TV Binge: The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)

The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)

Creator: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Amelia Eve, T’Nia Miller, Rahul Kohli, Tahirah Sharif, Amelie Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino, Alex Essoe, Roby Attal, Kate Siegel, Katie Parker, Martn McCreadie

After an au pair’s tragic death, Henry hires a young American nanny to care for his orphaned niece and nephew who reside at Bly Manor with the chef Owen, groundskeeper Jamie and housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. – IMDB

After the success of The Haunting of Hill House (review), Mike Flanagan helms his next mini- series with another haunted house story called The Haunting of Bly Manor. The Haunting of Bly Manor takes some of the execution style of Hill House but is essentially its own story. After the Hill House experience, its hard to go into this one with a little more alertness and always on the lookout for whats hidden in the background (at least for us, it had that effect for at least a few episodes). Its unfair to compare the two even if there are a similar cast returning from Hill House in mostly supporting roles and being helmed by Flanagan as a creator but less this time as director. In fact, Bly Manor is a different beast in itself with Bly Manor being a new haunted house that comes to life with new characters and backstories and some new ghosts to discover which makes Bly Manor a creepily fun time and its has children so add in a little of the unsettling creepy children element.

Using the same execution of breaking down the episodes to discover the backstory of each of the characters on the past and present is a clever way to do this. In some ways, it gives it this feeling of peeling layers of an onion before every piece fits together and one twist/ secret gets revealed after the next while also getting to know each of the characters more to give them greater connection. Other than that Flanagan takes on the main role of writing which is what gives this piece a lot of style and atmosphere. He only takes the director’s seat for the first episode which sets off the story in a great direction in terms of setting up the proper atmosphere however, even in the hands of other directors, the TV series does still manage to keep a certain atmosphere that is always rather unsettling and creepy but in this one, its definitely more about the mystery and suspense built from what is actually happening.

With that said, the characters are the true star as each of their story comes to life. Victoria Pedretti plays a great role as the American au pair Dani who brings on some change to Bly Manor as she tries to dig into what is causing those abnormal things to happen whether with the children or the inexplicable things she sees or experiences. At the same time, the baggage she carries does brings on a few twists as well. The cook Owen (Rahul Kohli) is also a really fun character especially with some hilarious puns like Al-Cohol You Later (one that we have a lot of fun right now saying randomly). One of the best characters and possibly the one with one of the best episode is for the housekeeper Mrs. Grose (T’Nia Miller) who delivers a hell of a performance. Not to mention the kids deliver some great performances by Amelie Bea Smith and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Flora and Miles respectively. Then you have some comeback roles with one or two episodes as some decent characters with Henry Thomas as the uncle, Carla Gugino who is the narrator and Kate Siegel as a key character to the past of Bly Manor to just name a few. There’s a whole lore of how the ghosts and spirits work that becomes a very nice twist.

Bly Manor brings its own setting by itself. The grounds and the manor itself all comes to life with all the stories that slowly comes to surface. The cast brings quite a lot to the story just like the first one as they all have a great deal of depth and its never solely a ghost story but much more than that which is what makes The Haunting of Bly Manor so good. Its something of a love, revenge, family, drama with supernatural elements. There’s some heartwarming moments and some comedy and then there’s a lot of creepiness and fantastic eerie atmosphere at times that’s pretty well balances. Its the not the same as Hill House but different in an equally good way.

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

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

The Haunting of Hill House (Season 1, 2018)

the haunting of hill house

Director: Mike Flanagan

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

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

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

the haunting of hill house

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

the haunting of hill house

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

Horror Marathon: Gerald’s Game (2017)

Let’s take a break from straight up horror and go for something a little more psychological. Gerald’s Game was recently released as a Netflix Originals and is directed by Mike Flanagan who I overall love quite a bit. His latest movies have been good and not great, however, I always wonder how you can rival a great debut like Absentia. However, I do think he has a great vision on building horror and always remain hopeful when it comes to creating the tense atmosphere. With some expectation and little knowledge of what Gerald’s Game is about, I went to check it out!

