Tag Archives: Shudder

Absentia

Here’s the thing: if you made a movie about having to declare someone legally dead because they’d been missing for so long that you have to accept that they won’t come back, but you also have to go through all the emotional trauma that you’ve been holding out against for so long, and so you’re packing up to move, you’re filing this paperwork that makes it real but will also allow you to get out from underneath years of crushing debt, and you have to deal with the trauma of that being a main driver of accepting it, because now you can finally get insurance payouts, but still you don’t even know if he’s dead, and you keep having visions of him, evil-ghostly-pissed as you bridge each milestone on the path to it’s finally over, he is now according to the county-issued certificate of death in Absentia in your hand no longer a living person?

That would already be a horror movie, just all the real and imagined things happening as you process the enormity of what has happened, of what you’ve done.

But what if your sister is hanging out to help you, and she sees a weird dude in a jogging tunnel between your neighborhood and the park (because, overpass) and creepy things start happening, and maybe it turns out that a lot of people have gone missing in this area, and what if sometimes they come back?

I don’t think it quite stuck the landing, but I reckon this movie will stay with me for a while. It goes places that you do not want to go in your life, and not in the “machete at summer camp” kind of way; it goes there in ways you can imagine actually happening, in your worst daydreams.

 

Seoulyeok

According to the write-up, Seoul Station is a prequel to Train to Busan, which would actually have to be more of a sidequel since the first twenty minutes of the latter movie take place during the same day / overnight that all of the former movie occurs during. The zombies are the same style (controlling for live action vs animation at least), and I have no reason to disbelieve them, it just… doesn’t make sense as a prequel instead of its own standalone movie. Partly because they have nothing to do with each other save look at how many more views we’ll get with brand recognition, but mostly because the logistics fall apart. If the Seoul movie had happened as it did, people would have known by early AM not to be getting on trains to Busan.

Whatever, it’s the same writer and director, I guess I have to take his word for it.

Leaving all that aside, though, this is a dark, brutal, and above all angry movie that would definitely fit in any US metropolis as well as it fits in Seoul. See, the zombies are real and all, but they’re also a metaphor for the homeless problem. I say that in the sense that at every opportunity, the citizenry at large and especially anyone in a position of authority continuously portrays the crazy people who are running around biting folks as the homeless gone wild, to the extent that anyone who is still alive but also homeless is considered just as dangerous as the actual zombies are, and always to their detriment.

(There is an actual plot to this movie that I have not even slightly addressed, if the above sounds like spoilers. I mean, it probably still does, but you should know.)

I wonder if anyone in the target audience, such as people who can afford TVs or movie theater excursions, listened to the angry undercurrents. US audiences wouldn’t have, so I can’t really have a lot of faith that it was different somewhere else. But maybe!

Hell Night (1981)

Do they have Hell Night outside Detroit? My understanding is that it is a) the night before Halloween (or maybe night of, or night after?) and b) restricted to Detroit and environs, and c) has mostly died out but was a big deal when years started with 19.

Anyway, they used to, not that this movie took much advantage of it. A few tracking shots of mansions and/or parking lots that had been toilet papered and a busy police precinct with an annoyed desk sergeant pretty much covered the nod to verisimilitude.

Otherwise, what you have is Linda Blair and three other aspiring Greeks spending the night at a potentially haunted and definitely abandoned mansion after a family murder/suicide took place there 12 years ago. If they make it til dawn, they can join! As hazing goes, this seems quite a bit better than homoerotic paddling. I mean, unless someone survived the murders and never left the house and for some reason wants to kill everyone even though this isn’t the first year the mansion has been used as a haunted hazing ritual… but that’s pretty implausible.

Honestly though, my biggest problem was the pacing. Non-stop exposition to set up the meat of the movie? Okay. Sex and drugs and whatever it takes to demonstrate that teens are gonna die? Inevitable staple. Confusion as the body count rises? Also pretty standard. Blond dude running around town trying to convince someone that Linda Blair is still in danger in that house? …yeah, that one doesn’t track. The whole point of putting the entire cast in one place with a killer is you don’t let anyone leave that place with the killer unless the credits are going to start rolling in the next fifteen seconds. So there’s this entire 20% chunk of the film that a) isn’t teens in peril and b) distracts you from remembering what teen is in what peril, because there’s a stupid blond kid running around what I still assume per above is suburban Detroit trying to find help. Or maybe Ann Arbor? I hear there’s a college there.

