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: Flowers in the Attic (1987) & The Foreigner (2017)

Next double feature is here! We’ve arrived at the F features. The first is 1987 adaptation of V.C.. Andrews novel with the same name, Flowers in the Attic followed by 2017’s The Foreigner with Jackie Chan in this action thriller. Let’s check it out!

Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Flowers in the Attic

Director (and screenplay): Jeffrey Bloom

Cast: Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant, Kristy Swanson, Jeb Stuart Adams, Ben Ryan Ganger, Lindsay Parker

Children are hidden away in the attic by their conspiring mother and grandmother. – IMDB

I still remember back in the days when I first discovered V.C. Andrews through some school friends reading it and it was such a rebellious thing to do because of its edgy content. Of course, I read some other series and not Flowers in the Attic which I learned when I got older that it was a very popular title in her writing. Until today, I haven’t read it so I also went into this knowing nothing about its plot. Call this a fresh watch if you may but this story is definitely a bit edgy as it deals with incest and religious beliefs and control. The story itself has a good premise to work with especially in the realm of a gothic thriller.

The execution of the film does leave a lot to be desire. There are some obvious direction to give it the scary grandmother and the mystery behind the family secrets and why the mother was kicked out in the first place as well as the general dislike and unaccepted feelings towards the children. There’s a lot done to give those unsettling moments. All this somewhat falls apart with a lot of overacting and the camera wanting to focus a lot unnecessary bits almost trying to hint that something would happen between two characters that would be unacceptable in the eyes of the grandmother. The mother at the same time is one of those characters that come and go and is meant to be incredibly odd and not meant to be likeable.

Flowers in the Attic was rather disappointing. I am curious whether the source material is as lackluster in general because the potential of the premise is there but then it feels so unsatisfying as a reveal. Its a tad bit predictable and there are some decent scenes. Even some moments that work between the siblings but when you put them all together, it just never seems to be well-paced and everything feels very deliberate. Not really my cup of tea but then its given me the desire to eventually get back to some V.C. Andrews reading and see how it holds up now.

The Foreigner (2017)

The Foreigner

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Orla Brady, Dermot Crowley, Ray Fearon, Rory Fleck Byrne, Michael McElhatton, Charlie Murphy, Liu Tao, Lia Williams

A humble businessman with a buried past seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers’ identities. – IMDB

The Foreigner is a fairly typical sort of action thriller. The story itself wraps around terrorism and politics and human clashes between a father who wants to seek justice and a government official who has some questionable background connections.

The story takes the time to give these characters a little growth as every step of the mystery opens up a little more of their backgrounds, especially the obvious one, how a businessman is so knowledgeable in creating these scare tactics and evading the pursuit of government official’s men. If we talk about characters, the movie is essentially carried because of Jackie Chan who plays the father called Quan and the government official played by Pierce Brosnan. I mean, two veteran actors who deliver good roles all around. Their clashes and the action from Jackie Chan is reflective of the story itself and doesn’t overdo it a lot.

While there is a whole other issue at hand with supporting plotlines with marriage and family, The Foreigner does remember where its main focus is as an action thriller and sticks to it. It adds a few twists and some secrets from the supporting cast. Its not exactly unpredictable and not a lot of surprises but its a decent movie experience.

That’s it for this double F feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?
Also, have you read Flowers in the Attic? Is it worth a read?

Double Feature: Escape Room (2017) & Exists (2014)

Next double feature is here! We’re at the E selections from Netflix and Shudder with the following titles respectively: 2017’s Escape Room and 2014’s Exists.

Escape Room (2017)

Escape Room 2017

Director (and co-writer): Will Wernick

Cast: Evan Williams, Annabelle Stephenson, Elisabeth Hower, Dan J. Johnson, John Ierardi, Kelly Delson, Iris Avalee

Six friends test their intelligence when an escape room they participate in takes a dark and twisted turn. – IMDB

Let’s make one thing clear that this isn’t the more recent 2019’s Escape Room (review). I have to make it clear because while the 2019 one had some issue but it was much better than this Escape Room which was a rather nonsensical version with some very unnecessary elements and unappealing characters that gets themselves into the situation.

