Future film makers, please don’t over use the doll tactic. At the point of abuse you run the risk of alienating the doll collecting community. That is all.

At the climax of this movie, things take a turn for the  better. The characters are just spiraling into madness, and it’s great fun to watch. The scary stuff is cranking up and getting more interesting. And then, there is THAT scene. It is somewhat random, and not eluded to or explained, but I freakin’ loved it. After the break below I will go into some detail for those who don’t mind a spoiler.

To recap, this movie is a little rough. It has that look and feel of a beginning filmmaker(s). But that isn’t a bad thing. Everybody has to start somewhere. And these early movies can be kind of fearless. I couldn’t help but root for it. And even though it had it’s low points (some cliche dialogue and characters, oddly slow pacing here and there), it also had good things going for it. I didn’t shut it off after 20 minutes so that means I was entertained.

This goat is not metal. But he is fabulous and relevant to this movie. Kinda.

This goat is not metal. But he is fabulous and relevant to this movie. Kinda.

Spoiler: I wanna chat about that scene in the movie that got me all juiced. In case you couldn’t tell, it’s the scene in the church room. The boys are looking at what they think is Antonella dancing all hippy-ish at the front of the pulpit. The boys exchange some funny dialogue full of self referential humor, which was great. The ruined church has turned into this super creepy black, Santanic-seeming mass. There are these goat-masked/puppet things set up around the pulpit as if addressing their congregation of demons and just being scary while she dances about for them all grotesquely! When Sean gets brave enough to try to approach and lure Antonella out, the dancer turns around to reveal she’s not Antonella at all! Well, if she is she’s some kind of evil demon albino version of herself. Nothing leading up to this point seemed to indicate a Satanic black mass was eminent. It was random. But that means it was unexpected. Plus it was twisted and fun.

The Thing: I just love it. I regret nothing.

I had the most awesome opportunity the other day. I have this really cool husband, I like him a lot. However, he wasn’t exactly a horror fan until we started dating. In fact, he had only seen (and was subsequently traumatized) by “The Exorcist” as a lad. As a horror-holic this has actually worked in my favor. I get to watch a ton of classic horror movies with him and vicariously remember how amazing they were the first time I saw them when I was younger. Not to put him on blast, but I was a little surprised that he had never seen John Carpenter’s “The Thing” since he is a legit Sci Fi fan. So, we watched it the other day and no shock here, he loved it. I was pleasantly surprised that I loved it as much  more than I had the first time I had seen it.

“The Thing” was made in 1982 and directed by horror master John Carpenter. I am not referring to 1951’s “The Thing From Another World”, just to be clear. The Carpenter version stars the always sickeningly cool Kurt Russel, Wilford Brimely, and Keith David to name a few. The film takes place at a remote research center in the Antarctic where a group of scientists (and the hard working crew who keeps the place running) discover that there was something sinister and alien living frozen under the snow until some Norwegians sprung it loose. Specifically, this alien crawls up into a living organism and takes it over. I should mention that the hijacking process is not a pleasant one. However, those around “the thing” don’t really have a way of knowing that their former friend or coworker is being ridden by this parasite.

I admit that as someone who really hearts horror movies, I have a slight tendency to applaud and call many films I love “classic”. However, this one really is classic. I dare say, a masterpiece. Here is what I find truly inspiring about this movie: it was made 30+ years ago, and it still REALLY holds up. There is only a tiny, tiny bit of cheeziness to the special effects. And I do mean tiny. Think like, the size of one of those slivers of almonds you put on a salad sort of tiny. Remember kids, this is before the time of fancy CGI! And it really still looks great. The alien/thing itself is just so gross. It’s gooey, bloody, pus-filed, and I just feel like it probably smells weird. Oh, and that horrid screeching sound it makes?!! That is just good. Not to mention the whole story is just this tension building, and building upon itself. The Thing is desperate to survive, and it could be in anyone. The suspicion, the paranoia, it just escalates! And then like the characters themselves, we in the audience don’t know who to trust anymore either. Well done!

Oh, I want to talk about the ending. So, just scroll down for spoilers. In case you’re jumping off here though, let me just close by saying please go watch “The Thing.” If you don’t like it, you suck and have no taste. Haha-kidding….kinda. 😉 In all seriousness, my love for this film was just rekindled and I was so overwhelmingly impressed by that. I hope you feel the same.

