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!! 😉

thebook-wins

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.

Demons: An Equal Opportunity Employer (The Possession)

the-possession-505cde012a1de

All demons are a little bit scarier to me when they’re occupying children. I, like many among us, think Sam Raimi is fabulous. He produced this movie. I can’t describe it, but I felt it’s Raimi-ness while I was watching it.

The opening of the film was actually well paced and did a nice little job of being creepy. At the start of the film, we see a lady in  her home, staring at a box on the living room mantel. The box is wooden and carved in Hebrew. She basically gets beat the hell up by some unseen force. It looks painful and uncomfortable. I thought it was a nice way to kick things off.  Now, lets get to know our lead characters. That would be mom and dad Clyde and Stephanie who are are recently divorced. On one of dad’s weekends with the kids Em (the younger) and Hannah (the older) they stop at a garage sale. Sadly, this garage sale is at the house from the opening scene. Dad buys Em the carved box. Uh-oh, thinks the audience! For we know they’ve now purchased a yucky old demon just chilling in there waiting to take hold of someone. We see from a window that the lady survived her ordeal, but is in a full body cast. She wiggles and squirms in panic upon seeing dear little Em outside with the box. In the scenes that follow slowly but surely Em is getting filled with the spirit, and not in a good way.  Scary hijinks and a little bit of death ensue. Dad uncovers the truth. He is able to enlist the help of Tzadok, a Rabbi’s son to perform the rites. The movie is a race against time to save young Emily’s life. That’s enough plot for now. I think you get what is going on here.

I had been looking forward to this movie for a while. I was intrigued for a few reasons. I was hooked in by the notion of a Jewish demon/Dibuk, by the Sam Raimi produced goodness, the fact that I like the actors in the movie (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick) and that I am always down for a good old creepy kid movie. I won’t go as far to say this movie disappoints. I can’t really articulate what about this movie made it not quite a homerun. It’s predictable. But I didn’t hate it! I sat down with my delicious movie popcorn and enjoyed the ride. I cringed and held my breath in a couple key moments. No, it didn’t “scare” me. The basic formula of this movie was just that, a formula. I am trying to not hold all horror movies accountable for needing to be the most original thing ever. But, I do want to be entertained and creeped out when I see a horror movie. That is my goal above all.

Yes, this movie is very Hollywood. I never claimed to be a purist that only watched independently made horror. I know this movie also got both praised and criticized for being based on actual events. Since seeing the movie, I have watched and read some articles on the whole thing. I can’t say if it’s real or not, but it sounds pretty freaky. I admit I am not an expert on demons. Jewish, Catholic or otherwise. So I can’t really claim to know if anything they present about the Dibuk is accurate. I’m sure I liked this movie more because I’m not a know-it-owl on the original case and demons in general. I don’t mind going on record saying The Possession was far from the worst horror movie I saw this year.

possession-3

When Bad Movies Happen to Good Actors: House at the End of the Street (A Cautionary Tale)

house_at_the_end_of_the_street_movie-1440x900

I would like to introduce you to a movie that would have been much better if it had been rated R. Rated R and/or re-written. Honestly, I am tempted to end my review at that. This is going to contain some spoilers, people. If you don’t want to know the cold hard truth, then do not read on.

I know that the powers that be behind this film felt they had “no choice” but to  stick to a PG 13 rating in order to collect monies from the young adult crowd who flocked en masse to the Hunger Games. For those who are really out of the loop, Jennifer Lawrence stars in both that franchise and the movie we’re reviewing here today. However, someone clearly forgot that slasher movies perform much better when rated R. Let me back up again. I think Jennifer Lawrence is great. And if any other actress was in this role, it would have been too painful to watch.

I saw the trailer for this movie months before it came out. Since I watch a lot of trailers, it stuck in my mind grapes as Jennifer Lawrence in a ghost movie! How neat! Why did I think this was a haunted house movie?!? I must have been highly medicated. Upon sitting down in the theater I quickly realized my error. Here is some plot for ya: Teenager Elissa and her single mom move into an impressive big house on the edge of a state park. There is a house next door to them. It is at the end of the “street.” Hence the title. Anyway, in that neighboring house a double murder took place at the hands of a crazy teenager named Carrie Ann. Yes, that was a double murder meaning she killed both her parents. The girl ran into the woods and is presumed dead by the townsfolk to this very day. Elissa and mom soon learn the mysterious house at the end of the street is in fact not vacant. The surviving teenage son who was living with an aunt at the time of the killings is still living there. Obviously, the next logical plot device is for Elissa to fall in love with the beautiful weirdo boy, named Ryan.

