Sunday, October 13, 2019

Spook Out! Day 13 ~ The House at the End of Time (2013, In Spanish w/Subtitles)

Amazon Says...
"A mother imprisoned for 30 years for the murder of her husband returns to her home, but the supernatural events, which led to her crime, come to haunt her and reveal a sinister secret about the house."

I Say...
^The summaries I've read for this film are a bit of necessary misdirection, but to explain further would mean depriving you of the pleasure of discovering The House's mysteries for yourself. (So I won't.)

Horror Type...
Horror, Suspense, Family Drama, Fantasy

Main Players...
Ruddy Rodríguez as Dulce (Badass Mom)
Gonzalo Cubero as Juan José (Loser Dad)
Rosmel Bustamante as Leopoldo (Loving Son)

I liked...
  • Rodríguez's portrayal of the harried mom--financial worries and her sometimes annoying sons stress her to the max but you never doubt the love she feels for her kids (actually, she's just masterful in this, period)
  • the set design--I've never felt so twitchy watching a deteriorating house as I felt watching this one
  • the hot priest who seeks to offer Dulce spiritual solace (that's not a euphemism--he really is just a good guy doing his job)
  • how they take your basic haunted-house story and spin it into something wonderfully bizarre
  • the sweetness that emerges in the third act; it may seem hard to believe but this movie provides a heart-warming (though not treacly) ending I just love

The Meh...
  • the dad of the piece experiences a legit heartbreak but then seeks vengeance against a vulnerable innocent, which is totally believable but ugh
  • I feel like knowing something more of the experiences of previous tenants of the house would round out the narrative (but perhaps a sequel's in store that'll provide just that?)

Would I recommend it...?
Definitely watch this award-winning film! It has some good scares that aren't OTT, though there are moments of violence.

Miscellany...
The Spanish title is La casa del fin de los tiempos, which means "The House OF the End of Times." Not to split hairs but once you've seen the movie, you feel the difference.

Ratings...
My Grade: A
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=Not Available, Audience Score=72%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched The House at the End of Time on Amazon (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other host sites)


This concludes day 13 of

Spook Out! Day 12 ~ I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016)

Amazon Says...
"Christopher Lloyd stars in this thriller about a troubled teen who must hunt down a supernatural killer while battling his own inner demons."

I Say...
Kid fighting his own homicidal tendencies desperately tries to save the people he loves.

Horror Type...
Thriller, Serial Killer(s), Supernatural

Main Players...
Christopher Lloyd as Bill Crowley (Neighborhood Old Guy)
Max Records as John Wayne Cleaver (Budding Psycho?)
Laura Fraser as April Cleaver (Clueless Mom)

I liked...
  • the tension and suspense that totally kept me on edge wondering where this would all end (spoiler: somewhere I'd never have imagined)
  • the complex feelings evoked by worrying that Socio-Teen might snap while at the same time I grasped for the straws of humanity in his actions
  • being completely surprised by Christopher Lloyd in this role...and yet not
  • how cleverly the teen fought to keep from giving in to his darker urges (which had to be extra hard, given how his mom let him assist in the family business--a funeral home...the family that embalms together stays together?)
  • how Socio-Teen has the stereotypically-serial-killery three names (two of which belong to an actual serial killer--John Wayne Gacy--and one which the average American may recognize from the wholesome '50s sitcom Leave it to Beaver)
  • the Fargo-esque feel of the flick, from the snowy landscape to at least one character's broad midwest accent
  • the crazysauce twist at the end

The Meh...
  • the crazysauce twist at the end. I mean, I did actually enjoy it, but I didn't see it coming. (I defy anyone who didn't read the book this film's based on to say they did.) The full truth of Lloyd's character felt like it came out of nowhere. And also...
  • the mom went along with her kid's wackadoodle idea without coherent, or very much, explanation from her son (which was a refreshing change, in a way, from parents who just wave away when their kid's telling them about some grave, looming threat...but still...). Anyway, it didn't seem an organic progression, given what the movie shows of their strained relationship, as well as her concerns for his mental state

Would I recommend it...?
Dang right, and I can't wait to watch it again! (SO GOOD!)

Miscellany...
Christopher Frickin Lloyd, man. Uncle Frickin Fester!!!

Ratings...
My Grade: A
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=93%, Audience Score=61%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched I Am Not a Serial Killer on Amazon (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other host sites)
I Am Not a Serial Killer's Wikipedia Page (Contains Spoilers and some inaccuracies)


This concludes day 12 of

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Spook Out! Day 11 ~ Little Monsters (2019)

Hulu Says...
"A film dedicated to all the kindergarten teachers who motivate children to learn, instill them with confidence and stop them from being devoured by zombies."

I Say...
Man-child is surprised by zombie uprising while on a field trip with a group of five-year-olds and the baddest, ukulele-playing Kindergarten teacher Down Under.

Horror Type...
Comedic Horror, Zombies

Main Players...
Lupita Nyong'o as Miss Caroline (BAMF Teacher)
Alexander England as Dave (Man-child)
Josh Gad as Teddy McGiggle (Lewd, Crude, and Socially Unacceptable Kids' Show Host)

I liked...
  • Dave's character development--to me, it seemed natural and genuine, and I like the Dave who emerges in the third act
  • Miss Caroline's integrity and determination to protect her charges from the zombie horde (which I'm pretty sure was not in her job-description) while doing everything she could to make the kids feel safe
  • how Miss Caroline shed the sweetness-and-light persona (which is a true facet of her character) to wield a rake and a shovel, respectively, with deadly force when necessary
  • that, somehow, in addition to being a zombie movie, this is a feel-good romantic comedy...a Zom-Rom-Com!

