Monthly Archives: August 2016

Don’t Breathe

MV5BMTg5ODA3MDkyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjU5MzczOTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Often, I am loath to say that you should go into a movie not knowing anything, especially if it is a genre film. Once you warn people not to know anything, it’s a short jump to “there must be a big twist!” and an even shorter jump to “oh, I know what the twist is, sigh.” Luckily, the nature of the one line synopsis of Don’t Breathe and its particular horror genre[1] conspire to make it possible for me to get away with ignoring my own advice.

So, in one two lines: a girl, her thuggish boyfriend, and the nice guy who wants to take her away from all this have formed an intimate crime ring, committing small-time burglaries in and around a Detroit that has not yet gotten the memo that Detroit is being rebuilt. They think they’ve found one last big score, enough to actually take [them] away from all this, in the form of a blind veteran sitting on top of a huge lawsuit settlement; except, this being a horror movie, it is inevitable that something will go wrong. There, that gets you through the first ten minutes and into the meat of the story.

It’s impossible not to think of It Follows[3], and equally impossible not to wonder if Michigan is trying to make itself a horror film production mecca or instead is really frustrated that nobody is taking their attempts to rebuild Detroit seriously, and they keep taking advantage of what urban decay remains, instead. Plus, thinking about things like that acts a pressure valve, because remember the ratcheting tension I mentioned in the footnote? This is one hell of a movie, and you might find yourself in need of occasional relief.

There is a feminist angle to the movie that I wish I could talk about without it being a massive spoiler, but it is, and I can’t. I mean, unless someone were to ask me about it in person or in the comments here, because those are fair game for spoilers.

[1] I quibble with the advertising here, though. This is definitely a thriller type movie way more than horror. Horror movies are a) usually supernatural in nature or at the minimum obsessed with a high body count and b) regularly break tension with jokes or misleads[2]. Thrillers, contrariwise, are allowed to ratchet the tension tighter and tighter with no obligation towards a release before someone (audience or cast, doesn’t often matter which) breaks.
[2] Like the cat in the cabinet. Whew, it was just a cat! You know the one I mean.
[3] Without bothering to compare plots, you should know that while the score for Don’t Breathe isn’t even in the same league, the sound editing is amazing; it won’t get an Oscar nod, but it might deserve one.


MV5BMTIyMDEyMjY3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTg3NDEzMQ@@._V1_A thing I had never gotten around to watching is the Japanese movie that inspired The Ring. I was pretty much saving it, maybe for a marathon? I don’t know. See, I’ve got this box filled with horror movies on DVD that I collected over the course of the Oughts, and for a good chunk of that time it sat in my car so I’d have it with me when I went places. Mostly the only person who would put up with the kinds of movies that went into the box was my oldest friend, Jeff. So, occasionally movies would be watched (Mulva: Zombie Ass-Kicker, anyone?) and removed from the box, only to be replaced by others. And then I managed to lose the box for most of a decade, as a consequence of a move in late 2006. (Or I lost it later than that in my garage of doom, because of all the other boxes that really did languish there for most of said decade? Either way.)

But I found it during last year’s move, hooray! Only, most of the time since then, Jeff was in and out of hospital rooms until, y’know, he stopped being in and out of hospitals, so the box has languished in a storage closet once again, Ringu and its many sequels (not to mention dozens of other, mostly worse movies) still unwatched. But for some reason, I thought of it after we watched As Above, So Below last weekend, and we made a double feature of it.

Anyway, it was pretty much exactly the same as my memory of The Ring, so there’s not a lot to say in terms of review. In case you don’t know, there’s a VHS tape that, when you watch it, you die seven days later. And nobody knows why! I could digress on the laughability of VHS being applicable to modern life, but a) I’ve done this before, b) the movie is nearly 20 years old, and mostly c) my heart’s just not in it. Too busy being sad about how full the horror movie box is, and how long it sat there, thinking it had all the time in the world.

As Above, So Below

MV5BMTQzNzg0NDI2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzgxNzY2MTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,631,1000_AL_Perhaps it’s because I’ve been playing Rise of the Tomb Raider[1], but As Above, So Below struck me as only barely a horror movie, despite that being the most obvious genre it contains. See, there’s this self-funded multiple-PhD, multiple-language archaeologist who saw her father commit suicide and is now trying to prove he wasn’t crazy after all, by finding a certain stone once owned by noted philosopher Nicholas Flamel. I trust the parallels are mostly obvious?