This escape room takes a group of friends celebrating a birthday party for this guy whose girlfriend breaks out of the norm to gift them this experience for all the friends. Its an expensive expense but one that was surprising. It takes them a good half of the movie before they find out that this isn’t a game. Its a bit silly of how they didn’t find out especially when their goal was to save this girlfriend who was sitting in a cage naked! If it was a 2 person escape room, sure, maybe it made sense because it would be sexy outcome or whatever but this was with 4 other friends than this couple and friends that seemed to have their own connections with each other like siblings and affairs, etc. It tries really hard to pad out these rather shallow characters.

If there was one thing that kind of worked was that one scene where it had the characters stuck in a locked room. It was obvious that nothing good was going to happen with the contraption but it was kind of gross and somehow fit in as the turning point of revelation for these characters. As for everything else, it was badly executed with some really annoying characters to watch that really didn’t peak my interest much.

Exists (2014)

Exists

Director (and co-writer): Eduardo Sanchez

Cast: Chris Osborn, Dora Madison, Roger Edwards, Denise Williamson, Samuel Davis, Brian Steele, Jeff Schwan

A group of friends who venture into the remote Texas woods for a party weekend find themselves stalked by Bigfoot. – IMDB

Full points for originality of tackling the Bigfoot premise that I haven’t seen much of (I haven’t, but maybe there is that I haven’t discovered). Exists is directed and co-written by one of the directors of The Blair Witch Project, Eduardo Sanchez. He definitely feels like a one-trick pony as Exists changes the Blair Witch story into the Bigfoot story also set in the woods and executed in found footage. However, playing to your strengths is never a bad thing because Exists does deliver for the most part. It has some common elements like its gang of friends heading out and making some silly decisions but its all part of these stories.

It feels like abandoned woods and the great mysterious outdoors is a great setting as long as it is utilized well. Exists manages to keep it well-paced. It uses its found footage elements properly to show off their isolated atmosphere. Its something of “A Road Less Traveled” idea when they first go to the cabin of these brothers who shouldn’t be there in the first place due to some unknown reasons. Of course, these guys use this time to pull off some relaxing and fun moments filming stunts and whatnot until they realize that there is something much bigger that has suddenly taken an interest in hunting them down. The ending of this story actually does work as to why and a somewhat common direction when dealing with creatures hunting humans.

One of its biggest successes and one that I love about this the most is that the budget didn’t affect how they portrayed Bigfoot. The control on how much of Bigfoot to reveal in every time it appears is done so well and its definitely the way that it should have been done in order to keep them guessing on what this creature looks like completely and how horrifying it is. At the same time, even when we get the full reveal, it still works. I would argue that I’m not sure how I feel about the ending but then, I would still recommend Exists for all its strengths and doing a good job in execution. There’s are some tense moments and that’s what makes these horror films thrilling to watch.

That’s it for this E double feature!
Have you seen these two films?
Also, any other Bigfoot movies to recommend (to expand my knowledge a little)?

Double Feature: Deadly Detention (2017) & Downrange (2017)

Time to move into D double feature! Two incredibly random choices on my lists on Netflix and Shudder respectively. The first is currently on Netflix Canada called Deadly Detention. I’m not going to lie that I picked it initially because it looked like one that I didn’t have to spend too much energy to watch, which usually doesn’t bode well in past experience. The second is a Shudder exclusive called Downrange. Let’s check it out!

Deadly Detention (2017)

Deadly Detention

Director: Blair Hayes

Cast: Alex Frnka, Sarah Davenport, Henry Zaga, Coy Stewart, Jennifer Robyn Jacobs, Gillian Vigman, Kevin Blake

Five high school students are having Saturday detention in a former Correctional Facility, and must find a way to outsmart an unseen menace out to kill them. – IMDB

Deadly Detention is something of a Saw mashed with Escape Room kind of deal. A lot of things don’t make sense, especially right from the beginning to why the school picked their backup detention hall in a former correctional facility to the generic character structure that might be trying to draw some parallels to The Breakfast Club. This teen horror movie leaves a lot to be desired and that’s coming from me that had pretty low expectations going in to begin with. The characters aren’t appealing and honestly doesn’t really make you want to cheer for any of them. While the “big twist” reveal is meant to be shocking and the facts of why the “killer” does all this and how they get them all in this location is explained, its all stemmed from something that is merely mentioned so slightly.  At the end of the day, even the ending is something of a let-down even if it also tries to pull a clever little turn of events.

