Halloween 2018: Goosebumps (2015)

Goosebumps (2015)

goosebumps

Director: Rob Letterman

Cast: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell, Halston Sage

A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R. L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware. – IMDB

I’ve read a few Goosebumps books back in my elementary school days. It was always a fun time in my memory although I never found it to be scary. However, a series like this one getting a form of adaptation is always one to take notice and with Jack Black, one of my favorite comedic actors in the current day and age attached to the project, it was one that went straight to my to watch pile. Movies like this can border on dumb and silly but Goosebumps turned out to be a little over the top and a tad silly but it was a lot of fun.
This one lands in the same way that Monster Trucks (review) worked for me, maybe with slightly less appealing characters. I’m not exactly a Dylan Minnette fan and don’t quite care for his character here. It was the typical teenage romance thing with the girl next door. His humor along with his best friend are fairly common arcs for family friendly adventure films. A little fluff to add to the equation. Jack Black had an over the top accent that honestly, if it wasn’t him, I probably wouldn’t buy into but at the end, I got used to it so it didn’t feel as odd.

What defines Goosebumps has always been R.L. Stine’s monsters and its nice to see that they pull out all the cards here in one shot. It makes for the fun as they run around town trying to stop catastrophe and encounter a few of them face to face which always turns into a funny and hectic moment. The heart of the movie is in these moments as chaos shapes these characters a little.

Goosebumps is not masterpiece but its a family adventure film that delivers on being entertaining and fun. It shows off the creativity of R.L. Stine for a new generation to respark the childhood horror adventures that many kids went through. There’s really not a whole lot of depth  here to talk more about it. Its a fun time and great for some family fun even if some elements fall a little short.

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Halloween 2018: The Visit (2015)

It sure feels like I’m working backwards one year after next as I work through the films. Trust me, it isn’t deliberate. Next up is 2015’s The Visit, somewhat considered a comeback directorial film from M. Night Shyamalan. I have only seen The Sixth Sense from him so I have no idea about his career.

The Visit (2015)

Director (and writer): M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn

Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents’ disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation. – IMDB

I am probably about the only person who doesn’t know much about The Visit. I honestly chose this one off a whim, remembering it had mixed opinions. With that said, all I knew was that grandkids visit their grandparents and stuff happens like most horror movies would go. Not a whole lot to go on so expectations are non-existent. With that said, The Visit turned out to be quite good. Usually, I figure out twists pretty well but I didn’t finish convincing myself of it before it took the route that it did. Maybe it had to do with the similarity to an elementary school camping creepy tale that made this one feel more effective for me.

I enjoy films that use a documentary format to play up the events because when it is done well, it helps to keep some things under wraps and there are things left to imagination in the mysterious zone. The Visit works relatively well in that department especially since the events are highlighted a lot with noises here and there. The bumps at night are generally overused in horror films but because we never quite know what to expect whenever the kids see what is causing the noise. On top of that, its a question of what is causing the odd behavior in their grandparents. Creepy grandparents somehow have its effectiveness and these ones have the unexpected factor.

Its interesting to see how Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould was both in Better Watch out (review) after this film. They are very good young actors and they definitely excel in their roles here. The same goes for the grandparents here played by Deanna Dunagan and McRobbie. They are sufficiently creepy. There are some bits especially with the grandma that has hints of fairy tale stories and also, she has one scene under the house that is crazy creepy notched up to level eleven. That is just a quick example.

Overall, the story here feels fairly simple. The reason this works to a decent horror extent is in the mystery of how it is filmed and executed. If it was in traditional filming, it might not have been as effective. The creepy moments were in the unknown and a lot of the off frame and creepy ambient sounds used here. The twist was also relatively clever. Thinking back, it wasn’t completely hard to figure out but I was sold on the twist.

Have you seen The Visit?
Are you a fan of M. Night Shyamalan films?

