Double Feature: Insidious: The Last Key (2018) & Fantasy Island (2020)

Moving on track with the next double feature on Halloween Movie Marathon month! We’re wrapping up the Insidious franchise with the 4th film, Insidious: The Last Key and I didn’t know what to pair it with so I went to this year’s release, Fantasy Island! I sure seem to be going on a Blumhouse trip with my movie choices so far in the movie marathon.

Let’s check it out!

Insidious: The Last Key (2018)

In

Director: Adam Robitel

Cast: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Kirk Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Josh Stewart, Tessa Ferrer

Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet, as she is drawn back to her ghostly childhood home, where the terror began. – IMDB

The Last Key is pretty much the direct prequel of the Insidious movies. It takes place right before the events of the Lambert family call from the first movie. In this one, Elise Rainier explores her past as she investigates with Specs and Tucker to her childhood home and the memories of what she believes that she unleashed from a hidden door that she unlocked. As she confronts her brother and his family as well as the spirit that may be haunting the current owner of the house.

The Last Key honestly just banks on the love for the character of Elise Rainier played by Lin Shaye as well as Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) and rightfully so because they are truly the best part of the movie. While the story does have a few twists and turns, The Last Key has dropped another level from its previous 2 sequels and reduced itself to almost going through the same type of story. The Further might still have a few lores to offer but all we’re getting from the scares are jumpscares. They are effective a few of the moments but the horror is nothing that lingers.

As much as it doesn’t sound like The Last Key is a lot of fun (and it was okay since I’ve been rather jumpy in general so it got me on a few jumpscares), the issue I have with all these Insidious sequels is how necessary it all is. Sure, its great to give the starting point of how Elise Rainier discovers her powers and then links up her past with her present and then brings on this lovely ending and rounds back to the beginning, its all some clever writing on that point but its wandered a little far from what made Insidious good at the beginning. The monsters and spirits and whatever is hiding in The Further is alright for this one but something seems missing and I can’t quite pinpoint what it is whether its the lack of lingering fear or the atmosphere and tension not being balanced well enough or the “twist” happening a little early.

Fantasy Island (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Jeff Wadlow

Cast: Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Jimmy O. Yang, Portia Doubleday, Ryan Hansen, Michael Rooker, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Mike Vogel, Kim Coates

When the owner and operator of a luxurious island invites a collection of guests to live out their most elaborate fantasies in relative seclusion, chaos quickly descends. – IMDB

Fantasy Island plays on the concept that rides between supernatural and a virtual reality escape room sort of deal. Each character that arrives on this island comes with their own story and baggage which gives them their own story arc and what happens to them on the Fantasy Island. Its main lesson is about how fantasies when you play them out to their end might not be as perfect as in the imagination, emphasizing the point that nothing is perfect in life. While the concept and premise is alright, perhaps one of the issues is in its execution and how it all plays out. Sure, there’s some cleverness to how the story meshes from one character to the next as things become clear quicker than for others, but it all comes together in this rather bland experience and when the dots connect, its not too hard to guess what the twist is.

Push aside how this movie was rather disappointing and not very exciting to watch with some scenes that seemed to be pulled out of Pretty Little Liars blended with Saw especially for Lucy Hale’s character, Melanie. While the casting is pretty alright with Maggie Q, Lucy Hale and Michael Pena and the setting of Fantasy Island is beautiful and there are a few surprising bits, the movies suffers the most at being at its supposed to be. If we talk supernatural, the lore and whatnot isn’t really covered too much and if you talk horror, its not scary or creepy and if you look at its thriller aspect, the twist wasn’t exactly hard to guess. As a one time viewing, its alright. The beginning with the introduction of the characters and how they all fall into their own fantasies and the mystery of it is more fun to watch than the second half when things start to come together. I seem to be hating on this a lot. In reality, its more that I’m indifferent towards it. Some of the fantasies were pretty fun and some just didn’t really do anything for the character. It just feels like Fantasy Island could have been more than what was delivered here.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two movies?

Double Feature: Dawn of the Dead (1978) & Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Halloween marathon continues as we move onto the next pairing of the next movie of the Living Dead franchise, Dawn of the Dead matched up with the 2004 remake that also happens to be one of my favorite zombie movies (but surprisingly, I’ve never written a review for it).

Let’s check it out!

