Thursday, October 22, 2020

Spook Out! Day 22 ~ The Lodge (2019)

IMDb Says...
"A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé's two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place."

I Say...
"Village" implies there are other folks nearby--there aren't. And as far as I could tell, relations never really thawed or perhaps things might've gone a bit differently...

Horror Type...
Psychological Horror, Thriller

Main Players...
Riley Keough as Grace (Childhood Trauma Survivor)
Jaeden Martell as Aiden Hall (Tech-Savvy Big Bro)
Lia McHugh as Mia Hall (Sweet Lil Sis)

I liked...
  • the acting, which was phenomenal--really excellent work done by all (including Alicia Silverstone in an all-too-brief cameo)
  • how the tension's at an "11" from the jump and doesn't let up and,
  • that, though this is a slow-burn, I was engrossed straight away and throughout
  • the atmospheric setting of the titular lodge

The Meh...
  • The dad is a self-absorbed, unethical, thoughtless, irresponsible, selfish prick, and a disgrace to fatherhood. His fate was too good for him. Richard Armitage did such a great job in this role that he's almost put me off him completely.
  • At one point we see Grace emerge from the shower, and she wraps a towel around her waist but leaves her breasts exposed. Gratuitous much? There was absolutely no need for that kind of exploitive bs.

Would I recommend it...?
I've lost count of how many podcasts I've had to listen to in order to process the ick The Lodge dredged up. This movie is bleak, y'all. Buh-LEAK. Abandon all hope if you choose to watch it, or prepare to be robbed of it. I found this film utterly unnerving; my shoulders were constantly up around my ears and arriving at the end did not lower them. I was left with a sick feeling in my gut that's not yet dissipated fully.

This is an excellent movie. It's a study of PTSD, the need for present parents who are active in their children's lives, and a dire warning of what happens when people aren't given access to the care they require. As a horror movie, it ably did its job without any of the trappings expected of the genre--and yet here I am, thoroughly horrified by it.

Horror fans into jump scares and gore may find this a bit toothless. The faint-of-heart should exercise extreme caution in approaching it. Trigger warnings for: a suicide (shown as it happens), footage of mass suicide victims (after the fact), children in peril, an animal death (after the fact), cults, and gaslighting.

Miscellany...
Riley Keough (Grace) is the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, and the eldest granddaughter of Elvis. Like her ma and grandpa, Keough is not only attractive but has a lovely singing voice (which she displays in the movie, to chilling effect).

Ratings...
My Grade: A-
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=74%, Audience Score=51%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched The Lodge on Hulu (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other streaming platforms)




This concludes Day 22 of


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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Spook Out! Day 21 ~ Lights Out (2016)

Amazon Says...
"A young woman and her step-brother are terrorized by a malevolent spirit that only appears when the lights go out."

I Say...
Perfect summary.

Horror Type...
Supernatural Horror

Main Players...
Teresa Palmer as Rebecca, aka Becca (Super Big Sis)
Gabriel Bateman as Martin (Brave Lil Bro)
Alexander DiPersia as Bret (Loyal Wanna-be-Boyfriend)

I liked...
  • that the "rules" regarding the creature are quickly established, and they're pretty simple (though we later learn of a big one that's a real doozy)
  • the relationship btw Becca and Bret; it doesn't overwhelm the story but provides a lovely little subplot of sweetness. I also enjoyed that it was the gal in the dynamic who was the commitment-phobe, for a change
  • that gorgeous freaking house! Me want-y!
  • that it was a brisk, well-paced one hour and twenty-odd minutes of steadily and evenly unraveling yarn
  • the unique (IMO) "monster" idea

The Meh...
  • The prejudice shown against someone into a rock'n'roll-kinda lifestyle got up my nose. Really, someone's irresponsible bc she's got heavy metal rock posters on her wall? Give me a freaking break...
  • Spoilers and Trigger Warning for suicide ahead; click and highlight between the red colons to read :: A mentally ill character winds up completing suicide as a method of eliminating the creature plaguing them all. This development fills me with all sorts of squick and I wish they'd stuck with the plan of trying to get the character back on the prescribed medication that wasn't being taken. On the other hand, it is a true-to-life development, in some cases, and can serve as a reminder for us to keep checking in on loved ones and friends, to make sure they're caring for themselves appropriately. ::

Would I recommend it...?
Sure! It's (mostly) a fun little nightmare for your Halloween season, with low-level scares throughout and a handful of big jumps strategically placed. I doubt it goes hard enough for hardcore horror fans, though it might be a bit much for the super sensitive.