There’s so many things wrong with Deadly Detention from bad decisions from the characters to unsatisfying character developments to incredibly bad dialogue and a lot of overacting in most of the cast. Its not one that I’d recommend and honestly, it was something of a waste of time. I don’t say that about movies a lot but this one is very unsatisfying and rather annoying to watch and even for myself, who has a great ability to suspend reality found the scenario just too contrived and convoluted that it made everything very predictable and linear as well. If there was one thing that was good about this, its probably the role of detention monitor played by Gillian Vigman that actually seemed to fit her character well but her character isn’t really on screen a lot.

Downrange (2017)

Downrange

Director (and co-writer): Ryuhei Kitamura

Cast: Kelly Connaire, Stephanie Pearson, Rod Hernandez, Anthony Kirlew, Alexa Yeames, Jason Tobias, Aion Boyd

Stranded at the side of the road after a tire blowout, a group of friends become targets for an enigmatic sniper. – IMDB

The best way to describe Downrange is that its something of a hidden gem. Shudder acquires some really great movies and its been getting some good exclusives as well. Downrange is a 2017 horror thriller and while there are some issues here and there and some obvious issues with visuals, probably due to budget, with what they had, this was done pretty well.

One of the best things about movies like this is its setting. Its secluded and well-targeted. They are hunted by an unknown factor simply chosen by chance and coincidence that they passed in that stretch of road who wields a sniper rifle hidden in an unknown location. The unknowns give the hunter advantage especially when the point of view is mostly placed on the stranded friends. While each of the stranded friends have their own stories, they don’t let their own personal issues drag out too long but rather uses it to build up their character traits and even the physical and mental strength that they have with each decision that they make in the process of being hunted and the plans they attempt to try to survive and escape.

Its a well-paced execution and full of gripping moments. The intense situation is not only a pressing matter of survival with water and food dwindling under the intense heat and the secluded desert road. Its definitely the constant coincidence structured in horror movies to have someone very saavy on survival and guns to be a part of the crew but the group isn’t all useless. These characters want to survive and while they begin scared, they all find their will to survive and work together to figure out the best way to escape. They make some suitably clever choices albeit some more understandably risky ones. Downrange is a pretty decent horror thriller. It delivered both the horror and thriller elements pretty well and is an engaging watch. Its always nice to find hidden gems and this one might not be perfect but its definitely worth a watch.

That’s it for this D double feature!
Two very similar cast set-up but with two different opinions!
Have you seen Deadly Detention and/or Downrange?

Double Feature: The Changeling (1980) & Catcalls (2017)

Next double feature up is the C double feature! Its a bit of a Shudder double feature as I finally watch 1980’s The Changeling and then also pair it with a 2017 short film Catcalls!  Let’s check it out!

The Changeling (1980)

The Changeling

Director: Peter Medak

Cast: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, Jean Marsh, John Colicos, Barry Morse, Madeleine Sherwood

A man staying at a secluded historical mansion finds himself being haunted by the presence of a spectre. – IMDB

The 80s was a great time for horror movies. We talk a lot about slashers in that era among the many other releases and yet, The Changeling as a ghost story was honestly a treat. There are some elements here that is executed really well. While it might be the whole set-up or the more mystery thriller element that takes its priority as the story tries to find out why its being haunted and who it is haunted by, there are some moments that truly take a very basic element that we still see in horror films nowadays and its finding the perfect way of acting it out that adds so much to the scene. One of the best examples is when they are channeling the ghost. We see this a lot in current films and yet they never were quite creepy as this one. The only other time this round table spirit summoning ceremony crept me out was a few years back when I was playing Until Dawn.

The Changeling is a pretty decent haunted house film. Its location is quite good. The house is huge and it manages to use all those different elements of space and echo to create the atmosphere. Its all done really well and actually lands a lot of the suspense and unsettling feeling throughout the film. Its not exactly perfect. There are some small pacing issues but at the same time, the story is executed pretty well. There’s a good balance of mystery and horror and the acting is fairly decent as well.

