Double Feature: The Lodgers (2017) & Luz (2018)

Welcome to the next double feature as we continue with the alphabet and head into our L selections! The first is an Irish gothic horror called The Lodgers and the second is a German (and Spanish) supernatural horror film. Let’s check it out!

The Lodgers (2017)

the lodgers

Director: Brian O’Malley

Cast: Charlotte Vega, Bill Milner, Eugene Simon, David Bradley, Deirdre O’Kane, Moe Dunford, Roisin Murphy

1920, rural Ireland. Anglo Irish twins Rachel and Edward share a strange existence in their crumbling family estate. Each night, the property becomes the domain of a sinister presence (The Lodgers) which enforces three rules upon the twins: they must be in bed by midnight; they may not permit an outsider past the threshold; if one attempts to escape, the life of the other is placed in jeopardy. When troubled war veteran Sean returns to the nearby village, he is immediately drawn to the mysterious Rachel, who in turn begins to break the rules set out by The Lodgers. – IMDB

The Lodgers is a gloomy sort of film. Its filmed with a dark atmosphere and lingers in a mysterious air as the story of The Lodgers, their rules and these twins’ stories are gradually revealed of why they are bond to the house and what is expected of them. The story does take a nice pace in revealing it and maintains a rather creepy vibe especially in the first half when its laying out the story and the mysterious vibe with the crumbling estate and what the predicament of the twins and the lodgers. Its in the second half when things start unfolding that it starts feeling like it loses a little of its steam since the twist is revealed in a fairly obvious way by that point and its easy to understand where the twist is. To be fair, its actually one of the scenes of the female lead seeing the figures of her parents in the lake that seem to repeat itself one time too many.

The Lodgers falls under one of the issues where the “monster” aka The Lodgers reveal is where it renders the horror element lesser than when it was a mystery.  While that is the case, the whole underwater scene is shot so nicely of where the lodgers reside and who they are. There’s something very fantastically creepy about the deep underwater darkness and its captured so well.

Other than that, there are essentially three main characters here. The female lead Rachel (Charlotte Vega), her twin brother Edward (Bill Milner) and Rachel’s suitor Sean (Eugene Simon). There are a few other supporting cast that help further set up the story and the mystery surrounding the twins and their estate. The three main leads do create a nice dynamic especially watching the interaction between the twins as well as between Rachel and Sean.

The Lodgers do have a few tropes and such but somehow it does have this very chilling and ominous feeling throughout. Its twist is revealed gradually but is rather easy to find the hints to what its trying to build towards by probably the middle of the movie. There are some unique elements to the story that definitely deserve a watch especially with its estate setting being used from inside the house to the grounds as well as having a great cinematography.

Luz (2018)

luz

Director (and writer): Tilman Singer

Cast: Luana Velis, Johannes Benecke, Jan Bluthardt, Lilli Lorenz, Julia Riedler, Nadja Stubiger

Luz, a young cabdriver, drags herself into the brightly lit entrance of a run-down police station. A demonic entity follows her, determined to finally be close to the woman it loves. – IMDB

The best way to describe Luz is probably “odd” and “bizarre”. The whole setup of the movie has this old film filter over its scenes. At the same time, its incredibly psychological. Visually, it uses a lot of close-up shots as well as still shots to capture the moments and emphasize an uneasiness in the scene. It fluctuates between what is reality and hypnotic dimension especially for the character of Luz. There are so many little details set up to bring in a lot of intrigue (and maybe get lost a little in this whole possession) of what is actually happening in the room and what is happening in Luz’s mind. Its all done in such a unique style that adds so much to the story itself.

I do have to say that what works for Luz for some viewers might be what doesn’t work at the same time. Its a strange experience watch and one that challenges piecing together the different parts of the story line especially at the beginning as the events seem to blend together and connecting the characters. As it works towards the finales, the characters and the possession element and the hypnosis world and reality all easily can become this confusing to follow story. For some this confusion might be quite the fun ride. For myself, that ride was unique and as things started to slot back into place, the execution is key to where it all stands out at its best from the cinematography to its use of sounds.

