Tag Archives: horror

Gwen

So there’s this movie called Gwen, in which Gwen and her sister and her mother, and also her father (in flashbacks mostly), wander around the hills of 1850s Wales, either being happy when they’re all together or moody and atmospheric and brooding when they aren’t. Also, some other things happened?

The sad part is, I’m not even joking. I watched this movie a day or two ago[1] and kept trying to pay attention to it, but realized at the end that I legitimately had no idea what had happened, outside of my description above and one or two specific events untethered from any ongoing narrative, like, oh, those neighbors died of cholera, or, huh, all the sheep are dead.

So instead of writing a probably unfairly empty review saying that, I watched it again this afternoon. This time, I felt like I really had watched the whole thing, and I for sure picked up a lot more. Is it all a land grab? Is the mother crazy? Or possessed? Is there a mysterious third party causing all these problems? Like, there was nearly enough plot there to mix in with the moody atmosphere[2], but then I watched the climax of the movie, and, uh… what?

So I went and found the Wikipedia summary of the movie, and sure enough, I missed nothing at all. The stuff that happened is just the stuff that happened. Which is to say there’s a subplot I did not mention above because it did not seem to be the main driving force of the film, but then haha surprise I guess it was.

I think I’m trying to talk myself into having hated the movie, which I did not do. I’m not even unhappy I watched it twice. But it is for certain not the movie that I wish it had been. Because what I understand this to be is a tripod of beautiful and unsettling and prosaic.

[1] I don’t even know which. Time, man.
[2] Folk horror, they’re calling it. The Witch is another such example, and at least there I understand why that appellation applies? This was also a limited cast, moody photography, and minimal dialogue, but I’m not sure that makes it “folk”, in the sense of folk tales I had previously assumed.

Boar

Australia: home of drop bears, kangaroos that, if they get tired of beating you in boxing, can just eviscerate you, snakes that you die after a handful of steps trying to walk away from, rabbits the size of volkswagens, spiders that I can’t even, and now a boar the size of a Sherman tank. Plan a visit, we have lovely brochures and you will only spend a third of your vacation time in transit!

The only real problem with Boar is that (and here I am speculating as to the cause) the director’s family was too dang large. Because there are like four to six groups of characters running around doing things while this boar stalks them, and any time you start to feel connection to the characters, the scene changes away from them for twenty minutes, and then once they finally come back to start getting killed off, you’ve forgotten why you care.

I think the boar may have been the hero of this movie, and I just missed it until now?

But seriously, a slightly leaner movie with half the size of the cast and the remaining characters spending more time getting developed and/or running away would have been perhaps brilliant. Plus, they had the guy from Wolf Creek who I now assume is just cast in all Australian horror by default, because why wouldn’t he be, and an enormous giant of a man whose last name is probably Ayers, since I would describe him as the Australian Rock. (I briefly thought he might be the hero of the film, but then he betrayed me by playing and singing along to “Ice Ice Baby”.)

Bloody Birthday

Bloody Birthday is one of the best standalone ’80s horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. See, there are these three kids who were all born on the same day, during an eclipse. And now it’s ten years later, and those three kids are stone cold killers. Do you really need anything else?

The answer is mostly yes, if what you need is a series of pretty good kills, gratuitous teen sex, gratuitous peephole of Julie Brown’s[1] bedroom, an extended game of cat and mouse between three 10 year olds and their babysitter but in the opposite direction of usual, and the nerdy sidekick from Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, a show which let’s be honest nobody remembers ever existed, in the darkest, most hardcore role of his career.

Or, if you need an astrological reason for the soullessness of the murder trio, man, the answer was no, you did not need that, and especially I did not need that. That is five minutes of dialogue and footage I will never get back, during which the murder kids could have found another teen sex to coitus interrupt with another creative weapon. Alas.

[1] Earth Girls are Easy and “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun”, not the VJ.

The Ranger (2018)

Sometimes, a movie is exactly what you expect it to be from the poster. Which is nice in terms of proper expectation setting, but is pretty damn tricky in finding something meaningful to say outside of the picture already being worth a thousand words, or in this case 77 minutes of celluloid[1].

The Ranger, then, is the story of a bunch of asshole kids hiding out in a national park after they did some crime, and also the pink-haired final girl has history with the park ranger.

The best thing was all the park regulations as murder one-liners. The worst thing was the dark history, because it was ultimately meaningless. Like, I’m sure the writer had some idea of what was supposed to be there, but it dd not translate at all. Result: schlocky slasher fun that should have aimed for fewer pretensions, alas.

[1] haha jk I’m sure this was digital. Come on: 2018.

Living Dark: The Story of Ted the Caver

As alluded to recently, the movie I watched last night was based on a creepy internet website from let’s say 2001. Living Dark, as both said website and the subtitle of the film proclaim, tells the story of Ted the Caver, when he found a tiny passageway leading to an untouched, or “virgin” as the caving community would have it, series of caves, and decided to get in there and see what was on the other side.

The movie, necessarily, has more going on than just someone’s caving blog would. There’s a family drama tied into it, and, later, a resolution to the cave exploration. The resolution part is the problem. Partly because I liked it better when [spoiler removed] did it, but mostly because I liked it better when the website did it. There’s always something to be said for letting your imagination run away with you, and unspecified supernatural phenomena are a great way for that to happen. However, it is also something easier to get away with in text than on film, so I understand why they had to do something more specific here.

And within the constraints of an answer, this was a decent answer and outcome for a creepy cave movie to have. But the website is better.

If It Bleeds

I don’t know if you know this about very small children, but they take up a lot of your time. That’s not the only reason the number of books I’ve read in the past month totals one, but it’s definitely high up on the list. But: when Stephen King arrives on my doorstep, I persevere and do the thing.

