Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Spook Out! Day 28 ~ Session 9 (2001)

IMDb Says...
"Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back."

I Say...
Not just "seems"...

Horror Type...
Psychological Horror, Thriller

Main Players...
Peter Mullan as Gordon Fleming (The Boss)
David Caruso as Phil (Second in Command)
Stephen Gevedon as Mike (Curious Cat)

I liked...
  • the writing, acting, use of space, and lighting--excellent
  • that, even though it's a bit of a slow burn, it's engrossing and well-paced, and kept me eager/anxious for the big reveal
  • how it masterfully builds the dread, creepiness, and suspense factors
  • the intricacies of, and tensions within, the men's relationships with one another
  • that it's hard to know whom to trust/believe, and
  • that it's hard to know what's real
  • the nephew character, what a sweetie (I heart Oreos too, kid!)

The Meh...
  • The motivating force behind...things is left somewhat ambiguous. I hate ambiguity, boo!
  • Though the creep factor was high, the scare factor was not. A few jumps would've seasoned the movie nicely.

Would I recommend it...?
Yes, it's a clever little thriller for the Halloween season! Sensitives will enjoy that the violence is more implied than shown (mostly) and that there's not much gore, really.

Miscellany...
  • Session 9 was filmed on location at the former Danvers Lunatic Asylum in Massachusetts.
  • Peter Mullan (Gordon) also co-stars in this wonderful Britcom called Mum and plays just about the sweetest gruff guy you can imagine. The show's about loss, grief, picking up the pieces of your life, and finding love when you thought it impossible to love again. Oh, it's also about annoying relatives. It may not stream for free right now (I watched it on an Amazon channel to which I subscribe, BritBox) but can be rented or purchased outright--and it's so totally worth it! Highly recommend.

Ratings...
My Grade: B+
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=64%, Audience Score=63%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched Session 9 on Netflix (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other streaming platforms)




This concludes Day 28 of


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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Spook Out! Day 27 ~ A Serial Killer's Guide to Life (2019)

IMDb Says...
"A self-help addict unwittingly finds herself on a killing spree with her unhinged life coach."

I Say...
"Unhinged" or "Justifiably Put Out?" I can't quite decide...

Horror Type...
Serial Killers, Black Comedy

Main Players...
Katie Brayben as Lou Farnt (Doormat)
Poppy Roe as Val Stone (Stylish Killer)
Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Chuck Knoah (Smug Guru)

I liked...
  • the contrasting color and wardrobe choices that revealed so much about Lou and Val's characters
  • how masterfully Roe (the striking, forbiddingly fashionable Siouxsie Sioux of serial killers) and Brayben (the mousey, no presence wannabe self-help seeker) embody their roles
  • the dark, dry British wit
  • seeing the ironic rise of the meek, even if it was a bit murder-y
  • the great pacing with no waste, just one hour and twenty minutes of fine storytelling
  • that some of the ridiculous "self-help therapies" were good for a snort or two
  • how some characters repeated their self-help courses (bc they clearly didn't help, bc they're bunkum)

The Meh...
  • This one's spoilery, click/highlight the text between the double red colons to read :: One stop on the self-help tour was with a couple promoting self-realization through sound therapy. Lou and Val spent the night with them and learned that the wine they shared with the gurus had been doped with some sort of "herbal relaxer"--after which you see the screen go kind of fuzzy and the female of the pair dancing around with a dildo, the implication clearly that the couple intended to sexually violate their clients ::
  • Something happens here that always gets up my nose: they've got non-Americans playing Americans but there's something off about the accent that utterly smashes one's suspension of disbelief. One of the most telling words is "anything." Someone with a "standard" US accent would pronounce it "EHN-ee-thing," whereas the "standard" British pronunciation treats the "y" differently: "EHN-uh-thing." One of the gurus falls into this error and it just took me right out of the movie, at a critical juncture. ("Standard" bc there're regional differences in both countries, obvs.)

Would I recommend it...?
Yes, but with managed expectations. It's not really a horror movie (Amazon's Showtime channel categorized it as such, which is how I came across it) and it's not really LOL comedy, more like a "I watched the entire thing with an amused smirk and snorted a bunch of times, but it was a little sick here and there" kinda flick. It's a worthy indie, for sure, and I am totally looking forward to more from these cats!

