Halloween Marathon 2021: The Superdeep (2020)

Welcome to this year’s Halloween Horror Marathon! This is the kick-off post for this year. While I had initially wanted it to be a double feature, I figured that this is a great way to show what this month is going to be about: diving in to the Shudder catalogue especially on the Shudder Originals as much as possible along with some Netflix horror films that I’ve missed this past year or so, plus a few other little fun bits. There will be other stuff as well like TV binges and hopefully books. I have a lot of horror catch-up to do in every department. Also, this year’s highlight, thanks to Shudder’s release of V/H/S 94 will be the V/H/S franchise. As its only 4 films, it’ll be released one film per week. The first V/H/S review will go up in a few days. With that said, the goal is to have a total of 31 reviews at the end whether its in the form of single reviews, double features or TV binges, so maybe not a post everyday but I will definitely try.

With that said, nothing like a Shudder Original to kick things off as we dive into an English dubbed Russian horror thriller called The Superdeep. Let’s go!

The Superdeep (Kolskaya Sverhglubokaya, 2020)

Director (and co-writer): Arseny Syuhin

Cast: Milena Radulovic, Nikita Dyuvbanov, Kirill Kovbas, Sergey Ivanyuk, Vadim Demchog, Nikolay Kovbas, Albina Chaykina

A small research team went down below the surface to find out what secret the world’s deepest borehole was hiding. What they have found turned out to be the greatest threat in history. And the future of humanity is in their hands. – IMDB

The Superdeep is a 2020 Russian sci-fi horror thriller with elements of creature feature and body horror. Running at almost 2 hours, this film has a decent pacing. Aside from some below average effects and some debatable slow motion cinematography choices in various parts, this film is fairly well-executed in premise. If anything, its dubbed in English which for some characters feels a little more obvious which is a peculiar choice as the version to be on Shudder as there’s one part of news broadcast which is in Russian so not exactly sure why this is the case. However, it does a decent job in the dubbing for the most part so its easy to get used to it quickly.

The Superdeep is mostly winning for its premise and setting. The setting takes a lot of credit here as the underground element being a deepest borehole in the world makes for a lot of other dangers mostly from elevation, air pressure and oxygen. The setting itself also has various floors in their underground facility which gradually falls apart. As the characters move through these spaces, the use of space gives the setting a character of its own especially in a relatively unknown area. Plus, from other horror movies, the depths always have something sinister going on and in this case, it feels a lot like an experiment gone wrong bringing in some sense that it drew inspiration from video game Resident Evil 7. I mean in appearance and nature but not exactly what the whole premise is. There are also other inspirations here that draw from perhaps The Thing and Alien which might be the most recognizable. While there are bits that feel familiar, the threat itself is still rather intriguing and has its creepy elements.

If there was anything to criticize about the film, it is the unnecessary frustrating bits where there’s a critical moment set in slow motion which probably was meant to either add drama or anxiety but didn’t seem to achieve it. The already runs at 2 hours so some of these bits seem to be pointless however, thinking more about it, it could be trying to play on the danger element and the pain of it all. In reality, the whole film is fairly decent even if some of the characters are fairly predictable in their place in the film but the setting itself and the danger element is designed well but it all comes crashing to a rather disappointing sort of ending. The ending itself is acceptable if it wasn’t executed the way that it was. However, from the limited Russian films that I’ve seen (I’ve only seen 4 or so at this point), I’m not sure that I’ve seen a film that has given me a very good ending yet even if the whole film itself was a great time overall. It all dials down to whether the sum of its parts is worth your time at the end of the day. For this one, it does on some levels.

While Shudder has a slew of bad and average reviews for The Superdeep (when I saw it), I actually think the opposite. Its a pretty fun premise which did appeal to myself. It had some decent body horror moments and the virus or creature that it creates is decently designed as well. For sure, there are issues with this like the lack of character development and some predictable moments and a very lackluster ending (which I do hope isn’t an attempt to create another film for this world). That isn’t say that I didn’t like the film but the reason that I see this film working is because of the underground facility setting which brings in a lot of other unknown factors that makes this intriguing to watch. Strip that element away and this film probably might not have had the same effect. With all that said, its a decent enough way to kick start this marathon.

Double Feature: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019) & Little Women (2019)

Next double feature is here as I worked through some more rentals. The first is the sequel of 47 Meters Down called 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. The second is Greta Gerwig’s directed adaptation of book of the same name, Little Women. Let’s check it out!

