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!

Horror Marathon: Pulse/Kairo (2001)

And we’re here! The final review of the horror marathon! This year’s definitely been a much better success than last year even if we hit a little bumpy patch the last few days! I’ll do a recap on the changes and such for tomorrow. I have a little new thing lately and this opened up a whole new trove of horror movies to check out which means I’m not really taking a horror movie break after the marathon ends as you’ll still see them scattered about. For the last movie was the original of a remake movie that I like quite a bit (even if others don’t), Pulse. I’ve never seen the original Japanese version of Pulse before so I’m pretty excited to check it out especially when I have quite the treat for you  in about a week related to the director, Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It just seems like everything is aligning to work out perfectly.

Let’s check it out!

Pulse (original title: Kairo) (2001)

Pulse 2001

Director & writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Cast: Haruhiko Kato, Kumiko Aso, Koyuki, Kurume Arisaka, Masatoshi Matsuo

Two groups of people discover evidence that suggests spirits may be trying to invade the human world through the Internet. – IMDB

I guess its important to mention that we are big fans of the remake of Pulse. Perhaps it has its issues but we like it because it does have a nice creep factor and there are some scenes that truly do get us. However, Pulse was also one of those first horror films that I watched eons ago and haven’t revisited so maybe after being exposed more to other horror films, I’m like it less now. I’ll have to review it one day for here. However, from what I remember of the remake and this one, it does take the same story and uses a different approach. There are some scenes that seem to reflect each other however, it still sends off a different vibe. For those who like slower, psychological and a building suspense and creepy atmosphere, the original Pulse does it so well. I didn’t even know I was scared until after the movie ended and I was scared to go into dark rooms (I’m already afraid of the dark so it doesn’t help) and then looking deep into dark corners and the whole thing. I’m writing this piece up at night so the images of the movies are scaring the heck out of me, by the way. Excuse me if there are no images. I just can’t… I guess that is a testament on how I feel about the movie, which is that it is done pretty great.

With that said, I do think the idea of reading subtitles (which usually doesn’t bother me) did hinder the experience because the translation was a little odd. I also thought that some of the story was pretty slow and a little predictable. So slow movies and subtitle reading can sometimes have its issues. Pulse does keep you engaged as you try to figure out what is going on. You might know the story a little or not but from our memories of the remake, this does shed a different angle to that story. If anything, this one has a more mysterious vibe to it. It gives you less of a back story but more like some scientific stuff and spiritual talk and images to piece what the whole deal that these people dragged into the mix make their own conclusions. I like movies that don’t shove everything in your face and let you decipher the story.

Perhaps what I like the most about Pulse is the atmosphere and just how it portrayed the spirits. Everything feels so uneasy. It keeps teasing you to expect something to show up or happen and it may or may not. It plays around with your anticipations and expectations and I love that so much. Talking about the spirits (just a little), the introduction of the first one is feels a little weird but I’m telling you, perhaps its the weirdness that has it stuck on my mind right now and whenever I think about it, it just downright creeps me out and makes me incredibly uneasy.

With that said, quick review for Pulse, see it if you haven’t. If you hated the remake and have no interest in the original, I’d say to give it a go anyways. Its pretty neat and takes on a different angle from the remake. It is a tad slow and there’s some scientific talk and its rather dated, but there are some effective creepy moments and the whole tone of the film and atmosphere works really well.

Horror Marathon Wrap-up & Overview!

And we are at the end!!! Happy Halloween!

If you missed any of the posts, the Halloween Horror marathon page is updated with this year’s movie reviews and TV binges. You can find it HERE.

Its been quite a month. Hooray to slight organization! I won’t lie that I started the Saw franchise in mid or late September because I was anticipating the work craze in the last week and still, it wasn’t quite enough to not skip two days. However, I am pretty happy with it. We discovered some great movies and TV series. The Autopsy of Jane Doe being the indie that scared me a lot even if it wasn’t perfect and one that I honestly love a lot. Unfortunately, books and recipes didn’t quite get their appearance because I took on a huge task however I did work hard so I am near the end so those reviews will go up and I will proceed to try and complete my Goodreads challenge which is incredibly behind because of IT. As for IT, I plan on working on some compare and contrast piece of the adaptations/remake/source material.

The overall feeling of I have of Saw is pretty underwhelming. Yet again I remind you that gore and blood doesn’t impress me. Making me sick and making me scared or anxious are two very different things. I loved the direction of the first one a lot and the last two did alright but everything in the middle was really meh. I’d have to say, after so many years of these marathons, I like even the most nonsensical slasher films in Halloween or Friday the 13th over any of the Saw films in the middle. Plus, Saw has to really been considered as an entire story since we spend each movie catching up with Jigsaw and his grand plan. It does show his genius and in a certain way if you look at it, it does make sense since the 7 movies aren’t really that far apart from each other on a timeline. It would be interesting to see how it would measure up if put on a timeline and see if it all makes sense. That was the original plan but work took over and here we are, struggling to get this final wrap-up before the clock strikes midnight here in the Eastern Time Zone.

With that said, I’ll keep this short and sweet since I’ve wasted enough time trying to record a video and having that fall apart.

My top 3 faves of this year in terms of movies would be (in no particular order): The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Pulse & IT (2017) & Saw is somewhere there but I can’t decide which. As for fave TV series, Stranger Things takes that one for sure. Actually the TV Binge for Stranger Things Season 2 should be coming up also. 🙂

That’s it for this Horror Marathon!
Any suggestions for next year’s horror feature?
Are you a Saw franchise fan?
What movies are your horror marathon picks?