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Dawn of the Dead 1978

Director (and writer): George A. Romero

Cast: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, David Crawford, David Early, Richard France

Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall. – IMDB

Set in a shopping mall with four people barricading themselves in a hidden nook of the building while being in the more optimal position of being somewhere that can support their needs for the time-being, Dawn of the Dead is a fairly straight-forward movie of people with different skill sets stuck together with an escape helicopter on the roof ready to leave if anything happens.

With movies like this with small cast and one setting, its really a big reliance of giving space to set up both the location and the characters while of course, learning more about the zombies in this world. In terms of the location, the mall is pretty well laid out. There is a lot more exploring of the key locations they frequent both at the beginning when they first get there and the end when a group of raiders come crashing in and the aftermath of how to escape this now unsafe space.

The characters quickly drop from four to three which spans for a decent part of the movie. Considering the small group, its expected that it doesn’t drop too fast. The three characters, while diverse in their skills and they do build a bonding together and a way to function together, its a fairly slow part of the movie as they live in the mundane routine of being trapped together. At the same time, they are caught in the situation of the girlfriend character being pregnant but also trying to help with what she can to not be the typical damsel in distress. These three characters are okay to watch. Perhaps the least intriguing parts is the middle bit when they are together and it gets a little slow. Not to mention the group of motorcycle raiders comes crashing in and is led by a cameo role by Tom Savini.

The first movie gave an introduction that the zombies are slow and came back from the dead. In this one, its still a bit of the same except highlighting the spread of the zombie apocalypse. Perhaps the ending is where the key point is that links to the next movie a little bit (as an afterthought of watching Day of the Dead, that I will talk about soon).

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the Dead

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, Michael Barry, Lindy Booth, Jayne Eastwood, Boyd Banks, Inna Korobkina, R.D. Reid, Kim Poirier

A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall. – IMDB

Dawn of the Dead remake is one of the few movies that I enjoy in Zack Snyder’s filmography. Its not that I dislike it so much as I’m just not a big fan of a good portion of his latest work with DC movies. But that’s a discussion for another day (maybe if Movies and Tea ever does a season on Zack Synder). As a full length feature film debut, Snyder shows some great potential. The remake takes some similar choices such as its setting and also having a pregnant woman in the group however, that about stops since it then proceeds with a great choice of having a bigger cast of characters. It amends the slow pace of the first film. Of course, the arguing point of having more characters is that these people will have less depth and a varying amount of time spent with them but then on the upside, gives more bodies to be lost when the time comes. In reality, zombie movies work a lot like shark movies in that aspect, right?

The array of characters actually does give a lot of room for more relationships to bond and some standout characters to pop up. Sarah Polley as the main female character Ana is really great as she is rather tough right from the start to the end and she forms a connection with Michael (Jake Weber) who is a quiet and resourceful character that seems to have some story behind him as well. One of the more fun times is the slice of joy that Ving Rhames’ character Kenneth finds as he befriends a man across the parking lot that runs the gun shop. With security guards and people of different backgrounds and priorities in mind, this group eventually faces the same issue of having to find a way to exit which leads them to a credit scene that shows their escape and what happens.

Watching the original and then watching the remake again actually makes for a great appreciation since the script itself as well as some of the supporting roles give a nod to the original. Whether its having Tom Savini also pop up in the role as the country sheriff as well as one of the main characters in the original, Ken Foree pops up as a Televangelist role saying the same line that he did in the original “When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth”. I may have forgotten some of the other things but noticing these little elements adds a lot to this film in general.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Dawn of the Dead (original, remake or both)? Thoughts?

Double Feature: Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) & Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

Years after watching the first movie of the Insidious franchise HERE, this year’s Halloween marathon is going to wrap up the rest of the movies. For starters, lets move on to the Chapter 2 and Chapter 3.

Let’s check it out!

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

Insidious: Chapter 2

Director (and co-writer): James Wan

Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson

The Lamberts believe that they have defeated the spirits that have haunted their family, but they soon discover that evil is not beaten so easily. – IMDB

Continuing on from the first movie, the Lamberts are dealing with the aftermath from the first movie and realizing that things are quite over as the danger still looms in the distance. While Insidious was something of an atmospheric sort of movie with a little more tension build up and having some decent jump scare moments, it all fitted together really well to give some lasting fear. Insidious: Chapter 2 is more of a familiar horror story. It plays its a cards a little too early and a little too obvious. Sure, it still has some decent jump scare moments but none of it is very lasting in the horror department as its more of an anticipated move and an unexpected time being done. The tension build-up definitely doesn’t play as well.

