Halloween Finale 2018: Green Room (2015)

Next up in the Halloween marathon and the official final film to wrap it up, we jump into a movie that I have heard a lot of great things but kept putting it off. Green Room packs quite a decent cast like Patrick Stewart and Anton Yelchin plus has an intriguing plot. Two things that made me want to watch this.

Lets check it out.

Green Room (2015)

green cloud

Director (and writer): Jeremy Saulnier

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, David W. Thompson, Mark Webber, Macon Blair, Brent Werner, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart

A punk rock band is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar. – IMDB

Thrillers take the right mindset to watch and I have to admit that the two times that I sat down to watch this one was not in the right one. However, the good part is that it wasn’t hard to follow and the tension was definitely there. There are layers to this story as the story starts with a scene about picking their desert island bands and it highlights a little just who the different personalities in this band are. Then the plot starts quickly and moves forward as they try to figure out how to escape while negotiating and the neo-Nazi movement lead by Darcy (played by Patrick Stewart) has their own turnaround events and we get pieces of each side. Its executed really well on that level.

Green Room

Its a horror film so characters tend to get out of the picture fairly quickly and its good in a certain way. For one, there is a real thought to how these characters end up. Its a fairly bloody affair. At the same time, it keeps the story more contained leaving us with the bigger names in the film like Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots. And there is a lot to like about these characters. While Yelchin’s character plays more of an indecisive character, his character develops a lot as the situation hardens him in some ways. While Imogen Poots’ character was one not from the band, so carries a kind of mystery as to how much to trust her while she also gave a certain unhinged feeling so making it a little harder to truly believe her intentions. However, its also a toughness that this group trapped in the room looking to escape need.

Overall, Green Room is pretty fun and intense. It had a decent amount of thrills and was executed really well whether the pacing or the character development. There are twists and turns to the stories to create mystery and awe. It went by really quick and never felt like it dragged on anywhere and was an intriguing one to watch.

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Halloween 2018: Lights Out (2016) – Rewatch

A bit of cheating today as I rewatched Lights Out with my husband who had not seen it in the first time. Main reason is that I’m under a mountain of work to finish a deadline for tomorrow so this will have to do for now as I couldn’t finish the movie I was watching after this rewatch. Review for that coming up soon though. 🙂

In this second viewing after two years, I still remember a lot of how I felt the first time and the scenes which is quite impressive to say about a film because I have a horrible memory. It may be a second viewing but I still enjoyed the tension and the use of lights and the whole premise of it. I still see some of the flaws that I mentioned in the original review but its easily ignored as it keeps a decent paced because of its controlled run time. It never lingers too long to be over dramatic and keeps its horror moments even some of their predictable jump scares to work in the realm of what they are doing.

Head over to the original review when I saw it at Fantasia to see my full thoughts. It really hasn’t changed that much.

Tranquil Dreams

The next movie in the Fantasia Festival Line-up before almost a week off before the next one is Lights Out. I haven’t been able to finish the trailer on this one and it hits a lot of my fears such as darkness. Its one I am excited, skeptical and incredibly nervous and frightened to go see. Lights Out is presented as a Montreal Special Screening and was a sold out show. It also presented me with one of the most engaging film watching experience. Please note the film watching and not film. It seemed to need that clarification on Twitter. Everyone screamed and laughed and emoted together. Maybe it will disturb a normal theatre experience but Fantasia is a different vibe because a ton of people there are film buffs if not horror film buffs which adds on to the fun.

Lights Out (2016) 

Lights Out

Director: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Teresa…

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Halloween 2018: TV Binge: The Haunting of Hill House (Season 1, 2018)

We are back with the horror marathon continuation. Some of you know that I am a huge Mike Flanagan fan. I think that he has a lot of skills as a director and delivers some great atmospheric horror. When I saw that The Haunting of Hill House is created by Mike Flanagan, it went to the top of the pile right away. And here we are…

The Haunting of Hill House (Season 1, 2018)

the haunting of hill house

Director: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Michael Huisman, Elizabeth Reaser, Kate Siegel, Carla Gugino, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas, Victoria Pedretti

Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it. – IMDB

The Haunting of Hill House is adapted from a book which I haven’t read before so no comparison from me on how closely or loosely adapted it is. However, as many great reviews as there are out there, there were some pacing issues here. Some scenes were drawn out but I won’t get into which to keep this spoiler free. If you disagree, you can send me an email and I will tell you which and you can tell me why I am wrong. One of my biggest comments about almost all Netflix series is pacing, it always has his first half slow development and halfway point has this turning climactic point that changes the game then the second half of the series is mindblowingly awesome. Same applies here. Pacing doesn’t equate execution completely because in terms of creepy and atmosphere, this one delivers them in great beautiful haunting degrees and while there are some jump scares, they have this lingering effect. I say this because I had one scene that startled me and I had a delay in reaction from screaming really loud because I was terrified.

the haunting of hill house

As much as I think the pacing for the first half doesn’t match the second half, I can’t exactly dismiss it either because it gave us a one on one time with each of the Crain kids and their views on Hill House but more importantly, their personality and relationship with each other. It told us a story from each of their lives and we can see the impact that their childhood at Hill House had on them as we alternated masterfully between the flashbacks to the present. Its this part that subconsciously gives the connection to the characters. Of course, some of the stories are stronger than the other ones but thinking back, it fits together with the end game. Talking about character, Hill House is a character by itself. The layout and the decor to its past and its previous inhabitants. There is a lot of mystery behind it.

the haunting of hill house

As much as I felt that I am not as excited about The Haunting of Hill House as everyone else seems to be, Mike Flanagan does deliver on the atmosphere and giving legit jumpscares that were effective and fitting. This series is in its details. The ghosts are probably more than you can see unless you observe really carefully. However, the feeling that something is lurking or something doesn’t feel right or how the ghosts appear are all done really well.