Oh Jay-sus take the wheel-I can't even handle this picture right now...

Oh Jay-sus take the wheel-I can’t even handle this picture right now…

 

 

 

 

That Spoiler Part: The ending. I know there is much to be said (and has been said) about it. I adore the ambiguous ending. It’s how Carpenter wanted it to be, open to interpretation. My own personal opinion: Childs is the thing, not MacReady/Kurt Russel. My main evidence to support my theory is the fact that you can’t see Child’s breathe out there in the frozen cold…but you can see MacReady’s. And there is such attention paid to the fact that you can only see one of them breathing. Regardless of who you feel is the thing, you can’t deny the power of those two actors in that final scene. Such subtext and knowing in the lines they speak to each other. One of them is determined to save the world if he can, the other is bringing the apocalypse to Earth. Well played sirs; well played indeed.

Books!!

So  when I started this blog, I had every intention of whenever I finished a book I think the horror community might enjoy, to do a blog post on it. However, I read a lot. And I feel unfulfilled if I don’t have something to read immediately after. So I tend to jump into books one after another. Then I have lost track of time and didn’t write a post about the novel. I am also in a badass ladies book club and we read some really good shiz. So, I decided to browse through my Kindle a little and just toss out a fee ideas of books you may like if you read this blog. Most of them are not actually “horror” genre books. But, I think they have that fun little X Factor us horror fanatics crave.  Obviously there are SO many amazing books out there, I don’t claim that these are the only things out there worth reading. I hope some of these titles bring your dark heart joy! (Aww books…how I love thee. I even have a book themed tattoo ya know. Because I’m legit like that.

What the Night Knows- Dean Koontz

I am a big Kootz fan and he rarely disappoints. This is a funky little book about a serial killer who targets families. His name is Alton Turner Blackwood. His rampage is ended when a boy of 14 survives an attack and kills the twisted bastard. Twenty years later that boy is a grown man,a  father and a homicide detective. Someone is recreating the crimes of Blackwood. It’s not a spoiler to tell you that it is in fact the ghostly spirit of Blackwood returned. It says as much on the back cover. I loved some of the groovy flash back stuff of young Blackwood’s decent into madness and murder. Check it out! Or check out a number of other Koontz books. He’s been writing for a million years, you should find plenty.

Warm Bodies- Isaac Marion

Now, I have not seen the movie adaptation. But I loved the book. Lead zombie R is struggling through an existential crisis. Apparently, it’s difficult to be a sentient undead. Especially when the rulers of your species are pressuring you to stop being an individual and just conform and let them rule you. Eventually he falls for a living girl and the story takes off from there. Of course I love zombies, And I loved this new take on the genre. Eventually I will have to see the film. But I enjoyed this re-imagined Romeo and Juliet story so much I have been waiting. I am generally a big advocate for reading the book before seeing the movie, ‘natch. I know many in the horror community hated this movie. But, since I haven’t seen it I am optimistic since I liked the novel so much.

A Song of Fire and Ice/Game of Thrones Series- George R.R. Martin

Yes, I love the show. It’s fantastic. The books are also fan-freaking-tactic. Some sex, lots of violence, gore, political intrigue, murders most foul, magic, zombie like creatures and other mythical critters. Yes, the books are lengthy investments. And I highly encourage both reading them and viewing the show. I can’t say enough good things about what Mr. Martin has crafted. Just drink the kool aide and dive in over your head. I haven’t looked back since.

The Neighbors- Ania Ahlborn

This is a quick little thriller about a young man who moves in with an old stoner friend of his and right next door to a seemingly perfect middle aged couple. The couple, ( especially the fascinating character of the wife, Harlow) are harboring some dark, unseemly and lethal secrets. I love a female villain. And she’s a good one. I just wish it was longer.

Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn

The first but sure to be not the last book I read by this author. Flynn knows how to craft suspense at a master level. The plot centers around the “Golden” married couple of Nick and Amy. Well, Amy goes missing. As per usual, the authorities focus in on the husband, Nick as a person of interest. Like a delicious little onion, layers upon layers are peeled back to reveal more details about who this couple really is and what was going on behind the scenes in their marriage.  Believe the hype,  this book was incredible.

