Under The Skin (2013)

Under The Skin (2013)

Arthouse films aren’t for everyone. They’re often vague, confusing, and come across as being strange and different for the sake of being strange and different. Now, I’m by no means an authority on arthouse and experimental cinema, but I’ve been through the surrealist rodeo a couple times. Being someone who really likes the visual and technical elements of film, I can enjoy certain art films for their imagery and cinematography, even if their #2deep4me messages fly over my head.

Under the Skin is a sci-fi horror film directed by Jonathan Glazer. While definitely an art film, Under the Skin’s plot is easier to digest than something like, say, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain. That being said, it doesn’t reduce how evocative and mesmerizing the imagery is in this movie, nor does it make some of the scenes any less uncomfortable to sit through. The movie follows a simple premise. An alien woman (Scarlett Johansson) is sent to Earth to process men for an unknown reason. In order to capture the men she needs, she decides to pose as a beautiful young woman and seduce them. As she ensnares prey after prey, her time among humans begins to rub off on her and she becomes curious about the different experiences and emotions humans go through. See? That wasn’t so hard. (more…)

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring (2013)

Holy shit. I have no idea why it took me so long to watch this movie.

In case you live under a rock like me, James Wan is being heralded as one of the best directors working in horror at the moment. Directly responsible for starting three of the most famous recent franchises in horror (Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring), Wan has quite the blood spattered, demon haunted pedigree. The Conjuring, widely considered Wan’s masterpiece (which may possibly be dethroned by its newly released sequel) has even spawned a spin off movie franchise. Like it or not, Wan is probably here to stay and I think we’re all better off for it.

The Conjuring is based on a story from real life demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), and follows a case from 1971 where they are recruited to investigate a farmhouse that the Perron family has just moved into. The Perrons slowly begin to notice a couple odd things happening with their house and to their family, but as the days march onward things begin to escalate and the Perrons begin to fear for their lives. Once Ed and Lorraine are on the case, they need to do everything they can to get to get to the bottom of the haunting and overcome their greatest challenge to date. (more…)

Ava’s Possessions (2015)

Ava’s Possessions (2015)

Remember that last post I made, where I briefly wrote about horror comedies? Well, I found one that actually kinda worked. I said that you need to strike a balance between horror and comedy not swaying too far to either side, and what I didn’t realize is that you can also let both those aspects fall to the background and let the story shine through. The reason I didn’t really consider that a horror comedy with very little horror or comedy would work is because I thought it would get too cluttered and water down both the scares and the laughs, making it a homogeneous blend of boring. Today, I managed to find a movie that plays down the horror and the comedy, and doesn’t really suffer from it.

Ava’s Possessions is a dark comedy/ drama that also happens to involve Exorcist style demonic possession. It’s written and directed by Jordan Galland who has a whole slew of credits on IMDb, but hasn’t worked on anything that I’ve ever heard of before. I honestly only checked this movie out because of a recommendation from the YouTube channel Good Bad Flicks. Netflix’s weird rating algorithm listed it as one star for me so I was never really possessed (ha!) to check it out but then again, Netflix told me I would love Tammy, so I don’t know what I was expecting.

The movie starts up as Ava (Louisa Krause), a young New York woman striking out on her own, is exorcised of a demon possessing her body. Once she’s back to normal she sees the chaos and destruction she caused while possessed, and needs to put her life back together. While trying to get back into the swing of things, she finds some clues that lead her to believe something happened one of the nights she was possessed that nobody told her about. She goes off to try and get to the bottom of it all while trying her best to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society. (more…)

Witching & Bitching (2013)

Witching & Bitching (2013)

Horror comedy is a tough genre of movie to pull off correctly. You can’t sway two heavily to either horror or comedy sides, and you need to make sure that whatever horror tropes you’re lampooning doesn’t come across as patronizing to horror fans. You also need to make sure that you aren’t spoofing the subject-du-jour, and if you are, make sure you do it well lest you get your movie lumped in with money grubbing satirists or become a parody of yourself. Most meta-slasher or slasher parody films nowadays are just rehashes of Wes Craven’s 1996 masterpiece, Scream. A couple movies put fun little spins on the formula, but for the most part, they’re becoming as repetitive as slasher flicks did back in the ’80s and ’90s.

Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi or, it’s catchier English title, Witching & Bitching, is a comedy(?) horror(?) action adventure film from Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia. This movie seems to spoof old occult and witch movies from the ’70s, but it definitely takes some pages from Robert Rodriguez and Sam Raimi’s books as well. The movie is about a couple of guys, José (Hugo Silva) and Tony (Mario Casas) who stick up a gold buying store with José’s elementary school aged kid, Sergio (Gabriel Delgado). In their getaway they team up with Manuel, a down on his luck taxi driver who decides he’d much prefer to be a gold thief than a cabbie. Police and José’s wife are in pursuit, but before they can catch them, José and his crew run into a coven of witches. Things get out of hand incredibly quickly, and hilarity(?) ensues. (more…)

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

I’m a big fan of slasher movies. My all time favorite horror movie is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and my favorite horror franchise is far and away the Friday The 13th series. I’ve spent countless hours devouring B and C list slasher movies, as well as diving in to the satire-slashers of the last 20 or so years (Scream, The Final Girls, and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon come to mind). The one slasher villain that has never fully captured my attention is Michael Myers of the Halloween franchise. I’m a really big fan of the original 1978 Halloween (I have a huge movie boner for John Carpenter, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), and I enjoyed Halloween II: Halloween Harder, so I figured I would finally get around to continuing my pursuit of The Shape and get down to watching Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.

Yes, despite there being ten of these movies, this one is the Return of Michael Myers. I guess it’s like how the fourth and ninth Friday the 13th movies are titled The Final Chapter and The Final Friday respectively, when neither of those are actually the final movie in the series. Slasher franchises are not the pinnacle of forethought and planning. For those of you who don’t know: Halloween III: Season of the Witch was considered a huge disappointment for most Halloween fans, as it didn’t include Michael Myers, so when 1988 rolled around and it was time to pump out the first Halloween movie not to involve John Carpenter in the slightest, you can bet your bottom dollar that the studios made damn sure that everybody was certain that our friend Mr. Myers was showing up in this flick. I mean, how else would they fill those theater seats? Certainly not by making a great movie, that’s for sure. (more…)

The Guest (2014)

The Guest (2014)

The 1980s were a great time. Not that I would really know since I wasn’t alive back then, but if the movie output of that decade was anything to go by, it was an amazing era. In fact, everybody loves the ’80s so much, we’re trying to make the 2010’s (’10s? That doesn’t sound right.) the new ’80s. It seems that everything nowadays is a remake or renewal of an ’80s IP, or a throwback to the style and aesthetics of that decade. And while not everything can be as amazing and brilliant as last year’s totally-not-made-just-because-the-80s-are-back-in-style-and-we-love-money Jem and the Holograms movie, we are getting some pretty good media that not only captures the essence of the ’80s, but builds on it and infuses some modern flare.

The Guest is a thriller directed by Adam Wingard, the same guy who directed 2011’s amazing semi-deconstructionalist-home-invasion-meets-slasher-but-seriously-not-as-pretentious-as-that-sounds flick You’re Next. The Guest would fall into the same vein as movies like You’re Next and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, a distinctly modern movie that pays tribute to the stylings of  1980s action, thriller, and horror flims.

The Guest follows the Petersons, an average American family who’s eldest son Caleb was a soldier who was killed while serving overseas. They are visited by a young man named David (Dan Stevens) who claims to be an army buddy of Caleb’s and who has been tasked by the deceased son to visit and help out the Peterson family. Once David arrives though, some unusual things (namely corpses) start cropping up in the Petersons’ lives and it becomes obvious that David isn’t everything he says he is. (more…)

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