Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Summer Chillout: The Thing

Well, summer is officially here, and I couldn’t be sweatier.

Seriously.  It’s frickin hot around here.

There are many ways to cool down in the summer time – crank up the AC crazy high, swim, cover yourself in ice – but each of these is either expensive, requires you to be in the sun and/or around sharks, or might result in some light hypothermia.  So my favorite way to cool down is with a horror movie that reminds me of nicer (i.e., colder) times.

And my favorite movie to do this?  John Carpenter’s The Thing.

The Thing (1982) is not only my favorite movie for a summer chill session; it’s also one of my favorite horror movies period.  It’s even on my Top 20 list.

Although the movie was initially met with criticism, both it and its score are now considered classics in the movie world.  It’s even watched at British Research stations in Antarctica as part of their Midwinter celebration held on June 21.  There are so many great things going for it.

The cast is awesome.  Ultra-80’s coiffed Kurt Russell, always cool Keith David, Wilford “I have diabeetus” Brimley, and the rest of the ill-fated group of research scientists struggle to survive an attack from an other worldly being and their own paranoia, and they just make it all so believable.

The score is haunting and identifiable.  Although movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th have very recognizable themes (and good ones, too), the theme and score for this movie is probably one of my favorites.  It just sets the bleak and hopeless tone of the movie perfectly.

THE EFFECTS!  Sorry for screaming, but I freakin love the effects in this film.  I’m not totally against CGI, but practical effects are my jam.  They just look so much cooler, and the monsters in this movie, crafted by the so-talented Rob Bottin and crew, are so creepy and unique that I just can’t get over it.

I just don’t have any bad things to say about this movie.  And for a bonus, try watching the prequel released in 2011, which is definitely not a perfect movie,  but has its moments.  CGI is used pretty heavily, but I really appreciated how they tied everything together.  Watch it immediately after the 1982 movie, and you’ll see what I mean.

If you haven’t seen this movie, do yourself a huge favor and introduce yourself to it today.  Turn down the lights, set the AC to an acceptable temp, and just imagine yourself in the snow and ice.

It’s only a few short months away from fall and cooler temps, so keep checking back with me each week for another chillout session.

It Comes at Night…or Does It?

It Comes at Night, a film by up-and-coming director/writer Trey Edward Shults, was released on Friday, and the critical reception made this one a must watch for me.  It currently has a 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, which – for a horror movie – is rare.

I finally got to see it last night with a friend, and we both went in without any real knowledge of the plot.  I knew it was a post-apocalyptic thriller, but other than the brief (and uninformative) trailer I saw before Get Out, I had very limited exposure to anything prior to showtime.

Usually, this is a good thing.  Horror movie trailers (and most trailers, really) just give away too damn much.

I really wish I’d learned a little more about this one beforehand.

Warning: Here Be Spoilers.

The movie stars Joel Edgerton (as Paul), Carmen Ejogo (as Sarah), Kelvin Harrison Jr. (as Travis), Christopher Abbott (as Will), and Riley Keough (as Kim) as survivors of a seemingly worldwide plague that has wiped out much of mankind.  Will breaks into the home of Paul, Sarah, and Travis, and after he’s knocked out and tied to a tree for the night, he’s interrogated before Paul agrees to take him back to his wife and son and bring them back to live at the house.

There are rules for living at the house.  Everyone must go everywhere in pairs.  No one goes out at night.  And the red door stays locked all night long.

Seems easy, right?

After bringing them in, all seems to be going well until the family dog, Stanley, sees something in the forest and runs away.  The dog shows up at the house later that night, bloody and sick, and has to be put down.  Both families agree to be isolated from one another after realizing the red door had been unlocked.  By whom?  We don’t know.  Neither do they.  All they know is there might be a risk for sickness.

Paranoia increases as Will’s family discusses leaving, and Paul’s family, afraid that someone would now know where to find them, decide not to allow that.  Fearing that Will’s child is sick, Paul and Sarah mask and arm themselves to confront the other family, and all hell breaks loose, ending in the deaths of Will, Kim and their toddler son.

