Currently browsing the "Horror" category.

Quickie Review: Halloween

The world is a scary place. So do we really need a movie about a homicidal maniac on the loose? Apparently, we do. At least, that’s what Hollywood is counting on with this sequel to the 1978 classic Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis. This time around, Curtis – reprising her role as Laurie Strode – is again confronted by Michael Myers, the shadowy masked figure who nearly killed her 40 years ago.

Review: Hereditary

I saw a blurb before I went to Hereditary that said it was “the scariest movie since The Exorcist.” I think they must have seen a different film. Yes, there are disturbing scenes and the usual horror flick tropes all over the place, but I was never really scared and I didn’t take it out of the theater as I did with The Exorcist. Hereditary is from first time director Ari Aster who assembled a first rate cast including Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense), Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects), Alex Wolff (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), newcomer Milly Shapiro and character actress Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale, Aunt Lydia). He also has a very talented cinematographer who loves to show off his tricks of the trade. But the film felt like two stories. The first half is about grief and the second is the horror part. And at 2 hours and change, it takes way too long to get to the scary stuff.

Review: They Remain

This psychological horror flick relies heavily on sound effects and music to take a walk in the woods to a very scare place. Adapted from Laird Barron’s short story “30”, the main plot revolves around two biologists hired by an unnamed corporation to investigate some strange animal behavior on a remote tract of land they bought. The land also just happens to be the site where a Manson-like cult ended up in a bloodbath years earlier. Keith (William Jackson Harper, Paterson and The Good Place) and Jessica (Rebecca Henderson, Manhunt: Unabomber) spend their days setting up motion controlled cameras and taking soil samples to try and find out if there is anything particularly supernatural about the place, though you never know exactly what the corporate overlords are looking for. And of course strange things do start happening. And the question becomes, what’s real and can this possibly end well?

Quickie Reviews: Annihilation; Game Night; The Party

Annihilation is interesting and weird, slow and methodical, and dare I say, bordering on boring. Hyper-sensitive fans of the film may ream me for not fully grasping or appreciating the deeper meaning, the metaphors, the beauty in the bizarre, yadda yadda yadda. But that’s okay. I didn’t love Arrival either. Annihilation is a cerebral sci-fi horror flick from Alex Garland (Ex Machina) based on the “Southern Reach Trilogy” by Jeff VanderMeer. If you’ve read the books, you’re probably ahead of the game and more likely than most to love this movie. Here’s the gist: Natalie Portman plays Lena, an Army veteran and cellular biologist whose husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) was believed killed in action during a secret military mission. He reappears a year later, extremely ill, with no memory of what happened. Government agents nab the newly-reunited couple and take them to “Area X”, an unspecified locale that borders a mysterious “Shimmer” that’s been expanding along the U.S. coastline.

Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

This is the second film I’ve seen from writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos, the first being The Lobster, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This one has the same altered-reality conceit, that the world is very nearly the one we live in, but has a few odd twists that set it apart. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a family lives a nice upper-middle class existence. The parents (Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman) are both doctors. The kids are attractive and smart. Things seem great, until Dad introduces them to a teenage boy he’s taken under his wing and then things go sideways.

Review: mother!

This is without doubt the most divisive movie to come out in a long time. People either hate it or love it, with very few people on the fence about it. I make it a point not to read reviews before I go to see a film I’m planning to cover, but the headlines screaming about mother! (not to be confused with one of my favorite Korean films called Mother sans exclamation point) couldn’t be ignored. It got an F from viewer-polled Cinemascore, but earned raves from some well-known critics. The New York Times even posted an article titled, “Hating ‘Mother!’: Readers Speak Out.” And after finally seeing it for myself, I understand both sides of the argument, but come down on the WTF#?! side.

Review: IT

I get it now. The creepy clowns. The red balloons. The yellow slicker. The references to “You’ll float too.” All things I’d be privy to had I read “IT” (the Stephen King novel) or seen IT as a television mini-series in 1990. Alas, the big-screen adaptation of IT served as my introduction to IT, and I can honestly say — as a reluctant horror-moviegoer — IT is scary good, and probably scary great for ITs die-hard fans.

Quickie Reviews: Wish Upon; A Ghost Story; City of Ghosts; The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography

For those who don’t go bananas over blockbusters like War for the Planet of the Apes, there are some alternatives out there. But, be careful what you wish for.

Wish Upon This creepy horror movie from the director of Annabelle starts out with a fair amount of promise, but quickly deteriorates into a dud. It stars Joey King (White House Down) as Clare Shannon, a High School teen whose widower dad (Ryan Phillippe) gives her an old Chinese music box that he found while dumpster diving. She’s able to decipher enough of the Chinese lettering on the box to know that it will grant her seven wishes. But for some reason, she doesn’t clue into the second part of the message, which basically warns that for every wish, there’s a blood price to be paid. So she starts making the typical teen wishes (to get the shallow stud muffin to fall in love with her, to be rich, to be popular, etc.) and people die. Gruesome, twisted deaths. Oops.

Life

Life begins as a space drama reminiscent of The Martian or Gravity and morphs into a horror movie that’s more like Alien. It’s a mash-up that didn’t really work for me, so I left the theater disappointed, grossed out, and less than enthusiastic about the prospect of a sequel. Yes, Life leaves the capsule door open for a Life 2, just in case the sci-fi thriller finds itself an audience. I put Life on par with recent (weak) space fare, including The Space Between Us and Passengers, and a few notches below Arrival, which features a similar alien blob that is more visceral than literal in its threat to humanity. The alien creature that co-stars in Life is a flesh-hungry critter that picks off its cast-mates one by one. So don’t get too invested.

Cinema Clash podcast: Get Out; Rock Dog; Kedi; Bitter Harvest; Punching Henry

On this edition of the Cinema Clash with Mainstream Chick and her cinema nemesis Charlie Juhl: The best movie of 2017 so far. You’ll want to Get Out and see it! Plus: the (pooper) scoop on the Chinese-American computer-animated comedy Rock Dog; the philosophical underpinnings of Kedi, a documentary about cats in Istanbul; the bitter truth about Bitter Harvest; a mockumentary drama about a struggling comedian looking for his big break in Punching Henry; a few wayward Oscar predictions; and beer. Let the clash begin!