47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)

47 meters down uncaged

Director: Johannes Roberts

Cast: Sophie Nélisse, Corinne Foxx, Brianne Tju, Sistine Rose Stallone, John Corbett, Nia Long, Brec Bassinger, Davi Santos, Khylin Rhambo

Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they’ve entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves.- IMDB

Let’s start off that this is pretty much a new story from 47 Meters Down. For those who have seen 47 Meters Down, there really isn’t any room to do a sequel with those characters or that storyline. While shark movies are rather entertaining and I did enjoy 47 Meters Down in several aspects and premise, lets just say that a sequel wasn’t exactly something that was expected or needed but it happened.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged takes a new perspective. This time around, it goes into a cave diving adventure where these four girls go to explore the underwater Mayan ruins but it ends up trapping them in after a sudden realization that there were blind sharks living in these caves. Its something of an opposite experience than 47 Meters Down. Uncaged has a lot more sharks and while there are some questionable CG effects like the screaming fish, the blind sharks is a fairly fresh concept. Sharks hunting only by sound and being able to blend into the background of the dark murky waters that the girls find them in. The whole course of finding their way out and having a lot of cast gives the movie a higher death count, more people to be endanger. With that said, its a faster paced movie and a much more simple and direct sort of element. It takes some of the good premise elements of the first like survival with decreasing oxygen tanks to the light elements and flares versus sharks and applies to a bigger scope.

If you look at the cast, its not exactly a well-known one. However, there are some second generation actresses like Jamie Foxx’s daughter Corinne Foxx and Sylvester Stallone’s daughter Sistine Rose Stallone. The characters themselves are linear and one dimensional. There is a little bit of family elements here as two step-sisters face this labyrinth together to try and get out. There’s also John Corbett who stars as one of the girl’s dad who is the one who is exploring these caves as their current project and the reason that they are in this location in the first place.

Overall, its an okay shark movie. Its paced quicker with a lot more sharks than its predecessor. Its more direct and less psychological. There are some tension built from this specific location of underwater caves that also brings in the frightening feeling of claustrophobia every once in a while. The sharks have really good designs of their scarred body probably from navigating the tight spaces in the area and how they have biologically changed because of being trapped in this dark location for such a long time. The general concept makes enough sense even if some of the computer graphics isn’t done well but Johannes Roberts does get some nice cinematography in that makes up for a part of that.

Little Women (2019)

Little Women

Director (and adapted screenplay): Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep

Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women, each determined to live life on her own terms. – IMDB

One of the classics that I haven’t read before is Little Women. I have a general idea of the source material but I’ve never actually read the novel nor have I seen the 1994 film adaptation. This viewing is solely based on this movie as its own film. With that said, Little Women is set up in a structure that I rather like. In one way, its main focus is on Jo March, played by Saoirse Ronan and her determination to be a writer despite not quite able to accept the criticism but willing to sacrifice to have her work published anonymously. Its has something of an (semi-autobiographical nature where who we see as Jo March feels like she’s telling her story while also having this breaking reality moments at times where we see how things actually went and the way the story is told based on the pressures from her editor and whatnot.

Little Women is about the different girls in each of the March sisters who seek something different in life. They each grow up together and much like any siblings have their own issues and one sacrifices more than the other. As they grow up, their age and being able to do things the others can’t do all come into play as all kinds of values come into play. Through the actions and decisions of each of the sisters, it crafts each of their characters. The focus is rather heavily on the sisters finding their value and what they each value that leads them in different paths. Certain things break them apart and yet other things will bring them together. In the path of growing up, they sacrifice things and other things pass them by and some just fade into regret and moving on. Its all part of life. Something about Greta Gerwig’s structure for this story works really well. Its a subtle and endearing story about this sisterhood. While some characters fall into the background, they each have their own purpose whether its the mother, played brilliantly by Laura Dern that teaches her daughters to be selfless and willing them to have a mind of their own or its the youngest sister who has a dream but with her illness brings together the family in the end. There’s something that pieces each of these events together.

The focus is a lot on Jo March, Amy March and their neighbor/family friend, Laurie played by Timothée Chalamet. It seems that Greta Gerwig sure loves to work with Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet and always sees them as the impossible pairing. Their relationship/friendship is something of the other way around from Lady Bird (review), which I thought was pretty genius to cast them and give their characters an opposing sort of character and giving these two a nice dynamic. Little Women is a pretty great adaptation that executed really well and all the characters portrayed incredibly charming and with a good deal of depth and purpose. Its a great coming of age period drama.

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

Double Feature: Hush (1998) & Humanoids From The Deep (1980)

Next double feature is here as we move to the H selections. Two very random titles picked on my part. The first is 1998’s thriller Hush and followed by 1980’s Humanoids From The Deep. Let’s check it out!

Hush (1998)

Hush

Director (and writer): Jonathan Darby

Cast: Jessica Lange, Gwyneth Paltrow, Johnathon Schaech, Nina Foch, Debi Mazar

A couple with jobs and apartment in NYC, decide to move to his mom’s farm, get married and have the baby there. They can also make the changes to get a better price for the farm. However, there’s something seriously wrong with his mom. – IMDB

What to say about Hush? I think its fairly laid out in the plot summary above. Its one of those movies that doesn’t really give you more than its presenting. Jealous mother-in-law who plans out a great plot to get her son and daughter-in-law back to the farm house and then has some more plotting going on. The way the story itself is executed is actually also quite following that line. It doesn’t give the characters a lot of place to guess where its going, perhaps because we have something of a “god’s eye” to the situation, its meant to build the tension of how the characters will do. There are some little moments where its much more intense in the scene of what the mother-in-law characters decides to do and how far she will go to reach her objective that has a shocking element but its much more in the end. The movie in general is a fairly slow paced business with  not a whole lot going on.