Luz is a hard film to talk about it. Its quite the horror experience on a psychological level and takes a unique approach to the whole possession premise right from start to beginning.

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

Blog Tour: The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel

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From June 29th to July 5th, you can purchase her book for ONLY $0.99 on Amazon! You can also try to win a digital copy of The Memories We Bury by entering the giveaway below!

The Memories We Bury
By: H.A. Leuschel

The Memories We Bury

Publication Date: April 17, 2020
Genre: Contemporary/Psychological Suspense

SYNOPSIS

An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood.

Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, who’s own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationship with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.

Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?

In ‘The Memories We Bury’ the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.

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REVIEW

The Memories We Bury is a psychological sort of novel that alternates between the first person narrative of its two main characters: Lizzie, a new mother and her elderly neighbor, Morag who has a strong desire to be needed and control and views this opportunity to be a chance to nurture another child. The first person narration style gives these two characters a slowly building development and very much suited as in many ways, this story is something of a character study, especially in terms of Morag who gradually reveals the reason why her children have left her and the other secrets that others have hinted at but never mentioned as it builds up to the big finale where she truly oversteps. On the other hand, Lizzie’s side of the story is much more about motherhood and the suspense behind her suspicions of Morag and her intentions. As their friendship develops over the course of the story, the dynamic changes and it moves between control and manipulation. In that regard, both of the characters are very well-written.

The flow of the story is probably one of the elements that is much  more of a slow-burn. Just like the chapters move through a timeline to give an idea of the progression of time, which didn’t really impact my own reading experience too much. The story unravels very slowly. It could definitely have been paced a little better. As mentioned before, the characters did need the time and events to develop however, it did also feel like it dragged on a little in the middle bits between the beginning build-up which was intriguing to introduce and set-up the two characters and the big climax that was quite scary and shocking overall.

Overall, The Memories We Bury keeps in line with the strong psychological elements of H.A. Heurschel stories. Much like some of the previous works that I’ve read, this one also delivers with another completely different sort of relationship as it jumps into the topic of motherhood as well as friendship. The characters are intriguing to watch and even manages to add a little uncertainty at the end. Its an impressive way to end the story which leaves a little space to contemplate.

Score: 3.5/5

Where to buy: Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Photo - Helene edited

Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a Master in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy, specializing in the study of the mind. Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first novel, Manipulated Lives, a fictional collection of five novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists. She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.

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Call Numbers: The Not So Quiet Life of Librarians by Syntell Smith

Call Numbers: The Not So Quiet Life of Librarians (Book 1)
by: Syntell Smith

call numbers

Life is a book… and every person is a chapter.

Everything’s looking up for Robin Walker. It’s 1994 in New York City, and he’s been transferred downtown to the 58th Street Branch Library. Ready to move up the ladder, Robin is excited about the opportunities that await him.

But success, personal or professional, is as elusive as a first-edition rare book. Robin struggles with his strange new work environment as this motley crew of employees generates more drama than a runaway bestseller. He doesn’t know who to believe – or who to let in. And as potential romance mingles with devious machinations, there’s no telling where Robin’s story will go. All he knows is that he must see it through to the very last page. – Goodreads

*Received in exchange for honest review*

Call Numbers definitely has a good setting. Libraries don’t seem to be used enough as a central location where events go down. There probably are other titles but I haven’t read them before. Its also a novel that reminds the readers that any location with people is a place for drama and some level of office politics. In this case, this story starts off with a new part-time clerk, Robin joining this library with their own tight-knit group of employees who reject his presence because it has hindered one of their owns future there due to their situation. As he tries to adapt to the new environment and be accepted, this group proves to have their own agenda to challenge him constantly.