If It Bleeds is a novella collection whose stories are each largely concerned with mortality. Which is certainly timely, although I’m not sure it’s what I would have asked for as my leisure reading during the [first?] summer of Covid-19. But it also makes sense that an aging prolific author is thinking about death. Like, natural causes death, not horror fiction death, which to be fair he has always been thinking about.

The title story has the least to do with this theme; it is instead another Holly Gibney mystery story, and I liked it, but it’s hard to feel like it belonged. But weighing in at half the length of the book, it was good to not overstuff it into a full-sized book, and it had to go somewhere? As for the other stories: The Life of Chuck was the most ambitious, and while I don’t think it quite hit the mark, I have a lot of respect for the story it was trying to tell. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone continues King’s fascination with the dark cracks in modern technology through which supernatural horror can slip. And Rat is yet another in a long line of stories about authors in dire straits. But, well, write what you know, I’m told? And he is pretty good at that particular topic!

Anyway: if you ever thought he had it, he’s still got it.

Monster Party

Monster Party is a pretty weird movie. Like, it starts off as a crime drama that suddenly takes a left turn into horror at about the halfway point. (And even knowing that it would, the turn is shocking in its suddenness.) But all of that would be fine and I could just call it riffing on the same themes as Ready or Not[1], just with a different set up.

Except that every aspect of the movie is just deeply nihilistic and dark. Going into why would be way more spoiler-laden than the already inevitable spoilers I have provided, but in retrospect, geeze. Recommended for people who like their movies like they like their coffee: blacker than the blackest depths of their empty souls.

[1] Which I briefly mistook for Hide and Seek, a movie about which I had completely forgotten and even now remember almost nothing, but which via downstream links on my review have lead me down a rabbit hole of old creepy internet stories for the past half hour, and selected my next movie for me.

The Babysitter (2017)

So, good news, Netflix has done right by me after Shudder let me down. Okay, playing that back in my head, it doesn’t actually sound like good news. I guess I’m just saying I’m glad that there are decent horror movies outside of Shudder, is all. Although if I’m getting my money’s worth out of them, why should I really care? Plausibly of much more import, why should you care, prospective blog reader?

Starting again, then: The movie I watched today was The Babysitter, in which a twelve year-old boy[1] is babysat by a hot teenage neighbor girl with whom he has a pre-existing friendship, one would presume from prior babysitting endeavors, while his parents go out of town for the weekend[2]. Later, after being egged on by a school friend, he resolves to stay up past his bedtime and see what the babysitter really gets up to at night, instead of being tired and going to sleep herself as she claims.

Is it a handsy boyfriend? Is it a spin the bottle game that will pretty definitely lead to an orgy? Is it human sacrifice to fulfill a ritual in an ancient, unbound manuscript? Regardless of any of those, will the babysat kid get a chance to make out with the girl of his dreams? The answer to these, and many other question that may have arisen in response to this premise: maybe!

It’s pretty funny, in any case, and definitely made funnier by the letterer, a role which maybe more movies should have.

[1] They call this out, which is called lampshading for some reason, in the dialogue. Yes, it’s silly, but you can’t very well have burgeoning pubescent sexual tension in a babysitter horror movie if the kid being sat is age appropriate.
[2] This, on the other hand, is blown right past. Who hires out a weekend babysitter? There’s no way that’s a real thing that people do.

Last Ones Out

Another zombie movie, this time out of South Africa! With a weird poster that does not accurately reflect the title of the movie. So that’s weird.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a fresh new take on zombies, Last Ones Out isn’t it. Hey look, there are a few survivors out of a hospital who have banded together. Hey look, the jerky American is making everyone hate him. Honestly, I’m bored just trying to think of more things to say.

The zombie movie you actually want to see is One Cut of the Dead. I’m not reviewing it because I watched it hosted with commentary, and it’s a relief to not have to, because honestly I don’t know that I could do so. But it is probably going to be my most highly recommended movie of the year, even if you don’t like zombie movies. (Yes, even if you, specifically you, don’t like zombie movies.)

The only “downside” is it’s exclusive to Shudder, so you have to watch it there.

The Last Showing

A few years ago, pre-Iron Fist on Netflix and decidedly post- whichever was the last Freddy Krueger[1] movie, Finn Jones and Robert Englund decided to face off in a movie theater, for supremacy!

Okay, that’s not entirely true. Actually, without Englund’s brand recognition and the movie streaming on Shudder to make it really clear what you’ll get, The Last Showing spends at least the first act of the movie being a character study on how we dispose of the elderly, for really no reason at all. Not-Freddy has worked as a film projectionist for decades, but due to his unwillingness[2] to get certified on the latest digital equipment in a classroom with sixteen year old part timers, he has been relegated to serving popcorn and sweeping and the kinds of things that the aforementioned sixteen year olds usually end up doing.

So he snaps, of course, and Not Danny Rand and girlfriend randomly end up as the focus of his snapping. Everything else is plot spoilers and a different character study in how just because you think you’d be great at something doesn’t make you great. Not all dreams can come true! But there’s the kernel of a serious film buried down in the middle of the running around a theater yelling at killers and toying with victims that is the schlocky meat of the thing.

The irony is that Englund is and has always been a pretty good actor, and dropping him in the role of someone who is not as suited to a thing as he believes himself to be is a little mean-spirited.

[1] To me, though, he’ll always be Willy in V
[2] Not because he resents the technological upgrades, but because the new equipment is legitimately easier to use in the first place and he doesn’t need the training, only the cert, and man, certs for their own sake are dumb.