Miscellany...
  • I feel there was a missed opportunity here, to have Val actually coach Lou on how to commit murder, asking her open-ended questions about how she felt she was growing through their spree, etc.. You know, play the "self-help for budding serial killers" thing straight, as it were.
  • This film was financed via a Kickstarter campaign!

Ratings...
My Grade: A- as a tightly knit Black Comedy, score for horror N/A
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=92%, Audience Score=58%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched A Serial Killer's Guide to Life on Amazon (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other streaming platforms)

There doesn't seem to be Wikipedia page for the movie, so I'll link some articles about it here (Beware, Thar Be Spoilers!):



This concludes Day 27 of


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Monday, October 26, 2020

Spook Out! Day 26 ~ Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Rotten Tomatoes Says...
"Artistic, sophisticated and centuries old, two vampire lovers...ponder their ultimate place in modern society."

I Say...
I mean, #same.

Horror Type...
Vampires, Horror Comedy, Dark Fantasy

Main Players...
Tilda Swinton as Eve (Not That Eve)
Tom Hiddleston as Adam (Not That Adam)
Mia Wasikowska as Ava (Enfant Terrible)

I liked...
  • some of the deeply profound thoughts expressed by the vamps, like suicidal Adam's poignant, "I needed a reflection, to see if it would echo back before..." Here, "reflection" is not the kind one seeks from a mirror, and the "before" implies his anticipated demise. Gave me chills, bc don't we all, on some level, seek to have something of ourselves reflected back from the world, to know we've made our mark, to know we'll be remembered?
  • Eve and Adam's relationship. They're so easy with one another, as folks who've known one another intimately for so long should be. They visibly cherish one another's company (the way they smoldered at one another when first reunited after a lengthy separation, W00F) and really appreciate the simple things they can do together, like play chess and dance in their living room. So lovely. 💜
  • Adam's relationship with his blood "dealer"--some fun moments in their interactions
  • how each vamp we meet has an innate, distinct skill
  • Adam's/Hiddleston's dreamy voice (though his hair's a fright)
  • the groovy soundtrack, which featured one of my faves:



The Meh...
  • For a horror comedy, it was light on both horror and comedy.
  • Plot? We don't need no stinking plot, bc...
  • ...this film busies itself packing in allusion after allusion instead. That can be fun, but here I found it masturbatory and shallow (shallow, bc none of it advances the story, nor does it reveal character, as far as I could tell). I mean, I just don't reckon sophisticated vampires who've been married to one another for centuries need to name drop so much with one another. All the references come off, to me, like the droopy winks your soused uncle aims at you over the Thanksgiving turkey after he's told That Joke (yes, again).
  • All the unanswered questions (why were Eve and Adam living apart, anyway? What's with the glove wearing? Why do all the vamps have such bad hair???)

Would I recommend it...?
It's a gorgeous mood piece with great music but as a horror movie, it's an anemic navel-gazer with no bite. (Puns fully intended.) Only at the very end, when Eve and Adam are desperate, do they frighten even a little bit. Those of sensitive dispositions are perfectly safe with this film. For a vampire love story with some actual scares, I'd recommend Let the Right One In or Let Me In. For a vampy love story with laughs, for my money you can't beat Love at First Bite.

Miscellany...
This is another Jim Jarmusch movie, the second one I've ever seen. The first, The Dead Don't Die, I reviewed earlier this month and I honestly can't understand how so many folks panned it but fawn all over Only Lovers Left Alive. Whatever, wank-boys'n'girls--up is down, day is night, vanilla is chocolate. You're all nuts. N.V.T.S. nuts.

Ratings...
My Grade: B as an art piece & vampire love story/C as a horror comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=85%, Audience Score=75%

Details, Schmeetails...
You can watch Only Lovers Left Alive on Amazon (among other places offering Starz)




This concludes Day 26 of


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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Spook Out! Day 25 ~ Nina Forever (2015)

IMDb Says...
"Suicidal Rob starts dating a colleague at the supermarket. But whenever they have sex, his dead girlfriend, Nina, pops up."

I Say...
And how!