Gwyneth Paltrow is being mostly how you would expect her to be. She does fit well enough into her role as Helen, the daughter in law who eventually does see through to her mother in law, Martha’s schemes to a certain extent. At the same time, the son character, Jackson played by Johnathon Schaech is more written to be a bit of an idiot. Some things that he believes doesn’t quite make sense. The biggest issue with the characters is that Martha, played by Jessica Lange does everything in such a suspicious way from every dialogue to every reaction to deliberate move that its all in her face that its hard for someone to not notice something is wrong and yet, the son and daughter-in-law characters seem too absorbed in their own situation to notice (or maybe that’s its intention?).

I’m honestly  not really hating on Hush. There wasn’t a lot of expectations going in as it was a random pick but at the same time, the movie felt a tad disappointing to watch as it didn’t have much of a high point. When it did reach a more shocking point, it was already in the final act and felt a little bit too late to re-ignite interest. The premise itself is alright but the movie just needed to be executed with a little more mystery perhaps.

Humanoids From The Deep (1980)

Humanoids From The Deep

Director: Barbara Peeters & Jimmy T. Murakami

Cast: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow, Cindy Weintraub, Anthony Pena, Denise Galik, Lynn Theel, Meegan King

Scientific experiments backfire and produce horrific mutations: half man, half fish, which terrorize a small fishing village by killing the men and raping the women. – IMDB

I sometimes wonder why I keep choosing these 1980s horror movies to watch. There’s this feeling that some movies really haven’t aged well over time and Humanoids From The Deep feels a little like that. The crazy part is that the poster itself already reveals the general plot. It sounds like I’m hating on it but putting all the aging part aside, Humanoids From The Deep is not all bad. The Humanoids itself is pretty fun to watch. The way that it attacks and its design and all that actually is entertaining enough. After all, isn’t that what creature features are meant to do?

Humanoids From The Deep does feel like its inspired by movies like Jaws and Alien in some ways. However, those movies are meant to be rather serious whereas this one feels like it feels like its a lot more serious than the movie needs to be. I’m not exactly sure how to feel about this one. On one hand, there are some good bits, mostly with the Humanoids bits but then everything else feels a little forgettable.

While I don’t think that Humanoids From The Deep is something that I’d rewatch, the plot itself actually might be more relevant science experiment gone bad and movie technology combined in the landscape where remakes/reboots/sequels are frequently done that might actually give this a nice reboot quality in the right hands. In whose hands? I don’t know but it could be fun (unless its already a thing and I just don’t know about it which is also highly probable).

That’s it for this double feature!
I’m rather meh about both of these but let me know how you liked them if you’ve seen them?

Double Feature: The Last Witch Hunter (2015) & Bait (2012)

Welcome to the next double feature! Something of the odd and ends paired up for this one as we look at 2015’s action-fantasy The Last Witch Hunter and 2012’s Australian shark film, Bait, which is coming up in a Movies and Tea’s After Hours 4th Shark Week choice. Before that, I’ll do a little review here since I do love talking about creature features and shark films a lot.

Let’s check it out!

The Last Witch Hunter (2015)

The Last Witch Hunter

Director: Breck Eisner

Cast: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Rena Owen, Julie Engelbrecht, Michael Caine

The last witch hunter is all that stands between humanity and the combined forces of the most horrifying witches in history. – IMDB

While The Last Witch Hunter wasn’t well-received, I’m not going to lie that I still had hopes of it being a fun watch. Vin Diesel has a reputation to be cast in certain roles and in certain types of characters. In the case of this film, its something along the lines of past movies like Van Helsing which I actually enjoy quite a bit. With that said, there are glaring issues with the movie as its mostly a mindless entertainment and incredible amount of fluff. Its story is not that deep even if it tries to pull out some twists which honestly doesn’t execute all that well and if you think too much about it all, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense either. Not to mention, there isn’t a whole lot of actual witch hunting so it has a little dragging feeling.

However, being as objective as I can be and fully noting all its flaws, The Last Witch Hunter is for people who enjoy the generally more one liner sort of anti-protagonist if you will that Vin Diesel plays. Not to mention, there is a good cast here with a somewhat cameo appearance of Michael Caine and a supporting role by Elijah Wood and a female lead with Rose Leslie. They all do bring something more to this film. The Last Witch Hunter is understandably not liked by its general viewers and there are a lot of issues with it, not to mention that its pretty forgettable but as a Vin Diesel fan, it still was a passable movie experience. Not something to rewatch but it had its fun moments.