Call Numbers is separated into different groups of characters and each side of the story jumping through each of these characters. There’s a lot of characters. While its not exactly hard to follow once all their personalities and plots are straightened out, its quite an information overload situation at the beginning of the book to know each of their names and their alliances and where they stand in the spectrum of this person and then what their own personal challenges are. Having more characters gives a good foundation to have more paths to take in the future of the story and fills up the book but then, it has the downfall of being hard to get into at the beginning as it can get a tad confusing to follow. Although, once the characters are more familiar, its quite an interesting group of characters to read, at least the majority of them, of course, the focal point being Robin and the two managing this library branch, Sonyai and Augustus.

Suffice to say that the characters are the star of this novel and they are quite plentiful as mentioned before. The issues they go through are real enough to understand their different situations. However, if there was something that did bother me a little more is the whole set up for a cliffhanger endings. Its rather a personal preference that books are standalone even in a series and not leaving it hanging in some dire situation to continue to read about in the next novel. It definitely affected my score a little.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Double Feature: Kidnap (2017) & Killer Legends (2014)

Next up, we’re heading into our K double feature! I’m going to say that this one was a touch one to pair up since selections were limited.  Let’s check it out!

Kidnap (2017)

Kidnap

Director: Luis Prieto

Cast: Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Chris McGinn, Lew Temple, Jason George

A mother stops at nothing to recover her kidnapped son. – IMDB

Feeling a lot like The Call (review) in terms of its thriller style, Halle Berry stars in this thriller about a recently divorced mother who is truly quite the lady as she doesn’t give a second thought and chases after the kidnappers who have taken her son. There’s a lot of really unbelievable bits in this one. Just like how her rather rundown minivan is in a car chase with an 80s Mustang GT or something along those lines (although I’m not car expert so what do I know?). While her actions might feel more instinctive and acting on the moment so some of it makes you feel like its passable in the believable element but then you have these kidnappers who are a little odd as they reveal themselves at some point and it just doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do in the whole scheme of things especially seeing as the plot takes a turn to lay out who these two are albeit a rather shallow back story. Its main focus is on a mother retrieving her kidnapped son against all odds.

I’m honestly not hating on Kidnap. Sure, some plot points are hard to get behind. There are some stupid decisions and it did get a little boring to watching Halle Berry on a constant car chase that takes up a good part of the film, mostly in panic and fear. It feels a little shallow in terms of content. However, it knows what it wants to be and there is some growth in Halle Berry’s character throughout the whole ordeal (as it should with something so traumatic as chasing down kidnappers and doing things most normal mothers wouldn’t be doing). It has a few thrills and redeeming moments but also seems like the plot is too straightforward and doesn’t go deep enough to be a fun thriller as the reveal itself fell a little flat as well.

Killer Legends (2014)

killer legends

Director (and writer): Joshua Zeman

Delving into our collective nightmares, this horror-documentary investigates the origins of our most terrifying urban legends and the true stories that may have inspired them. – IMDB

I don’t watch a lot of documentaries and honestly, when I do, sometimes I’m not sure that I’ve reviewed a whole lot of it. Killer Legends is something of an educational research documentary. It takes four urban legends that have been rather popularized through horror movies and takes a dive into cases where those types of serial killers had occurred in real life. Most of them dive back to decades ago well before movies were made from them but Joshua Zeman and researcher Rachel Mills heads to the different cities where these cases happened and revisits the locations of the murders based on case files as well as talks to the residents to see their thoughts on those long ago cases and how many people actually still remember it and who they thought were the suspects on these (mostly) unsolved mysteries, as some of them have caught a killer but also speculations that there were uncertainties.

Seeing as I’m not one to go deep diving on the Internet for information on this topic and looking up cases from decades ago and such, this documentary was pretty good. Each of the four urban legends are ones that I’ve heard of and have seen movies related to it in one form or another. There were real life case file pictures added into the research and makes things more real and the whole set up of how the research and killer profile was pretty interesting (seeing as I was a big fan of Criminal Minds). The one that probably is the most intriguing is The Babysitter and The Man Upstairs section while the most surprising might go to the urban legends behind the Candyman with the real life case connection. The other two stories is the Hookman which definitely feels more familiar (with recent viewings of Zodiac and I Know What You Did Last Summer) which was a fairly creepy look as its the one case that haunts the town of Texarkana and remains unsolved which is always chilling to hear about, and finally wrapping up the Killer Clown urban legend which wraps up the cautionary tale behind this whole documentary and with this, giving it the purpose.