Horror Type...
Supernatural Horror, Horror Comedy

Main Players...
Cian Barry as Rob (Grieving Boyfriend)
Abigail Hardingham as Holly (Definitely Not Vanilla)
Fiona O'Shaughnessy as Nina (Definitely Not an "Ex")

I liked...
  • how this movie doesn't content itself with simply pushing the envelope, but shreds that mfr to bits
  • the dark, dark humor
  • how Nina, the titular revenant, is rendered here: she's corporeal but rotting, she can speak intelligently (and oh, so sarcastically) but has difficulty moving under her own steam, she leaves everything (and everyone) that comes into contact with her coated by blood and ooze, and her movements are often accompanied by squishy sounds (which 🤢 but also 😂)
  • how Rob stays in touch with Nina's parents (though perhaps more than was healthy for any of them)
  • how Holly completes her course and becomes a BAMF paramedic (much is made of how young she is by Nina and, later, Nina's parents, so I really appreciate that Holly is shown to be capable and brave in a professional capacity), and
  • that this BAMF paramedic scene has therapeutic value for Holly, as well as for the person she helps in it

The Meh...
  • The plot's a bit thin--the main action (when sex isn't happening), is Holly and Rob trying to figure out how to keep Nina from reappearing...and that's it. Perhaps that's enough but I wanted a little something more.
  • Throughout all of the sexy-times, Holly's breasts are shown quite often, whereas not once are we shown Rob's wang--not when they're having sex (Holly's body's in the way), not when they're interrupted having sex (the sheet covers him), not when he enters a room while he's naked (the camera grazes over the tip of his pubic hair for a second but quickly rises up to his torso), and not when Holly's freaking bathing him, ffs! Meanwhile, the directors--male-gazey mfrs--waste no opportunity to show us Holly's tits (when she's undressing for sex, when she's having sex, when she's getting up after sex, when she's dressing after sex, ad nauseam). Look, I get it--nudity often accompanies sex, and bodies are beautiful to gaze upon, sure. SO FREAKING SHOW US ROB'S DICK, THEN!!!!! *Ahem*
  • I'd like some clarity on that ending.

Would I recommend it...?
Um...Well...I liked the movie, got a lot of chuckles from it, and enjoyed the thinking material it provides regarding grief and how we manage the baggage we accrue from previous relationships. But it's not for everyone. You need a strong stomach to handle the fact that some of the sexy-sex is borderline necrophilia, kinda. Sorta. It's hard to classify. It's more gory than scary, although the ending horrifies in its own way. Trigger warning for: the aforementioned sorta-kinda-necrophilia, a suicide attempt (aftermath shown), and gore-galore.

Miscellany...
Nina Forever came to my attention years ago because of Fiona O'Shaughnessy, whom I'd seen in Brit series Striking Out and My Mother and Other Strangers. I loved her unique voice, which is a bit beefier, or guttural here (I guess that's the kind of thing one might expect of a reanimated corpse). It's been a while since I've seen these but, if memory serves, her roles on these shows were on the smaller side--but they're still great programs (and My Mother... is currently free for Prime members).

Ratings...
My Grade: B+
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=94%, Audience Score=54%

Details, Schmeetails...
Watch Nina Forever on Amazon (and/or Shudder)




This concludes Day 25 of


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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Spook Out! Day 24 ~ Midsommar (2019)

Amazon Says...
"An American couple, their relationship foundering, travel to a fabled Swedish midsummer festival where they become trapped in a sinister nightmare."

I Say...
"Nightmare" is an apt descriptor, as there's a strong dreamlike quality to this film.

Horror Type...
Folk Horror, Arthouse Horror

Main Players...
Florence Pugh as Dani Ardor (Grief-Stricken Gal)
Jack Reynor as Christian Hughes (Kind-of-a-Jerk)
Vilhelm Blomgren as Pelle (Strangely Alluring MFR)

I liked...
  • a filming technique in which Christian's initially visible in a scene via his reflection (in a mirror, or in a turned-off TV monitor, for instance--there may've been more, but these two occurrences happened early-on in the film and caught my attention). In the two examples I give, he's having what you might call challenging conversations, and I think it's really interesting that the heart of his side of these moments are shown in his reflection, and not really him...or maybe it is really him...??? (Nice.)
  • that there are some great little jokes snuck in here and there
  • how the villagers express delight (they literally wave their hands in the air like they just don't care, sort of like "jazz hands")
  • Florence Pugh's work, which is just phenomenal. Brava!
  • a really great moment (which, OK, has a dark edge to it, but bear with me) in which we're provided with the best yardstick for measuring a person's claims of love for you (this scene is sandwiched between some really messed up stuff, but SWOON)
  • the way Dani gets kissed after a momentous event in the third act (even though I know it's by a hugely problematic person, but DOUBLE SWOON)
  • that there was equal-opportunity nudity (we've got dongs, ladies and gents!)