Bait (2012)

bait

Director: Kimble Rendall

Cast: Xavier Samuel, Sharni Vinson, Adrian Pang, Yuwu Qi, Alex Russell, Phoebe Tonkin, Martin Sacks, Alice Parkinson, Lincoln Lewis, Damien Garvey, Cariba Heine, Richard Brancatisano

A freak tsunami traps shoppers at a coastal Australian supermarket inside the building – along with 12-foot Great White Sharks. – IMDB

There are a lot of shark movies. So many of them are just really bad B-movies. As sharks as the underwater predator becomes such a constant use, its easy to be a little desensitized and pickier about how its used and what type of scenario to toss at the characters. In the case of Bait, while it doesn’t do a lot of things that are new, it still has quite the hook of creating a one location movie with a great deal of characters and different types of relationships: family, romance, work. Its set during a tsunami that traps its characters in a underground supermarket primarily setting it within a flooding supermarket and parking garage and two sharks circling those waters while alternating between the two locations to figure out their way out before the dangers surrounding them takes them down, both shark-related and not.

With that said, Bait does a lot of good execution here. One of its best things is using a top down camera to capture the underwater shadow of the shark location which gives the audience more knowledge than the characters and builds tension. At the same time, it doesn’t reveal the shark a lot and just uses the point of view of its characters to create the tension of the unknown, giving the sharks a much more quiet predator that will ambush them. The shark elements here are done pretty well.

If there’s anything to probably criticize a little, it would be its characters which are plentiful so the survival rate is fairly high. That’s not a bad thing but with a movie like this, deep characters usually are already hard to create especially when its a balancing act to not bring in too much petty drama and keeping in sight the bigger problem at hand, like survival. The characters are very basic and don’t really stand out. But then, let’s be honest, I’m not expecting deep characters in a shark movie. Maybe its just my expectations are low to start with and I’m just looking for a thrilling time. On that level, Bait delivers pretty well. Although, I would have liked the shark reveal a little later, just to give it more mystery but there is enough moments to make it pretty exciting to watch.

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

Double Feature: Crawl (2019) & Bumblebee (2018)

Welcome back to another double feature! Today, we are looking at an interesting pairing to say the least. One is a creature feature with alligators and the other is another Transformers movie but more of a spin-off of how Bumblebee ended up on Earth. Its a pretty fun double feature

Crawl (2019)

Crawl

Director: Alexandre Aja

Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark, Ross Anderson, Jose Palma, George Somner

A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators. – IMDB

*Originally posted as Friday Film Club on Movies and Tea HERE*

While sharks are primarily the star of creature features, Crawl takes on a lesser used monster as it takes a disaster film and pairs it with a horror film where a father, daughter and their dog gets trapped in their basement crawl space and hunted down by alligators during a Category 5 hurricane. As in any of these films, it is about survival. Directed by Alexandre Aja who is no stranger to directing horror films, Crawl takes on a decent form from the atmosphere and how the whole story goes as it builds gripping tension with these characters and this quiet predator.

Starring Kaya Scodelario as a rising swimming athlete in university called Haley who goes to check on her father Dave played by Barry Pepper, she ends up finding him in a crawl space unconscious and their own salvation is behind these pipes that the alligators hunting them can’t get through. As the crawl space fills up with water, they need to find a way to escape without being noticed by these alligators. Just looking at the character designs, it definitely feels like a rather contrived way to put a swimmer as a central character in a flood and yet, if you can get past that (and you should), Crawl manages to create some gripping moments and build up a decent  bit of tension while also making the whole crawl space experience to play well in the claustrophobic and time-sensitive situation.

There’s a lot to love about Crawl. For one, it uses a lesser used “monster” which definitely needs to be used more as quiet predators create some good surprise attack moments. At the same time, the characters are pretty good. While there is still some family drama to sort out between the father and daughter, the focus on survival is the priority. At the same time, the script makes an effort to give reasoning for why these alligators have gathered in this crawl space and it all does come together in the end. Plus, the director manages to not only use the crawl space and the claustrophobia of that setting to its potential but when it migrates out of there, it still manages to use its environment and the hurricane to its advantage as well. Crawl definitely delivers a great creature feature film that’s well worth a watch.

Bumblebee (2018)

Bumblebee

Director: Travis Knight

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Ricardo Hoyos, John Ortiz

On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small California beach town. On the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, Charlie Watson discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. – IMDB

While I don’t have any major qualms with Transformers to this certain point but knowing that its really just mindless entertainment, Bumblebee is a whole different level. I guess nothing looks so bad until you find something better that comes along. Bumblebee is a fun movie and brings so much to the table because its so goofy and really about the unlikely friendship between Bumblebee and Charlie as she learns gradually about what he is, maybe not fully as this movie also shows how he loses his voice and ends up finding it again with the help of Charlie and her mechanic skills.