Catcalls (short, 2017)

Catcalls

Director (and writer): Kate Dolan

Cast: Martin O’Sullivan, Cesca Saunders, Edel Murphy, Sarah Kinlen, Desmond Eastwood

A man cruises around late at night looking for something. He pulls in to ask two young girls for directions – only to flash them to get a cheap thrill. Unfortunately, he has picked the wrong girls. They are also out hunting tonight and they will stop at nothing to get their kill. – IMDB

Its rare that I’d review short films outside out of special requests or film festivals but Catcalls is a unique title that I watched randomly on Shudder, plus anything to do with cats always intrigues me. Catcalls is one that I definitely liked quite a bit. Running at 9 minutes, the story is really great. It takes on a literal term of catcalls towards ladies and merges it with cats to make it all blend together. The imagination and direction is awesomely clever. What makes it even better is that it keeps the suspense of whats going on mostly off-screen or never focuses on the effects of the actual horror elements, giving it this suspense and slowly reveals it bit by bit.

Catcalls is a fun short to watch. Its imaginative and executed well. The whole story works on a lot of levels and definitely one that I highly recommend.

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

Double Feature: 31 (2016) & Justice League (2017)

Time for the next Double Feature! This time is a bit of a random combination as I take a look at 2017’s DC superhero film Justice League and Shudder exclusive horror film 31. Two movies that has been on my to-watch list for a little while but always a bit hesitant on it. Let’s check it out!

31 (2016)

31

Director (and writer): Rob Zombie

Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Meg Foster, Kevin Jackson, Malcolm McDowell, Jane Carr, Judy Geeson, Richard Brake, Pancho Moler, David Ury, Lew Temple, Torsten Voges, Elizabeth Daily

Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, hellish compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns. – IMDB

When we think about Rob Zombie movies, I’m fairly certain that’s a hit or miss deal, just like how we’d think about his version of Halloween brings up a lot of debate. With that said, 31 probably will fall in that same area. 31 is something of a Saw mixed with escape room deal. It takes a group of 5 carnival workers who get kidnapped into this sadistic game to survive 12 hours. This game that has never had survivors before suddenly is met with these five who turn out to be tougher than expected and take down these different sadistic clowns one after under. While their numbers also dwindle gradually, the game itself and the whole concept is done pretty well.

However, there are some serious execution issues that doesn’t quite strike a balance with its quick pacing. Usually with movies like this and ideal movie length, its hard to be very critical of its execution as it usually keeps the characters on their toes and becomes an exciting watch. Don’t get me wrong – it is a fun and rather intense watch. Each of these killer clowns also have their own unique qualities that give them their own edge. It all dials down to how these five taking down these clowns in a fairly swift manner actually brings in this element that these clowns aren’t on screen long enough to feel like they are deadly. It becomes obvious that the main showstopper is the first one that is in the opening scene, Doom-Head (Richard Brake) who does a stellar job and makes us wonder whether the film’s end game giving him the most depth and focus actually should have just been this sole much more capable threat than adding so much more.

To be fair, the five carnival workers is a good balance as well. They each have their own value in the group and its pretty fair game as they find their way to survive together and move on as they lose their own group one by one. Leading all this is tough chick, Charly, played by Sheri Moon Zombie who is no doubt meant to be the highlight of the film. She does a pretty good job at being the “final girl” candidate and in all reality, my only thought of question in a much more unimportant and random thought is how her little outfit stayed together through all the fighting, running and hiding.

31 is an okay movie. There are some issues with it and yet, there’s also some entertaining elements to it as well. Its ending a little questionable and will probably be debatable on who will like it and who won’t depending on how you like your movies to end.

Justice League (2016)

justice league

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry  Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Ciaran Hinds, Amber Heard

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his new-found ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. – IMDB

DC Universe is still one that I’m catching up to gradually. Its been spotty at best to catch onto especially with Marvel Cinematic Universe’s earlier domination. However, the effort is there plus, I’m a fan of Gal Gadot played by Wonder Woman so why not, right? Thing is Justice League is like your typical superhero movie. Its nothing too different from what you’d expect and its hard to not compare it to something like The Avengers who had a lot of success when it first launched. Sure, its a different universe but then the story superhero movies do tell is about the same, seeing as I’m not a comic book fan so my focus on watching these films is more about enjoyment than all the background lore that I know nothing about from its source material.