Twins of Evil

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if Peter Cushing is in a Hammer film, he must be in want of vampires. But I admit I was thrown off by the initial presentation, in which Viennese twins are hanging out in what I first mistook for the colonial countryside, what with all the British accents and Puritans burning witches.

But eventually it is made clear that there’s a devil worshipping count who lives in a castle and is protected(?) by the Emperor(??), and Peter Cushing is approximately as much of a bad guy as the count is[1], and really the only thing left is to determine why it’s called Twins of Evil when a) one of the twins is pure as the driven snow and the other one is basically just bored with exile to the sticks, and b) it takes almost 90% of the movie for the count’s seductive new protégé to unleash her twins of evil, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

[1] In retrospect this must have been practice for the Grand Moff Tarkin role

EndZeit (2018)

I have not seen many German movies, so I do not know how commonly they are weird and existential. But I am predisposed to believe the answer is “always”, you know?

Ever After is apparently based on a graphic novel in which the zombie apocalypse has wiped out everyone on earth except two cities in eastern Germany[1]; city number one with a German name survives by ruthlessly slaughtering anyone who has come into contact with the virus, while city number two with a German name is working on a cure, at least according to rumor in German city number one.

Later, two girls wrestling with the demons of the past set out on a trek to GC#2 for reasons of their own[2], but encounter… well, things, people, and events that are weird and existential, was my original point. Predictably, this mostly takes place in the Black Forest, home of German horror stories for longer than the US has had access to horror stories.

I really kind of want to talk about the existential weirdness of it all, but spoilers, but who is going to watch this to care about spoilers? Man.

[1] I’m not one to shit on a premise, but… how would they know? I’m willing to sign on for “the only two cities in central Europe”, but once you range much farther than that, man, I just don’t know that it’s a supportable claim.
[2] I think this will never be unseated as my favorite line from a comic. Random Marvel C-tier supervillain monologues to himself, “And now, I will go to Greenwich Village, for reasons of my own.” I can just see the moustache-twirling villainy of it, and at the same time see anyone who happened to be listening be befuddled by how not-ominous that intent was, to be accompanied by such highly ominous phrasing.

Like Me

When I read the description of Like Me on Shudder, what I imagined was a chick in a spree murder movie, and spoiler, that is not what it actually is.

Instead, it is at times a psychedelic romp[1], at times a buddy road trip movie, at times[2] a meditation on social media fame and infamy, at times almost a comedy, and at times shockingly violent[3].

I think I’m glad to have seen it, but I’m simultaneously not convinced it is worth the effort for anyone else to.

[1] As movie reviewers like to say so that they can be quoted on posters and DVD covers
[2] And unfortunately the most boring times, since you can tell by the title that this was the point they were driving at
[3] This makes no sense. It’s nominally a horror movie! But something about the YouTube lens of the thing made the actual violent moments feel a lot more real than I’m used to when just watching a movie or TV in general, much less a horror movie in specific.

Luciferina

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, I haven’t seen enough Argentinian nunsploitation trilogies lately, and I sure do want to get in on the ground floor of a new one! Well, with the caveat that since it’s ground floor, it’s not provable that the whole trilogy will be nunsploitative, of course.

Luciferina is the thoughtful, heartwarming tale of a young nun who has just gone on leave home for a family emergency only to head off into the (Peruvian?) jungle with her sister and [the sister’s] friends to meet a shaman who will lead them in an ayahuasca ceremony to solve all their problems, I guess? Including that the sister has a truly terrible boyfriend, and… well, to be honest, that’s the only one I can remember, besides the whole recent family tragedy. I know that at least two of the friends had problems, but what they were has completely eluded me.

Later, mayhem ensues when maybe drug-fueled hallucinations? maybe drug-fueled acts of violence? maybe the fallen LightBringer himself? result in the kinds of things you’d expect out of a horror movie, with or without the nun angle.