Halloween 2018: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

pride and prejudice and zombies

Director (and writer): Burr Steers

Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Douglas Booth, Sally Phillips, Charles Dance

Five sisters in 19th century England must cope with the pressures to marry while protecting themselves from a growing population of zombies. – IMDB

Parody novels seems to be a fairly new thing in the last few years. Its always risky business to mess with the Classics but the initial idea of adding zombies to anything usually works. Think about when I looked at the children’s novels collection the past few years called Fables of the Undead. Jane Austen, particularly Pride and Prejudice, is particularly close to my heart, as I’d imagine it is for many people especially with the strong-headed girl and the very misunderstood Mr. Darcy which gives a lot of the charms. As parody novel goes, I’ve never read this source material but in my mind, for this to work, there had to be a fine balance on keeping the original ideas and adding enough of a twist of balancing out how to integrate the zombies logically and well, Lizzie and Darcy. Does it live up to it? I’d say half and half.

pride and prejudice and zombies

Suffice to say that I think the story itself retains a lot of the original flow of events. It works for the fans of Jane Austen but the twist really is in the nature of the characters especially how the Bennet girls are trained in the high arts of fighting and weaponry as they live in this desolate world of zombies taking over the world. Was the world always like this? Why are they trained so strongly if not? There’s a lot of questions here of the set-up that leave a little to be desired. It would be what sets it apart but its really how the characters integrate and how the zombies can live in hiding until tasting human flesh that they truly turn and how the zombies work that give the extra twist. It also obviously pulls in the sly Wickham into the equation. Darcy, of course, is the no BS highly skilled fighter. The landscape is a little gloomier. The question is whether its set itself apart and the twist at times feels like its slightly forced. I like the fact that they kept to the script and a lot of the Pride and Prejudice popular stuff is kept in but it just felt like a very small change and I’m not sure if I’m completely down with the zombies aspect. Its probably why the film, after putting this together is categorized as an action thriller and not a horror (Oops..but zombies count for Halloween).

pride and prejudice and zombies

As for Darcy, I have nothing against Sam Riley. Honestly, I’m not sure what else I’ve seen him in but I didn’t really feel like his Darcy gave me anything special. He was just odd. Darcy is odd and awkward and misunderstood but somehow, maybe its because the Darcy’s before him are so iconic that I couldn’t really get into his character as Darcy. On the other hand, Douglas Booth has a thing for these kinds of roles. I’ve seen him before in a similar one with 2013’s Romeo and Juliet (Review). I haven’t quite decided whether I like him or not but as Bingley, somehow it felt like it worked.

All disappointments aside, I loved the fight scenes (slow motion or not) and the strength of the Bennet girls and how they enter the scene full of character. The setting and landscape and the tone to create the environment works well and its a nice piece to watch especially in the final act of the film. However, it was slightly lacklustre. Whenever I watch a movie like this, I want to catch up with the source material. Maybe it captures a little more than what was translated to the big screen. Its dangerous territory to tread and it just fell short of my expectations. Sad because it had all the elements that I like a lot.

Have you seen Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

Halloween 2018: The Babysitter (2017)

The first movie to kick off the Halloween month is Netflix Original’s The Babysitter!

The Babysitter (2017)

The Babysitter

Director: McG

Cast: Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Robbie Amell, Hana Mae Lee, Bella Thorne, Emily Alyn Lind, Andrew Bachelor, Doug Haley

The events of one evening take an unexpected turn for the worst for a young boy trying to spy on his babysitter. – IMDB

Its undeniable that we’ve seen this formula quite a bit in the last few years. Rewind back to something like Better Watch Out (review) or this year’s Knuckleball (review), both having their individual twist on the “Home Alone” set in a horror concept. Except this one adds in one more twist that makes it a much bloodier affair while also keeping in the horror comedy subgenre. Netflix Originals have been iffy at best if we look back at the averages, but then I’ve only watched the romance and teen stuff so perhaps horror fares a little better. The Babysitter may have its flaws but it still is a satisfying comedic, over the top, horror affair. Hear me out!

THE BABYSITTER

First of all, if you haven’t seen Samara Weaving in Mayhem (review), then you need to add it to your to-watch pile pronto! That movie proves that she can take the bad-ass chick role in an exceptional way and add in some humor in the process. Its actually one of the reasons that I decided to watch The Babysitter. And being the leading lady here, lethal as heck may I add, she does a stellar job. In fact, she is one of the top reasons that The Babysitter is worth the watch. Not to mention, you need to take a look at the boy here played by Judah Lewis who also has some great tricks written for his character up his sleeve. We see him toughen up throughout the film and get over the obvious crush that he has over his hot babysitter. Aside from these two main leads, Samara Weaving’s character Bee takes on a high school crew consisting of some very familiar faces. The first being the constant Netflix appearing face, Bella Thorne playing a cheerleader who honestly plays a very weird and rather insignificant role for the most part. There is also Hana Mae Lee who plays the odd chick, similar vibes to her role in the Pitch Perfect movies. I do like her odd and awkward style. She falls really well into this role so it works with the balance of these characters. The last familiar face is Robbie Amell who is in so many things now including The Duff (review) who plays the tough and psychotic bad boy. There’s a charm to Robbie Amell that makes what he does work although I do have to say, he is lucky that this is a horror comedy which makes it easy to not take him seriously because that’s how his character is meant to be.