The same cast of its first film and the characters are still here. To be fair, they all come back into their roles in a good way. The story gives it more backstory as well as drawing more details into The Further’s lore and how it all works (in a non-chronological way). The backstory focuses on the past of the father character Josh when he was a boy and had his encounter at one point which is where the movie’s story pivots most of the time and the key of how he gets caught up in The Further.

In reality, Insidious: Chapter 2 isn’t exactly a horrible movie just it falls frequently in the predictable bit. I’m just not sure whether its because its first film pulled out a lot of the scary tricks that it set up the world in such a complete way that its sequel just couldn’t match up. For myself, it was more of a disappointment than it was a bad movie overall.

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

Director (and writer): Leigh Whannell

Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Lin Shaye, Tate Berney, Steve Coulter, Hayley Kiyoko, Corbett Tuck

A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity. – IMDB

It feels like most franchises need to head backwards in time to give itself into a deeper sense of the lore that before those previous movies, this The Further business still exist. Usually, I’m not totally behind it as most of the time, its just an excuse for studios to bank on good movie ideas to drag it out. I can’t say that Insidious: Chapter 3 wasn’t doing that but I happen to also love Lin Shaye’s character of Elise and its a backstory of how she starts working with Specs and Tucker. Elise, Specs and Tucker really are a huge highlight of Insidious who brings a little of comedy to the whole thing plus the three characters seem to build up the best. It could be that Leigh Whannell does act in the role of Specs while this time around being both the director and the writer so really bringing to life something that he envisioned.

With that said, Insidious: Chapter 3 does have a lot of the same issues as the second one. Its essentially a collection of predictable jump scares. There are some eerie moments and figures/shadows in the background. Its just the story of teenagers wanting to bring dead parents back to life isn’t exactly an original concept and of course, summoning something worse. On the upside, the way the film is structured does work to build a little more tension than Chapter 2. It has to do with the story focusing around a teenage girl who ends up bedridden and unable to walk, making her incredibly vulnerable. Nothing like vulnerability to make things more intense, right?

Between Chapter 2 and 3, I fluctuate a lot about which one I think is better even if they both are far from being as memorable as the first one (even if you break down Insidious, it might not hold up as well as the first viewing, which is why I’ve never gone back for a second viewing). After this double feature, I definitely feel like Chapter 3 pulls ahead a little.

That’s it for this double feature!
What’s your thoughts on the Insidious franchise?

Double Feature: Night of the Living Dead (1968) & Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Its’s October!! And that means its time for the kick-off of the annual Halloween Marathon. This year is going to continuing on with the normal format of double features, released (hopefully) every other day. The focus in the the Living Dead franchise as well as finishing off the Insidious franchise which I had reviewed the first movie a few years ago.

Time for the first post of the marathon and of course, what other way to do it than to do a Night of the Living Dead original and remake double feature!

Let’s check it out!

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Director (and co-writer): George A. Romero

Cast: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Kyra Schon

A ragtag group of Pennsylvanians barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monsters who are ravaging the East Coast of the United States. – IMDB

George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is a movie that is a blindspot on my list. Everyone likes to refer to it when talking about classic zombie movies so it was time to give this one a go. 1960s film so its essentially a black and white film. Black and white does do horror quite a good favor as it boosts a bit of the creepiness which is the main focus of what Night of the Living Dead portrays in its story with its slow-moving zombies. The movie is a rather revolutionary film as Romero casts a black actor as his main male lead that delivers quite the performance. At the same time, some of the characters especially the female character is kind of useless who remains in still shock or screaming panic. At the same time, the the “damsel in distress” does add a little to the tension since she essentially can’t help with the situation much and probably creates more problems than solutions.

Romero’s zombies are slow and attracted by the sense of human flesh about. At this point, these people who end up at this house together don’t know what is going on except that the dead aren’t staying dead (I think one of the posters uses that tagline). Of course, at this day and age, what zombies have we not seen and perhaps because of how the zombies themselves have gotten so much better with technology its easier to nitpick on how not scary they all are. Its unfair to compare it to current technology but my point is that watching it as a first watch now is a little harder to appreciate it for all its glory when it was released in the 1960s.

However, Night of the Living Dead as I think back to this viewing does start to be one that I would revisit. I’m not a huge fan of black and white films, somehow it adds a little something to the horror element naturally perhaps because it plays with the darker tones and hides things in the shadows easier. At the same time, the main character Ben, played by Duane Jones is pretty good and resourceful. As the group splits up because of their own need to survive by what they believe is best for the situation, the story does turn up. I’m not a huge fan of this type of ending but its definitely a shocking and unexpected one. Credit where its due.

Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Night of the Living Dead 1990

Director: Tom Savini

Cast: Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, Tom Towles, McKee Anderson, William Butler, Katie Finneran, Bill Moseley, Heather Mazur, David W. Butler

The unburied dead return to life and seek human victims. – IMDB

Night of the Living Dead remake is exactly what it is. Its definitely one of the most similar-to-the-original remakes that is out there. There isn’t a whole lot of differences other than the female character’s personality and the ending. I can see that the writers probably were on the same wavelengths at the time as they changed the two things that I didn’t enjoy as much from the original. Its a coincidence but then did the changes make the remake better than the original? In reality, the two actually score about the same for myself after having some time to mull over it.

See as the story is the same with very minor details being changed (aside from the ending that I will talk about later), the first point will be to talk about the change in the female character Barbara played by Patricia Tallman who I found much more engaging and fun to watch since she’s a stronger female lead who works together with Ben, played by Tony Todd. While I understand in the 60s, it was normal for women in the original to be damsel in distress, in the 90s its a different story that does work fairly well. With that said, Tony Todd is not just the Candyman and its nice to see him in this role (which I didn’t know about prior to the viewing) since he’s a decent actor and takes on the role pretty well. I actually did think the role of Harry was better portrayed in this one also. There are some bigger scenes with bigger moments as the characters try to survive.

If we take a look at the second significant change and that being the ending, the original might be a little more surprising than this one. This one was a tad predictable. While its a more acceptable ending for myself, is it really better than the original? That is really based on preference. In general, the remake is a decent one although there were some parts that had some scenes that were a little meh showing especially its age as well. Plus, perhaps its the fact that this one is in color that the flaws and eeriness of the zombies is less effective than its original. Its hard to not compare the two films seeing as its essentially the same movie but done in a different decade with a better developed cinematography and effects.

Halloween Double Feature: The Ranger (2018) & Summer of ’84 (2018)

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Its been a little while since the last Halloween double feature due to the intermission of Festival du Nouveau Cinema and Toronto After Dark happening. However, we are back in action with double feature #5 looking at 2 movies currently on Shudder that I wanted to watch but didn’t get a chance in 2018’s Fantasia Festival: The Ranger and Summer of ’84! Its a bit late but let’s wrap this marathon up (even though technically its already over).

Let’s check it out!

The Ranger (2018)

The Ranger

Director (and co-writer): Jenn Wexler

Cast: Chloe Levine, Jeremy Holm, Granit Lahu, Jeremy Pope, Bubba Weiler, Amanda Grace Benitez

Teen punks, on the run from the cops and hiding out in the woods, come up against the local authority – an unhinged park ranger with an axe to grind. – IMDB

In concept and premise, The Ranger is a really fun throwback to 80’s slasher. It uses the whole punk element to its character as well as in its soundtrack as well which works to a certain extent. The Ranger has the whole slasher thing with an unhinged character that does work in the books as well and possibly ends up to be one of the more standout elements.

The Ranger stumbles mostly because of its short run time. Its a rare thing for me to say because I usually complain that films are too long and ends up causing a movie to drag on without reason. However, in The Ranger’s case, it actually still has pacing issues. It spends a lot of time showing off its one-dimensional characters and their rather linear development of the situation even from its obvious deaths. It also spends a lot of time showing off how unlikeable the majority of these characters are, making them less likely characters to root for. The character that does get more attention would be its female lead who is a fairly tough girl who also has her past connection with this area and The Ranger himself. The deal is that while there is a slight touch on the connection, there are still a lot of depth that gets overlooked making it hard to connect with her character either.

The Ranger isn’t all bad. There is a tough female lead for one despite its lack of depth as mentioned above. However, The Ranger himself, played by Jeremy Holm is really great most of the time. The unhinged characters are always fascinating to see unfold on screen. He elevates to a point in his lair that really drives the movie to a very unsettling and creepy feeling. That scene alone is the best one. Of course, it also focuses on those ramped up tension that tries to build with each supporting character’s death which mostly is fairly creative and works well in the slasher realm.