Gerald’s Game (2017)

gerald's game

Director: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas, Chiara Aurelia, Carel Struycken, Kate Siegel

While trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame.-IMDB

Stephen King’s novels have been adapted since forever. This year, it seems to be all over the place with IT recently released in theatres and then there’s been TV shows as well. Now, we land on Gerald’s Game. For those new here, I’m a reader but sadly, I’ve been incredibly behind on reading Stephen King novels. I’ve only read two novellas, A Good Marriage and 1922 and a novel, Carrie. I’m currently reading IT and that’s proving to be an endless task. However, I have watched a lot of adaptations of his. I can say that he has great art in creating incredible characters and developments and such and even the mystery, thriller, suspense, horror atmosphere balance. However, be it The Mist or IT, I can’t quite buy into their endings. Suffice to say that I didn’t know anything about Gerald’s Game before jumping into this one. When the movie started and even into the 2nd part of it, I was a fan. It was captivating and thrilling to watching our main character try to figure out a way to survive and have her inner monologue and even hallucinating a second version of herself (like her conscience or something) and her dead husband. However, the story does start to become slightly flat as we near the ending.

gerald's game

Gerald’s Game is a great psychological thriller. There are some gruesome imagery here but overall, its a gripping experience as this wife, Jessie struggles to get herself out of these chains before she dehydrates and dies as no one is expected to be in the neighborhood for the next few days. In many ways, it is very much a thriller with perhaps some horror elements which I found were possibly the weaker parts of the film. The tension built in the conversations and the ideas she got to sustain herself was incredibly engaging to watch. Mike Flanagan is great at creating atmosphere in his films and he yet again achieves it here. The movie is almost completely lead by Carla Gugino and while I can’t quite pinpoint where I’ve seen her act before (although I’m aware of who she is), she does an outstanding job. She takes on the role of Jessie is such a mesmerizing way that its hard to not want her to escape and be scared or nervous together with her as she tries to do one thing or the next. However predictable some of the outcomes are, her role keeps us intrigued to keep watching. Opposite her is Bruce Greenwood who plays her husband. He isn’t physically alive for very long however, the little hints we get dive into further conversations that she envisions as his ghost somewhat hangs around with her. In some ways, her ghost and his ghost play this angel and demon role and its quite entertaining to watch also.

Gerald's Game

While I can appreciate the fact that the story takes on a tangent of Jessie’s past with her father and it somewhat justifies why she chose her current husband, it drives her to the past where she remembers her time with her father and the things he did. I’ll probably be mentioning something a little more fleshed out on portraying fathers in Stephen King’s stories when I get to the IT reviews. Here Jessie’s father is played by Henry Thomas. Its odd how her family was because it seems that the mother suspects something and yet not really. However the jest of it is the trauma that she’s somehow pushed away about her father. That was a pretty disturbing scene. Somehow, this is where the story seems to derail a little. The best parts of Gerald’s Game is when she has those conversations and in the single setting and not when she hallucinates or sees some weird things or goes into her memories. Something about it seems to be executed not quite as effectively, losing the great tension it had built from the beginning.

Overall, Gerald’s Game is a pretty decent movie. I’m talking about this completely as the movie itself and not as an adaptation since I’ve never read the book. If you have read the book and have seen this, does the movie do the book justice? Carla Gugino alone is worth the watch here. She truly commands this role perfectly. Its an engaging and intriguing watch however, it does lose its footing in the last third or maybe even at somewhere near the halfway point. And then the ending, well… I’m not exactly a fan. But then, I’ve had issues with Stephen King endings before. However, Stephen King builds great, deep and twisted characters that not a lot of other authors have ever been able to do and Gerald’s Game shows that off a whole lot.

Fantasia Festival: Before I Wake (North American Premiere 2016)

If you are an independent horror fan, this next movie in the Fantasia International Film Festival will have you filled with joy. Before I Wake is Mike Flanagan’s upcoming horror, due for theatres on in September 2016. Mike Flanagan has showered its audience with fantastic horror starting with Absentia (which also premiered at Fantasia), followed with Oculus and earlier this year, Hush. You can check out the podcast we did recently over at That Moment In. What is even better than getting Before I Wake as a North American premiere is that Mike Flanagan was hosting the movie. As it turns out, Kate Bosworth also made it along with producer, Trevor Macy.