Hailee Steinfeld has gone a long way in her acting career. She’s had some misses, mostly due to the overall movie and not her. Bumblebee sees her in a blockbuster role that she really does take on very well. Her character is a tad bitter about her life with her own burdens in her current life situation while at the same time, her sarcasm adds to the humor especially when playing off of Bumblebee who also is discovering Earth and just how it all works despite his amnesia. Its a bit of a fish out of water story in a Transformer point of view and its executed so well.

If there was anything that I disliked about Transformers, it would have to be the annoying John Cena character which plays a little like Samuel L. Jackson’s role in Kong: Skull Island who pursues Bumblebee like he is a threat and the army gets manipulated by the Decepticons (because you know, who wouldn’t believe anyone called Decepticons, right?).

Overall, Bumblebee is a fun time. It definitely has much more substance and gives an origin story angle for Bumblebee which works very well. It balances between the comedy, drama and action a lot and also manages to get in a lot of  screen time for the Autobots and Depcepticons instead of the humans. Really good job here!

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

What’s Up 2020: Week 4

Welcome to this week’s What’s Up as we look back at the previous week, Week 4! Its been a crazy January so far and I’m going to have to first apologize for the infrequent posting schedule and the delay of this one being posted up later than usual and the lack of, you know, actual writing stuff. I will talk more about it in the January Adventures at the end of this week. However, Week 4 was okay. Last week was still in half crazy phase so still managed to get some time to relax. Let’s check it out!

READING

Currently reading: Buried in the Past

Buried in the Past is a pretty good book. So far, it hits a lot of elements that I like about both the story and how its executed. I’m actually almost done reading it at around 70% or so and its been able to capture my attention that I want to read it whenever I have a moment.

PLAYING

overcooked 2

Currently playing: Glass Masquerade DLCs, Overcooked 2

My recent obsession with playing Glass Masquerade and then finding the DLCs on Lunar New Year Sale on Steam took over my gaming habits despite needing to play something else (which I didn’t end up starting). However, Glass Masquerade is such a relaxing puzzle game that I honestly can’t help but to play it during this mega busy time at work to destress a little in small doses. Other than that, the husband and I are still trying to get through Overcooked 2. We enjoy it so much and yet, we also only play a few levels per sitting so it might take a little while longer on the currently playing section.

WATCHING

Crawl
  • Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (2015 rewatch, Review)
  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018 rewatch, Review)
  • The Guardian Brothers (2016)
  • Crawl (2019)

I’m going to say this right now: Nothing beats watching creature features as fun little relaxing movie night. At least in my world that applies. Of course, nothing also beats rewatching romantic/teen comedies that I love which is pretty much what happened this past week with movies. Obviously, the two rewatches are my faves and thats why they tend to show up frequently in the watching section as rewatches but then To All The Boys: P.S. I Love You is releasing on Netflix on February 12th so call it prep..not that I need it since I’ve watched it so many times already.

Talking about new movies though, Crawl was a boxing day purchase and its been one that I’ve been looking forward to watch as a 2019 catch-up. I have to say that its one that was a lot of fun to watch. Sure, there’s some coincidence in the set up of the whole situation but they make a decent effort to make things logical enough. Plus, the alligators are done so well and there’s a decent amount of tension. I’ll be doing the creature feature eventually. The busy schedule pushed a lot of stuff behind so I’m not sure whether this will happen after the Valentine’s marathon (which should be coming up at some point).

BINGING

ashes of love
  • Ashes of Love (2018)

Currently binging: Who’s the Murderer 5, Eternal Love of Dream, Master in the House

After 63 episodes of Ashes of Love, I finally finished it. Well, physically I did, I guess but mentally, I’m not. All those last few episodes of bawling my eyes out has made this one stick in my system a whole lot longer than I expected. Why am I using past tense because who am I kidding? Its still circulating in my system that I need to rewatch my fave scenes. Still, regardless of that, the busy schedule has stopped me from making too much progress in the new series, Eternal Love’s “sequel” called Eternal Love of Dream. Its recently aired so that one is going to take a while to get all released but I literally just started episode 1 so I can say the tone is nice. I think they chose a good director (same as Ashes of Love) to do this one which is much more light-hearted couple. However, its hard to judge anything with one episode so I’ll talk more about it next time.

That’s it for this (late) What’s Up for Week 4!
Its been a hectic week and expect the same for next week’s recap!
However, things should get back on track soon (hopefully)!

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

DOUBLEFEATURE (71)

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?

Triple Feature: Jaws 2, Jaws 3 & Jaws: The Revenge

Welcome to the rarely seen Triple Feature! A little change in pace in things as the Jaws franchise being available on Netflix lead us to watching the sequels back to back to back. With that said, there are only so many words I can say about these sequels so I’m going to jump right in!