Breed- Chase Novak

I am anti child. As in, I don’t really like them. Well, I am partially kidding. I shan’t be having any kids and I’m not a huge fan of them. Not that I want them to die or anything. I want them to be happy and healthy with parents who aren’t me. *End of Disclaimer*. We have established my love for the creepy kid genre. Basically kids and pregnancy aren’t my thing. So, I loved this story of birth going terribly awry. Alex and Leslie Twisden are a wealthy New York couple who can’t make a decent baby. So, they go to a shady eastern European establishment for some new, experimental fertility treatments. Guess what? They’re gonna get more than they bargained for. This Novak guy has a style that I really like. It’s…blunt. I can’t really think of another word for it. I will be reading more from him soon I hope.

20th Century Ghosts, Nos4A2, Horns and Heart Shaped Box- all by Joe Hill.

I can’t stress enough how any one who’s a fan of books, horror, or horror books need to read what Joe Hill writes. He’s one of my favorites. I even got to go to a reading/signing of his recently and he did not disappoint. I have a weakness for  Heart Shaped  Box as my favorite of his works. I happen to have a literary crush on its lead character, Rockstar turned Ghost-tormented Judas Coyne. Regardless, this dude can write and if you aren’t reading his books you should be! Including his graphic novel series, Locke and Key. Joe comes from a literary family. Both his parents write. His dad happens to be one of my biggest heroes, Stephen King. Luckily, Joe has his own groovy thing going on and it rocks.

American Gods- Neil Gaiman

This was the only remaining book by Neil I hadn’t read it. One of us chose it for the book club and it ended up sweeping our awards ceremony in multiple categories. Actually, that and Gone Girl were the big guns for us this year. Anyway, it’s a delightfully fun and at times quite a graphic and disturbing book. Needless to say, I loved it. We also get a lot of fun stuff involving Gods, Goddesses and Mythology. And lest we forget, humor. It’s been out for a while, and hopefully you’re well versed in this and all else Gaiman has to offer. But, if not, please start. Like today, start reading his books right now.

That is all for now my fiendy friends!! Go read!! 😉

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It’s my Purge Party-And You’re Invited!

Being the sick and twisted individual I am, I loved the opening sequence of this movie. Over the sweet, melodic sounds of Debussy’s Clare de Lune, the audience is shown a gritty montage via surveillance and home video cameras of people shooting, and beating the bejesus out of one another. Apparently, this is what happens in 2022 when one Purges. The Purge is a 12 hour period one day a year when all crime is legal. Police, hospitals, etc are on hold. Doing so is keeping the violence, unemployment and other social issues that suck in American down to an almost nonexistent level.

Before we talk more about the nuts and bolt of how one Purges, lets talk about the Sandin family. I was so happy to see Ethan Hawke back for another scary movie! And this time he never put on the douche bag sweater and drank too much whisky ala Sinister. He plays James Sandin the most successful patriarch in his charming suburb. James sells  expensive state of the art security systems. This is extremely useful when you’ve got weirdos running around killing and maiming for one wacky night in March. James is kind of annoying, but we can tell he really cares about his family. So, that’s nice. His wife is Mary Sandin played by one of my favorite actresses, Lena Headey. We don’t know much about Mary to begin with except that she makes tasty dinners with no carbs and drinks Gnarly Head wine. (Yo, I’m from the Nor Cal Wine Country, I notice that kinda stuff).

Mother and Father have two kids. Teenage daughter Zooey and tween son Charlie. Charlie is a little tech guru who makes this amazing contraption featuring a burned doll,  camera and wheels. Zooey is a typical sullen teen glued to her phone and ear buds.  Anyway, Charlie is a tender heart and sensitive kid who doesn’t really get why people Purge. He ends up seeing a man on their video surveillance system injured and seeking help from some people pursuing him. Charlie decides to help him and let’s him in. The homeless man he helps  is being pursued by a particularly gruesome group of people wearing these delightfully unsettling big, grinning masks. And they just aren’t keen on the fact that the Sandin’s are harboring this guy. Their charismatic leader puts it simply. Either give up the homeless man or the masked crew are going to kill the whole Sandin family. This is where shit gets real.