Before I Wake (2016)

Before I Wake

Director and co-writer: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Kate Bosworth, Jacob Tremblay, Thomas Jane, Annabeth Gish, Antonio Romero

A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps. – IMDB

Possibly one of the harder reviews to write for this festival is going to be Before I Wake. For those that know his work (and if you don’t, you should go check it out), Mike Flanagan is known for being very unique with his directing and writing. He knows how to build a great atmosphere and capture the feelings whether it is fear or dread or whatnot extremely well. It is something incredibly rare in the rather saturated horror genre. Before I Wake is a supernatural fantasy horror film. Before we start, I should reiterate that this was filmed quite some time ago, even before Jacob Tremblay started filming Room (review). Some other bits to take away from Before I Wake is that it was originally called Somnia and meant to be the third part of a themed trilogy with Absentia (review) and Oculus (review) being the first two.

Before I Wake

Before I Wake is no exception to what Mike Flanagan has achieved so far in terms of greatness. Although Absentia remains my favorite so far, this one is a beauty to watch and the ending it gives is always a wonderful surprise that pieces together the things that many of us may have missed.  It makes it extremely smart. However, it isn’t only that. Before I Wake starts off magically. Maybe not initially because we get introduced to the idea of what horrors we will encounter but it sets up who our front player is. Its of course Jacob Tremblay who plays Cody, a little boy whose dreams turn into reality while he is sleeping. And man, his dreams are beautiful from colorful butterflies to the images he captures. Unfortunately, his abilities does have a downturn and it causes him to be sent from one foster home to the next. Finally, they land with Jessie and Mark, played by Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane respectively. This is their first foster child they are are taking in except they both are also healing from the loss of their son, Sean. Suffice to say, this loss has damaged their relationship. While they still love each other, they are healing in a different way. Cody brings something more to their relationship and highlights who these two characters are and how they are truly dealing with the loss of their son.

Before I Wake

Here is where we need to take a moment in embrace the stellar performance from our cast, especially the young Jacob Tremblay. In the Q&A (which I hope to be able to put together a video soon), they describe Jacob Tremblay’s audition and image as a boy that we want to protect and that is true. Jacob Tremblay is a charming boy. We can see his character and he captures the moment and the expression needed perfectly. Jacob Tremblay’s Cody shows a boy that has gone through a lot and seen a lot as he is transferred from foster home to foster home. At the same time, he realizes his abilities and tries his best to protect those around him. In fact, while his sleeping sequences brings in a lot of joyful that eventually drop to scary moments, he also brings in a lot of humor. He has tricks up his sleeves as he tries every way possible to stay awake or the things he says. For the most part, we fall in love with him and his character.

However, we can’t discount Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane (or anyone else). The story is not only about Cody but also highlights Kate Bosworth’s character Jessie quite a bit also because we see her active attempt to heal from her loss. Jessie is the character that changes and develops the most during the entire movie. Thomas Jane plays something different. His character emits a true effort to accept Cody in the family. He is ready for a new start. He is in check with reality and is far more objective even if he is much more awkward, especially feeling like he tries too hard but it is deliberate in the script to evoke some funny moments.

Before I Wake

Aside from some great performances, Before I Wake is not exactly a full on horror. There is some great creepy moments but the heart of it is in telling a more emotional story. The moments itself and the monster he creates that are in Cody’s dreams is genuinely horrific. What is also notable is that it was played by a contortionist and not done with computer graphics. The sequence of introducing the monster and the supernatural bits are effectively scary even if there is a few jumpscares wrapped in the mix. With that said, Before I Wake is visually appealing especially with the imaginative bits. It is almost magical to watch. The most notable is the creation of the butterflies with Christmas lights that just brighten up the scene and a great sequence for creating an great atmosphere is that scene above for one of the creepier moments.

For someone looking for outright horror during the entire movie, this may not fit your slate. However, for those looking for something horror but with a little more, Before I Wake is a great pick. It carries some equally effective emotional moments that work well within the story. It has a creepy monster and a captivating performance by Jacob Tremblay and Kate Bosworth. There are some laughs and some jumpscares along with a clever way to wrap up the movie.

Fantasia Festival 2016 Rundown!

Remember on the Montreal Comiccon post that I said I couldn’t make it to the rest of the weekend. Well, Sunday had other plans but Saturday ended up being cancelled for me because Fantasia Festival tickets went on sale!

Fantasia Festival

As some of you know, I’ve been going to Fantasia for the last three consecutive years.  The last two years have seen the festival grow so much as it acquires these really great movies, mostly indie films but a lot of difference from the mainstream since I tend to avoid those. Its opened up my knowledge to so much.  Every year, Fantasia Festival is where I feel like I grow a lot as a movie reviewer. Every year there are surprises and I just have so much fun anticipating the schedule going up then looking at the selections and putting together the schedule and still freaking out before the tickets are open whether I’d get them before they all get snatched up.