At the end, all is hopeless.  Paul and Sarah try to cope with what they have just done, and although the point of the isolation was to prevent any illness, Travis still comes down with it anyway and dies.  The movie ends with Paul and Sarah staring at each other across the dining room table.

Roll credits.

I understand that this is a film about hopelessness and paranoia.  It did a great job at conveying that.  I was tense.  I felt sad for the characters, especially the dog (always the dog).  I just didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I wanted to.

Throughout the whole movie, Travis has nightmares about his dead grandfather, the door, and the forest.  The forest seems to hold a lot of dread for him, as he frequently dreams about seeing something terrifying in the trees. He even draws a picture of scary things in the forest.  Stanley chases after something in the woods, and his barking is abruptly cut off when he’s out of sight.  It just seemed like it was leading up to some big reveal about what was in the woods.

Nothing.

And then the unlocked door.  Who unlocked it?  What happened there?

Nothing.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad movie, and if I had gone into it knowing the plot, I might have been fine.  But IMDb says in its description of the movie that “an unnatural threat terrorizes the world.”  To me that doesn’t say sickness, so that threw me off, too.

Should you see it?  If you go into it knowing that what comes at night is actually paranoia and there are no creepy creatures in the forest, you’ll probably enjoy it.

But maybe go to a matinee.  Save your big bucks for something else.

How to Enjoy a Horror Movie

If you don’t like horror movies, I don’t understand you.  I just don’t.  Are you scared?  Squeamish?  Do you just think they’re stupid?  What’s your problem?

I have always – ALWAYS – loved horror movies, so not enjoying/watching them has never occurred to me.  They’ve just been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Maybe you have a significant other that really loves them, or maybe you’ve been called a wuss for whatever reason.  The point is, now you want to try them out.

Well, let me help you.

I recently watched The Bye Bye Man, a movie that just came out earlier this year and was universally not-so-loved by people who watched it.  Just check out the reviews.  Rotten Tomatoes currently scores it as 24% rotten.  It’s got a 37% on Metacritic, 0.5 stars out of 4 from Roger Ebert, and a 4.2 on Imdb.

So yeah.  Not a great movie.

But guess what?  I enjoyed it.  I’m not saying it’s a good movie by any means.  I just know how to enjoy a horror movie, so that’s what I did.

So how do you do it even if it’s terrible?

  1. Know thyself and pick accordingly.

Not every movie is meant for every person, and that can definitely be said for the many variations in the horror genre.  If you can’t stand gore, it’s probably not a good idea to jump right in to Saw.  If ghosts are too much for you, stay away from The Conjuring.  Oh, you run screaming and hyperventilate at the thought of possession?  How about you avoid The Exorcist?

Maybe you want a little comedy in your horror.  Maybe  you want something critically acclaimed (few and far between for horror movies).  The point is this: pick something that you might like, not something you know you’re going to hate.

I don’t watch sappy romance movies for exactly that reason.

2.   Know the rules.

If you’ve seen Scream or just have a working knowledge of pop culture, you know that horror movies have rules.  Don’t have sex. Don’t drink and/or do drugs. Don’t say “I’ll be right back.”  And so on, and so on, and so on.  These rules don’t apply to real life, but there is a formula to a lot of scary movies, especially slashers.

And if you know the rules, you can probably catch when something’s about to happen.  That’s part of the fun.  It doesn’t work for every horror movie, of course, but you can have a pretty good time catching these little clues as they come.

3.   Turn off your brain.

Yes.   I know they should be going down the stairs and out the door instead of straight to the killer’s loving arms, but this is a horror movie.  People make dumb decisions in a horror movie.  It’s okay. You don’t have to make these same mistakes when you have a homicidal masked crazy person slowly following you.  These are not instructional videos, and on that note…

4.  Don’t be “that guy.”

Everybody loves to hear a know-it-all, right?  WRONG.  Trust me.  Absolutely no one cares that you could have totally gotten out of whatever horror movie situation you’re currently watching.  It doesn’t make you cool; it makes you annoying.

