Halloween Marathon 2021: TV Binge- Deadhouse Dark (Mini Series, 2021)

Deadhouse Dark (Season 1, 2021)

Creator: Enzo Tedeschi
Directors: Denai Gracie, Joshua Long, Rosie Lourde, Megan Riakos, Enzo Tedeschi, Rachele Wiggins
Cast: Nicholas Hope, Anni Finsterer, Gemma Bird Matheson, Ryan Morgan, Lauren Orrell, Naomi Sequeira, Barbara Bingham

A series of six short horror stories anchored by a woman who receives a ‘mystery box’ from the dark web, and then discovers the sinister secret it hold – IMDB

Deadhouse Dark is a 2021 horror anthology mini series where it takes six horror shorts to create each of its episodes. Unlike horror anthology film, this one doesn’t have that linking main story that pulls together all the pieces instead this all feels like different stories set in its own sort of darkness with different horror elements added to each of the stories giving each of them a new set of characters and a different subgenre to tackle. Its not a bad idea to that as a lot of the great horror directors do start of directing shorts and its a great way to share some great premises (just look at another recent Shudder Original release, Martyr’s Lane which also started off as a short story premise and turned out to be a fantastic full length feature).

Of course, the issue here is that what makes things a tad more confusing is that it tries to link certain elements specifically in one episode, the fifth one which has items from a previous episode and a character from another previous character and pulls together those pieces to give a feeling that there is an interconnected feeling while it more instills a feeling of whether there is more connection in the other episodes that were missed prior which at least for myself, I couldn’t seem to pinpoint. Put the interconnected issue aside, each of these shorts are still pretty good. The twist it takes and the surprise element mostly lands in execution. Some leaves a space for the unknown and others have its own purposeful ending. It definitely feels like most of them are still pretty unique and creative in how its all scripted.

Doing a quick breakdown of the episodes aka each of the short films, the first episode “Halloween” set in Halloween that has this fantastic play on time and darkness. It has a very strong twist that connects all the bits together from the beginning and ending. The second episode “No Pain No Gain” is one of the weaker episodes as it feels like a more familiar type of story even if it is inspired by the Blue Whale social media challenge which tells the story of a competitive track runner who is willing to do anything to win leading her to accept the training from a renowned coach who gives her a dangerous progression of daily tasks to complete. The pacing and execution is not quite as engaging. “The Staircase” feels like a found footage that ends up discovering more than they bargained for with some lurking in the unknown depths. “A Tangled Web We Weave” that follows a man on a date dealing not so subtly with a rat problem (for gamers, it has some serious reminders of Layers of Fear strictly from the rat problem angle and whether its real or in his mind) which takes a rather intriguing turn.

Much like “Mystery Box” which is is probably the most intriguing of the whole batch as it has a strong element of suspense and mystery which unfolds into a rather unexpected reveal at the end. Its a solo performance with a woman who opens a mystery box at her doorstep. The cinematography and atmosphere is my favorite even if the horror element is much more subtle. Ending the series is “My Empire of Dirt” that sees a ‘death midwife’ helping a sick elderly woman clean up her apartment in preparation for a peaceful death. This one has its own shock value and actually is the most disgusting of the batch since its rummaging through a dirty environment especially when there’s something hidden which is haunting this place.

Deadhouse Dark is a pretty fun overall. One or two of the snippets is a little subpar whether its acting or execution however, they are all rather creative and have some decent twists which land fairly well. It also has a lot of different subgenre which is always fun in any horror anthology format. In a nutshell, my favorite has to be “Mystery Box” which isn’t exactly pure horror but it stands out the most as it gave me the most unexpected twist. Deadhouse Dark might be like many anthologies where it has its hits and misses but its still well worth a watch.

Halloween Marathon 2021: The Superdeep (2020)

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

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

The Superdeep (Kolskaya Sverhglubokaya, 2020)

Director (and co-writer): Arseny Syuhin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double Feature: 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?