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the two running this whole documentary as the conversation feels not as smooth as it should be but the people they choose to interview and the information that they gather and put together does add a little substance to these urban legends and what they mean to the people who lived through the times and in the cities that they occurred. Its not about solving these mysteries but rather taking a second look at the info available and piecing it together and they do a decent job on achieving that through the course of the documentary and the four urban legends which makes it well worth a watch.

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

 

TV Binge: Queer Eye (Season 5, 2020)

Queer Eye (Season 5, 2020)

Queer Eye Season 5

Cast: Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness

A new Fab Five set out to Atlanta Philadelphia to help some of the city’s people refine their wardrobes, grooming, diet, cultural pursuits, and home décor. – IMDB

Season 5 of Queer Eye couldn’t have been released at a better time. With the world being hit by many things including pandemic. Its not been a great 2020 and yet, Queer Eye’s message from the first season always feels like we’re not defined by our differences but our similarities and that’s why every season, we see them moving to different place in the United States as well as picking different people with varying gender, backgrounds, etc. With the latest season changing base to Philadelphia, its yet another batch of “heroes” to discover all with their own touching stories.

At the fifth season of Queer Eye, its still full steam ahead. There are some very small changes to their structure. Its not really needed since they had a pretty good balance. With each person and what they need to makeover, its more about finding that more emotional change to clear out some of that emotional baggage and burden and then balancing it with the other external elements of style, home design/organization, food, grooming. In that sense, while Karamo’s role of culture is a big one, it meshes in with some of the other Fab Five’s task.

What really does stand out in Season 5 is that this season, they picked a lot of people who on different levels related more to one of the Fab Five group and gives them their time to guide each of these people with their own personal experiences. It feels like sometimes the show does help the people they choose but at the same time, it also helps the Fab Five grow as well as there is an obvious change (in a good way) of how they are as people. One of the best parts of watching shows like this is not only seeing the nice makeovers and the shock and often gratitude of the moment but also seeing these more personal stories being told that are very well relatable on different levels. Its the positive vibes that flow in every moment and the value of being able to embrace change that gives so much life to the show itself.

At the fifth season of Queer Eye, you pretty know what to expect from the show. Its a makeover show but somehow, it brings a lot more to the table than just that. Its about everyday people and their difficulties and how to get their life back on track. I’m sure that the show works on many levels because its relatable. Sure, we’re not going to go and do some intense makeover but its a way to look at the people around us as well as even our own lives and issues in a different light and with it, whatever positive message applies to the viewer. Bingeworthy, emotional and sending out positive vibes as always.

Hopefully, we’ll be seeing the sixth season of Queer Eye sooner rather than later.

Double Feature: Jigsaw (2017) & Jack Frost (1997)

Up next for double feature is the J selections!

Jigsaw (2017)

Jigsaw

Director: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig

Cast: Matt Passmore, Tobin Bell, Callum Keith Rennie, Hannah Emily Anderson, Cle Bennett, Laura Vandervoort, Paul Braunstein, Mandela Van Peebles, Brittany Allen, Josiah Black

Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise. As the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one suspect: John Kramer, the man known as Jigsaw, who has been dead for over 10 years. –IMDB

Seven years after the seventh movie of this franchise, Jigsaw arrives. I’m not going to lie that I was a bit skeptical about how this could go considering that I found the last few movies of Saw a little bit meh. It still had some fun elements but it had a significant drop in horror value since the first Saw movie. To be honest, what is there to expect from Jigsaw? Its an attempt to revive the franchise and it picks up over 10 years after John Kramer is expected to be dead. For the most part, it does work pretty well and exceeded my expectations from it. It was a fun time with some decent traps and the whole twist at the end really comes together as its both a police chase and the game playing out together.