The Meh...
At two hours and twenty minutes, this film's a bit of an exercise in patience. On the one hand, I've sat through other longish films this Spook Out! season and complained about it--although I didn't feel the time passing quite so slowly in Midsommar, which is a testament to how the movie makes you care about Dani and what's going to happen to her. On the other hand, I do feel they could've trimmed down twenty or so minutes by eliminating repetitive scenes of trippy responses to drug use and stillness, and the like.

Would I recommend it...?
I did like it but have to admit, it's hard to classify. It's quite disturbing, at times gruesome and sickening, and there's quite a bit of tension and worry for Dani but I think there was only one moment when I felt a chill, and it wasn't all that intense. So I'm not sure it's a proper "horror" movie, but at the same time feel that sensitive folks would be adversely affected by watching it. At the very least, I can say that if you were ever curious about this movie, I can't think of a better time to watch it than around Halloween! Trigger warnings for: a murder/suicide (aftermath shown), other suicides (shown as they occur), live human sacrifice (shown as it happens), cruelty to animals (aftermath shown in vivid color!), a possibly coerced (certainly drugged) ritualistic sex scene, gaslighting, and moments of gore that really pack a punch!

Miscellany...
The film's director, Ari Aster, has famously called Midsommar "The Wizard of Oz for perverts." (I mean...kinda!)

Ratings...
My Grade: B+
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=83%, Audience Score=63%

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




This concludes Day 24 of


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Friday, October 23, 2020

Spook Out! Day 23 ~ Lovecraft Country (HBO Series, One Season, 2020)

Amazon Says...
"A man's journey in search of his missing father becomes a struggle to survive racist terrors and terrifying monsters."

I Say...
And that's only the beginning...

Horror Type...
Supernatural Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Main Players...
Jonathan Majors as Atticus Freeman (Soldier)
Jurnee Smollett as Letitia 'Leti' Lewis (Fighter)
Aunjanue Ellis as Hippolyta Freeman (Queen)

I liked...
  • how I was completely engrossed, caught up, swept away, and wrung tf out by this epic tale
  • the strength, energy, imagination, fortitude, and just all-around BAMF-ness of all the women: Letitia-Fucking-Lewis, Hippolyta Freeman, Ruby Baptiste, Ji-Ah, Diana Freeman--WHOO! So much to admire and emulate in all of them...
  • the acting, across the board, amazing work by all
  • the intricate storylines and details--it's got a kind of "monster-of-the-week" feel, in that there are episodes that seem distinctly unrelated to one another, or the story arc, but then it all comes together and your mind is blown by the creativity of the writers (I mean, DANG!)
  • the way the fantastical elements are seamlessly woven into "the real world" of the story
  • how, in my mind, this story is fundamentally about the love of, and love for, family

The Meh...
The most horrifying aspects of this are the violence dealt out in the name of white supremacy and racism. It's brutal, sickening. It's real. And it's still happening--there's nothing more terrifying than this.

Would I recommend it...?
YES. It's a wonderful work of art, a fine drama, an engrossing tribute to those who've gone before and fought the hard fight, and a guiding light for all who still fight. Amplify black voices and show Hollywood that WE WANT TO HEAR THEM!

NB: Lovecraft Country isn't a walk in the park, barefoot. There's a lot of suffering here. Some laughs, yes, and a few lighter moments, as well as some soaring triumphs. But there's savagery in it, make no mistake. Trigger warnings for: gore (and some of the most inventive gore I've ever seen in my life--hooo, boy!), extreme violence, rape (I hate to say that this was also inventive, given what it is, but it was...different in a way I'd never have expected), and children in peril.

Miscellany...
Lovecraft Country is based on the book by the same title, written by Matt Ruff (and which I have just ordered).

Ratings...
My Grade: A+
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=87%, Audience Score=71%

Details, Schmeetails...