Summer of ’84 (2018)

Summer of '84

Director: Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell (RKSS)

Cast: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew, Tiera Skovbye, Rich Sommer, Jason Gray-Stanford, Shauna Johannesen

After suspecting that their police officer neighbor is a serial killer, a group of teenage friends spend their summer spying on him and gathering evidence, but as they get closer to discovering the truth, things get dangerous. – IMDB

If you could take the idea of Disturbia and then add in the character structure of Stranger Things, you would get Summer of ’84. Seeing as both Disturbia and Stranger Things are my favorites, its hard to say that this one wasn’t a win right from the premise alone. There are still elements here that don’t quite work as well which mostly goes playing with the reveal and juggling the truth and smokes and mirrors kind of thing.

Summer of ’84 was high on my anticipated films list in 2018 so I had some expectations for this one which I’m not sure exactly reached the height of what I had wanted it to be versus the reality of how it turned out. But, Summer of ’84 had a lot of well-executed moments and tense moments and even some fun moments for good measure and never forgetting that it is teenagers that we are dealing with.

Summer of ’84 is a lot of familiar territory and meshes some of my faves together. At the same time, its soundtrack and style and even its references truly shows off the 80s very well. Its a rather immersive experience to watch. The atmosphere building and the whole use of the community playing together outside is a nice addition that makes everything so much more natural. There are some genuinely tense moments. Where it stumbles is that the movie at times feels slightly disjointed in pulling all the elements together however the boys here are rather fun to watch but adds a fresh dynamic to this group. Its not a standout sort of film but its a fun little indie horror that works for the most part.

Have you seen these two indie horror films?

 

Halloween Double Feature: Get Out (2017) & Hereditary (2018)

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This next double feature should probably be called the high hype indie pairing where both of these films are indie horror films that got a lot of hype and love upon its first release and both of them have been on my radar since all those great reviews scattered across the blogosphere. So here we are, getting it both done at the same time!

Let’s check it out! *crossing my fingers that they live up to the hype*

Get Out (2017)

Get Out

Director (and writer): Jordan Peele

Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, LaKeith Stanfield

A young African-American visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point. – IMDB

Two types of movies that are hard to write about: movies that are fantastic and movies that are so indifferent, its just a waste of time to write about. Get Out is definitely the first one where its just so thrilling and creepy and weird and yet, it lands well for probably 90% of the times. Usually, comedy inserts in these films don’t bother me but for this film, there were some issues of putting comedy where it probably wasn’t time for even if thinking back, I probably wouldn’t have taken out the character’s bits, probably just shifted it around, maybe. With that said, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is amazing with twists that work and subtly creepy/unsettling bits and a good balance and execution of the ideas and unveiling the plot one step at a time, never rushing it forward.

The long awaited film that is finally watched on my list! Its rare that films actually live up to the hype and Get Out does. Whether its in the terms of psychological horror or the pacing or the characters, everything here is done with a great balance and great eye for things that come into play. None of the awkwardness in the beginning is left unminded to by the end and that does give this a lovely completeness, a rarity nowadays when movies always want to end with a possibility of a sequel. Kudos to Get Out for finding their way to create this unique piece of cinema that is mysterious, thrilling and subtly horrifying. I’m not going to talk to much about it in fear of ruining anything for those who haven’t seen it but its definitely worth a watch.

Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary

Director (and writer): Ari Aster

Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtel, Jake Brown

After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets. – IMDB

Hereditary is an odd film. The characters are rather odd, the family is weird, their history is mysterious and the people they encounter is also a bit out there also. Its like an onion which you peels away the pieces with each event and it leads to the end game. With that said, the best part of Hereditary is its execution, the atmosphere and Toni Collette.

The execution is on point mostly because is this mix between playing with the scenes using the miniature pieces that Toni Collette’s character makes which also ends up melling the reality into a morbid permanent display. The movie is pretty slow-burn and with that, the atmosphere and horror is presented subtly and becomes rather unsettling as the characters themselves are mostly repressing their feelings and quiet until it reaches a breaking point.

With that said, Toni Collette’s performance as the mom is great. She is dealt the worst cards as we start the movie knowing she is coping with llthe loss of her mother and dealing with the effects it had on her family especially her teenage daughter and then what happens with her daughter afterwards. Her character is the anchor of the film as it goes through a one person show almost of discovering the secrets of her family with possession and about her mother. Of course, the odd character here goes to Milly Shapiro as daughter Charlie who is rather odd both in her actions and has one of the most shocking scenes here, a scene that marks the turning point of this story. Its an outstanding performance from a young actress.

Hereditary does do a lot right in direction, execution and the horror of the whole situation. The ending is a bit mind boggling which warranted some rethinking to piece together (kind of). Overall, Hereditary is a pretty good movie. The process of watching it was great even if the ending felt a little in the left field (but that might just be my whole comprehending issues).