Miscellany...
  • This feature's an expanded version of a short film by director David F. Sandberg. The short stars Sandberg's wife, Lotta Losten, who also has a cameo in the opening scenes of the feature film (I love that she was in it, using some of what she did in the short also in the feature). I have to admit that I find the short, which I first watched some years ago, utterly terrifying (in a way that the feature film isn't, for me). Never thought something under 3 minutes in length could have such a big bite, but that bad boy legit made me lose a night of sleep. I've embedded the short at the very end of this post but urge the sensitive to exercise caution--at the very least, don't watch it around bedtime!
  • I freely admit that, for years, I have slept with a dimmable lamp on its lowest setting, and I don't care who knows it. 😎

Ratings...
My Grade: B+
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=76%, Audience Score=61%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched Lights Out on Amazon (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other streaming platforms)



This concludes Day 21 of


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Here's the short film upon which the feature film is based.
PLEASE DO NOT WATCH IF YOU'RE SENSITIVE TO SCARY STUFF!
(Yea, verily, for I am not kidding!)




Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Spook Out! Day 20 ~ Light as a Feather (Hulu Series, Two Seasons, 2018 - 2019)

Hulu Says...
"An innocent game of “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” goes wrong when the five teen girls who played start dying off in the exact way that was predicted, forcing the survivors to figure out why they’re being targeted - and whether the evil force hunting them down is one of their own."

I Say...
That's about the size of it.

Horror Type...
Teen-Horror-Drama, Supernatural, Body Horror, Thriller

Main Players...
Liana Liberato as McKenna Brady (21st C. Nancy Drew-Type)
Haley Ramm as Violet Simmons (Shy New-Girl You Love to Hate)
Brianne Tju as Alex Portnoy (True-Blue BFF Who Shoots First & Asks Questions Later)

I liked...
  • the strong female characters--good, bad, and whoo-boy-hella-bad--who drove the plot along by taking action every step of the way (even when they made bad choices, they were still actively choosing, which I really enjoyed)
  • that the male characters were sensitive and supportive of the gals while still being active players
  • the series' creativity and imagination--it went places I wouldn't have thought to go in a million years
  • that good and evil were in a battle, yes, but were presented as nuanced and not so easy to pigeon-hole
  • that each episode spanked along at a brisk 22-25 minutes, delivering a tightly-plotted tale that kept me hungry for more
  • that the horror was played for genuine scares and the show didn't degrade into smarmy camp like some TV-horror shows do

The Meh...
  • as a parent it does make me roll my eyes at how most adults in the series are either pretty useless or just not around (but, to be fair, it is written for teens, which I knew going into it, and the adults have to be lame so that the kids can be active protagonists, I geddit, I geddit)
  • some episodes were a little too brisk in the first season and would've benefitted from a slightly longer format (or maybe just more episodes, as we get in season 2)
  • now and again, there's some lazy writing. For instance, in one episode, the old "you have to wait 48 hours to report a missing person" nonsense reared its ugly head--this simply isn't true and I really wish writers would stop trotting out this irresponsible twaddle. Please, if you seriously suspect someone's missing, REPORT IT IMMEDIATELY!

Would I recommend it...?
Totes! I found Light as a Feather a unique, engaging horror series, in the vein of Stephen King's It or Netflix's Stranger Things, only these kids are old enough to drive cars, instead of having to ride bikes. As this excellent IndieWire review says of the first season, "Light as a Feather is Hulu’s teen horror adventure with a mystery as engrossing as it is grotesque, and just creepy enough to scratch that Halloween itch without keeping you up at night." If you're of an extremely delicate disposition, you may wish to look away from the body-horror elements when they arise (I seem to recall there always being a sign that it was coming and that there was ample time to avert my gaze, when I needed to). (Yes, OK, even I needed to, toward the very end of season 2. I'm watching this stuff all by my lonesome, gimme a break.) (Sheesh!)

Miscellany...
  • the second season finale may also have to serve as a series finale (some websites report that the show has been cancelled). It did wrap things up in a satisfying way, but also left a few threads that could easily be woven into another season. Hulu, if you're reading this, PLEASE GIVE US A THIRD SEASON! (I'll be your best friend!)
  • the series is based on the book by the same title by Zoe Aarsen

Ratings...
My Grade: B+
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=50%, Audience Score=81%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched Light As A Feather on Hulu (it's also available for purchase on Amazon)




This concludes Day 20 of


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Monday, October 19, 2020

Spook Out! Day 19 ~ The Invisible Man (2020)

IMDb Says...
"When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see."

