Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Review – Doctor Sleep

Here’s a historic moment in the horror genre: a black female protagonist and a cat both live to the end of the movie. Overall this proves to be a worthy sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining. The villains in particular are some of the most evil characters I’ve ever seen. The story is good and the production values high. Worth seeing

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Abandoned – Child’s Play (2019)

I love cats in general and orange cats in particular. So six minutes in when the family’s pet made its first appearance, I ran scrambling to the content advisory list on IMDb. Nope. Oh so much nope.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Review – The Boys in Company C

So this is what Full Metal Jacket might have been like if it had been directed by the guy who made Superman IV. In fairness, this one came out before Kubrick’s, so at least it isn’t a ripoff. Nor is it a terrible movie. Some of the Vietnam War clichés might even be forgiven because back in 1978 they weren’t clichés yet. However, the picture suffers from technical defects and script problems, including a general lack of direction and such a frequent use of the phrase “body count” that if you tried turning it into a drinking game your body would join the count. Mildly amusing

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Review – Lights Out

This movie’s plot description sounded so much like Darkness Falls that I had to watch at least a few minutes of it just to be sure I hadn’t seen it already. Turns out it isn’t literally the same story, though it has a lot of similarities. Director David Sandberg expands his chilling little short subject into a feature-length tale, and though the longer version isn’t as scary, it still works reasonably well. Mildly amusing

Review – Joker

I watched this seriously annoying movie when I wasn’t in the mood to be seriously annoyed, and that interfered with my ability to understand how it ever managed to be as popular as it was. In fairness, it does get better around 40 minutes in once the antihero is firmly established as a mentally ill ne’er do well. When he finally starts fighting back, however, things start to get interesting. Joaquin Phoenix spends more time making a serious Oscar bid than playing his role, but otherwise it’s an entertaining piece of moviemaking. If nothing else, it was interesting to actually be grateful when Thomas Wayne gets killed. Mildly amusing

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Review – Door in the Woods

If you found a chain-wrapped door standing in the middle of nowhere, how likely would you be to think, “Hey, I should grab that ratty-looking thing and install it in my house”? Even if you’d never seen a single horror movie in your entire life, it still just seems like a bad idea. Which of course it turns out to be. I liked the casting of CJ Jones as the family’s personal psychic and helper character. But beyond that the wise decisions are few and far between. The cast spends a considerable chunk of the third act clustered around a table in the woods yapping about what kind of deal they can cut with an evil spirit in order to get their kidnapped child back. And then the demonic presence (or whatever the hell it is) turns out to be named “Empusa.” That started a debate in the audience about whether that sounded more like the name of a small town in western Kansas (welcome to Empusa, population 341), a car model (drive the revolutionary new Subaru Empusa) or a prescription medication (do not take Empusa if you are allergic to Empusa or any of Empusa’s ingredients). See if desperate

Review – The Quiet Ones

After sitting through this effort from Hammer, i felt the need to go back and watch a couple of old pictures from the (allegedly) same studio just to remind myself that they used to make movies that didn’t suck. Apparently the mighty art fallen into dismal little bits of nonsense about psychology academics tormenting a girl who can supposedly conjure a ghost exclusively using the power of her mind. For what it’s worth, saying this is based on the real-life “Philip experiments” is a little like saying Transformers is based on the work of Alan Turing. See if desperate

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Review – The Vatican Tapes

This starts out as a run-of-the-mill exorcism movie. Apropos of nothing, a young woman finds herself possessed by an evil spirit. As long as the story stays in that lane, it’s an acceptable entry in the sub genre. But then toward the end the plot takes a considerably more apocalyptic turn, either making it more interesting or just running it off the rails, depending on your point of view. See if desperate

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Review – Ad Astra

Apocalypse Now in outer space. Literally. Brad Pitt turns in a flat, Ryan-Gosling-esque performance as a man sent to Neptune to put a stop to the solar-system-threatening antics of his insane father (Tommy Lee Jones). Before we’re done, we get moon pirates, space monkeys and Donald Sutherland (not necessarily in that order). Wish I’d skipped it

Friday, June 5, 2020

Review – Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

The title comes from the Florida trial judge’s description of this picture’s subject, Ted Bundy. Apt as it is, it’s a strange starting point for the approach taken to the telling of his tale. From the perspective of his long-term girlfriend, Bundy comes across less as a vicious murderer and more as a crappy boyfriend, stalker-y but otherwise just a garden variety jerk. Zac Efron looks and plays the part well. Mildly amusing

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Review – Our House

You can tell you came from the 80s if you immediately want to follow the title with “in the middle of our street.” And you can tell you’re an indie-film-loving hipster if you like this movie. The story begins with a Tesla-esque attempt to invent wireless household current. Sadly for our already-sad orphans, the experiment 1. doesn’t light lightbulbs and 2. awakens evil spirits in their house. The cast isn’t bad, but they’re wasted on a lackluster script. See if desperate

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Review – The Good Dinosaur

This is one of the most beautiful animation showreels I’ve ever seen. The visuals – from the landscapes down to the tiny details – are remarkable feats of CGI. Unfortunately the story and characters are by no means the equal of the images. The classic Disney plot elements – dead parent, hero’s journey, and so on – are all here. They just aren’t used to any particular effect other than loosely stringing together a series of elaborately-constructed scenes. Mildly amusing