I think maybe I skipped putting up this post last year but somehow, I felt like doing it again this year since the choices are pretty spectacular and I had one of the hardest times choosing what I wanted to see while keeping a sensible schedule. Thing is, these three weeks will see a lot of fluctuation despite having a tentative schedule set and trying to prepare for it in this coming week before it starts with the first movie I have scheduled. Its a three week event that includes a lot of late nights and fatigue and sometimes, I might skip a day or two of reviews (or posts) to recuperate or to think about what I’m going to write.

Point is, things might fall out of place here and there but I think I have a rather decent schedule that should help with everything. I have a lot of stuff backlogged and half written but will all be hopefully done by the time we hit the super high season in my schedule.

You know what? Enough rambling! You are all here to see my selections, right? Let’s check it out!!

Rupture [World Premiere] 

Hosted by director Steven Shainberg

The Unseen [World Premiere]

Hosted by director Geoff Redknap

http://video-cdn.indiewire.com/players/JMnCBzmT-PbCxl3wn.html

Lights Out [Special Screening]

We Go On

Hosted by screenwriter/co-director Andy Mitton and actor Jay Dunn

Kidnap Capital

Hosted by director Felipe Rodriguez

Train to Busan [North American Premiere]

Before I Wake [Special Screening]

Hosted by director Mike Flanagan

Bed of the Dead [World Premiere]

Hosted by director Jeff Maher and members of cast and crew

I Am Not a Serial Killer

Hosted by actor Christopher Lloyd

Don’t Breathe

There was a lot of choices that I had to give up and I think the hardest ones that were on my list initially was: Trash Fire, Abbatoir and Therapy.

While Fantasia had a lot of variety this year from a lot of Westerns to even more foreign movie variety to dramas and comedies and the likes, this festival (at least to me) is still rooted in horror and fantasy sort of movies. I always try to support a few Canadian productions because they usually are underrated and hidden gems buried in there.  Its why Black Fawn Films (Bite, The Drownsman) is one I always check out even if it means I need to shift my schedule around. This year, they are here with Bed of the Dead and I’m pretty excited. The Canadian selection is The Unseen which only has that one exclusive trailer but the plot looks so great.

Also, I love choosing world premieres and to go to hosted movies because it offers an insight on the movie and helps me determine whether the message was delivered or whether I interpreted it as they had intended (or not, if it was meant to be abstract). This year, the hosts are incredible from Christopher Lloyd and Mike Flanagan from my own list to Richard Bates Jr and AnnaLynne McCord to Takashi Miike and also Guillermo Del Toro with his masters class after a documentary. On top of that, Special screenings for Lights Out and Before I Wake have got me super hyped. Between you and me, I’ve been spooked by the Lights Out trailers for a few days. And well, the really cool premise of Don’t Breathe, especially after watching Hush.

That’s it for me! I’m just excited! Next year, I really should work on trying to get that Press accreditation.

 Are you going to Fantasia Festival? What movies have caught your eye? Any film festivals near you?

That Moment In Podcast: Hush (2016)

Welcome to the next episode of That Moment In Podcast! This week, we’re looking at Hush, an independent horror thriller directed by Mike Flanagan, the mastermind behind Absentia and Oculus. Both of those, I have reviewed. Absentia remains of my all-time favorite horror movies. You can check out my reviews HERE and HERE respectively. If you haven’t heard of Hush and have Netflix, its your perfect opportunity to give it a go.

Hope you enjoy this episode! Head on over to That Moment In to discuss it with us!

That Moment In Podcast is now on both Soundcloud and Youtube!

If you like either channels, remember to subscribe to us to make sure you don’t miss the episodes.

Thanks for listening or watching! 🙂

Netflix A-Z: Oculus (2013)

One more week of Netflix A-Z before we take a 2-3 weeks break to give way to the Halloween marathon.  I have some fun movies planned.  However, if you do have any movies you’d like me to see besides the Nightmare series, do tell me and I’ll see if I can add it in 🙂

With that said, October has tried to have a little Halloween theme going on even though movie reviews are not the priority.  I mean Nanny McPhee was magical so I guess that kind of works. But this one, no doubt is a horror.  Oculus uses a very old idea of haunted mirrors yet at the hands of Mike Flanagan, I have complete faith that it can be rather decent. I mean, I like Absentia a lot.  Not much to say here, I remembered reading some mixed reviews over this one. I’m just worried that on top of my anxiety causing me to not sleep, this is not going to help either….

