First things first: ugh, commercials. Like, I dislike them, sure, that’s fine, so does everyone. But there’s a qualitative difference between a show made with commercial breaks in mind, and a movie. Hell, even old school movies on network television, they had people with talent who selected break points as naturally as possible. Modern streaming services with commercials, though… man. It’s just so bad.
Anyway, though, I did watch a movie, despite the many travails involved. Fido exists in relatively unexplored territory: this is the zombie post-apocalypse. Humans won, at least sort of? According to the instructional film at the beginning of the movie, our species continues in walled safe zones, controlled by ZomCon, who has also developed a collar to keep zombies under control. Upshot: sure, the world’s a mess, but in the places where people are alive, they’re thriving. Zombies keep the houses in order, they keep the factories running, they keep the parks clean, and so on, leaving everyone else free to live out their 1950s utopia.
Enter one lonely neglected boy and one newly acquired zombie manservant, mix in a few hilarious mistakes, and there you have it. Black comedy, with zombies! But seriously, it was pretty funny. It was for sure the funniest Carrie-Anne Moss has ever been.
Obviously, they can’t all be winners. But what hurts is when I can see the way to… okay, that’s an unfair claim. It Stains the Sands Red was never going to be a winner. Let me start over.
See, there’s this zombie apocalypse in progress, as usual. And there’s a Vegas stripper who finds herself crossing the desert, trying to reach an airplane to a beach in Mexico, where for some reason things are safe? Best not to dwell on that part, I’m sure. The thing is, there’s a zombie following her across the desert, for the reason zombies do such things.
All of this is the core of a pretty good movie, right? Minimalist cast: one protagonist, two foes (the zombie and the desert), and from there it’s just endurance and determination. Whoever has the most, wins. And if they had made a 70-75 minute movie with that core, I think I would have gotten past my first act eye-rolling and accepted it for what it was.
Instead, they added a pointless plot complication in the second act, and also a pointless third act to resolve the complication. So, on the whole, ugh. And while that’s not my only complaint, it’s the only one that doesn’t have big spoilers. So I’ll leave it here, wishing they’d made the movie I can see in my head instead of the one I could see on the screen.
You know those movies where people make one or two bad decisions, and things spiral irretrievably out of control?
The Corpse of Anna Fritz is just such a movie. See, there’s this really popular young actress, and she dies at a party. Later, a morgue attendant lets his truly douchetastic friends know that her body has arrived at his hospital, and they of course want to see her. Once they do, well, mistakes are made, and then that spiralling out of control thing happens.
It’s difficult to say anything else, because spoilers for the journey really removes any need for this movie to exist, and everything vague I can think of to add is either too clever by half or unintentionally offensive to myself, and therefore probably others. Possibly both at once.
I will say, although this has probably already been covered in paragraph two despite my vagueness toward the end, that if you don’t like things that are disturbing, this is not for you.
I haven’t rented a movie in, seriously, I don’t know when. But for some reason that does not appear to be network-related, I cannot stream 4k content from my media server to Plex on the Roku, and Google Play Movie’s rental price for 4k was 99 cents, which is basically at the can’t be beat level. And most importantly, I really wanted to get this in before the sequel.
All of which is to say I saw Happy Death Day last night. This is a movie with a stone simple premise: what if Groundhog Day was a horror movie? Otherwise, it’s got all the standard slasher movie tropes. Creepy mask? Mystery about who the killer is? High body count? Check, check, (sort of) check. There are one or two glaring plot holes, but, well: check, right? It comes with the territory.
I know I just bagged on another movie for being a rip-off, but this worked. Mainly I think because it was a rip-off into a new genre, while Bird Box was a rip-off in the same genre. Either way: worthwhile. Also, I fiddled with the settings a little more, and I think I fixed my 4k Plex stream. So that’s awesome! Plus, new experience, I have now had the movie I was reviewing playing in the background while I was reviewing it. ….which, come to think of it, is particularly apropos for this use case.
 Except, haha, not actually 4k because the Roku I have doesn’t support 4k for Google Play, even though it does for other channels. (Or else maybe Google Play doesn’t support the Roku I have. Potato, it’s annoying either way.)
An unfortunate true thing about Bird Box is that it is highly comparable to A Quiet Place. Both are post-apocalyptic, both deal with unknowable, alien(?) menaces that cannot be opposed, both focus on a small number of survivors plus children trying to find a way to improve upon the new circumstances that they have already survived.
The reason this is unfortunate is because A Quiet Place is so much better. I mean, that’s fine for me! But it’s unfortunate for Sandra Bullock and Netflix. Because the thing is, Bird Box isn’t bad. The wrapper story about a woman and two children blindfolded in a rowboat going down a river is creepy as all get out, in part because there’s no way to tell what the hell is going on and in part because Bullock really pulls off her caretaker on the edge of terror role well. You can’t even really tell if she likes the children, only that she’s going to keep them alive if she can, even though there’s no threat the camera can see that would explain why she’s worried. Which adds to the creepiness, like I said.
But where Bird Box really shines is the main sequence, told in flashbacks as they drift downstream, where first the apocalyptic incident is revealed, and then a group of people hunker down in a house to try to wait it out. It is… huh. I just realized that it’s basically an extended homage to Night of the Living Dead. Which is even worse news for Bird Box, because now it’s a mash-up of two superior movies, and it really serves no purpose at all.