House-at-the-End-of-the-Street-4

Allow me to snarkily dissect what we have thus far. Upon seeing the house, mom tells Elissa the double murder is why they can even afford this house. Elissa replies back with some disparaging remark that at their old hood people getting killed on their street never lowered the rent. Aww, bummer! I thought to myself. Elissa and her single mom are regular poor folks just trying to get by! I did think it was hilarious to imagine the lovely Ms. Lawrence and her mother played by Elizabeth Shue living in the ghetto. But, I rolled with it.  We come to find out a little more about their family. Dad was some kind of a rockstar/musician. Mom was a groupie (teenage? not clear) slut. Dad was the type of dude who only stuck around to teach his kid how to play guitar like a boss and cook pasta. Ya know, that old cliche. What does mom do for a living, you may ask? Waitress? Receptionist? Personal Assistant? IT Tech Support? Actually, mom is an ER doctor. Why the ER doctor and her daughter lived in the ghetto and now have a murder-bargain house as all they can afford is beyond me. Perhaps mom also has a severe online gambling addiction?

Anyway, Elissa first meets Ryan when he gives her a lift home in the rain after she is nearly date raped by a snobby rich neighbor kid. Oh, by the way, the entire town is grossed out by Ryan. They think he is weird and drives down property value. I personally could not find what she  “sees” in Ryan in order to fall for him. Her mom says its because she likes to fix broken people. Well girl, you just hit the busted and broken boy lottery.

Now we get into spoiler territory. Be warned. You see, the crazy sister Carrie Ann is not dead. Ryan keeps her locked in a basement room all day! He feeds her, looks after her, and injects her with something when she gets cranky. Yes, Ryan is Prince Charming, clearly. I have a sister in real life who I love dearly. I would never keep her in a basement under any circumstances. It’s simply not done.  Kids, if your boyfriend keeps his crazy sister in the basement, that should be a red flag. We get a few jumpy type scares a couple times in the movie when Carrie Ann attempts to escape. During one of her little attempts at freedom, Carrie Ann gets too close to some kids making out. Ryan has to silence her deranged screams and accidentally kills her. So, he puts her in the trunk of his car to dispose of her body. Again, this is not sane behavior from Ryan. In the midst of all this, they try to weave in some “average teenager” stuff. For instance, there is a Battle of the Bands Elissa is going to participate in. She gets a BFF! The dialogue with all the young people sounds as if a 50 year old man once heard teenagers talking at the mall.  He then transcribed it as best he could. It becomes clunky and forced.

Here is the rest of the plot. And some more spoilers. The Carrie Anne we’ve seen thus far is not really Carrie Anne. Carrie Anne died when they were kids in a swing set accident. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Ryan likes to abduct girls and turn them into Carrie Anne’s. When “Carrie Anne” tried to escape earlier, she was trying to get help! Cause Ryan is a psycho! Their Heroin addicted parents covered it up when they were children. And by covering it up they made Ryan “assume” the role of Carrie Ann for his adolescent years. Gross! Creepy! Eventually he snapped and killed them. Elissa figures out Ryan is the killer after he has already procured a new Carrie Anne. But once Ryan knows the truth, he decides Elissa would be a fabulous sister. Cause he is attracted to her. It’s a little sick and twisted. So, all of that plot chunk is actually potentially good story telling. I didn’t see the twist coming to be honest. Then again, I thought this was a ghost movie. I am proud that I never cared for Ryan and thought he was too odd to be likeable. I was right! Granted this was a small victory. I still had to sit through the rest of this craziness.

So, remember how the movie is PG 13? After being discovered as the killer, Ryan stabs a cop in the stomach with a steak knife. Just sinks it in like butter.The cop is now dead. We have met this policeman earlier in the movie as he’s some kind of love interest for mom. Now,  I am no expert, and I know if untreated one can die from such a wound to the stomach.  And yet, c’mon people! Mom also takes a steak knife to the gut. Only she pops up again a few minutes later to wield a hammer blow (no blood shown) to Ryan as if she were John Henry himself. But that is not all. Ryan also gets shot by Elissa three times in the chest. The last scene of the film is Ryan in a padded cell putting together a jigsaw puzzle and then looking into the camera. Because the sucker did not die. I feel for the cop. It’s not fair he died from his injury when other mortals laugh at such pain. It’s absurd, silly and not at all terrifying that he is still living.

Maybe you have figured it out by now. This movie could have been much better if we got some real “murders” and mortal wounds that actually looked painful and deadly. And more blood. Always more blood! And we could have totally done with out any of the incredibly stilted teenage dialogue. I just felt like this movie was rigged together with post it notes and unicorn stickers.  The premise was good! What happened?! Alas, I was entertained but for all the wrong reasons.

uni61

Image from http://www.mermaidsrock.net/unicorns.html