Currently browsing the "Horror" category.

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!

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: The Great Wall; A Cure for Wellness

This is a really great week to catch up on one (or more) of those Oscar-nominated movies that are still in theaters or available on DVD or VOD. Why? Because, comparatively speaking, the new releases are rather dismal. Granted, I didn’t have a chance to see the new Ice Cube/Charlie Day comedy Fist Fight, about a couple of high school teachers engaging in a good ol’ fashioned afterschool throw-down. But I’m going to go out on a limb and surmise that you can save that one for a rainy day or a plane ride. It’s probably mindlessly entertaining. Can’t really say the same about The Great Wall or A Cure for Wellness. But if I had to pick among those two, I’d definitely go with The Great Wall because at least it’s got Matt Damon (Jason Bourne, The Martian) — and cool views of one of the great wonders of the ancient world.

Demon

Demon is a strange little Polish horror flick that mostly takes place during what I’d call a blow-out wedding. Handsome young couple Peter (Itay Tiran) and Zaneta (Agnieszka Zulewska) have been given a house in the country that they’re planning to rehab. Prior to the wedding Peter begins some of the work, digging up the yard where they will be building a summer house and/or a swimming pool. But when he hits something and discovers bones, everything changes.

CinemaClash Podcast: 10 Cloverfield Lane, Knight of Cups, Embrace of the Serpent, and more!

I’m not a big fan of horror movies, but 10 Cloverfield Lane is more of a psychological drama filled with twists and turns and solid performances that keep you on the edge of your seat for a surprisingly entertaining – or at least, attention-holding – two hours. For more (spoiler-free) insight and debate on 10 Cloverfield Lane, Knight of Cups, Embrace of the Serpent, and more, check out the latest CinemaClash podcast with me and my cinema nemesis Charlie Juhl:

The Lazarus Effect

Oh, the horror… that this movie is. So bad, in fact, that I resent the time it’s taking me to write this “review” panning it. To be fair, I don’t like horror movies to begin with. So it’s quite possible that horror movie or B-movie fans will find some redeeming value in The Lazarus Effect. I just didn’t get it. At all. And I put too much faith in the casting. I generally like Olivia Wilde, so I held out hope that it would be entertaining on some level – like the apocalyptic zombie movie World War Z – but no, that was not the case. I’m thinking Wilde must be (really good) friends with somebody connected to the script. Here’s the gist:

Dracula Untold

Another Dracula movie you ask? Haven’t we had enough vampire movies yet? Well, maybe not. Dracula Untold gives the traditionally evil bloodsucker his back story and makes him a more sympathetic creature than any of the other iterations. Yes, he’s still in Transylvania and he’s been known to impale a lot of folks, but it’s not that he’s inherently blood thirsty. He has a really good reason for acting the way he does and Dracula Untold gives you a ringside seat to this good guy gone bad story. This Dracula is no Edward or Jacob or even Tom Cruise Lestat. He’s a Game of Thrones hunk of a warrior with a big heart, but he’s given an impossible choice that changes his fate forever.

Mainstream Chick’s 2013 Year in Review

I don’t particularly like lists – especially where movies are concerned because so much depends on what you’re hoping to gain, and the kind of mood you’re in. I generally want to be entertained. If I leave a theater happy, or at least content with what I saw, then the movie did its job. With that said, here’s my list of the best, worst and not bad flicks from among the dozens I happened to see in 2013. Click on the titles to see the full review (don’t worry – they’re short and sweet).

THE BEST:

1. The Way, Way Back 2. Rush 3. Side Effects 4. The Conjuring 5. 12 Years a Slave 6. American Hustle 7. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 8. Saving Mr. Banks 9. Man of Steel 10. A 10-way tie among the following: Frozen, Philomena, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Enough Said, The Butler, The Kings of Summer, 20 Feet from Stardom, The Book Thief, Prisoners

The Conjuring

Okay, kids. Gather around the campfire and settle in for a treat. No campfire? Then the movie theater should do. Oh, The Conjuring is rated ‘R’?! That’s kind of ridiculous. I’d rather let the (older) kids pick this movie over a PG-13 offering like Grown Ups 2. Let’s call it PG-15. There’s no sex, gratuitous or graphic violence, or foul language. Just good ol’ fashioned suspense, creepiness, and scare tactics – elevated by some fine acting. It’s definitely too scary for the wee ones and the faint of heart (of any age), but fans of the traditional, touchstone horror movies (Amityville Horror, Psycho, The Exorcist, Poltergeist, etc.) will likely find The Conjuring to be among the best the genre has had to offer in recent years. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t particularly like horror movies.

World War Z

I’m no expert on movies featuring the undead. But I seriously doubt that World War Z will rank among the best zombie movies ever – despite a budget exceeding 200 million dollars. 200 million dollars! I think I’m more horrified by the pricetag than the notion of a zombie pandemic jeopardizing all of humanity (i.e. the premise of WWZ). Not that this particular disaster movie is a total disaster. Far from it. I was genuinely surprised how much I didn’t hate it. And that’s mostly because of how much I liked Brad Pitt. He plays Gerry Lane, a former United Nations investigator who’s given up his globetrotting ways to spend more time with the wife and kids in Philadelphia. He’s an intelligent, MacGyver-esque action hero type, called back into service to save the world – and thus, his own family too- from a growing army of zombies. Yeah, it sounds preposterous. But substitute “killer germs” for zombies, and the movie is basically Contagion or Outbreak with a contemporary sci-fi twist.