This concludes Day 23 of


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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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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Spook Out! Day 17 ~ I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

Netflix Says...
"Nothing is as it seems when a woman experiencing misgivings about her new boyfriend joins him on a road trip to meet his parents at their remote farm."

I Say...
Yes. And no.

Horror Type...
Psychological Horror

Main Players...
Jesse Plemons as Jake (Diligent)
Jessie Buckley as Young Woman (Cerebral)
Toni Collette as Mother (Manic)

About the movie...
I can't tackle this movie as I have the others I'm reviewing this month, I'm Thinking of Ending Things defies the simplicity of stating things I liked vs things I disliked. This is a new kind of horror movie (to me), although for a good portion of it, you'll find that numerous horror movie conventions play out. After a while you begin to wonder if you've fallen asleep and are in a nightmare, or if someone spiked your drink, bc "WTF did I just see/hear and what does it all mean???"* becomes a common refrain in your mind as you watch. With apparent time shifts, weird coincidences, nonsensical name and wardrobe changes, as well as the dour, uncomfortable mood and creepy vibes, you question the very basis of reality in this movie world. And "What's really happening here?" is a good question. The key to arriving at an answer (that I didn't fully realize I had, until I listened to a few podcasts about the movie) is to ask, not what is this film about, but whom.

*But, at least, not like a WTF you'd ask watching the movie mother! 

Would I recommend it...?
Welp...if you like fiction that utterly messes with your mind, sure. If you like working out weird little puzzles, you bet. If you're not a super-sensitive type who cries during, like, long-distance phone service commercials, yeah. BUT if you're a cream puff (as I am) or suffer from any kind of depressive symptoms (as I do), maybe don't watch this, bc the horror here isn't solely psychological but existential, and the bitter end is sad af. If these latter conditions apply, please see if you can watch the movie with a good pal, someone you can go out for dinner/drinks with after, with whom you can dissect what you've just experienced.

There aren't any jump scares, and the acting is excellent across the board--but it's hella quiet and over two hours long, so it may have a pronounced soporific effect on you (yes, as it did on me, ngl--had to rewatch about the last 30-ish minutes or so bc Zzzzzz...). In a way, I'm kind of angry at this movie, as I feel the horror aspects are a bit bait and switch. On the other hand, in terms of how the story's told, it's rather genus genius.

Miscellany...
Both Jess-es/ies (and David Thewlis, who plays Jake's father) are Fargo (the TV series) alums; Plemons from season two, Buckley from the current fourth season, and Thewlis from season three. They're all brilliant, as is the show in all its particulars--truly prestige TV. I've yet to meet with a season I haven't loved. Highly recommend!

Ratings...
My Grade: B+
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=Not Available, Audience Score=Not Available

Details, Schmeetails...

I'll also link here the podcasts I listened to, to gain clarity on the movie. Spoilers abound, but these helped me shake off the jittery, uncomfortable vibes I had after I finished the movie.







This concludes Day 17 of


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Friday, October 16, 2020

Spook Out! Day 16 ~ Howl (2015)

Shudder Says...
"Passengers on a night train are attacked by a vicious creature out of folklore, and must band together in order to survive until morning."

I Say...
If only it were just "a" vicious creature...

Horror Type...
Werewolves

Main Players...
Ed Speleers as Joe (Humble Guard)
Holly Weston as Ellen (Love Object)
Elliot Cowan as Adrian (Treacherous Ass)

I liked...
  • how the basic horror story rule of isolating your characters with The Big Bad was applied--by stranding a train in the woods at night, and
  • how they made the most of this atmospheric, though stationary, setting to build dread
  • that the eight passengers, and two crew, managed to kill one of the beasties
  • that an older couple proved important to the plot--the gentleman stopped an early descent into panicked chaos and got the group to focus on survival, and his lady wife...well...I can't say, but she's something else!
  • the pacing, which was pretty good, and the even cycling of action with dialogue

The Meh...
  • The beasties were CGI, which I don't object to in principal, but that can lead to somewhat unlikely looking creatures--I mean, they gave me the heebie-freaking-jeebies, for realz, but I'd have liked some more practical effects, over the slick swiftness of digital. As well, they were peculiarly hairless, for werewolves.
  • One of the passengers takes on a difficult and dangerous task in order to get the stalled train moving, and that person's fate just goes to show that no good deed goes rewarded in a horror movie. 