I Say...
I listened to part of a podcast where one of the hosts complained that the movie was about a battered woman, not the invisible man, and to some extent he's got a point--I agree that this movie's more "about" her than it is "about" him. But, to paraphrase one of his co-hosts (a woman), the invisible man made himself felt in every frame of this movie--and I agree with her as well. Anyway, it's a reimagining, not a remake, of the 1933 film by Universal Pictures.

Horror Type...
Psychological Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Main Players...
Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia Kass (She Gets Knocked Down but BOY, Does She Get Back Up Again!)
Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Adrian Griffin (The Titular Prick-Weasel)
Aldis Hodge as James Lanier (Hunky AF SFPD Detective)

I liked...
  • Elisabeth Moss' award-meriting work. DANG, GIRL!!!!! We're not shown what her character's boyfriend did to make her drug him so she could leave him in the dead of night, but she conveys PTSD so successfully that we don't need to see the abuse to believe it was brutal
  • how the movie starts with off-the-charts tension and doesn't let up till...well, it just doesn't let up!
  • that, though there's not really a lot of humor in this, there's one memorable line that made me bark a laugh, for which I was grateful
  • how cleverly Cecilia went about proving the improbable, even during moments of great duress
  • that they don't try to make a romance happen btw a woman recovering from an abusive relationship and the fella whose home's currently serving as her safehouse. They're good friends, and nothing else--well done!
  • Aldis Hodge's arms--they should *totally* get their own credits...

The Meh...
This sucker's, like, two hours long and--with respect--though there was tension throughout, after Cecilia left Adrian at the start of the movie, it kind of dragged for about an hour...till a *very* memorable restaurant scene (gave me chills!), after which the paced picked up and spanked along till the end. Still, that first hour!

Would I recommend it...?
It's a great thriller (after that first hour!) with a satisfying ending, but probably extremely triggering for anyone who's been stalked and/or in an abusive relationship. There are a few bloody bits, but they're quick. 

Miscellany...
...but did I mention Aldis Hodge's arms???

Ratings...
My Grade: B+ (the + is for Aldis Hodge's arms)
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=91%, Audience Score=88%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched The Invisible Man on Amazon (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other streaming platforms)




This concludes Day 19 of


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Sunday, October 18, 2020

Spook Out! Day 18 ~ Happy Death Day (2017)

Amazon Says...
"A woman relives the day of her murder over and over in this slasher twist on 'Groundhog Day'."

I Say...
^Nailed it!

Horror Type...
Slasher, Horror Comedy

Main Players...
Jessica Rothe as Theresa "Tree" Gelbman (BirthDeathday Girl)
Israel Broussard as Carter Davis (Stand-Up Guy)
Ruby Modine as Lori Spengler (Baker Roommate)

I liked...
  • Jessica Rothe's work in this--she carried the whole thing like a BOSS and seemed to have a really great time doing it. Go on with your bad self, girl!
  • how the humor played out, without cheesing things up
  • how Tree starts off as unlikable but we grow to care about as she grows (even if she has to die a few times to do it)
  • the puzzling aspect of trying to identify the killer(s???)
  • that, unlike in Groundhog Day, each re-lived day (specifically, being murdered each day) took a physical toll on Tree, which lent some urgency to the need to solve the time-loop problem
  • how grief was explored, without being heavy-handed

The Meh...
The Who was interesting but the Why was kinda flimsy--it meant earlier bits didn't make too much sense, but then, it's not that heady a movie, if you know what I mean.

Would I recommend it...?
Yeah, man, this comedy-mystery-horror-romp is loads of fun! You can sink right into it for your Halloween kicks and still get to sleep easily. (Probably.) Mild jump scares only, and the death-scenes aren't really gory (or even shown in great detail, from what I recall). It may be a bit too light on the scares for hardcore horror fans, tho.

Miscellany...
The director, Christopher Landon, is one of (the late) Michael Landon's sons. (Yes, Pa-Ingalls-Michael-Landon!). AND bitch sorority sister, played by Rachel Matthews, is one of Michael Landon's grandchildren!

Ratings...
My Grade: B+
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=71%, Audience Score=66%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched Happy Death Day on Amazon (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other streaming platforms)




This concludes Day 18 of


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