Also, if you just plain don’t like the movie, don’t be an ass about it.  Not scary to you?  Don’t bitch about it.  Everyone is scared of different things.  I, for instance, have never been actually scared by a movie, but I still love them.

5.  Don’t give up.

There are as many different types of horror movies as there are stars in the sky.  Well, not really, but you get the point.  If you pick a movie you’re not really pleased with, try something new.  If you decide ghosts aren’t for you, try a slasher.  Slashers out?  Try a zombie movie.  There’s also psychological horror, possession, splatter, survival, found footage, paranormal, and various types of monster movies to try out.  There’s bound to be one you’ll like somewhere in the mix.

Scary Easter?

So I’m all about horror and making things fun and scary, but I’m really struggling with a creepy way to celebrate Easter, the most pastel of all holidays.  There just aren’t a lot of options here.  I mean, the holiday mascot is a fluffy bunny.

But I’m going to try my hardest.

First of all, the Easter horror movie selection is (not surprisingly) lacking.  There are only a handful, so I would recommend watching Easter Sunday (2014) and Peter Rottentail (2004).  I haven’t seen either, but Easter Sunday has some pretty good reviews, and Peter Rottentail just looks weird and funny in a very B-movie way.  Just Google it to look at the villain.  Michael Myers he (she?) is not, but it’s still promising.

Also a good idea would be to check out Critters 2.  It takes place near/on Easter, and there’s an excellent scene of the Easter Bunny getting attacked and killed.  Not the real one, just a guy in a suit.  Check it out:

Pretty cool, right?

Second, maybe find a way to maximize the creep factor of the day by being creative.  Start by making some spiderweb dyed eggs.  Just check out the many tutorials online.  You could even draw some skulls on non-dyed eggs with a sharpie.  That’s pretty simple.  And if you have kids that are on board the horror train (Side note: I feel like if that’s not a thing, it should totally be), give them some scary movies and gross toys in their Easter basket, which could totally be jet black, by the way.

Pastel is not a requirement.

So there you have it.  I tried and – just maybe? – succeeded.  I hope you all have a very creepy Easter.  Let me know if you have any other scary ways to celebrate.

Stephen King’s IT Remake Trailer Is Here!

Oh.  Em.  Gee.

The first trailer for the remake of Stephen King’s It is finally out, and I’ve already watched it about 20 times.  Exaggeration?  You’d think so, but no. I’m freaking obsessed with this thing, and I’ve only seen 2+ minutes of footage.  If you haven’t seen it yet (oh, you weren’t constantly refreshing your browser this morning? Weird…), check out the link below:

DID YOU LOVE IT??!?!!  (Whoa. Settle.  Stop screaming.)  Did you love it?  Because I did.

I’ve been a little worried about this one because the original made-for-tv version of Stephen King’s It holds a very special place in my heart.  As you can see, I’ve mentioned it several times on different posts like here and here.  I even gave it lucky #13 on the list of my favorite scary movies.  But after seeing the trailer, I am SO EXCITED!

Seriously.  I’ve got to stop screaming.

So to begin the trailer, we’ve got the iconic scene of Georgie’s death.  Not the whole thing.  Just a taste (forgive the wording).  And as is tradition, Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgard, pops up in the drain.  Skarsgard looks pretty cool and creepy but doesn’t get to talk yet.  I’m really interested in hearing his voice because I just don’t know what direction they’ve taken with it.  Is it gruff like Tim Curry’s Pennywise, or is it creepy clown high pitched?  We just don’t know.

Then we have a glimpse into the lives of the members of the Loser’s Club.  I’m so happy to see them all in action.  That scene where they’re looking at a family photo slideshow was freaking awesome.  So creepy.  Those things aren’t usually very entertaining, so Pennywise just brought a little excitement.

I also was pleased to see the scene with Beth in the bathroom because it looks like they definitely upped the gore factor in this one.   Very pleased with that.

Oh, I could go on and on and on, but I’ll stop here.  We’ve got a little over 5 months until this movie comes out on September 8, so I’m sure we’ll have much more to look at before then.  Until then, keep an eye on the blog for updates, and let me know what you’re most excited about in the comments.

