Halloween Double Feature: Get Out (2017) & Hereditary (2018)

DOUBLEFEATURE (72)

This next double feature should probably be called the high hype indie pairing where both of these films are indie horror films that got a lot of hype and love upon its first release and both of them have been on my radar since all those great reviews scattered across the blogosphere. So here we are, getting it both done at the same time!

Let’s check it out! *crossing my fingers that they live up to the hype*

Get Out (2017)

Get Out

Director (and writer): Jordan Peele

Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, LaKeith Stanfield

A young African-American visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point. – IMDB

Two types of movies that are hard to write about: movies that are fantastic and movies that are so indifferent, its just a waste of time to write about. Get Out is definitely the first one where its just so thrilling and creepy and weird and yet, it lands well for probably 90% of the times. Usually, comedy inserts in these films don’t bother me but for this film, there were some issues of putting comedy where it probably wasn’t time for even if thinking back, I probably wouldn’t have taken out the character’s bits, probably just shifted it around, maybe. With that said, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is amazing with twists that work and subtly creepy/unsettling bits and a good balance and execution of the ideas and unveiling the plot one step at a time, never rushing it forward.

The long awaited film that is finally watched on my list! Its rare that films actually live up to the hype and Get Out does. Whether its in the terms of psychological horror or the pacing or the characters, everything here is done with a great balance and great eye for things that come into play. None of the awkwardness in the beginning is left unminded to by the end and that does give this a lovely completeness, a rarity nowadays when movies always want to end with a possibility of a sequel. Kudos to Get Out for finding their way to create this unique piece of cinema that is mysterious, thrilling and subtly horrifying. I’m not going to talk to much about it in fear of ruining anything for those who haven’t seen it but its definitely worth a watch.

Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary

Director (and writer): Ari Aster

Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtel, Jake Brown

After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets. – IMDB

Hereditary is an odd film. The characters are rather odd, the family is weird, their history is mysterious and the people they encounter is also a bit out there also. Its like an onion which you peels away the pieces with each event and it leads to the end game. With that said, the best part of Hereditary is its execution, the atmosphere and Toni Collette.

The execution is on point mostly because is this mix between playing with the scenes using the miniature pieces that Toni Collette’s character makes which also ends up melling the reality into a morbid permanent display. The movie is pretty slow-burn and with that, the atmosphere and horror is presented subtly and becomes rather unsettling as the characters themselves are mostly repressing their feelings and quiet until it reaches a breaking point.

With that said, Toni Collette’s performance as the mom is great. She is dealt the worst cards as we start the movie knowing she is coping with llthe loss of her mother and dealing with the effects it had on her family especially her teenage daughter and then what happens with her daughter afterwards. Her character is the anchor of the film as it goes through a one person show almost of discovering the secrets of her family with possession and about her mother. Of course, the odd character here goes to Milly Shapiro as daughter Charlie who is rather odd both in her actions and has one of the most shocking scenes here, a scene that marks the turning point of this story. Its an outstanding performance from a young actress.

Hereditary does do a lot right in direction, execution and the horror of the whole situation. The ending is a bit mind boggling which warranted some rethinking to piece together (kind of). Overall, Hereditary is a pretty good movie. The process of watching it was great even if the ending felt a little in the left field (but that might just be my whole comprehending issues).

That’s it for Halloween Double Feature #4!
Two very highly renowned movies paired together! Have you seen them? Thoughts?

What We’ll Do For Blood (The Almost Human Series #1) by C.L. Mannarino

For some of you who are new here, I love supernatural and paranormal novels. More specifically, while the vampire genre has been wildly overused, I still remain intrigued by what else is showing up. This is where this next novel comes in. What We’ll Do For Blood is the first book in a series by C.L. Mannarino.

Before we start the review, I would like to send a huge thanks to the author for sending me the novel in exchange for an honest review!

What We’ll Do For Blood
by C.L. Mannarino

what we'll do for blood

In the sleepy town of Northam, Massachusetts, not everyone is who they seem to be. Take Scott Whitney, for example. A struggling high school senior, Scott wants nothing more than to have his much-divided, social-climbing family believe him when he comes to them with something important, no matter how often he disregards their rules. One night, Scott catches his father’s beautiful colleague, Maria, drinking his father’s blood in their office parking lot. When his father has no recollection of this event, and gets weaker the more he spends time with Maria, Scott turns to his mother and sister for help. When he realizes that Maria has captured their hearts and minds, as well, Scott has to find a way to believe in himself, and become more than anyone thought he was capable of, in order to stop her. But what will it cost him? – Goodreads

What We’ll Do For Blood is the first in the author’s series. For that, it definitely does set a decent stage to the characters and story. In particular, we learn quite a bit through his actions and decisions and thoughts about the person he is. Our main character is Scott and if not a little silly sometimes, because he lacks a bit of real life experience since he is only a high school guy, he definitely is brave. He emphasized the point that you can’t choose family no matter what happens. It never is too far-fetched in building up a scenario or a thought and that is especially with a genre like this one.