That’s it for Halloween Double Feature #4!
Two very highly renowned movies paired together! Have you seen them? Thoughts?

Halloween Double Feature: Blue My Mind (2017) & Boar (2017)

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Things are not easy for this Halloween marathon because a lot of the films that I’ve chosen seem to have not quite turned out to be conventional horror which is the risk of trying to go into a movie blind. The first choice here, Blue My Mind is definitely not in the conventional horror and is the one that I debated to swap out but there was a certain level of “horror” here that I’ll talk about more (its really categorized as drama-fantasy but Wikipedia calls it a coming of age/horror, so you decide). Second film here is Boar. A last minute change to the original pairing so that we can get some creature feature going on in this marathon as well as some definite horror film.

Let’s check it out!

Blue My Mind (2017)

blue my mind

Director (and co-writer): Lisa Bruhlmann

Cast: Luna Wedler, Zoe Pastelle Holthuizen, Regula Grauwiller, Georg Scharegg, Lou Haltinner, Yael Meier, David Oberholzer

A seemingly normal teenage girl faces overwhelming body transformations that put her existence into question. – IMDB

Final decision to add Blue My Mind in went into the complete belief that the transformation/body horror elements of Blue My Mind and even the coming of age realization and unknown transformation in this character for Mia is a horrific one. Sure, its more along the fantasy drama category for a lot of people but there were definitely levels of the fear of the unknown going on here. A lot of the unknowns here from why this happens to Mia remains mostly a question throughout. While there are lot of unanswered questions, the focus of the situation is honestly watching Mia transform all starting from the very scary first period that takes her onto a journey of trying to numb her pain by drugs and alcohol and then slowly coming to accept it.

Blue My Mind is odd and sometimes the teenage angst gets really annoying. The film is a rather slow burn as well so the first part takes it rather easy and gives time for Mia to change and try to make friends with the popular trouble-making students. There’s a lot of silly teenage decisions and the transformation to fit in this new environment as well as all the rebellious things she does at home along with the inner change all blends together. It really starts getting under the skin as the movie goes further along because her character is developed so well. The theme of body transformation and mermaids and such are so underused that this movie is a rare one to see. It might be able to be executed better with less of the teen angst and rebellion but overall, its one that does make us think.

Boar (2017)

Boar

Director (& writer): Chris Sun

Cast: Bill Moseley, Nathan Jones, John Jaratt, Steve Bisley, Roger Ward, Hugh Sheridan, Chris Haywood, Simone Buchanan

In the harsh, yet beautiful Australian outback lives a beast, an animal of staggering size, with a ruthless, driving need for blood and destruction. It cares for none, defends its territory with brutal force, and kills with a raw, animalistic savagery unlike any have seen before. – IMDB

Nothing says horror like a creature feature which usually has a good dose of cheese as well as a lot of horrified chases and screaming. I’ve never watched a boar be the center of a creature feature so figured it would be a nice one to add to this horror marathon line-up. While there were some issues here and there with acting and some computer effects as well as some other parts that didn’t quite make sense or just felt very been there done that with bad decision making and such, Boar actually was a fun time and it had a lot to do with making a decent second half of the film that went to quite a fun ending sequence.

Boar is pretty much about a giant rhino-sized (as they described in the movie) killer boar that terrorizes the Australian outback town full of farmers and workers. Its goes around hitting farms and then campers and moving right along to eventually go up against a family coming out to visit the brother, Bernie (Nathan Jones). While his acting isn’t anything to call home about or maybe it is because its overacting that kind of works for this role and is expected, he does have quite the hulking presence here making him the rock that stands between the boar and his family. At the same time, bar owner Sasha (Melissa Tkautz) who goes out looking for his father who has gone missing is quite the tough lady here as well.

Which brings in an issue with the film being that every mainstream character from Bernie’s family (sister, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend) are really hard to watch because its so cringeworthy. Then you have these bad dialogues all around. When its just the boar doing its thing, its actually quite good especially in the beginning as it only reveals part of this boar or from a distance and then shows all the different ways it is offing its victims and the rampage it goes on. It gets pretty intense even if the boar has some fairly cheesy shots, as it gets further on and some of these deaths are pretty gory and disgusting. There are some really crazy bits here as it gets closer and closer to the end or I guess you can call it the final showdown.