With all that said, Justice League actually was a pleasant surprise. Its 2 hour run time is filled pretty well. There is a good balance between the characters and their purpose in the storyline as a whole. There is a suitable amount of banter between its characters to keep it entertaining. Ezra Miller’s The Flash actually is a big highlight which takes over a little of a the Spider-Man appeal where its a lot of fanboy over the other superheroes but keeping him a good back-up support when things get dicey. The dynamic between the group also works fairly well. Considering that I hated the pacing of Batman vs. Superman and has since forgotten most of it, Justice League has much better pacing.

Like what I’ve been saying about the last few DC movies (except for Wonder Woman that really does stand out more, in my opinion), these superhero movies have their fun blockbuster elements. The villain is acceptable. Its a tad lengthy (like most superhero movies in whichever universe) and its execution sometimes is okay. but the overall experience is alright. It might be the over-saturated superhero market and its rather formulaic plot execution that has somehow desensitized the initial excitement of these films. DC movies seem to struggle to grab the element that makes them stand out more and each story more memorable. Its a good first time viewing but its hard to say whether I’d be going back to watch it again.

That’s it for this double feature!
Some pleasant surprises but still have some disappointing elements for both films!
Have you seen 31 and/or Justice League? Thoughts?

What’s Up 2020: Week 17

Another week has gone by! I’ve been swamped in work and will remain this way for the next weeks of recaps (or so). Who knows, right? Either way, I’m still trying my best to work hard on different things.

READING

Undead Ultra

Currently reading: Undead Ultra

Reading is still suffering the most out of this whole working from home and change in work situation where my workload has increased immensely. I haven’t been able to find time or energy to get around to reading. Hopefully it will change in the coming week as I set some reading into my actual schedule.

PLAYING

concrete genie

  • Concrete Genie
  • Bounce that Bird (mobile)

Currently playing: Happy Color, Faraway: Galactic Escape, Color Spots

Wrapped up Concrete Genie for Game Warp recording so you can look for that. Concrete Genie was an anticipated game for 2019 and snuck under the radar and honestly, it lived up to most of my expectations. It was something dark and colorful and hopeful all at the same time and was a ton of fun just making funky genies and painting walls.

I’m still working through mobile games that were part of the Google Play Indie Game Festival Finalists for some quick mobile game roundups.

As I renewed the Xbox Game Pass for PC for three more months, the next game to tackle will FINALLY be Ori and the Will of the Wisps once things settle down soon!

WATCHING

the willoughbys

  • Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
  • The Changeling (1980)
  • Deadly Detention (2017)
  • The Willoughbys (2020 Review)

A little bit more movie watching this week and surprisingly, we even managed to catch a new Netflix movie, which is honestly a rarity and I’m not sure why since I don’t even go to theatres anymore (even when they were open or when they reopen). The list here is one rental, one Shudder movie, one random choice for upcoming double feature setup and the new Netflix movie. It was honestly a battle between The Willoughbys and The Changeling for the recommended movie this week and the Willoughbys won out because it was what I needed and I just had a ton of fun watching it. You can check out the review, which I have already done (I know, I’m surprised also), linked above.

BINGING

theuntamed

  • The Untamed (2019)
  • The Singer 2020 (2020)

Currently binging: J-Style Trip, Love Equations, Me To Us, Youth With You 2, Welcome Back to Sound

Everything that I’m watching, I absolutely love. Last week, I finished up The Untamed. While I have to say that The Singer 2020 was pretty fun to watch, The Untamed was really great. Its been probably about a week as I type this up and man, I’m still thinking about it a lot. The little subtleties, the story, the character: so much thought and care has been put into the detail because of the source materials direction adapted for the strong censorship in China. I didn’t care too much about Yibo Wang before but I’m starting to see something with him but more than that, I absolutely love Sean Xiao even more. So amazingly talented.