As mentioned before, vampire stories are overused. You don’t need me to tell you all the crazy ways they have been portrayed in books then adapted to movies and TV. For the most part, the vampires here stick pretty much to tradition. They feed and glamor and do what they have to to survive. They live in groups but hunt in solitude. They are ruthless and don’t eat human food and drink human beverages. I do appreciate sticking with the traditional portrayal. However, this story does also hit a lot predictable turns whether it is the choices or Maria, the vampire and adds in pieces that are just glimpses of supporting characters that are there.to serve a certain purpose only.

The aspect that saves it is that it is well-paced and well-written. Nothing beats a good reading like having a tasteful piece in front of us. What We’ll Do For Blood hits some super predictable plotlines and in the end, its really easy to see what it is setting the stage for. However, the setting itself is before modern times and I believe somewhere in the seventies perhaps. I cannot remember the time frame. It is mostly a vibe perhaps also because the characters themselves also live in a small community with even more small-minded people which makes Scott’s father’s recent promotion at his work so significant and why it becomes even harder to sidestep talking to the wrong people and even how Scott’s parents perceive what his son is doing.

Overall, What We’ll Do For Blood is a decent start as it is well-paced and well-written. While we can appreciate taking the traditional vampire route, it does have its predictable moments that do take away from it being exceptional. The extra of society ranking and community impressions and the likes add a little something extra to the story. It is an easy read and while does feature a high school main character, still will appeal to an older audience as it has some more violent descriptions but do note that this book seems to be intended for young adults (at least).

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

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

Before I Wake (2016)

Before I Wake

Director and co-writer: Mike Flanagan

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

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

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

Before I Wake

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

Before I Wake

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

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

Before I Wake

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

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

Fantasia Festival 2016: We Go On (2016)

It has been a few days since the last Fantasia Festival film. I was tempted to add in a movie in between but decided that it was better to rest up. The last stretch after this one is going to be intense. You will see soon enough. Next up is We Go On hosted by co-director Andy Mitton and actor Jay Dunn.

We Go On (2016)

Director: Jesse Holland & Andy Mitton

Cast: Clark Freeman, Jay Dunn, Annette O’Toole, Laura Heisler, John Glover, Giovanna Zacarias

We Go On carries a great premise of defining the point where skepticism and curiosity and belief in the afterlife collide. Miles has an immaculate fear of death. It is so severe that he fears everything. In a desperate moment, he determines that the way to not be scared anymore is to find someone who can show him that there is more after death. It isn’t lights out but rather we go on. Do you not time to time, even momentarily wonder if there is more? Perhaps it is why this movie resounds even more to those who wonder. (Myself included.)

We Go On is unique because of how it sets up the story. It sets an unsettling atmosphere. At the same time, this year’s films have been about heart and detail and this one is no exception.  We Go On takes the experts that Miles (played by Clark Freeman) chooses to visit with his extremely skeptical mother (played by Annette O’Toole) and leaves us pieces of clues and it all comes in use in the end. It reminds us of the details.  At the same time, while it keeps us at the edge of our seat wondering if whatever exists in the afterlife does or doesn’t, it allows us time to not only breathe but laugh. Humor, drama and horror is all wrapped in We Go On.

We Go On

With its few characters that revolves around our main character Miles, our focus never leaves Miles and his movements and little expressions that suggest much more. We can see his fear, doubts, and equally his hope and disappointments. Among the stellar cast, Miles’ character truly grasps the uneasy and desperate feeling. There is fear, tension and so much more.On this journey as mentioned before is his reluctant but protectively caring mother played by Annette O’Toole who captures the role perfectly and it is her that makes us laugh the most with her disbelief and sarcastic/snarky interjections. Alongside this unexpected horror duo focused on the relationship of this mother and son relationship trying to get through this is an unexpected visitor Nelson that comes into the story. He is played by Jay Dunn and he truly takes Nelson to a place where its an area of uneasy and something incredibly mysterious about this character in the beginning before diving straight into some really creepy bits.

There are a lot of aspects done right from getting good locations and a tight knit story and the pacing, despite it being slow, is still engaging. However, where this seems to fall apart a little is in its final act. The story seemed to get lost in finding its way out to wrap up this entire ordeal. The way it ended felt a little underwhelming and didn’t have quite the shock value it may have meant to have. However, any further would be entering spoiler territory.

For those who can appreciate a slow burning movie, We Go On has a lot to offer. However, this is a quiet film. One that takes the time to develop and build a connection with Miles and the few characters like his mother and his eventual “buddy”, Nelson. A lot is not in dialogue but reaction and expressions.  Despite its lackluster finale, the sum of everything especially the atmosphere and the stellar performances makes up sufficiently to create a genuine and natural supernatural film filled with dread and humor.