Halloween 2018: The Open House (2018)

Next up on our Halloween marathon journey, the sparse marathon that I’ve seemed to make bad choices all over the place on movies that only seem to have horror elements to this point.  However, this one is a home invasion Netflix original horror called The Open House released earlier this year.

Let’s check it out!

The Open House (2018)

the open house

Directors (and writers): Matt Angel & Suzanne Coote

Cast: Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Patricia Bethune, Sharif Atkins, Aaron Abrams, Katie Walder

A teenager and his mother find themselves besieged by threatening forces when they move into a new house. – IMDB

Running at a little over 90 minutes, The Open House shouldn’t have been a chore to watch. Its a reasonable length but all this movie did was feel like a waste of time. It took the first half hour to set up the story and get them to the location and in the process of it all and continuing afterwards into a series of unnecessary atmospheric sounds and cliche moments and trying to create eerie moments in some unneeded parts. It feels like this movie is a lesson on less is more. Things can be normal for a moment. It doesn’t have to be intense dramatic scenes all the time. Or posing obvious questions about the odds things happening or “how weird an open house is” but then not noticing a squeaky door crack open in the hallway while standing in the kitchen, for a very  basic example that packs in both nonsense and cliche together.

I don’t like calling movies waste of time because there has to be a mentality of why this movie was greenlit despite my obvious lack of entertainment for it. The lackluster part really goes down to  the ending. Its never been my thing to have perfect bow-tied endings. Its nice to have vague endings in a way and while I try to stay spoiler free, I’ll talk further about what I think about the ending and what it was trying to achieve but didn’t. I could be wrong but if the movie didn’t feel like a eye-rolling cliche fest in the first place, while having a few better moments in the final act, the ending really did it in for me.

So here we go – SPOILER ALERT – highlight if you have seen the movie or don’t plan on seeing it so don’t mind reading about it:

The movie ended with pretty much everyone dead and us never really knowing who the killer is. What their purpose is is a question mark and nothing much else gets answered except our possible suspects pretty much get ruled out. The purpose behind this ending (as ridiculous as I found it) is that sometimes, the mystery is the horror that there is someone preying on open houses and the families in it. The unknown is the chilling factor here. Sometimes things don’t have reasons. 

Like I said, I could be wrong, Sadly, The Open House was executed so poorly that if there was a message, it just didn’t deliver well. There are some redeeming scenes at the end when things get a little more fast-paced but for the most part, its really quite a boring affair that takes too long to start and overdoes it with cliches making it also very predictable on what will happen next. I’m rarely so harsh on films but I have pet peeves specifically about movies and this one ticked off so many of those boxes.

Halloween 2018: Annihilation (2018)

Continuing on with the Halloween movie watching, we’re back to something a little more current with a 2018 film. While a lot of people got this on Netflix, Canada got the theatrical release and therefore only just got it available on Netflix now. I remember watching the trailer for this and being incredibly interested in it. It felt like it would be a horror thriller with science fiction and such. Honestly, at this point, I don’t remember much from the trailer except the general storyline.

Annihilation (2018)

annihilation

Director: Alex Garland

Cast: Natalie Portman, Benedict Wong, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson

A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don’t apply. – IMDB

As usual, I’m going to be clear that I’ve never read the source material so this write-up is based completely on the film itself.

Annihilation comes as a midway point  for myself. I had some high expectations for it when I first saw it announced but somehow that feeling has gone away a little. As for whether it met my expectations, I’d have to say that it did in one way and then it didn’t quite reach what I had expected it to be completely. A part of me also thinks that this isn’t quite horror. Its more of a scifi/fantasy thriller with horror elements. With that said, Annihilation is visually very pretty. The creativity behind the world that the five scientists go into definitely was an eye-opening experience just to see the ideas behind it and how it was executed. The execution itself is a recount of events from Natalie Portman’s character and with that centers her as being the main character which makes it out by all means but then it jumps from mostly in the past rundown of events but jumping back to the present as she is being questioned.

Annihilation

The creatures in this world and the flora and the colorfulness that covers all over the world has this sinister yet mesmerizing sort of effect. The world creation actually is the plus in Annihilation. Its the mystery that surrounds it which makes it so intriguing to keep watching just to see what more there is around the corner. There is this creeping feeling of something bad always going to happen because of the little that we know especially with the history of no one making it back from this area. At the same time, there is a lot of genuinely dangerous moments that happen at fairly unexpected moments. There are some that pack in quite a lot of atmosphere building tension.

Annihilation

As for the cast itself, I haven’t seen Natalie Portman in too many movies so I’m not sure that I’m exactly impressed with her performance. To be honest, everyone does a well enough job but nothing really does standout because it becomes fairly obvious that the scientists here are only half developed especially with anyone outside of Natalie Portman. Everyone seems to have some past that gives them some form of weakness but its never given enough attention to make them memorable. Some of them seem to fall a tad flat. For anyone back in the facility with Benedict Wong who only plays as a tough interrogator while Oscar Isaac is a survivor that pretty much that falls into a coma after the events and is the main reason behind the mystery and why Natalie Portman’s character goes into this area. His parts are best described as powerful because of what the scene delivers but its Oscar Isaac and he always has some presence but he’s more of a supporting leaning into cameo part. However, there are some familiar faces like Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tessa Thompson.

Overall, Annihilation is visually very impressive and the story and execution uses ambiguity to create mystery and suspense and that works especially with the beautiful world they have created. However, there’s something lacking about it that makes it hard to really be completely memorable and that probably gets down to lack of character development. There has this effect of giving the story something to think about at the end but then, I’m not sure it actually lingered that long in my mind.

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.

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?