Jigsaw’s good bits are definitely in the escape room style and goes somewhat back to its roots. In this one, the group all start chained together and starts to realize that they all have some crime that has caused them to be in this position and its their way to admit those faults, whether they can get out or not is of course, pretty much set in the game. Each of these games as they move from one room to the next is a step more dangerous than the previous one and its a good structure. It brings in a lot of tension mostly from how each of these games play out because honestly, the outcome of these characters are fairly predictable for the most part. Plus, the gruesome and extremity of each trap is usually where movies in this franchise excel and this one is no exception.

The whole police section of the movie that plays as the outside factor of tracking these captured victims is a whole other level. It all dials down to figuring whether its Kramer behind all this as well as finding each of these victims and ends up where it all starts and cycles back into a twist as the story comes together. The story itself, especially the twist, was quite fun as a reveal. It became a little more apparent where it was going but then there was still a bit of surprise and cleverness which is always appreciated. Jigsaw was a fun comeback for the franchise and it’ll be interesting to see where they take it from here.

Jack Frost (1997)

jack frost

Director: Michael Cooney

Cast: Scott MacDonald, Christopher Allport, Stephen Mendel, F. William Parker, Ellen Seeley, Rob LaBelle

After an accident that left murderer Jack Frost dead in genetic material the vengeful killer returns as a murderous snowman to exact his revenge on the man who sent him to be executed – IMDB 

I’ve been some pretty odd choices for Shudder, most of them being quite random. The J selections on Shudder is rather limited and it was between Jack Frost and another French horror that I’ve heard mostly bad things about so here we are, heading back to 1997 to watch the horror Jack Frost. This one is silly and low budget. There’s not a whole lot to be scared about and its not extreme or anything.

There’s a lot of overacting and a lot of it is really odd, especially in buying into a killer snowman deal. Sure, there’s a little more to it than that but still, its watching a snowman, cut to a puddle of water and then hear some sound effects of it moving into another area. The connection of water and snow all comes into play in its different forms and in that sense, it does make a snowman a pretty lethal deal if it can move like it does. At the same time, its a bit hard to buy into it since this is some guy who gets hit by some experimental acidic solution.

Luckily, the movie itself doesn’t seem to take itself very seriously as this is categorized as a horror comedy. The whole idea of it is being mostly entertainment and the so bad its good variety. Jack Frost is very bizarre and I’m not exactly a huge fan of it. It has its fun moments because of the obvious low budget and how its all executed. Its mostly pretty ridiculous in some of those plot points and how the people get killed which makes it all the more funnier, in the laughing at the movie way and not the having a lot of fun way.

That’s it for this double feature!
A good pick and a meh pick, right?
Have you seen either of these movies? Thoughts?

TV Binge: Floor is Lava (Season 1, 2020)

Floor is Lava (Season 1, 2020)

floor is lava

Host: Rutledge Wood

Teams compete to navigate rooms flooded with lava by leaping from chairs, hanging from curtains and swinging from chandeliers. – IMDB

Anyone hanging around this blog knows that I’m a big fan of binging these reality competition shows from Netflix so in when Floor is Lava was announced, I was really excited to see how it was going to be. In concept, Floor is Lava is a great idea as its a bit of the amateur version of Ultimate Beastmaster where its just every day people teamed together to make it to navigate the room and make it to the exit.

Its definitely a fun idea and for the most part, its pretty entertaining and a lot of it is thanks to a great hosting effort from Rutledge Wood, who has moved from his car-related shows to this type of game show (although I’d really like to know whether a second season of Hyperdrive is going to happen at some point). Still, he pulls off some great background voice with some good jokes and narrating over the whole happenings of the course.

floor is lava

The rooms themselves are quite interesting to watch but as a lot of teams do work in similar fashion, some of those episodes are a little more repetitive. Luckily, these episodes run at around 30 minutes each so it keeps things pretty quick. It has that unknown factor of how many will make it to the end but at the same time, it doesn’t have that many surprises but then, this is a reality show and you can’t really control how things turn out. Lets face it, a lot of these shows work because of watching how these contestants fail or overcome those more challenging obstacles.