As for currently watching, Love Equations reached its halfway point and its still very enjoyable and really nice to watch just like its sister series before. Me To Us and Youth With You 2 are two really great reality shows to create a band and girl group respectively and so far, its been pretty fun especially when it comes to discussing what each of these things mean and especially the former, talking about the challenges of finding a balance of bringing something new and still being accepted by the market. Very grounded in its concept when creating these bands and performances, in the making for its final band. The new addition here is Welcome Back to Sound on Mango TV. Its rehashing the radio broadcast concept onto an online live podcast where people can call in with their personal questions and send in traditional mail that will be replied by QR code message reply or read out loud. It has three hosts and two to three guests, so its pretty fun as well as some of the stories that are shared is pretty touching.

That’s it for Week 17!
Thinking back, I did manage to put some effort in catching up on certain things!
Now to schedule in reading time! Should be better in the next recap *fingers crossed*!
What have you been reading/watching/binging/playing?

What’s Up 2020: Week 16

Welcome to Week 16 of 2020! Self-isolation has been going on for a month or so. Its been quite an experience. I can’t say that I’ve been able to do a whole lot of things different from usual since work has been quite busy and its all about getting through April. Week 16 was a lot of wanting to do something but not being able to because of work overtime or home things.

READING

Undead Ultra

Currently reading: Undead Ultra

Still reading Undead Ultra and I can tell you that I’ve moved forward very very little. The time to read wasn’t quite as much as I’d like but I am aiming to finish the book soon. Its not a particularly long novel but I just need to sit down to do it.

PLAYING

doors awakening

  • Doors: Awakening

Currently playing: Concrete Genie, Happy Color, Bounce That Bird, Color Spots

I’ve been working on a lot of Game Warp stuff lately. Concrete Genie is our upcoming game of the month so its one that I’ve been playing through in preparation for the next recording. As for the other games, Doors: Awakening is a game very similar to other puzzle games published from Snapbreak and its part of the Google Play Indie Games Festival Finalists along with Bounce That Bird and Color Spots and a whole bunch of free games that I’ve been playing through for a little capsule reviews, something like a Mobile Game Roundup.

WATCHING

The Farewell

  • The Game (1997)
  • The Farewell (2019)
  • Black Mountain Side (2014)
  • Berlin Syndrome (2017)

I have a ton of movie reviews lined up to write so all of these are currently in line to be written. This week’s highlight goes to The Farewell which I finally got around to seeing thanks to a cheap rental. Its a great film. The story and characters and whatnot all make for a great watch. Other movies in here are for Movies and Tea recording (you can guess which one yourself). Black Mountain Side is a movie on Shudder which I personally don’t recommend but apparently some people on Letterboxd seem to like it more than I did. While on the other hand, Berlin Syndrome ended up being surprisingly decent and Teresa Palmer acts in her own Australian accent instead of playing an American so that was quite a surprise as well.

BINGING

breakfast lunch and dinner

  • Find Yourself (rewatch 2020)
  • Too Hot to Handle (Season 1, 2020) Review
  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (Season 1, 2019)

Currently binging: Me to Us, The Singer 2020, The Love Equations, J-Style Trip, Youth With You 2, The Untamed

As usual, with a lot of work, TV is the most abundant thing since I like binge-watching on my spare time the most. Plus, TV means a lot of times that I can multitask and that was exactly what I needed. After some though, I decided to watch Too Hot to Handle and it was something that fit into my current mindset so I even finished up a review so you can read my thoughts there. I did a rewatch for Find Yourself which I’m working on a review right now and then wrapped up Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner which was a decent structure as a documentary series. While I like the Ugly Delicious style of docuseries, I like this one a lot too.

Currently binging is really not that different. The Singer 2020 is about to end as they wrap up the semi-finals and head into the finals in the coming week. J-Style Trip is my filler show since it only has one episode a week and it blends well with Me To Us that updates one episode a week on the weekend. I’m enjoying everything that I’m binging right now actually and its just a matter of choosing which I want to watch and which to watch over the course of the following week although my weekend mornings are watching the premieres on Youtube for The Love Equations so I binge those 4 episodes released over the weekend a lot. That series is so fun. On the other hand, I finally started The Untamed which was a HUGE deal last year and I can see why as I binged 10 episodes in one day and if I kept this pace, it’ll be done in no time, even at 50 episodes total. Lots of great TV to watch and catch up with!