This came out in 2018, so I have no idea when or if the future volumes of the trilogy will appear, nor how nuncentric they will be. Nevertheless, and despite how flippant I’ve been, this was a pretty good movie whose sequels I look forward to.

[1] Who seeks the devil, finds him.

The Room (2019)

The Room grew on me, both over the course of the movie and possibly in retrospect over the last few days since I watched it as well. The premise at first appears to be a pretty by-the-numbers riff on the monkey’s paw. A couple moves into a stately, remote farmhouse and while doing renovations finds a secret room, which they quickly (if a little implausibly) learn grants wishes. Wish for something in the room, poof, it appears. Then, for a good 10-15 minutes, the whole movies appears to be about to collapse into a Lynchian commentary on bored American decadence[1], but before this can happen, someone wishes for the kind of thing that you maybe shouldn’t ought to wish for.

And then, mere moments later by the plot clock, the terrible rules of how wishes in the room work are finally revealed, and what follows is a slow burn escalation of bad decisions and impossible choices.

I’m carefully staying away from spoilers (unlike imdb’s three sentence description), because I think that not knowing what was coming is the majority of what makes the movie work. But outside of the identity horror and other bad things that the writer went for, I think the real lesson of the movie is that if I had a wishing room that followed these rules… Sure, I wouldn’t be able to instantly and safely retire[2], but I’m pretty sure I could make a happy and comfortable life for myself without very many needs to be met.

Because I would not make terrible, obviously doomed to turn out badly wishes. That’s why.

[1] Not that any of the characters are American, going by accent. But it definitely has that jaded feel, in the moment.
[2] The IRS alone, you know?

Red Christmas (2016)

Red Christmas is an Australian horror movie which, with the numbers filed off, is a fairly decent flick. Family gathering for Christmas Day, except a weird guy in bandages and a black hooded cloak shows up to settle some history with Dee Wallace[1], with the result being blood and gore and, you know, the various types of things that would make your Christmas red. (It sure wasn’t going to be white! Australia, remember.)

Unfortunately, the numbers are not filed off, and I have not been this unhappy with the premise of a movie since Snowpiercer. Said premise, which you cannot help but be aware of if you watch the first bit of the movie interspersed with the credits, is that the mysterious stranger is in fact an aborted fetus who survived. The implicit lie already had me on edge, but then the rest of the movie, despite making a valiant effort by naming this character Cletus, leaned into the “storytelling possibilities” by making it horror mashed up with family drama, instead of just horror, and offensive family drama based on a pure falsehood of a premise is just… I’m still pissed, is what.

This is a terrible movie that should feel bad and no longer have its rights sold. Shame on you, Shudder + AMC.

[1] Unlike most times when I see Dee Wallace’s name somewhere, this really is the lady who played the mom on ET, instead of secretly being Dee Snider instead, who did not.

Satanic Panic (2019)

I’m going to cut straight to the chase here: what Home Alone did for burglars, Satanic Panic does for devil worshipers.

You have no idea how much I want to just stop there, but I feel obligated to say at least enough that the text reaches as far as the poster, you know? So, this is basically a lazy comedy of errors in which the pizza delivery girl rides into the rich neighborhood hoping for a big tip, and instead finds herself entangled with Satanists on the night of the annual(?) sacrifice, and hijinks? Why yes, they ensue.

Despite my diss above, it was actually pretty funny. It’s just that the plot doesn’t make a lick of sense. But the pizza girl’s wide-eyed innocent irritation makes up a lot of ground, and with all the blood splashing around and the fish out of water laughs and the bumbling, ineffective devil worshiper laughs, I didn’t actually care about how nonsensical the plot was.

Basically, if you’ve always secretly believed that rich people are not like you and me, because they got their money and power as a result of sacrifice rather than hard work, and also that they hold orgies on the full moon? (And who hasn’t, at one point or another?) If so, whoever made this movie made it for you. Also, I learned in the last scene that this was made in Dallas, and yeah, if I was going to pick a city where that is what the rich people are like, Dallas or LA would have been the coin toss. (I know, I know, you’re thinking, what about Houston? But the climate was survivable, so Houston was already off the table.)