The Babysitter

I’m a big fan of this concept of horror. The Home Alone twist and the confined and limited space as a film setting. At the same time, it adds in some over the top elements as well as a little bit of blood and violence and tension. To be fair, this movie did pull off some decent tension for the most part of it. It goes a little off rails at the end and the only thing I disliked about it was how they chose to end it. To avoid any spoilers here, let’s just say, horror movies like to do that and I hate it because most of the time, its unnecessary. Is The Babysitter an exceptional film? It probably isn’t. Many compare it as the lesser version of Green Room. I’ve never seen Green Room but that is on the watch list this month. Keep an eye out for my thoughts on that.

That’s it for the kick-off film. 
The Babysitter is a horror comedy so a nice way to break into the horror month.
There will be some more intense horror as we move along, that I can promise you.

Have you seen The Babysitter? Thoughts?

Announcement: Halloween Marathon 2018 Officially Begins!

Halloween Marathon

The 2018 Halloween Marathon is upon us. It definitely came by quickly enough.

Halloween Marathon has been always an exciting month in the year over here. This year’s horror movies have been quite limited so its going to be an adventure to work on getting rid of some of the movies in My List on Netflix as well as some movies on our shelves that we’ve bought but never seen. We are in the phase of decluttering and trading in our films is one of the phases we are working on. I do have a lot of horror movies to catch up on and with the Netflix October movie releases and other bits here and there with books and hopefully some cooking as well, its going to be a ton of stuff happening and with a decent variety if things go as planned.

Reviews currently being scheduled and writing in progress:

  • The Babysitter (2017)
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2017)
  • Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments (Season 1 & 2)

Some of my top picks:

MOVIES

  • Annihilation
  • The Babadook (because it seems like I’m the only person in the universe that hasn’t seen it yet)
  • Bone Tomahawk
  • Green Room
  • Gantz: 0
  • The Visit
  • What We Do in the Shadows
  • Sharknado: The 4th Awakens
  • Sharknado 5: Global Swarming

TV SERIES (These picks are priority because I want to wrap up the show as they are already done)

  • Scream Queens (Season 2)
  • Hemlock Grove (Season 3)
  • Ash vs Evil Dead (Season 2)

The Maybe List (if I’m in a mood and none of the top picks fit my liking or I want to watch a dumb horror):

  • The Forest
  • It Comes at Night
  • Anaconda
  • Mother!
  • Mama
  • The Open House
  • Winchester

Obviously, the list above is all subject to change and its on what I decide to pick. However, I’m open to any suggestions! If there’s any movie that you want me to review on this list, just leave it in the comments or tweet or email or whatnot and I’ll make sure to bump up the priority. 

Also, as I mentioned before, books will be included in there. I’ve currently started one already so we will be having 2 or 3 hopefully pop up over the month.

On top of the normal programming from movies definitely making it in and others in consideration above, Elwood and I are kicking off Movies & Tea Podcast’s season 2 with our look at Guillermo Del Toro’s directorial effort. With that said, there is a lot of horror movies coming out from there. I’d say that we might get through a movie or two in October if things go as it did in the first season of the show.

Before I wrap this announcements and start the Halloween Marathon out of the gates here, I do want to say that I have a last minute decision of attending the Festival du Nouveau Cinema in Montreal so I’ll be covering up to 10 films there. However, none of those films will be horror, or at least from what I think. So, there will be other things going on here. If the marathon takes a little slide in the background, the second half of October will be in full force. You just need to be patient with me as I work through real life, festival coverage and Halloween marathon.

That’s it for this morning’s announcement! 
We officially start tomorrow morning with a movie review! 🙂

Are you doing anything special for Halloween on or off the blog? Leave a comment and a link to your blog so others can go check it out!