If there was something to comment on which makes this show a little inconsistent and feels like they are still using Season 1 to experiment on structure over the 10 episodes.  Here’s the general idea of the structure over the 10 episodes and the changes that occur so that its gives a better view of what I’m about to discuss. The show is structured in first 5 episodes are five different rooms titled Level 1 and the last 5 episodes is Level 2 of the same rooms except with some little changes like booby traps and such. However, not only do the level changes but the second half also fluctuates between some episodes having 2 teams battling it out and then 2 people teams instead of the normal 3 people team and these little changes in the norm happens for one episode here and there. Its a good and bad thing. On one hand, its good because you can see it as variety. However, on the other hand,  it felt more like an inconsistency and not sure why they chose to do it this way. Maybe it meant to feel refreshing. Its not exactly a criticism but something that I’m not sure how I actually feel about it as it didn’t feel like it added to the show as I had enjoyed the original structure of three teams going through each room per episode.

Overall, Floor is Lava is a fun concept. Its something of a silly entertainment as its not exactly serious especially the over the top sinking into the lava portions for the contestants. There are some little things I’m not quite sure about with the structure they chose throughout the season however, Rutledge Wood’s hosting is one of the standout points and some of the room designs are pretty fun and vary in difficulty level. The show has some  space for improvement and hopefully if it does get a second season, it will decide on a more solid structure. Still, its fun enough that I would watch another season.

Double Feature: I Kill Giants (2017) & I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Moving right along with our double features into the I selections! Trust me when I say that I don’t deliberately choose movies in decades apart, it just happens. The first is 2017’s fantasy film I Kill Giants paired with a movie that, believe it or not, is a first watch, 90s slasher film I Know What You Did Last Summer. Let’s check it out!

I Kill Giants (2017)

I Kill Giants

Director: Anders Walter

Cast: Madison Wolfe, Zoe Saldana, Imogen Poots, Sydney Wade, Rory Jackson, Art Parkinson

Barbara Thorson struggles through life by escaping into a fantasy life of magic and monsters. – IMDB

*Originally posted on Friday Film Club*

Adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by writer Joe Kelly and artist J.M. Ken Niimura, I Kill Giants also has its writer as the movie’s screenplay writer as well. I Kill Giants is a fantasy drama about a young girl called Barbara (Madison Wolfe) who lives in this world inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and baseball player Harry Covelski where she is defending her hometown from giants with her handmade weapons and traps. With this important task at hand, she keeps mostly to herself until one day, a new girl from Leeds, Sophia (Sydney Wade) comes to town who befriends her. As Barbara finally opens up about her world to Sophia, her fantasy world starts colliding with the reality as Barbara has to face the new school psychologist Mrs. Molle (Zoe Saldana), the school bully Taylor (Rory Jackson) as well as her older siblings who doesn’t understand her like her older sister, Karen (Imogen Poots), as they all try to get pull her back to face the reality that she’s running away from.

While I Kill Giants does drag a little here and there, the imaginative and creative story that it tells is one that is fairly poignant. Visually, its also really captivating. Right from the beginning shots when we see Barbara clad in her bunny ears head band running through the forest, avoiding a giant and pouring this jam-like liquid onto the trees. The cinematography is done incredibly well. At the same time, the fantasy creatures, both giants and the harbingers also are well-designed and fun to watch. The story itself is expected that it would take a more psychological turn as it creates a twist for the character of whether this fantasy world is real or only in Barbara’s mind.