Also, make sure to subscribe to the blog and follow me on Facebook so you can be sure not to miss anything important.

#stephenkingsit #itmovie

 

 

The Belko Experiment: A Gore Fan’s Review

Last night, I watched The Belko Experiment, a film written by James Gunn, the same guy who gave us Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither, and the screenplay for the 2004 Dawn of the Dead.  Mr. Gunn is quite talented, and he’s already proven that he can write horror, so I was excited to check out this movie.  The trailer promised a violent, gory ride into the world of office politics.  It did not disappoint on that front.

Is it of the same caliber as Guardians?  Absolutely not, but it was pretty entertaining, although frustrating at times.  As with many horror movies, it’s very easy to settle into the “I can’t believe they’re doing that.  If I was them, I would…” way of thinking.  It’s best to just sit back, turn off your brain, and enjoy the ride.  Unfortunately, my brain’s ‘OFF’ button wasn’t working.

WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS

Belko has been described as a mix of Battle Royale and Office Space, and I think that’s a fair assessment.  Belko is funny at times and shows the monotonous side of the workplace environment before settling into murderous mayhem.

If I find out who took my stapler, I’ll kill em.

What starts off as an almost normal morning for the employees of Belko Industries quickly devolves into the most terrifying office meeting anyone’s ever been a part of.  Ever have a group project at work go south?  Kinda like that but with more blood and exploding heads.

A voice from the building’s intercom interrupts the peaceful day by telling everyone that two people have to be killed within the next 30 minutes.  Of course, everyone thinks it’s a prank, but then the building’s defenses kick in.  Metal plates slide over the windows and doors, and before you can say “dead end job,” they’re trapped.  Everyone groups together in the downstairs lobby, and after 30 minutes pass, a few employees get some strong headaches.  Like so strong their heads explode.

BC Powder ain’t gonna fix that.

Not surprisingly, everyone panics, and one of the characters figures out that the tracking chips implanted in the employees when they each took their jobs are to blame for the violent migraines.  Tracking chips, you ask?  Well, Belko is located in Bogota, Colombia, and the employees were told the chips were implanted to locate them in case of a kidnapping.  Just a normal day in Colombia, I guess.

Now that everyone knows Mr. Intercom was serious, he gives them another task.  This time 30 people have to die within the next 2 hours or 60 will be killed.  This is where things turn into a free-for-all between those who still believe in the sanctity of human life and those who just say “Screw it. Let’s get to killin.'”

I don’t want to give everything away here, but let’s just say lots of people die.  Very violently.  I was extremely impressed by the special effects in this film.  They gave us not one but two head smashing scenes and so many head explosions that I lost count.  I’m a gore fan, so I was not disappointed there.

The one thing that did bother me is the main character.  Now, I don’t really know how I would react in that situation – and it goes without saying that I hope I never do – but the main character just really got on my nerves at times.  Good ol’ Mike Milch, played by John Gallagher Jr., is appalled at the idea of killing his friends and co-workers like any normal person would be, but he takes it to a level that I just found annoying.  This is where I wished my brain could have turned off, but it just wasn’t happening.  I found myself not really rooting for anyone to live or die and just sat back to enjoy the violence of it all.

Okay, I take that back.  I did root for John C. McGinley’s character to die.  He did a really good job playing a creep in this movie, so yeah – he needed to go.  There was also another annoying character or two that I wasn’t sad to see kick it.  I guess I just didn’t really root for anyone in particular to live.

So should you go see The Belko Experiment?  It definitely placed third out of the three movies I’ve seen in the past few weeks, which includes Logan (So awesome!) and the highly-praised Get Out, but I think it was absolutely worth the price of the ticket.  Like I said earlier, I enjoy gore and violence in movies, so if that’s not your thing, this movie isn’t for you.  But if you’ve dreamed of killing any of your co-workers, this movie might be a cathartic experience.  Enjoy it, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

And just as a side note: If you haven’t seen Get Out yet, what the hell is wrong with you?! Go! Go now!

Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

Last week, my husband stumbled upon a movie cash code that I thought was lost forever, and when I redeemed it online, I learned that it expired at the end of the month.  That didn’t give me much time, and since it’s so close to Halloween, I couldn’t NOT go to a horror movie.  That would have been stupid.

My choices were limited as Boo! A Madea Halloween and Ouija: Origin of Evil are the only horror movies in theaters right now (side note: What the hell is up with that?).  I gravitate toward scarier, of course, so Ouija it was.

I have to say that the movie very much exceeded my expectations.  I enjoyed the first one to an extent because I will pretty much like any horror movie I watch, but it wasn’t the greatest.  Just your average teen ghost/supernatural thriller.  It had a few scares, but overall it wasn’t anything to freak out about.  This one was a different story.  It had a creepy plot and didn’t rely solely on jump scares to frighten the audience.

Warning: Here Be Spoilers

I’m not going to go into too much detail here.  The actresses and actors involved did a wonderful job, but the standout performance of the movie was Lulu Wilson, who starred as Doris.  If you remember the first movie, that is the ghost’s name from the original. Doris, like many creepy kids in horror movies, started off cute and just went downhill really quickly after messing with a – dun dun DUN! – Ouija board.  If you weren’t already aware, that was a mistake.

I guess I just didn’t file the original in my brain for very long because I didn’t get until almost the end that these characters were actually connected to the original movie.  I felt pretty stupid, but it also made me enjoy the movie a lot more since I had one of those “Oooohhhh” moments as the movie was reaching its height,

I am completely fine with horror movies that don’t have a very happy ending, so the ending of this movie was – I felt – very appropriate and enjoyable.  My mom disagrees, but I think it takes something away from the creepiness of a film to have everything work out just right.  Since I finally realized near the end that these were the same characters, I figured out where it was heading, and I thought they did a great job of playing it out.

I also want to point out the nod to The Exorcist when the priest, played by Henry Thomas, stops outside the Zander home with his bag of religious goodies.  I love shit like that.

My recommendation is that you go watch this one in theaters to celebrate the holiday.  I’m a fan, and it even made me want to watch the first movie again.

Blair Witch Project: The Sequel Is Here

The sequel to Blair Witch Project – which is creatively named Blair Witch – premieres tonight in theaters.  The original revived the found footage genre when it came out in 1999, and whether you love it or you hate it, you can’t deny that the movie deserves a prominent place in the Horror Movie Hall of Fame.

If that’s not an actual something, it should be.

You might be thinking, “What about Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2?”  Well, two things:

  1. Stop thinking about it.  It’s not a good movie.  It just isn’t.
  2. The creators want us to ignore it, so that’s what you should do.

forest-868082_1280

Blair Witch follows a group of college students into the Burkittsville woods where they are predictably – as the title suggests – terrorized by a malevolent presence.   According to IMDB, the main cast for the movie is double the original at a total of 6.  Hopefully, they’re all a lot more likable than the 3 from the first movie, but it doesn’t really matter.  I doubt any of them make it out alive anyway.

I’m really interested to see how this one measures up, but I’m on the fence about whether to see it in theaters or not.  Unfortunately, I am part of the group that doesn’t do very well with shaky cam movies.  I get motion sickness quite easily, I get really nervous about throwing up, and I’m cheap so I don’t want to pay for a ticket for a movie I can’t watch. I made it through the Paranormal Activity movies because the cameras were still most of the time.  PA: The Marked Ones almost did me in, but I stayed strong.  I’m a fighter.

I actually really like the original.  Many say they hate it because it’s basically just three annoying college kids arguing in the woods most of the time, but if you’re familiar with the forest – whether because you’re a frequent camper or because you grew up around it – I think it’s easier to identify with the terror and dejection of being lost and frightened.    Yeah, you just want to punch them most of the time, but when you hear the children laughing in the woods around them, see the creepy stick figures, or see the bloody bundle of Josh’s hair and teeth, you kinda feel for them.  I mean, that’s pretty terrifying.