This sort of dystopian story is the type of thing that makes me super gleeful. Maybe this is Spoiler-ish so, just consider yourself warned. In this America of the future, church and state have merged. The Purge allows people a release for the hate and sin they build up inside of them. And because the rich can afford fancy security systems for their stately homes,  virtually its only the poor, the sick, and the weak are actually out there killing each other. Thus making them less of a burden on society because they’re now dead. So there is some really interesting social, political and religious things going on. Not to mention the notion of kill or be killed when thrust in that situation. I wish there had been even more of these “bigger picture” themes going on. It’s really a disturbing concept that for that 12 hour period no one can help you and that this violence and murder is actually encouraged to take place. Side note- I’ve heard complaints that this entire concept it far fetched. I hate that argument! If we are going to start down that rabbit hole then get ready to rule out tons of our favorite and beloved horror movies for being “unrealistic ” portrayals of things that couldn’t really happen. Not to mention I think a creepily large percentage of people would be totally on board with purging. Not to mention I think it’s a thought provoking cautionary tale. And, lastly, this is a fairly original concept for a horror movie, so enjoy that.

The ladies all wear simple white cotton gowns-perfect for ritual sacrifices and so easy to clean!

The ladies all wear simple white cotton gowns-perfect for ritual sacrifices and so easy to clean!

*Real Time Spoilers*

There were some really cool things that went down in this movie that I really liked. I loved the scene where Zooey’s boyfriend comes down the stairs and tries to kill her papa!! I didn’t see that coming. I thought the bf was actually in on the whole crime gang thing, so that was kind of cool. I really didn’t like Zooey. Well until the part where she totally offs the creepy group leader. But otherwise I was annoyed and confused with how she kept wandering away from the group to go listen to her pink ear buds while there is a gang of murders outside, a stranger in your house, and your bf had decided to kill you father thus getting himself shot. Ugh. Teens.

What I did like is when James and Mary were torturing the homeless guy to get him in the chair and the whole struggle to decide if they’re going go send him out to die even though he’s done nothing wrong, but doing so will save the family. But the kids would have hated their parents and thought they were monsters for doing that. This leads us to the badass moment where James and Mary decide to defend the home and not throw the homeless guy out there. I would have liked it more if they had immediately armed the homeless guy and had him help, but whatever. I also would have liked more killings. Always more killings and blood! I guess they needed a bigger cast of characters to pull that off.

At the end of the film after James is dead (insert sad face) Mary doesn’t adopt the homeless man. He just kinda goes on his ways after saving their lives. I dig that. I didn’t want there to be anything too showy and emo. Oh! And how could I forget to mention the creepy ass neighbors who popped over to whack the Sandin’s whilst they were having a “purge party”?! Yes, there was some heavy handed foreshadowing that the one blonde neighbor lady. But I still liked that whole little subplot and twist.

In closing: Liked it? Yes, I absolutely liked it. Is it love? Maybe not. But worth seeing especially if you’re at all intrigued  by these fun dystopian concepts.

The Daisy Chain: Creepy Kid + Magic??

Let me go on record as saying I love creepy kid movies. This is a horror sub-genre that I will probably always buy into. I have watched “The Daisy Chain” a couple of times. And I really like it. This may be because it overlaps the creepy kid genre and magical/fantasy genre, (or does it??) which I also LOVE.

The movie is about a married couple, Tomas and Martha. They escape the bustling city of London for the quiet, coastal town of Tomas’ youth. Martha is pregnant and still grieving for their infant daughter who died not long after birth. They have neighbors in the new home. And not exactly normal neighbors either. On one side, there is the little Gahan family. Mom, dad, a toddler boy, and their little girl Daisy. Daisy appears to be autistic and takes a liking to Martha. The other neighbor is grumpy ole’ Sean Cryan. Sean is superstitious, religious, and likes to throw rocks at Daisy. Oddly, her mother and father seem burdened by her as well. Not long after, the Gahan’s lose their little boy to him drowning. But how did he wander out of the yard and into the ocean? The family usually keeps him tethered to a rope which is attached to a stick in the Earth. Granted, that seems like a fool-proof plan for child safety if ever I heard one! Then, the Gahan’s house catches fire. Both mom and dad die, leaving Daisy to be rescued by Martha. Cause of the fire? You guessed it. Arson. A cop on the scene talks to Daisy  and agrees that she will stay with Tomas and Martha until social services works out a home for her. Hmmm…the plot thickens.