Anyway, pretty much the rest of the movie is spoiler towne, except the first sliver of premise, which is that she has decided the place to look for said stone is in the catacombs beneath Paris. If you were to guess that not everything goes according to plan… well, like I said, that way spoiler towne lies. But seriously: it’s a solid thinky movie with yes, some scares and yes, some blood, but it’s a lot more thinky and adventure archaeology than it is horror. You might just dig it be into it!

Oh, also, found footage subgenre.

[1] Review forthcoming, but not for a good long while


41gFgp0FhpLThree years between Anita Blake books this time. Oops, I guess? I should read things I like next, clearly. Anyway, Flirt was quite a bit better than its predecessor, despite having an equally inexplicable cover. (For one thing, the title actually makes sense.) But the main reason for this is how short it is. Hamilton did not have enough time to throw in the authorial tics that have made me twitch so much, more than once or twice a piece; and the plot doesn’t have time to get buried up its own ass. There is a pointless chapter early on that exists solely to be a mislead about what’s actually going on once the mystery murdery part kicks into gear in the second half, but otherwise: no wasted space. I am impressed.

But it really is a book mostly premised on flirting, which is bad enough if you’ve read the rest of these. It’s also a book in which Anita must once again regretfully use her vampiric sex magic to make some other were-animal fall helplessly in love with her, thus further complicating her life (just as if the enslaved guy doesn’t have, y’know, bigger problems). Pretty much par for the course.

If the huge moral event horizon she crossed (unrelated to mental enslavement, no less!) were going to pay off in future books, I think I’d be more interested in what comes next? Nonetheless, this is still one of only two good books I can remember in this series since it made that original hard left turn into awfulness. I’d give you links here, but I don’t want to dig through my past reviews finding them, as it would only waste that much more of my life than I’ve already burned through.


Powers: The 25 Coolest Dead Superheroes of All Time

51MZiHDIU8LThe last Powers book had a giant cliffhanger, right? Well, the 100% randomly named The 25 Coolest Dead Superheroes of All Time starts a year later. Some cliffhanger, guys! Aside from that letdown and the complete incongruity of the name compared to anything that happens[1], though, the plot was perfectly cromulent and pushed things a lot further forward than I would have guessed.

I… thought I’d have more to say, but then I realized a laundry list of plot elements being resolved is kind of massively spoilerish, so I won’t be doing that. But still, pretty much every outstanding thread has been resolved, in ways that I was entirely satisfied by. That said: not loving Christian Walker’s new partner. Maybe next book? Because to be fair, she was set up as a bit of an antagonist from the first page, this time out.

[1] It was a line from the book, during a schoolyard conversation. But still completely detached from any plot point or theme I could detect. I think someone was just proud of the line. That said: man, a lot of superheroes die in this world. Not like Marvel at all!

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

51g6GKymFKLAt long last, I’ve played another Assassin’s Creed game. I must be at least four behind now? And at some point they get terrible, though I do not know what point that is. Anyway, Revelations (the last of the Ezio Auditore trilogy) was still a good game, so that’s nice.

Well. I mean, it was a good game. That part is true. All kinds of new toys to play with, the same climbing and running and jumping and assassinating fun from the previous two games, plus a satisfactory ending to Ezio’s story and both a nod to how terrible AC1 was plus a satisfactory ending to Altaïr’s story to make up for it. Gameplay, 16th century storyline and 12th century storyline, all of these were firing on all cylinders. Best Assassin’s Creed game yet.

Except… so, the ending of Brotherhood pretty much blew me away. It was a huge out of nowhere plot twist for Desmond’s story (he’s the guy in modern times that is reliving the genetic memories of his ancestors) that was simultaneously a huge cliffhanger. And for that part of the story… I mean, just nothing. Everyone seemed to treat it as no big deal and not worth mentioning, and I’m left clawing for answers that I suppose will never be forthcoming.

So that’s lame, and inevitably colors the whole experience. Alas.