Boar isn’t great. The beginning takes a little long dealing with this cringey characters in their crappy dialogue but it has some redeeming points when it works through the creature feature bits, which is really what matters, right? There’s not a lot of Boar creature features so this point alone is worth a watch. Not to mention a death scene here that reminds me so much of Deep Blue Sea and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters death scene. Love it!

That’s it for this Halloween double feature #3!
Have you seen either of these films? If so, thoughts? If not, are they on your radar?

Halloween Double Feature: The Purge: Anarchy (2014) & The Purge: Election Year (2016)

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Due to some changes, the second double feature got changed and I ended up moving up The Purge franchises second and third film, The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year, which has been a long overdue revisit to the franchise after watching the first film years ago. I liked The Purge relatively a lot but was a little skeptical on how sequels would work with it so lets see how these two sequels did *crossing my fingers that we are are getting closer to horror territory*.

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

The Purge: Anarchy

Director (and writer): James DeMonaco

Cast: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoe Soul, Jack Conley, Michael Kenneth Williams, LaKeith Stanfield

Three groups of people intertwine and are left stranded in the streets on Purge Night, trying to survive the chaos and violence that occurs. – IMDB

Arugably not as star-studded as the first movie The Purge (review) with Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey, The Purge: Anarchy actually doesn’t have quite the same type of home invasion horror but rather changes into a downtown street level type of Purge as a few groups of people end up in the streets during the Purge night and ends up being saved by Sergeant, played by Frank Grillo. While it still have the chase element, the horror elements are rather less however retaining the Los Angeles location from the first movie.

The Purge: Anarchy is actually quite slow overall. There is action going on but it always feels like the pacing isn’t particularly great. Taking it to the streets is a good idea as that is where the danger is and makes the scope bigger onto the people and citizen and the different elements on a societal levels. It gives a depth to The Purge tradition and structure. That’s the part that does work for The Purge: Anarchy and makes this sequel work more.

Another big plus for The Purge: Anarchy definitely goes to Frank Grillo who lead a lot of this film as Sergeant who ends up taking care of the  two families that he ends up helping out while having his own agenda. Its a character that definitely was appreciated in this whole thing as it pulled together the human elements as well as the action elements which is great because he ends up also being there in the next film of The Purge franchise. Is it very horror scary? Not really, its more of the action thriller drama sort of deal with some horror in terms of being chased and hunted down.

The Purge: Election Year (2016)

The Purge: Election Year

Director (and writer): James DeMonaco

Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty  Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor

Former Police Sergeant Barnes becomes head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge. – IMDB

The Purge: Election Year takes another angle of the near-future world of where it takes place. This time showing the political angle of the this era as The Purge for the first time has no limits on who can be killed during The Purge, opening it up to the political figures as well. Taking it to another level of this world which adds some more depth from where the franchise has gone. Another link here is Frank Grillo, which reappears giving this a timeline of 2 years later from The Purge: Anarchy (and at one point refers to it) and now doing security detail for the opposition party leader, Charlie Roan.

The Purge: Election Year has a lot more horror as it shows a lot more “purging” moments around the city which has everything from beheading to hanging to lit up cars to crazy young adults and all kinds of things bloody. It adds to jumpscares and amplifies the whole purging experience (which the previous film lacked, in my opinion). At the same time, it also manages to balance out the action elements in the chase as they try to protect Charlie Roan from being caught by the opposing parties and the New Founding Fathers. It shows more of the unwritten rules during Purge Night as well as the secret organizations that are also against the Purge and the different goals they have. Most of all, now its about weapons and such with lots of gun fights and the likes but Frank Grillo also gets to show off some hand to hand combat and its a different pacing but adds to the variety of action here.

The downfall of The Purge: Election Year are some very disposable and annoying characters added in, like the over the top performances from the opposing guy which is a minister and seems like he’s a crazy person by the end. It was a bit over, just like the lit up car with the young girls, specifically the character of Kimmy which was just ridiculously over the top, out of her mind and got rather annoying. The crazy is supposed to be scary but I’m not quite sure it had that effect. Luckily, they do balance these smaller characters with some pretty good main characters from Charlie Roan (played by Elizabeth Mitchel) and Leo (Frank Grillo) paired with some fantastic characters that they meet from deli owner Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson) who does a great team with Leo and was one of the best performances here along with his employee, Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) who also added and the badass lady nicknamed Pequena Muerte, Laney Rucker who is also really great.