I Kill Giants also packs in an interesting cast with Imogen Poots and Zoe Saldana both having key supporting roles to this younger actress. Not to mention that Madison Wolfe captures Barbara incredibly well. The story itself tackles a lot of issues from school bullying to unhappy circumstances, escaping from reality and eventually finding joy in the reality. There’s a lot to like about this adaptation whether its the message or its creativity.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

i know what you did last summer

Director: Jim Gillespie

Cast: Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Muse Watson, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Anne Heche, Johnny Galecki

Four young friends bound by a tragic accident are reunited when they find themselves being stalked by a hook-wielding maniac in their small seaside town. – IMDB

Like I mentioned in the intro paragraph, I Know What You Did Last Summer is indeed my first watch. I might have seen snippets on TV before but never have seen the film in entirety but I’m a big fan of movies like Scream (review) and 90s slasher since they have this cheesy dialogue factor that I really love a lot. I Know What You  Did Last Summer definitely does tick those boxes really well. It was a lot of fun to watch. Not exactly a very scary movie but there was a few tense jumpscare moments that worked really good. The best moments are anticipating a jumpscare but not knowing when it will land and still feeling startled.

If we look at the cast, the four main leads in 90s reflected the general criteria of 90s slasher films. There was a good balance of the characters needed in this group of four friends of what slasher movies usually would have.  The dialogue is definitely one of the elements that is full of cheese and actually some of it is a bit wooden but somehow the 90s slasher films always seem to have those very cringe-y dialogue that brings a lot of enjoyment. Of course, this element is one that differs between people. While its something of an enjoyment here, the acting in reality leaves a little to be desired. Some of the characters are a tad over the top. One of the surprises was seeing Johnny Galecki in this for sure.

Overall, I Know What You Did Last Summer is pretty fun. Its one that easily can be compared to Scream, which in my opinion is better overall in terms of all the elements and the tension, but this one is just entertainment. The mystery and how the four try to figure out who they killed and how the story itself is executed is done well. There are issues with this one but its not enough to prevent me from wanting to watch it again.

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?

Reaper: A Horror Novella by Jonathan Pongratz

Reaper: A Horror Novella
By: Jonathan Pongratz

reaper

Gregory and his little sister Imogen love spending Halloween with their parents. But this year is different. If he proves he can take care of Imogen all by himself, he’ll finally have the allowance he’s dreamed of.

That was before the basement door opened on its own. Before the strange door appeared in the basement and Imogen was taken from him by the monster.

Now everyone in town is blaming him for her disappearance, but no one is listening to his story. Where did the door come from? What was that creature? And most of all, can he find his sister before it’s too late, or will he bury his memories of her along with his parents? – Goodreads

*Book received in exchange of honest review*

The Reaper is an interesting novella to review. On one hand, there are a few elements here that aren’t exactly unique and yet, the execution and pacing of the story definitely gives it a boost because its length gives it a story that keeps moving forward, leaving enough space for mystery and resolution without ever feeling like it takes a break. Its definitely one of the more gripping stories. The story and set up itself is fairly predictable. I’m not someone who gets too bothered by horror tropes as long as its well-executed. Its where this novella works as its a gripping story from beginning to the end.

There is a bit of a lore in the making as it uses a few elements of beliefs like the Boogeyman, children as well as taking the door to another realm as a basis. At the same time, its much more than just believing a child’s side of the story but its set up as a recount of a situation which makes it start from the end. In some cases, those set-ups actually don’t work well especially for horror tales because they take away the threat to the protagonist. Reaper still manages to keep things moving at one direction and where it works really well is the twist of the end that gives substance to the ending as it leads into another rather unexpected situation.

Its not easy to talk about a novella without giving away spoilers so I’m going to keep this fairly short. There is quite a bit to like about Reaper. Seeing as I’ve been rather picky with horror stories since I’m a tad desensitized from the amount of horror movies that I watch in general, however, this one was definitely a page-turner. It had some creepy moments and the story does take a nice twist of events. Overall, its a fun one even if the set up feels familiar, the second half definitely makes up for it.

Score: 4.5 out of 5