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/binging/playing?

Double Feature: Dog Soldiers (2002) & Hell House LLC (2015)

Welcome to the next double feature! Something of a horror double feature as we start bouncing between Shudder and Netflix more (so more horror in the horizon..a lot more). The first to appear is a pairing of one movie that I’ve been wanting to watch the finally go on Shudder, Dog Soldiers and the second is a random choice by my husband, the first of three movies called Hell House LLC. Let’s check it out!

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Dog Soldiers

Director (and writer): Neil Marshall

Cast: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham, Thomas Lockyer, Darren Morfitt, Chris Robson, Leslie Simpson

A routine military exercise turns into a nightmare in the Scotland wilderness. – IMDB

Werewolf movies are rather hard to come by and its nice to see that here and there they do come up even if a lot of times, it sometimes still feels a bit lacking. Dog Soldiers has my praise for tackling this subgenre in horror films but at the same time, the movie itself is something of a slow-burn. It plays up on the unknown of who is hunting them and why this military team is at the location at the time and that takes a lot of time to build, probably longer than I’d have wanted.

There are some decent scenes and yet, while the script tries to give all the characters something more, its main players do dial down to 4 of the characters especially when they end up trapped in the house. The two military exercise leaders of sorts is Sean Pertwee’s character Sergeant Wells and Kevin McKidd’s character Private Cooper who takes over when Wells ends up injured rather seriously. The next two is a woman who lives in the area and knows of these odd events happening played by Emma Cleasby as a character of Megan who gives them a lot of the information as she saves them from the wilderness  while the last is a Captain who won’t talk about what happened but was involved in the last attack that killed his team pretty much.

Dog Soldiers itself has a decent premise. The story its trying to tell and the way they want to add in the twists and answer all those mysteries. Even some of the attack scenes and werewolf designs, despite its budget, still works alright. The biggest issue here dials down to execution where the first half seems to lag a little and when the reveal happens and things get serious (even though there were attack scenes and other scenes before that), it seems a little late in the game making the second half definitely stronger than the first.

Hell House LLC (2015)

Hell House LLC

Director (and writer): Stephen Cognetti

Cast: Gore Abrams, Alice Bahlke, Danny Bellini, Theodore Bouloukos, Jared Hacker, Ryan Jennifer Jones

Five years after an unexplained malfunction causes the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary crew travels back to the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened. – IMDB

Found footage films are always a somewhat interesting horror genre to see. They usually all reliant on the execution and finding how to create the right atmosphere. With Hell House LLC, its the first in what is now a 3 movie franchise. We’ll be looking at the other 2 later on as a double feature. This is an independent movie and yet somehow, found footage films are usually still very good with a smaller budget. This first movie does a great job in its execution and especially in using its cameras and background to have this lurking horror atmosphere. There are a few little jumpscares here and there but they are also very effective.

What does shine here is in the premise of looking back at this documentary that five crew members have joined together for their next haunted house tour in this abandoned hotel called Abaddon Hotel located in a small town . It shows the entire lead-up through the surveillance cameras and other filming cameras that document the whole making-of up to the night of the malfunction. It uses its lighting and darkness pretty well and also builds a decent lore with the story of the hotel and its previous hotel owner. It all makes sense but lacks enough information to keep it a mystery and how these characters one by one change in their own ways and it becomes a question of whether its because of the hotel and whatever seems to be haunting it or just the haunted house weighing down on them for other reasons. 

Overall, Hell House LLC is a strong found footage film. It has enough of a creepy factor and helps itself by having all these mysterious stories and how it brings in different horror elements in the background. There’s a change in the characters as well as the entire haunted house deal making it have a lot of opportunities to play with these suitable horror elements to appear amidst the haunted house props that also play well with the whole premise. Its one location makes Abaddon Hotel a worthy horror setting. Its definitely worth a watch if you  haven’t seen it yet!

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

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

DOUBLEFEATURE (4)

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

Let’s check it out!

The Ranger (2018)

The Ranger

Director (and co-writer): Jenn Wexler

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

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

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

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

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

Summer of ’84 (2018)

Summer of '84

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you seen these two indie horror films?