The Meh...
  • about the first 20 minutes are a pretty straightforward exposition of Dave's hot-mess-life which, while interesting enough to watch, fails to give any hints as to how a zombie apocalypse is brewing
  • one of the ways Miss Caroline teaches the kids is through music. It becomes apparent that the zombie horde, amazingly, is still capable of responding to her singing--but this realization doesn't go anywhere meaningful. I thought it such an interesting idea for this kind of film that I was disappointed they didn't develop it further
  • I've got a feeling that "One-two-three, eyes on me!" will be my ear-worm for at least a week

Would I recommend it...?
Yes, it's a good time with a pretty satisfying resolution. It's light enough for folks who don't dig hardcore horror to enjoy (though there are some quick flashes of gory violence, as can be expected). Hardcore horror fans of a mind to be charmed may get a kick out of it as well.

Miscellany...
Can Lupita Nyong'o be my teacher? Please? I'll wash up before dinner without being told and eat ALL my veggies, I promise!!! (Seriously, she's fabulous in this.)

Ratings...
My Grade: B+
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=84%, Audience Score=100% 

Details, Schmeetails...
Little Monsters' Wikipedia Page (Contains Spoilers)


This concludes day 11 of

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Spook Out! Day 10 ~ Honeymoon (2014)

Hulu Says...
"Young newlyweds Paul and Bea travel to a remote lake cottage for their honeymoon, where the promise of private romance awaits them. Shortly after arriving, Paul finds Bea wandering and disoriented in the middle of the night. As she becomes more distant and her behavior increasingly peculiar, Paul begins to suspect something more sinister than sleepwalking took place in the woods."

I Say...
You can't say any more than that^ about the film without giving things away, so I won't.

Horror Type...
Supernatural, Thriller, Indie

Main Players...
Rose Leslie as Bea (Ginger Bride)
Harry Treadaway as Paul (Suspicious Groom)
Hanna Brown as Annie (The Gal Ain't Right)

I liked...
  • the slow, steady burn of weird
  • how close the newlyweds were
  • the remote setting--major creep vibes come gratis with a cabin in the woods, as we all know
  • the subtle ways in which the bride lets slip that all's not well with her (much to her chagrin)
  • how even as he's getting more and more freaked out, the groom's main concern throughout is his bride's well-being and how he can help her overcome whatever's troubling her

The Meh...
  • I can foresee some folks being put-off/growing restless with the slowness of this movie's burn (but it kept my attention and interest from start to stop)
  • while the couple's still in the first flush of their honeymoon, their schmoopiness* could be a little annoying to some viewers (*that's totally a word)

Would I recommend it...?
Yes, but take note: though it reaches a horrifying conclusion, the bulk of the film is "merely" unsettling, which may not satisfy hardcore horror fans. OTOH, in the third act there's a gory sequence which may not be appreciated by lighter fans of horror.

Miscellany...

Ratings...
My Grade: B+
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer= 75%, Audience Score=44%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched Honeymoon on Hulu (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other host sites)
Honeymoon's Wikipedia Page (Contains Spoilers)


This concludes day 10 of

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Spook Out! Day 9 ~ Hell House LLC (2015)

Shudder Says...
"In this found-footage gem, a documentary crew visit the site of a haunted house attraction whose opening night ended with 15 unexplained deaths."

I Say...
Documentary crews may wish to consider filming safer spaces. Say, Chernobyl or Death Valley.

Horror Type...
Supernatural, Thriller

Main Players...
Ryan Jennifer as Sara Havel (Token Girlfriend)
Danny Bellini as Alex Taylor (Driven CEO of Titular LLC)
Gore Abrams as Paul O'Keefe (Sweet Sleeper)

I liked...
  • the mood, which was palpable and consistently creepy throughout
  • that good use was made of lighting to produce feelings of dread
  • that some of the most effective scares were the simplest ones
  • the last 10-ish minutes of the movie, which were intense...

The Meh...
...but I can't say that they make Hell House LLC worth the watch. Look, I get that found-footage horror is choppy, and often what's most frightening is what you can't see as a result. But I call BS on that being used for long stretches, as happens here--on the ill-fated opening night, bits of tour-goers' recordings are pieced together to show how it all went sour, only they seemed to record mainly the ensuing chaos of freaked out people racing for exits. I watched this only hours ago and I can't say I have any idea what happened. Full disclosure: I have to admit to getting massively bored around the 50 minute mark and reaching for my phone. There are probably chunks of the film I didn't really pay attention to bc all the (long) non-horror bits were filmed with painstaking clarity and I just found large swathes of it tedious. Also, the four dudes of the LLC were heckin' bro-y and if I'd wanted that, I'd have watched Ghost Adventures.

Would I recommend it...?
Only to folks who really dig found-footage horror. Otherwise, pass.

Miscellany...
In the story, Hell House's opening night was October 8, 2009. If I'd watched this yesterday it would've been on the 10th anniversary of the events it depicts! 😨

Ratings...
My Grade: C-
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=89%, Audience Score=71%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched Hell House LLC on Shudder (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other host sites)
Hell House LLC's Wikipedia Page (Contains Spoilers)


This concludes Day 9 of