Jaws 2 (1978)

Jaws 2

Director: Jeannot Szwarc

Cast: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Joseph Mascolo, Mark Gruner, Ann Dusenberry, Barry Coe, Gary Springer, Donna Wilkes

Police chief Brody must protect the citizens of Amity after a second monstrous shark begins terrorizing the waters. – IMDB

In this sequel of Jaws, Jaws 2 takes us into a good time after the Jaws events (it can only be expected as the councilman doesn’t seem to care about it anymore). As the town has recuperated slightly and moves forward, Chief Brody yet again starts suspecting that there is another shark attacking and yet no one seem to believe him. Jaws 2 is a pretty good premise to start off and in general, executes the movie pretty well. While its not quite the character depth or sophistication of the first film, this sequel directed by Jeannot Szwarc is pretty much a decent success and a real thrill to watch for the majority of the time, with some exceptions character-wise.

Its great for one to see the sequel bringing back familiar faces and at the same time, still giving it the same location and Chief Brody’s family. This time it gets slightly more personal. With the first movie, Chief Brody becomes a more-fleshed out character and can now be diving into other aspects and this one, we see how he interacts as a parent and the heaviness he has for his duty to protect especially seemingly being the only person that has learned from the previous shark situation that happened and making precautions than everyone else. In that element, we don’t only get to see Chief Brody as different situations that the audience gets to see gets brought to his situation reinforcing his belief that there is a second shark haunting the waters while at the same time, there is a focus on his older son Mike who has gotten a liking for sailing with his other teenage friends as well as trying to show off to get a girl’s attention. As expected, these sailing trips will uncover and also be the focus of where trouble hits at a certain point and Brody ends up heading to the rescue despite his lack of knowledge of driving a boat.

To be fair, there’s a whole lot more of good here. There are some great shark attack moments and a decent build of tension. The story itself, while a bit predictable, still manages to be a fun shark movie to watch as it has a few tricks up its sleeve. The teenagers are mostly fun to watch. The one exception, which is my main complaint about the film, would be one of the girls is incredibly annoying to watch. Overall, its a decent sequel effect and one definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet.

Jaws 3 (1983)

Jaws 3

Director: Joe Alves

Cast: Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Simon MacCorkindale, Louis Gossett Jr., John Putch, Lea Thompson, P.H. Moriarty

The sons of police chief Brody must protect customers at a SeaWorld theme park after a thirty-five-foot shark becomes trapped in the park with them. – IMDB

Not sure how many years after the 2nd movie this takes place but Brody’s sons are already adults now. In this third movie, Jaws takes its set to SeaWorld. Jaws 3 is meant to be in 3D and for that, there are a lot of crappy, out-dated and forced 3D shots done that really makes it feel like its trying too hard. To be fair, Jaws 3 has a decent premise. Nothing is more at stakes than the idea of being trapped in an area with a shark and for that, the story does work. Its the execution here that has a lot of issues whether logically or just how the story spirals. There is a theme park element here as well as a mother shark seeking its baby element as well, put together while its a fairly commonly used outline, does have potential to be done well.

Jaws 3 does give us Dennis Quaid in one of his earlier roles where he also does take the lead as Mike Brody while Sean is played by John Putch, who at the time took up his first movie role in his career with this movie. Mike and his girlfriend Kay (played by Bess Armstrong) have a good deal of screen time as they play key roles in the park as the engineer and the biologist respectively. Their roles are portrayed well. While with any theme park movie, you always have the rich boss, Calvin Bouchard (played by Louis Gossett Jr.) who makes bad decisions that makes a lot of situations worse.

Its hard to say outside of the forced 3D elements here where things ultimately fail. Perhaps its because the story lacks enough depth to make it feel like a good shark movie. Maybe its the fact that we never learn enough about Mike or Sean Brody to make them characters that we care about before they are headed straight for danger. Or it could attribute to the fact that there are some close-ups of the shark attacks that make the shark extremely animatronic or robotic, just the opening and closing of the jaws itself. However, it has some nice points and that is the emphasis on the cleverness of dolphins and their instincts to save humans in times of danger during shark pursuits. Overall, Jaws 3 is many steps down from its former two films. There are good elements and a lot of flawed ones but I think one of the main issues is that the ending feeling is that its pretty much forgettable.

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Jaws The Revenge

Director: Joseph Sargent

Cast: Lorraine Gary, Lance Guest, Mario Van Peebles, Karen Young, Michael Caine, Judith Barsi, Mitchell Anderson, Lynn Whitfield, Cedric Scott

Chief Brody’s widow believes that her family is deliberately being targeted by another shark in search of revenge. – IMDB

Jaws: The Revenge is the 4th instalment of the Jaws franchise. After Jaws 3, its hard to have too much hope about this one being better. Out of the original cast, Lorraine Gary returns as Chief Brody’s wife but as we can see, Chief Brody has passed on leaving her a widow. Adding salt to the wounds, Sean starts off the movie on Amity Island who has followed her father’s footsteps as a police officer and gets killed by a shark. Because of this loss, she ends up moving to Bahamas to live with Mike however the haunting fear of water and how sharks are out to get her family bothers her. Let’s first start this off by the fact that this script doesn’t seem to match with the previous one where Mike had mentioned how Sean doesn’t like to be on Amity Island which is why he didn’t study on the island so why did he go back? Then you think about what shark is revenging on her family because in our memory, every shark has died in the previous movie. Either way, just a few points to think about how the story in the beginning already has its plot holes.