Overall, The Purge: Election Year does a good job. It still goes through a lot of the same motions of how these films are structured but the story does elevate itself each time a little more to give more depth from different angles and learn more about the society. This film kind of wraps up this whole Purge business so when the chance presents itself, its time to go back to the next film which is the prequel The First Purge of how it all started.

Halloween Double Feature #2 is done!
Are you a The Purge franchise fan? Thoughts? Which is your favorite film from this franchise?

Halloween Double Feature: Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) & The Babadook (2014)

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Welcome to the 2019 Halloween Horror Marathon! I’m keeping with this year’s change to double features even for the marathon! Hopefully you will enjoy it as well! The goal is to get about 3 double features up a week. It might not all work out since that does requiring watching a lot of movies. Regardless, there will be other things going on from more thriller/horror books and TV as well so we’ll see how it all goes. Main focus is on movies from  Netflix Canada and Shudder.

First pairing probably should have been more research but it still works out as a Netflix pairing with horror comedy musical Anna and the Apocalypse followed by 2014’s indie horror hit The Babadook.

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

Anna and the Apocalypse

Director: John McPhail

Cast: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Christopher Leveaux, Marli Siu, Ben Wiggins

A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other. – IMDB

I only realized this is a Christmas zombie movie after I started it up but I’m sticking with it for a light start to the Halloween horror marathon, plus Netflix listed it as a Halloween Netflix and Chills category so why not. It does have zombies after all. To call this would be a stretch since its not really categorized as horror. However, as a start and a little mix genre type of movie to kick off the Halloween marathon, I’m pretty happy with it. Zombies and musicals are quite a nice little mash-up and Anna and the Apocalypse delivers some really fun tunes. I’d say, perhaps one song didn’t land well for me but overall, it was all catchy.

In terms of characters, Ella Hunt playing Anna does a great job. Probably one of the wittier characters which I really did like was Steph played by Sarah Swire. Its a fun little movie. There’s some little story between everyone but its really just a group of friends that rely on each other to go back to find their loved ones and survive through this zombie apocalypse. Its deliberately over the top and sarcastic humor throughout and its the type of humor that I love. Musicals are all about breaking out in random singing and dancing numbers and while the songs weren’t directly about the zombie apocalypse, it was immersed in it so the background was sometimes as fun to watch as watching the singing going on. Some of the bits reminded me of various other musicals. All the friends had a different kind of personality and brought something to the group which is always fun as it creates balance.

There are zombies and bloody and guts but Anna and the Apocalypse is a fun Christmas movie that still fits into Halloween because of the apocalypse elements. A light-hearted start to the marathon but more intense movies to come, I’m pretty sure. Now, if more people would do movies like this, I’d be down for a sequel or some other horror comedy musical.

The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook

Director: Jennifer Kent

Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney, Daniel Henshall, Barbara West, Benjamin Winspear

A widowed mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. – IMDB

The Babadook is a fairly slow-burn psychological horror film. Usually, slow films aren’t normally an issue and with something so highly regarded as The Babadook, its nice to see where it all takes it. In many ways, when The Babadook finally makes its “appearance”, it starts becoming an anxious sort of deal, mostly because of how the characters act. The beginning of The Babadook is honestly just a lot of set-up where we see where the main characters are from how they became the situation of only the mom and son and the oddities of the character that make them fairly unwelcome or unaccepted.

A lot contributes to The Babadook’s atmosphere as well. The quietness of the film in general as well the setting itself being in a gloomy blue and black painted home which gives it a naturally darker tone that especially helps blend both the creature as well as giving the red Mister Babadook book to standout especially as both these things give off the related sort of feeling whether its depression or fear. With that said, the characters themselves being in their own rather odd ways do also give the movie an unsettling feeling. Does a child screaming or throwing a fit always instil  fear? Not really. Some of the bits of the kid was annoying and some did also land well in being slightly creepy. Essie Davis as the mom probably did a lot more of the effective acting as her character went into the change and fell into this different character that was pretty frightening to watching unfold.

Honestly, The Babadook is not too scary. The idea of itself is a lot scarier about the creepy story that comes alive. The Mister Babadook story has a dark twist to it that was scary to watch. The execution of The Babadook was also done well because it was mostly in the shadows and has the same effect of giving the viewers a way to imagine it  whether than letting it all show up. As well as a stellar performance by Essie Davis as the mother and just setting up the gloomy atmosphere really well. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the ending but it works.

The first Halloween double feature in 2019 is done!
Have you seen Anna and the Apocalypse and/or The Babadook? Thoughts?

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.