To keep it simple, weird stuff happens around Daisy. People get hurt, or even die. And the only person she really seems to get along with at all is Martha. Martha becomes kinda obsessed with Daisy and fights to keep her in their custody. Tomas seems pretty creeped out by Daisy. And a toll is taken on their marriage. But he is reluctant to join in the angry mob of Sean Cryan, and the townsfolk who believe that Daisy’s “bad luck” is actually more…magical. You see, they think she is a fairy changeling. For those who are not aware, changelings in myth are basically the children of magical creatures who are switched out by their parents for human children. They generally cause problems, murder and mayhem for the humans around them.

You probably see where this is going by now. Now, here is the tricky part of the whole story. This is a spoiler-ish part, so maybe watch the movie and come back before reading on if you are so inclined. And I hope you are inclined!

Is it socially acceptable for adults to wear wings?

Is it socially acceptable for adults to wear wings?

***

Okay, you’ve been warned. Daisy’s slightly odd behavior and mannerism are consistent with some autistic children. In fact, you could make the argument that there is nothing magical about Daisy at all. And yet, there is also the evidence to support she IS a fairy changeling desperate to be the only one in Martha’s life. I love that about this movie! It’s not all laid out and obvious, but it’s also not so vague you can’t draw any conclusions. Personally, I choose to believe the fairy theory. I am a proud fairy and magical creature enthusiasts. So for that reason and the fact that Daisy is actually pretty creepy, I recommend this movie. Highly. Oh, but if you’re sensitive to and/or easily offended by bad stuff happening to pregnant ladies and children this movie may not be your jam.

The Awakening: Feels kinda tired actually

Please allow me to introduce you to Florence Carhart. Flo is a bad-ass kind of lady considering she’s a paranormal investigator/ghost debunk-er, best selling author and atheist in post World War One England. With me so far? Naturally, haters are gonna hate, as we all know. And Florence has plenty of haters and fans alike. We get the impression that Florence isn’t prone to many flights of fancy in her day to day life. She’s an orphan and also likes to gaze longingly at a photograph of a dashing man in uniform. We can only presume he’s dead as well since she’s so sad all the time. After another day at the office, a gentleman named Robert shows up at her door. He’s from a boarding school for boys and comes seeking her services for ridding them of a child’s ghost he assures her is quite real. Florence skeptically takes the case and meets the rest of our crew. There is the housekeeper lady named Maude who is played by Dolores Umbridge/Imelda Stanton. Maude is a no-nonsense spinster who happens to be a huge fan of our dear Florence. We also get Tom Hill played by that really cool kid who’s Bran in Game of Thrones! He’s a rather emo child who must spend his little school vacay on campus with Florence, Maude, Robert, and some pervy groundskeeper guy. We learn a little more background info on our leading couple. Flo’s parent’s were killed via animal attack while living abroad when she was a child. She did in fact have a beau who didn’t make it out of WW1. Poor ole Robert is a veteran himself and developed a self mutilation habit we don’t really explore that deeply. Naturally, Robert and Florence have some sexual tension going on. And as you may have also assumed, there really is a ghost at the school, though Florence is reluctant to believe it until she can deny it no further!

If ever there was a horror movie to describe as atmospheric, this is it. Everything is bleak, gray, and drab. The hollowed campus halls are just begging for ghosts to haunt them! We even get some of that ethereal children’s choral music going on for the soundtrack! The costuming geek that I am loved their period clothes. Especially Florence’s “daring” lounge wear of a men’s suit Ala Coco Chanel. And no doubt about it, the cast including Imelda, Bran Stark, Dominic West and Rebecca Hall are hugely talented people. I was super excited for some creeptastic ghost story from the merry old United Kingdom…

…And yet, I really didn’t love this movie. In fact, it made me grumpy after I watched it. I felt tricked and swindled! Go watch this movie on Netflix, then come back and talk spoilers with me. Maybe I am being a bit dramatic? It’s cool, I’ll wait here for you to return. As I always do.

The happy couple. Kinda.

The happy couple. Kinda.