Lets say that we look past that and accept for the way it is. There are still some annoyinh characters here from Lorraine Gray who overacts a bit. At the same time, Mike’s buddy, Jake is supposed to be a fun character but also stands close to the line into annoying as his dialogue feels very rinse and repeat. Theres a whole emphasis on the relationship between Mike and his wife which doesn’t seem to matter much other than give the movie some character building but then, Mike Brody has been a character in each of these films just at a different age. One thing that did bring my heart up a little is seeing Michael Caine here who brings some character to the film as a whole.

Jaws:The Revenge seems unnecessary and forced. The story doesn’t seem to flow with the previous film and then has this element of never giving intriguing characters. If this film didn’t take itself seriously, maybe I wouldn’t either and then at least there would be some fun.

That’s for this rare triple feature!
Have you seen any of the Jaws sequels before?

Double Feature: The Cave (2005) & Death Note (2017)

And we’re moving right along to the next double feature in the random Netflix alphabet. I’m starting to see a pattern already of movies that I feel didn’t really get great reviews but I’m willing to take a chance on regardless. I didn’t actually research how well they did but still, its how randomness works, right? 😉 The next two films is 2005 creature feature The Cave which I never heard of before but I was craving something of that subgenre so here we are and followed with the 2017 Netflix Original American adaptation of Death Note.

Let’s check it out!

The Cave (2005)

the cave

Director: Bruce Hunt

Cast: Cole Hauser, Eddie Cibrian, Morris Chestnut, Lena Headey, Piper Perabo, Rick Ravanello, Daniel Dae Kim, Kieran Darcy-Smith

Bloodthirsty creatures await a pack of divers who become trapped in an underwater cave network. – IMDB

The Cave passed right under the radar as it probably got overshadowed by the success of The Descent (Review) which was always cave exploration, creature feature and had garnered quite a good bit of positive reviews, myself included. With that said, The Cave does have quite a few good elements. While it merges together spelunking and creature features, it also adds in the not really completely confirmed idea of going to hell (much like As Above So Below (review)). It had a short mention with the religious background in the beginning and then as we dive deeper into the cave as the group heads towards the exit and fights for their survival, the cave takes on various transformations which can only feel like the different levels of hell (at least to me, maybe I’m overthinking it as I always do).

The Cave isn’t executed too well. It has some issues of pacing and some of the acting bits aren’t exactly great. It also had an issue of being quite predictable as to when would happen what which cuts out some of the tension it could have had. However, The Cave is quite unique because it adds in the water and diving exploration element. A new layer of adventure adds in its own set of challenges. Plus, the creature design here has a nice slow burn reveal throughout the film and its pretty bad-ass and impressive.

One of the final points to mention here is how Lena Headey always ends up in these movies and in this one, she pops up as a scientist. She delivers a great performance and one of the best throughout this film, not only because her character carried quite a bit of depth but also the changes for this character and her interpretation of it.

Death Note (2017)

death note

Director: Adam Wingard

Cast: Nat Wolff, LaKeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Shea Whigham, Willem Dafoe (voice), Jason Liles, Paul Nakauchi

A high school student named Light Turner discovers a mysterious notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written within its pages, and launches a secret crusade to rid the world of criminals. – IMDB

Having never seen the original TV anime series (not even one episode) and only saw the Japanese adapted film back in 2000s, Death Note is one of those animes that is rather unfamiliar to myself however, I remained skeptical but interested in watching how it would be interpreted especially in the hands of Adam Wingard. A good and bad thing here because for one, it had the same feeling in this one as in the Japanese one years ago that a series with the depth of Death Note in its content shouldn’t and can’t be made into a film. There are plot holes and unknown parts and a lot of it is expected to be brushed away and accepted as correct because the movie constantly reminds us that Death Note has a lot of rules, so if it didn’t make sense that you can say that its just a rule that we didn’t know about. That is just lazy but then adapting Death Note into a film is a mammoth task. Second though, the good thing is that Adam Wingard took helm of it because he gives it atmosphere and style and even implements a great soundtrack to make it stand out.

Death Note had its issues, no doubt. In fact, it had more issues than its massive style could help mend. It still had some thrills and it still had some events that does work in the movies favor in terms of the sequences. However, as I sit here, I’m still thinking about the cast itself. The best part of the casting was having Willem Dafoe voice Ryuk because he does such a stand-out bad guy. To be fair, I think its more a script problem than anything when talking about Nat Wolff as Light or LaKeith Stanfield as L because they had some wonky dialogue bits but their characters still were portrayed well enough in the context of this story. While I think that finding Asian-Americans in this day and age to do this adaptation would have been easily accomplished, I’m choosing to not discuss that and evaluate this in the context of being an American film as it is set in the US to make these characters relevant to the story.