Still, I’ll take a deep breath! Let’s begin!! 🙂

Oculus (2013)

oculus

Director: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan

A woman tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon. – IMDB

 What to say about this one? If there’s one thing that Mike Flanagan does well, its that he’s exceptionally good at creating and building a fantastic creepy atmosphere.  Oculus has plenty of that.  It creates this feeling that there’s something genuinely haunting this place. I don’t know if its the mirror but you just feel this impending doom about to happen.  Except, is there a whole lot that happens? How much of it are illusions? Is the mirror causing you to see things? All these questions really do pop up.  What is real and what isn’t? Especially since my biggest question is that, there are flashbacks of what went down 10 years ago for these siblings on both their perspectives but then they start seeing their younger selves so are they actually reliving the events because they are thinking about it or its that the mirror is controlling their visions? I guess when we get down to the movie, it doesn’t really matter what it is because this structure does work very well.  For a rather used premise of having haunted mirrors and reflections and the like, this holds a good premise.  The confusion of past and present emphasizes on the powers of the mirror (and maybe the character’s mental state and thoughts).

oculus

I’d be lying if this didn’t get under my skin a little and that I did jump a few times.  I did and the whole thing was pretty creepy.  But that ending…I really hate endings like that.  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it but while its a crafty little ending, I still don’t appreciate it.  Does it keep it open for a sequel? I don’t know. I guess the point is that the mirror can’t be defeated. Its just pure evil.  But what I felt about this is that its really talking about taking responsibility and accepting the consequences of your actions (and decisions).  It starts that way and it ends that way. Since we’re talking about starts, the dialogue and the course of events in the beginning between the siblings here was really…bad? I mean, life decisions, right? I understand honor for your family and proving that this evil mirror cast blame onto your family but really? I mean, the brother just got out of psych for what was assumed that he had done like 10 years ago. Is that really something you want to do? But then, I guess, if they didn’t choose that we wouldn’t have a movie. It had nothing to do with the acting even, just the dialogue.

oculus

As I pointed out acting, the cast here is pretty good.  The two siblings as young adults were convincing in their roles but I liked even more the younger version of them and their parents here.  It all worked together to give some incredible scares as we watched this family break apart with the manipulation of the mirror getting a stronger presence.

Overall, Oculus took a while for me to get into.  It was scary and the atmosphere was eerie.  I knew when we’d get jump scares and yet still got scared.  I was a little disappointed with the way it ended even if it was unexpected in an expected way. I don’t even know what I’m saying.  I’m on the fence with this one.  I guess what it is is that effective horrors don’t only give you a scare in that moment but it has a lingering effect.  I didn’t have a lingering effect.  I slept fine.  I didn’t mind looking in the mirror (even though I don’t own an antique or anything).  Still, I appreciated the goal of Oculus because it did send some chills up and down my spine.  Most of those scenes were in the trailer, which is also what angers me a little nowadays. It works well and the structure and premise is pretty great and the mirror does have a presence.

Have you seen Oculus? What are your thoughts?

Next selection is a P title in horror! Any guesses? Hint: 2013

Halloween Marathon: We Need To Talk About Kevin & Absentia (Double feature)

I had originally wanted to do these two separately.  These both got third highest amounts of votes in the Halloween polls for psychological thrillers and everything else horror.  BUT, after trimming my movie rundown, I still have two movies that I really want to check out for this Halloween marathon so that means, mega movie night tonight. YUP!

I’m going to say right now that watching anything other than Friday the 13th sounds so refreshing.  I’ll have a huge recap on November 1st once I’ve gotten all the business taken care of. Friday the 13th made me forget what an actual horror movie felt like.  I never was genuinely scared in this marathon. Thats saying a lot because I’m so easily frightened.

Now, I needed to get myself in the right state of mind to watch these but I really wanted to, along with probably 4 other ones on the initial poll.  I’m sure I’ll fit those in eventually, just not in this marathon 🙂 Lets get the show on the road.  After all, we do have 2 movies to talk about!