And the ending is one of my favorites of any horror movie.  It packs a punch.  Seriously, I would recommend anyone watch just for that part.

tree-17922_1280

Anyway, if I go see the sequel, I’ll be sure to give a quick review of my experience.  I’ll also make sure to get a Sprite to help my stomach power through.  Maybe I’ll give it a pep talk beforehand.

Do you plan on seeing it in theaters?

Home Invasion Horror Movies

Don’t Breathe hit theaters over the weekend, and it seems to have struck a chord with moviegoers.  It has impressed critics and topped the box office, so it got me thinking; what else can I and other horror movie fans do to satisfy our home invasion horror movie craving?

Never fear, because there are quite a few horror movies out there involving home invasions.  Here are my faves:

The Collector (2009)

This movie is pretty gruesome.  A man doing helping with maintenance at a family’s home is revealed in the beginning to actually be (SPOILER ALERT) casing the residence to break in while the family is away on vacation.   He follows through with his plan, but after he’s inside, he finds himself in a house rigged with Saw-like booby traps and the family being tortured.  It’s pretty crazy, but if you can’t take so-called  “torture porn,” you might want to watch this one with your finger on the fast forward button.

The Strangers (2008)

This movie gets a lot of flack for the poor decisions made by the lead characters played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, but I still love this movie.  An on-the-rocks couple is spending some time at an isolated house, and terror comes knocking on their door in the form of a skinny, young lady looking for “Tamara.”  She ain’t, and soon the lady and a few other masked creeps begin to freak the hell out of the couple and (SPOILER ALERT) ultimately kill them in a “gut-wrenching” way.

That was a pun I just made.

Silent House (2011)

Elizabeth Olson is helping her father and uncle renovate a cabin to get ready for its sale and soon becomes isolated from them.  She gets trapped inside with intruders and has to try out a few hiding places in the house.  I don’t want to give anything else away, so just watch it.  This one is creepy and filled with some great twists and turns.

The Purge (2013)

The Purge movies have become pretty popular, and although I like Anarchy and Election Year better than the first, it’s still a pretty great example of home invasion horror.  Even a super-rich family with all sorts of security measures protecting their home isn’t safe from annual purgers after their son lets in a man trying to escape being murdered.

High Tension (2003)

This is one of my favorite French horror movies, and I love the craziness of it all.  A woman travels to her family’s country home to visit and brings along her friend.  They’re brutally attacked, and the thrill ride that follows is so stressful and insane.  I love it.

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That’s only a small portion of home invasion horror movies out there.  If you run through those, you can try The Last House on the Left, The People Under the Stairs, or the French movies Martyrs or Inside.  I haven’t seen Inside yet, but I plan on remedying that within the next week or so.

And I only recommend Martyrs if you’re ready to be messed up for a little while.  That movie, man.  It’s rough.

Lights Out: Movie Review

If you’re a reader of my blog, you know that I was super excited for the movie Lights Out.

I was not disappointed.

The movie is directed by David F. Sandberg, the director of the short film of the same name, and although he hasn’t directed a feature-length film before this, he did a fantastic job setting a creepy tone and not relying too much on jump scares to captivate the audience.  And others in the industry must have thought so, too, because he’s been hired to direct the sequel to Annabelle.

The movie opens with a very scary scene with Billy Burke and the star of the short film, Lotta Losten.  (Side note: Since she doesn’t have any speaking lines in the short film, I never realized Losten wasn’t American.  I was pleasantly surprised by her accent.)  I’m not going to give anything big away.  I just want to say that the film’s monster/ghost/supernatural being is very well done, and the opening put everyone on edge.

I believe I heard more than a few screams and jumps within the first 10 minutes.

After the opening, Teresa Palmer stars as Rebecca, the daughter of Sophie, a bipolar woman played by Maria Bello.  Sophie’s mental issues interfere with the raising of Rebecca’s little brother, and Rebecca must get involved to help her brother get out of the sad situation.  Of course, this is a horror movie, so we know this situation involves an evil entity.  And if you’ve seen the trailers, you know the entity causes some problems in their family life.

I don’t want to spoil the movie, so I don’t want to go further into detail.  I will say that the effects, music, and acting make this one a must-watch.