Is Death Note good or bad? Its kind of half and half. On one hand, there’s a lot of things that I didn’t quite accept because of the execution and the fact that its not the fault of the movie but the fact that Death Note is more complex than a movie can embody. However, Wingard does the best he can and delivers a decent film with a great soundtrack and a load of style.

That’s it for this double feature!
A bit of a meh pairing… some pros but some cons

Have you seen The Cave and/or Death Note?

The Meg (2018)

Wow! Its been quite a while since I went to go see a movie at the theatres. The last one was probably Ocean’s Eight. I mean, aside from Fantasia where I’m still in a semi-break from movies but I love shark films and Jason Statham and The Meg has been one of those films that I’ve been anticipated the moment I knew of its existence so it was a opening weekend must-see for myself. Its taken a little bit to get this review up but better late than never. To be clear, I haven’t read the novel that this movie is based on so this is completely on how I felt about the movie and nothing related to how well the adaptation works.

Let’s check it out!

The Meg (2018)

the meg

Director: Jon Turteltaub

Cast: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Shuya Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Jessica McNamee

After escaping an attack by what he claims was a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible. – IMDB

Being a fan of shark films and Jason Statham, The Meg was one anticipated movie that truly delivered on all my expectations. Its refreshing to be able to say that. Shark films have a special place in my heart and the best comparison that I have for The Meg is something like Deep Blue Sea, which happens to be one of my favorite shark films ever. Featuring a 70 foot Megalodon as its star predator is a tough feat and director Jon Turteltaub does a great job at making sure that it holds the suspense and builds on using the underwater sequences to create the thrills with the unexpected. Sure, there are some parts here because of the Chinese collaboration that makes it build the story with some filler drama and romance that feels unnecessary but the cast here delivers on this simple script. Let’s face it, this is a shark movie and not some award-winning film. Its a popcorn flick meant to be entertaining and it does exactly that. There is some suspension of belief and some far-fetched ideas that they try hard to give us the justifications in the story which mostly works, but the thrills of the Meg is in some of the parallels and nods it gives to the ultimate shark movie, Jaws. For some, that might be issues because this isn’t quite the Spielberg masterpiece but for myself, it never was meant to be that so I appreciated it for being exactly what it was.

The Meg

Looking at the cast, Jason Statham also does a great job at being the leading man. He still is equipped with his one liners and his hardcore tough guy act. It works for him and its what I love about the movies he is in. For that, he fits well into his role as Jonas. His sequences against the shark adds in those comedic touches before heading into the intense sequences against a prehistoric shark. Even tough guys get scared, they just mask it with some humor and it works so well for him. Its not often we see Jason Statham with a lot of romance in his films but as odd and misplaced as this one feels between him and the character played by Bingbing Li, there are some bonding moments here that also work out. It helps that Bingbing Li is not only a pretty face but also a talented actress. However, nothing quite steals the show like the little girl playing the daughter by Shuya Sophia Cai who is not the typical whiny and annoying little girl but one that is smart and knows her stuff around. She’s charming and cute and intelligent and some of the best moments are actually between her and Jason Statham.

The Meg

Aside from these main players, there are a ton of familiar faces here. Playing the sponsor of the research facility is Rainn Wilson who plays this billionaire who goes to visit and has his mind on all the wrong things at times but does add a nice twist of giving the normal do everything to make this work character have a twist. While he isn’t straight and narrow and still makes some dumb decision in the end, it takes on another tangent. On the other hand, a lot of people aren’t a big fan of Ruby Rose but I’ve liked her style since  her role in Orange is the New Black. As one note and as much as she is put in similar roles, I like the addition of that type of character. However, in this one, you end up losing count how many times she draws the short straw and ends up falling into the water.

The Meg

As predictable as The Meg is and as forced as the romance here, The Meg knows what it is and it delivers exactly as expected. A 70 foot shark is a huge presence literally and Jon Turteltaub is masterful as making it scarce and taking his time to reveal this beast completely. There are incredible lighting and cinematography underwater that makes it all work so well. I probably should have mentioned this but I forked out the big bucks (because it was the only way my theatre was showing it) and saw it UltraAVX and 3D. Let me tell you, a lot of parts got me jumping in my seat and genuinely tense. It may be my love for shark films and just how thrilling these films can be but The Meg is a fun popcorn flick. There are some solid moments that are fairly unique to watch. Plus, it achieves a level of making the megalodon be scarce to build up the tense moments and it works out a lot of time. Running a fairly tight run time, it is pretty well-paced. Sure there are some filler material but it never lingers long enough to make it completely in the way of the real purpose we’re there: to see a prehistoric shark. Its a shark film, you’re either on board or you aren’t. Maybe its a simple way to put it but popcorn movies don’t need depth, it needs entertainment and I was thoroughly thrilled and entertained. I get the criticism and I have some of my own as you see, but its still a solid shark film.

I only wish that it does well enough to get a franchise going because I can’t wait to see Jason Statham get back into going against some more prehistoric underwater creatures. Now, that would be so awesome!