Valentine’s Marathon: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

If you missed the previous review of New Moon, you can find it HERE.

Moving right along in our time crunch before February ends to check out the rest of the Twilight saga, we are at the third movie, Eclipse. After New Moon’s somewhat lackluster viewing, my expectations have never been lower on where it has gone but then, I also feel like once you hit bottom, the only way is up. As long Jacob hangs around, there is still hope. Watching a franchise after its been completely released has that downfall where its already all out as to what will happen so don’t be surprised when we get to Breaking Dawn that I would already have an idea where the story is headed.

Lets stop the rambling and check this one out!

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

twilight eclipse

Director: David Slade

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Billy Burke, Gil Birmingham, Bryce Dallas Howard, Peter Facinelli, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Dakota Fanning

As a string of mysterious killings grips Seattle, Bella, whose high school graduation is fast approaching, is forced to choose between her love for vampire Edward and her friendship with werewolf Jacob. – IMDB

Eclipse is definitely a colossal step up from New Moon and much better than Twilight. I do maintain that Twilight is one of those movie franchises that have to be watched in sequence as the sequels by itself will not stand well alone. The main reason is its characters and how the decisions usually end on some cliffhanger and it carries to the next one. While the stories aren’t complex in itself and has its flaws (which I’ll talk about more later), it still relies heavily on how you feel about its main and supporting characters and the relationship map that has been developed over the last 2 films. With that said, Eclipse does deliver more this time. It has more action and shows other people’s stories rather than just the love triangle and Bella’s crazy intense love for Edward. The supporting characters have a bit more back story as to the pros and cons of Bella becoming a vampire and the central part is still convincing her to consider her options. Its nice that other than the triangle, there is still a little more to learn about the werewolves and vampire histories along with a how things work sort of thing going on on both the werewolf and vampire front. Its something I have criticized about the Twilight saga’s previous two films which seems to be slightly remedied in Eclipse.

twilight eclipse

Bella is slightly more bearable in this one. Although there is this sense of lack of continuation from her character in the New Moon. I say that because in New Moon, she spent a good part of it whining about not caring about her soul and wanting to be changed regardless of the consequences and Edward offers her a condition for him to change her (other than the fact that there is kind of a Volturi high order that it has to happen and everyone acts like she has a choice). Lets say she has a choice and the Cullens can bamboozle the Volturi forever, or else the logic falls apart (unless you’ve read the series, then please do share your knowledge), why would she not accept the condition if she’s willing to do anything, right? But this one she resists with some silly responses and whatnot. My point here is not that the story lacks continuity and logic especially on the love triangle front. But love is subjective and I get that there are a lot of fans out there that do support this story. Perhaps, reading the book will unlock a lot of these answers but its something I’ve never managed to get through because I’m not a big fan of Stephanie Meyer’s writing style. For myself, just watching this film, the story is quite weak.

Its funny because if we take a look at Bella’s love triangle in Eclipse, which is probably at its strongest, I’d probably start seeing Edward in a different light because he’s overrun by strong jealousy for starters which acts a lot out of possessiveness. The scene above not only highlights one of the best scenes since I’m apparently Team Jacob and looking forward to actual kiss but the beginning part highlights that Edward is masked by a lot of bad calls where he uses Bella’s emotions to move a situation the way he likes. Whereas, in this situation, Bella didn’t want to tell Jacob for a particular life and death reason, which was legitimate. Obviously, this is just an example to show how I don’t think that Edward is a perfect character which is fine, because he’s supposed to be perfect to Bella and I guess it does show that as flawed as I find his character to be, the discussion of Edward and Jacob is what shows that I’m becoming more invested into the storyline. I still think Edward’s character lacks depth and consistency while Jacob’s character is written much stronger, probably because he needs to fight harder for Bella and his werewolf story gets a little more attention because of that. On a side note, as I was watching Eclipse, I started seeing how Fifty Shades of Grey was a fan fiction of Edward and Bella, and I’m not sure thats a compliment or not on either/or. We’re not here to discuss that so I’ll leave it at that.

twilight eclipse

Overall, Eclipse suffers from a weak storyline and a lack of consistency in its character’s behaviors and decisions plus loses out by being not very self-contained. However, for fans of the franchise, this third movie definitely is a step up from the previous two. It has as much romance as it has mystery and action. There’s a deeper look at some of the side characters that have been neglected like Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) and Rosalie (Nikki Reed) which I don’t talk about because they never have enough story but this time it focuses a little more on the werewolf tribe and the vampire Cullens, and the history of it all gets a nice emphasis. It has nice training and in turn, a great fight. It has a great score to accompany it all. There are some fantastic moments with Jacob and Bella (as always). I’ve always like the supporting male character more in love triangles so its not too weird that I’m more into their story.