*********

Now that you’ve watched the movie, do you feel cheated as well? I feel as if we were dragged into some carnival! We were delighted by the spectacle and charm of these British people only to be shown their true nature as inbred circus folk! We come to find that the “ghost” of this school is really trying desperately to convey a convoluted message to Flo. And yes, I will continue to abbreviate her name (she likes it when I do this).  Anyway, the school wasn’t always a school. It used to be the house that Flo and her family lived in. Mom, Asshole Father, and there was  little Tom and little Flo as kids…Whaaaaaaaat?!?  Yes, Tom is her half brother. He’s dead now. Killed by dad and trapped as a ghost child. Papa was trying to kill Flo. But Tom took the bullet instead after mama went down too. Maude was their nanny back then. She just kinda stayed with the house this whole time. She couldn’t abandon ghost Tom and never lost track of Flo when she went out into the world. Flo blocked all this out and made up the story about her parents being killed in the wilds of India or Africa or something. She also totally forgot she had a brother. So, that’s twist number one. However, we did get another. Maude thinks she and Flo need to die now and go be dead with lonely little Tom. So, yeah, Maude is a really sane and balanced individual. Tom starts to feel bad about it and doesn’t want his sister to die. Maude dies though. She’s totally bought in. Flo makes it out. She and Robert have some public displays of affection while all the boys are returning to their campus now ghost free. Oh, and the pervy groundskeeper who is also a draft-dodger dies or is maimed after trying to rape Flo. We can thank Robert for that. And yes, that piece of plot is as random as it sounds.

Now, I want to take my hat off to the filmmakers and writers of this movie. And yet, I am reluctant to do so! I feel like they totally tricked me into their plot twists. There were no hints dropped along the way. And to me, that’s the fun of twisty, turny movies. When you miss hints at first, then get the big reveal and realize that it all seems so obvious in hindsight. But there were no hints here. Only red-herrings!

My list of grievances:

1. We are told Flo’s parent’s are dead. Killed abroad. By animals. There is nothing to think about overmuch here. When we learn this, it’s like, who cares?? Her orphan status is what makes her bitter. That’s all we need to know. Allegedly.

2. There was no mention of having had a brother. Or a housekeeper she loved. Or a house she recalls living in. That is just a random series of facts we learn post plot twist.

3. Pervy groundskeeper guy. No one cares. He served no purpose.

4. Robert’s self mutilation. That seems like a big deal but it just sits there going unresolved and unexplained.

5. Flo’s dead boyfriend. Well, to be fair, this is a huge reason she’s a skeptic and they go into that a bit. And yet, honestly I just couldn’t bring myself to care and connect with her over this or the orphaned thing.

6. The damn movie isn’t scary. At all.

7. To say a main character doesn’t recall her history and blocked it out due to trauma that she doesn’t remember happening is really lazy to me. This is just an excuse for the writer to fill in some crazy twists you couldn’t hope to see coming. Harsh, but true.

*Sigh*. Well, I think you know where I am going with this. I wouldn’t have minded being tricked by the filmmakers if they’d dropped hints and actually managed to make it a mystery to solve. I would have welcomed it! Instead it was just so random. They could have just made the whole thing be about aliens. Or time travelers. Or vampires. Hell, it doesn’t matter apparently. One thing that makes sense once you know the “true” story? The title. Lame. Maybe next time I will just expect the unexpected instead of trying to be a clever little monkey and solve the mystery. Unlikely.

I'm a total GOT addict. I regret nothing.

I’m a total GOT addict. I regret nothing.

Exorcismus: Part Spanish, Part British, All Demon

exorcismscary

Let’s talk about an exorcism movie. I thought this movie, being a Spanish film, would be in Spanish. Nay, nay! The characters are suburban British folk and speak with those charming accents us Americans love. The story centers around a teenage girl named Emma who becomes possessed by  something evil. I wasn’t sure if it was a demon, a lesser imp, Satan himself, or what. Sorry if they named it and I didn’t catch it.  Her atheist, hip, and yet over protective parents take a while to figure out what is going on. But, eventually they allow her Catholic priest uncle to perform exorcism rights and secretly film the sessions. He says he can use this as evidence in case the Vatican finds out. Now, as you may imagine, things don’t exactly go smoothly. It turns out, demons don’t just politely apologize and vacate their humans when asked. By the way, Uncle Priest isn’t exactly defrocked but he is on the church’s naughty list.

Unclepriest

Uncle Father? Father Uncle?

I don’t really have a lot of bad things to say about this movie. I wasn’t really snarky and sarcastic while viewing it. In fact, I thought it was pretty good. I liked Emma and was rooting for her to shake that demon out. I must admit that I also really I liked her clothes. The character of  Uncle Priest (does that make him Uncle Father?!) was also interesting enough to keep me invested in this movie too. Anyway, I don’t really want to spoil it. I would ask you just give it a chance.