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011)

we need to talk about kevin

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Cast: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C. Reilly, Jasper Newell, Ashley Gerasimovich

Kevin’s mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly vicious things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined.- IMDB

I have no idea how to sum up the movie so I’m just going to use whats on IMDB.  However, as much as its showing the course of Kevin’s mother (Tilda Swinton) trying to love her son, its also about her trying to make sense of everything that lead to his final act.

we need to talk about kevin

We Need To Talk about Kevin is one of those psychological personality analysis of two people.  In this case, its Tilda Swinton’s character as Kevin’s mother flipping through the upbringing of his son’s life and figuring out why he did that final act.  What was the reasoning behind it and whether it was essentially her fault as everyone else seems to treat her like she’s the one responsible.  It a true look at the whole nature versus nuture story of what affects growth and development the most.  I get that as I’m watching it, except I feel that the material is a little too deep to be brought to the big screen.  Its the same reason I was happy to read Gone Girl or The Lovely Bones before seeing a movie.  I’m guessing the novel dives into a more balanced two sides of the story view.  In this one, Ezra Miller’s Kevin gets such a small part although the younger version of him really does bring out a little of his character already.  Being based on a source material that probably is pretty deep is hard to bring it to the big screen and now I really want to check that out and revisit this movie because I feel like I might appreciate it more.

we need to talk about Kevin

Although, I do think the material is not shown appropriately or could possibly be more effective.  There is no doubt that the performances were all around amazing.  This is my first time watching everyone except John C. Reilly and I can’t even remember what I saw him in before. I know understand why everyone raves about the stellar performances by Tilda Swinton because she grasped her role very well.  I really understood her perspective of this and just the confusion and despair of being in her situation.  I’m in the stage of life where its almost time to decide when to have kids and this really clings on to make you wonder: who can predict how your child turns out.  Its funny because it makes me think about a Chinese saying about  how who you are at 3 determines who you will be at 80.  I guess, nature plays a role but nurture is also a big thing because the script always gets in a little bit about how there are a lot of similarities between Kevin and his mother.  On the other hand, I might have wanted to see more of Ezra Miller’s role but that ending definitely was thought provoking.

Not really a horror per se, but as a psychological thriller it does hit a few buttons with its awesome performances.

ABSENTIA (2011)

ABSENTIA

Director: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown

 Its been seven years since Tricia’s (Courtney Bell) husband Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown) has gone missing.  Now, she’s pregnant and slowly learning to move on with her life as she prepares to file for his death certificate under the reason of absentia.  Her sister Callie (Katie Parker) drops by to help her pack up and move forward. This is when they realize that maybe  there’s something more to the disappearance of Daniel.

Goodness, thats a bad summary I wrote up there.  Its okay, I really just don’t want to say too much.  Absentia is one of the more creepy movies.  The first time a creepy scene came in I turned off the movie for a solid 5 minutes before deciding to turn it back on.  Because you know what? I need to tough it out since Halloween is literally around the corner.

Absentia can be split into two parts. The first part is creepy and builds up the story of Tricia and how she inner struggle while Callie is also finding herself and trying to be helpful to her sister.  At the same time, they both have some creepy incidents that happen.  The second half takes a abrupt turn and changes a few factors in Tricia’s life especially but pulls Callie into a more main role as she starts seeing that there might be more to the disappearance and may be linked to a bigger picture.

Absentia

Absentia is very much an independent horror film and some of the shots and how they move around is obvious that fact but it has a kick ass story.  I was totally pulled in and even though the start scared me so much, I’m happy that I toughed it out because the director and writer Mike Flanagan is fantastic.  He knows how to put a story like this one into a movie and balance the right factors, giving the right scares and the perfect sound and silence and even when to reveal or not to reveal anything.

Maybe its because I’ve been sitting around watching campy movies for the last month that I’m even easier pleased and I was extremely jumpy but Absentia has an awesome story behind a good cast and the atmosphere that Mike Flanagan puts together feels so perfect. He takes you on twists and turns and times them really well.  I don’t usually rate horror harshly (unless its for Shitfest) but I do know when I have a great one and this one is a must-watch horror experience on so many levels.

Another double feature done!

Have you seen We Need to Talk about Kevin? What did you think of the performances? Which aspect was the best in this movie? Did you feel that there should’ve been a stronger emphasis on the grown up Kevin (although this movie was already pretty long)?

How about Absentia? Have you seen it? Did you like how it ended (because I did!)? Was it on some level creepy for you?