Despite its flaws, Eclipse is entertaining and rather well-paced, even with a 2 hour run time. My first thumbs up on Netflix for a Twilight saga film. I’m pretty happy about that and in a pretty positive feeling going into Breaking Dawn – Part 1.

Valentine’s Marathon: The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)

And we finally continue with the Twilight Saga. Since I already know what to expect from New Moon, as fuzzy as my memory is of it, I had my hesitations. Of course, now there is context to what I remember and perhaps that will help a little. I was pretty midway with Twilight. If you missed the review, you can check it out here.

Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)

new moon

Director: Chris Weitz

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke,

Oh, New Moon, how I wish I felt more different on this second viewing. Fact is, the second complete viewing of New Moon definitely was more successful than the first time I watched the 85% of the film and then had to get off the plane and didn’t care to seek out the ending because it was painfully obvious. While this second viewing was not as painful, New Moon is really for fans of the franchise because it doesn’t stand well on its own. This sequel is long and starts off with Bella and Edward’s breakup which would mean nothing of you didn’t watch Twilight and/or didn’t care about their relationship. At least my former description of their constipated looks now all made sense. New Moon highlights on Jacob, played by Taylor Lautner and his discovery of his werewolf roots while a heartbroken Bella approaches him as distraction and finding adrenaline rushes in attempts to forget her pain and remember Edward. Huh? Did that just make sense? Heartbreak makes us all do dumb things and this was Bella’s version so I rolled with that thought so that I could keep watching.

Twilight New Moon

Twilight had a lot of faults starting from twirly and spinning camerawork which New Moon still frustratingly has. It also still has quite a bit of clunky dialogue to over the top scenes where fans are always blowing as the characters watch each other and walk towards each other and hair was flying in the first or Edward’s shirt is flapping in the wind. However, in Twilight, its strength was in the characters and its chemistry in its first film. While some characters still managed to keep a lot of the charm unfortunately, Bella got on my nerves in New Moon. She was really self and in many ways, manipulative. She felt like a brat when she insisted on being turned and then went along to lead Jacob on and ignore those feelings she obviously seemed to have but wanted to go for the much more adventurous love that left her in the first place. Maybe its because I’m older now that I don’t quite understand her choices because it felt reckless to begin with. Bella being a central character and not appealing to my tastes really doesn’t help, especially when its run time was also incredibly long at over 2 hours.

Twilight New Moon

With Edward leaving the movie for a good part of the film, Taylor Lautner’s Jacob and his knowledge of his werewolf genes plus his development of his relationship with Bella, he actually became quite the intriguing character to watch. It did help that I like dark and brooding characters and he has a really kind heart. I would have liked to see a deeper look into the wolves instead of them just running here and there and how strong and fast they are. Everything felt so on the surface with the wolves and the vampires and the whole deal with Forks and the land. However, the best parts are definitely with Jacob and Bella. The chemistry between them felt different from hers with Edward’s and in a much more positive way, which made it hard to see her seemingly reject him over and over again. I guess if I had to choose, I’d be team Jacob in this film at least. However, putting all that aside, there’s a lot of bad effects here and I can’t handle the sparkling vampires angle, but the werewolf transformation thing is pretty cool.

Twilight New Moon

Overall, New Moon are honestly for those who enjoyed Twilight. It takes a lot of connection with the characters to truly understand their emotions and feel their story a little more. If not, this is quite a long story. While its nice to the Jacob and werewolf angle be elaborated on and see the Jacob and Bella story get more focus in this story and that was the best parts of the film, its faults were in Bella’s character. I can’t say its Kristen Stewart because its honestly the way her character was written that makes it hard to be okay with her decisions and frustrating to listen to her monologues and particularly annoying to watch her be incredibly selfish. One of the standout points for this saga so fair is its soundtrack and I’m hoping that it continues to remain strong.