I am not going into too many details about the plot of the movie. I think most of us horror fans probably get the notion of how an exorcism movie is going to flow. And yet, this one still took some little dips and turns. No, it wasn’t an intense game-changer with a brand new take on the sub genre. But, it did it’s job quite well. And there were a couple of well done shots during the exorcism scenes. It’s become a bit overdone, but I still like it in a horror movie when people float off the ground. Why is that so creepy? It’s just unnatural I guess. I like it. But it’s starting to get a little typical.

And while I have your attention, I want to pose a few questions. Exorcism and demonic possession movies are nothing new. And clearly, they aren’t going away anytime soon. I have had the point argued to me that all exorcism/possession movies will always fall flat when compared to the amazingness that is 1973’s, The Exorcist. The Exorcist is the O.G. here. This movie was freaking notorious! Why does it feel like everyone you’ve ever met in life has seen this movie and either thinks it’s utterly awesome or the scariest thing they’ve ever seen? So, what do you think? Do you think virtually every movie in the subgenre is just a ripoff of the William Peter Blatty/William Friedkin classic? Can any movie in their persuasion actually surpass the Exorcist and be better? Or are you in the narrow margin of peeps out there who think The Exorcist is kinda “meh” or worse?! Yes, these rabble rousers do exist. Are you one of them??

Insidious: Come tip-toe through the tulips with Barbara Hershey and Darth Maul!!

sohappy

Thank you James Wan and Leigh Whannel for the tasty little gift that is Insidious. This movie makes me long for days of my youth and middle school sleepovers. It would totally have been our jam! I also just love how this movie kinda took people by surprise. General consensus I have found is that people were not expecting to like this movie as much they did. It just goes to show what fun little magic can be had by blending a smart script and good actors into a tasty evil stew. Did I mention that I adore Barbara Hershey and she’s in the movie? Shes fab, yes?!

Meet the Lambert family. They seem like an okay bunch. If you like those upper suburban types with too many children. Three children to be exact. Which is three too many in my book. Anyway, they move into a big ole house which is always a mistake for these suburban WASP-y family types. That theory proves true when little tyke Dalton Lambert slips into a mysterious “coma” which can’t be explained by modern medicine. They move him back home and thats when shiz starts really getting freaky. I’m talking disembodied voices coming through the baby monitor, creepy shadow like people start cropping up, Satan is playing door-ditch with them, so on and so forth.  Family patriarch Josh is distant and seems less concerned with his wife Renai insisting the problem could be ghosts. Regardless, they move houses again.  Around this time we’re introduced to Ms. Hershey as Lorraine, Josh’s mother.

Well, turns out the house wasn’t the problem. Pretty much immediately freaky hijinks start in again. Including  finding some way to make the old time-y song “Tiptoe through the Tulips” by Tiny Tim even creepier. Lorraine jumps to Renai’s aide by validating her claims that what the family is experiencing is actually happening because she’s been there before. Enter Specs and Tucker, two Ghost-Hunter types who work as assistants to Elise Rainier a psychic ghost whisperer lady. We can thank Specs and Tucker for some awesome comic relief. Elise breaks down the situation for mom & dad. Dalton is a little “traveler”. In his sleep he can leave his physical body and hop around in different places and dimensions. One such dimension is where the ghosts like to hang out. When they see Dalton’s shell, they’re all vying to get in. Including a demon. A demon who looks just a tad like Darth Maul. Now this doesn’t bother me in the least because it’s a not-so-secret fact that I’m obsessed with Darth Maul. So I was into it. Now there is another big twist here but I’m gonna hold off on writing about it.

insidious1

I don’t want to say too much more than that. Because this movie is just a bucket of fun. It’s got its little hiccups and hitches. Maybe some cliches now and again. But I really just don’t care! And I suggest you embrace the same mentality. And in case you didn’t know, there is currently a sequel in the works. I don’t anticipate loving it as much as the original, but I’m excited about it. We’re getting the same cast, James and Leigh back again so thats a boon. Hey, I’ve got a good idea! Let’s meet up again this fall and talk about how much we loved or hated the sequel. Kthanxbai.