Would I recommend it...?
Sure, it's a perfectly competent creature feature, and werewolf movies have been in short supply of late. But, given the weirdly awful political climate in which we've been living since 2016, it wouldn't surprise me if more appeared on the scene. Anyway, loads of jump scares here, and closeups of the critters (though just seeing their glowing eyes emerge from the dark woods is pretty terrifying), so sensitive types may wish to watch something like Jim & Jamie Dutcher: The Hidden Life of Wolves instead.

Miscellany...
The wonderfully gruff Sean Pertwee, alumnus of the most excellently chilling Dog Soldiers, has a (brief) cameo here!

Ratings...
My Grade: B
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=67%, Audience Score=36%

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


I've been putting a movie trailer just before
the closing of the blogpost more or less in this area,
however,
as the still shot for this movie's trailer
features a close-up
of a creature,
I've moved it to after the blogfest badge appears.
SO
if you are of a sensitive nature,
you may wish to stop reading here.


This concludes Day 16 of


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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Spook Out! Day 15 ~ The House That Jack Built (2018)

IMDb Says...
"The story follows Jack, a highly intelligent serial killer, over the course of twelve years, and depicts the murders that really develop his inner madman."

I Say...
I'm not sure I buy the "highly intelligent" bit, but otherwise it's an accurate summary.

Horror Type...
Psychological Horror, Serial Killer, Art Film

Main Players...
Matt Dillon as Jack, aka "Mr. Sophistication" (Architect of Destruction)
Bruno Ganz as Verge (Framing Device)

I liked...
  • that there were five distinct "incidents" (murders) which Jack discussed with Verge, to explain how he evolved in his "art"
  • the dark, mordant humor in the first two incidents, and that it reappeared for the fifth
  • the acting, all around, especially Matt Dillon (definitely award-winning work)

The Meh...
  • The framing device of Jack's (unseen) conversation with "Verge" often went off on long-ish tangents on such topics of art, poetry, Nazis,icons, and quite frankly I did not give a carp about any of that--especially since...
  • This movie's two and a half hours long! The time-consuming philosophical discourse could've easily been done away with, without injuring the film (but then I guess it wouldn't be a von Trier film? I dunno, this was my first.)
  • Spoilers ahead, double-click the dark to read :: It's true that serial killers may have a particular type of victim to which they're drawn, as in Ted Bundy (after whom Jack was largely patterned, it seems) who preyed upon young women with long dark hair. Here, though Jack tells Verge he's also killed men, we're shown more than 4 women being murdered (and, actually, some children) and only one man (in a kind of self-defense, so, not for pleasure). Toward the end, Jack's got about five men awaiting his cold-blooded mercies but their fates are left unknown--we're not shown Jack delighting in their deaths, as he does in those of the women, it's not even clear whether he kills them. So in this particular case, the killer didn't only target women--so why not show us how (if!) he murdered those five men??? I am just so fucking sick of women and children being disposable targets for men's bullshit. von Trier, and other male directors/writers/etc., have never had to worry about their tits being sliced off and made into wallets and it shows. ::
  • One more spoiler :: During some of Jack's conversations with Verge, we're shown a younger Jack mutilating an animal and some footage from concentration camps. Some other points, we see the horrible things Jack's done to the corpses in his walk-in freezer. There may have been further grotesqueries but I must've blocked them out. Frankly, I can't wait for this flick to evaporate from my memory. ::

Would I recommend it...?
The House That Jack Built is no traditional Hollywood horror movie, but it is filled with gruesome horrors that could probably turn all but the most cast iron of stomachs. It has some funny moments, but the humor is very dark indeed. If you dig the severely twisted, this movie's for you. Otherwise, you may wish to consider viewing the serial-killer mockumentary I reviewed last October: Behind the Mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon.

Miscellany...
Uma Thurman was great here, as the first (and most annoying) victim we're shown. I also enjoyed seeing the fabulous Siobhan Fallon Hogan reunited with Dillon, fellow alumnus from the creepy af Wayward Pines series.

Ratings...
My Grade: B
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=59%, Audience Score=65%

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

WARNING:
This trailer contains disturbing scenes of violence, actual and implied.
VIEWER DISCRETION IS STRONGLY ADVISED



This concludes Day 15 of


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IF YOU DARE