I still liked it, but… man. That’s harsh.
 or rip-off of, if you prefer
 Man, people knew how to write movie taglines in the ’60s.
I’m not sure how I waited so long to start paying for Shudder.
This is not to say that Night of the Living Deb was some kind of revelation. It really was, just as you would guess from the title, mostly a cheap knockoff of Shaun of the Dead. There’s this cute redhead total spazz out on the town for the night, right? And she meets an engaged hottie in the midst of a break-up, and wakes up the next morning with no real memory of what happened, only now she’s in his house, and it’s super awkward, but also, oops, the zombie apocalypse happened overnight.
The biggest problem, I think, is that every actor who was not one of the two leads was at best phoning it in and more commonly just really bad. Also, the plot took a while to find legs enough to differentiate itself from Shaun beyond the “but with a lady!” twist that is I’m sure what got the investors (and lawyers!) on board. But by the beginning of act three, I actively enjoyed it instead of benignly tolerating, mostly because of Maria Thayer as Deb, who deserves a better career than she apparently has; I guess America gave away the spazzy redhead slot to Ellie Kemper before she knew there was only one such slot available to compete for.
 Which is to say, my type. I think this probably helped my overall opinion.
Let’s be frank: there was very little chance of me not liking a Halloween sequel starring Jamie Lee Curtis. While I think Alien is the best horror movie ever made, I think that Halloween II is the best horror movie sequel ever made. And the original is in the top five anyway, probably number two.
Given all that, I am of course a little disappointed that Halloween II got jettisoned from the canon. I understand why they did it, and I even approve. I think I’m willing to pretend that the one disputed fact is in line with these movies but that the events in the hospital are still canon. Because, it was so good.
Okay, enough about other movies. I appreciated a lot about what was going on here. They used the same font for the credits, of course the same music / composer, once again the only credit for Michael Myers was The Shape, there was even a dollhouse that I’ll swear was modeled on the original Myers home. What I’m saying is I appreciate attention to detail, and the moreso for the forty years gone since the original premiered.
Mostly, I liked the heart of the movie, this unstoppable collision between Laurie Strode and the boogeyman. It reminded me of Aliens in that way, now that I think about it. So, y’know, good company. And there’s a bit of style in taking the exact name of the movie that you are a sequel of. Halloween, and its sequel, Halloween. I dig it.
There are now thirty Walking Dead books. That’s nearly 200 issues of the comic, for values of nearly that are two to three years out. But still!
As has so often been the case since the war with the Saviors wrapped up, there is really only one important question that a reader of New World Order should have. “Is Kirkman telling a new story with this new group of organized people who seem to have actually restored civilization from the ashes of the zombie apocalypse, or is he about to rehash another ‘man is the real monster, so let’s watch Rick Grimes kick another opposing viewpoint’s ass!, but with a minimally new twist on events this time’ story. Which would make this round… four, I’m gonna say?
I actually do think it’s going to not be that simplistic, is the good news. Also the bad news, because now I’ve got my hopes up.
I ate too much yesterday. As a result, I watched a movie last night despite exhaustion, because I was too full to go to sleep. (I mean, to do so comfortably.) Unrelatedly, I finally got Shudder working again on my Roku. The intersection of these facts is that I watched a semi-random movie called Follow. It had an interesting enough plot description and was 78 minutes long, which was just about right for my needs.
There’s this bartender and his girlfriend who live together, and there’s also a girl at work who is way into the bartender, and an annoying guy at work who is an antagonist to the bartender. And, apropos of almost nothing, a weird neighbor teen who sings Christmas carols a lot. (Also, it’s the holiday season, which will be important in a moment.) Having established all this, plus some character beats about how the girlfriend is a bit morbid, we cut right to the point, which is where the intriguing description comes in. She has an early Christmas present for the bartender, one that he is not quite sure what to make of. Before he has a decisive reaction one way or the other, he blacks out and wakes up the next morning to learn that everything about his life has taken a hard swerve to the left.
Everything else (so, the remaining 70 minutes or so) is… well, I took it as a character study. Push a person in an unexpected direction, and then watch and see where they end up. And it worked pretty well for that. Another way to read it is as a study of madness and unreliable narration. At least, if you knew for sure what was going on for the first half of the movie, you’re more confident than I was! It’s tense, it’s spooky, it’s way dark, and… it’s pretty okay? The problem with a character study is you have to really accept the character. I understood him a little bit, but I’m not sure I liked him enough.
As you know, a new Stephen King book is out, which, cool and yay. To start with, yep, I liked The Outsider. I was engrossed from basically page two or three, even though it’s more dabbling in the crime and mystery genre, a la those three books that form the trilogy that he wrote over the past few summers.
Which is fine as far as it goes, it’s not like those books failed to delve in the paranormal and existential horror that is his stock in trade. And even if it didn’t, I love him for his grasp of human psychology in the face of adversity probably more than the majority of the bare plots anyhow.
The problem with the book is that I know exactly what it was, but to explain it would be just a massive spoiler of the central mystery, which I am willing to say went nowhere near the direction I expected when I was on that second or third page, all engrossed as I said to begin with.
So, I guess comment spoiler?