Thursday, November 24, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The Last Exorcism Part 2

Day #17

The Last Exorcism:
Part II

A young woman with a traumatic upbringing has a chance at a new start. But her past isn’t about to let her give it up without a fight.

Fright Factor:
1.5 / 5 Demonic Stalkers

Gore Factor:
1.5 / 5 Jerky Movements

Should you watch it?

I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly great movie, but it’s not like there was anything terrible about it either. All in all it’s a pretty lowkey flick. The boldest part of the movie by far is the fact that someone even tried to make a sequel to something titled The Last Exorcism in the first place.

Much like you’d expect from the title, there really wasn’t anything about the original movie that begged for a sequel. That being said, and against all odds, the filmmakers actually managed to create an interesting hook for the film in spite of that: demonic possession used as a metaphor for living with trauma and trying to find a way to move on.

This poor girl tries to escape her past and create a new life for herself. A new home, new friends, a whole new way of living. Yet despite her fervent desires to jettison her past and become someone new, she can never fully do it. The memories of her past and who she used to be (who she may always be), haunt her and terrorize her more than any demon ever could. Those are the parts that will stick with you long after the movie is over.

However, it often feels like the filmmakers created this interesting plotline on accident. They routinely try to keep shifting the focus of the movie back to exorcists and demons whenever possible. Instead of leaning into the whole horror-as-a-metaphor-for-trauma/grief/anxiety/etc. angle, the film tries to just use horror tropes straight and uncut. The result is that a film that could have been really unique is instead caused to repeatedly misfire into a cliche.

If you’re looking for a good scare I’d recommend you look elsewhere, because you are going to be disappointed. But if you just want to see a spooky movie that sticks its toe into originality (albeit briefly), then maybe give it a chance some lazy afternoon.

“Are you from a cult in the woods or something?”

Thursday, November 17, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Night of the Comet

Day #16

Night of the Comet

The Bad News:
Radiation from a mysterious comet has killed the vast majority of the world’s population and the mutated most of the rest.

The Good News:
Two sisters lucked out and dodged the comet’s effects, the malls are having a close out sale of epic proportions, and there is significantly less competition for any eligible (and unmutated) bachelors you might come across.

Fright Factor:
1 / 5  Piles of Dust

Gore Factor:
1 / 5  Mutant Faces

Should you watch it?

I know this is neither here nor there, but while doing my usual pre-writeup research I discovered that the star of this movie, Catherine Mary Stewart, has what has got to be the most flattering IMDB profile photo I have ever seen... 

Wait...what were we talking about? Oh yeah!

Ohmygosh, YES, you should totally watch this movie!

It would be easy to dismiss this as a dorky 80s so-bad-it’s-good kind of flick and I totally get it! Teenage girls in a post-apocalyptic world. One even wears a cheerleader outfit for most of the movie. There’s even a mall shopping montage and they bemoan the lack of eligible bachelors. It sounds super doofy, right?

HOWEVER, I am here to tell you that if you take a closer look you will see that what at first glance seems enjoyably flawed, is actually really well done and intentionally silly. Like any true 80s gem it has that wonderful combination of originality, delightful 80s tunes, and somehow managing to create a near perfect balance of silliness and sincerity.

There are a lot of elements I love about this movie, but at the top of the list is their depiction of young women. So often female characters (especially younger ones) can have one trait, but not any others. They can either be strong or ditzy, a brainiac or a bonehead, and so on and so on. However this film depicts young women in a way that reminds me so much of the ones I know and have met. They aren’t just one thing, but a whole spectrum. They can love sports and fashion and video games, all at the same time. They can have crushes and romantic fantasies without that being the sole focus of their lives. And whats more, they are smart and capable.

Really, it’s just so refreshing to see, ESPECIALLY in the spooky movie genre. Young women in spooky movies (even more so than other genres) are so often presented as boy-crazed, or a “strong female character,” or some other single-minded stereotype. But the sisters here are amazingly well rounded. They are allowed to sometimes be a nerd or a slacker or a caregiver or an ass kicker. In short they are allowed to act like real people.

Well, as real as you can get in for an 80s comedy-horror adventure...but still!

It’s that combination of ridiculous and realistic that makes this movie so amazing. It simultaneously meets and defies all your expectations, constantly causing you to reevaluate your assumptions.

“You were born with an asshole, Doris, you don’t need Chuck.”

Monday, November 14, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: When Animals Dream

Day #15

Når Dyrene Drømmer
[When Animals Dream]

In a small Danish fishing town a young woman learns she has the same strange disease as her mother. But when she refuses to hide its symptoms the town quickly turns against her.

Fright Factor:
2 / 5 Vespa Gangs

Gore Factor:
2 / 5 Fish Gutting Jobs

Should you watch it?


Imagine, if you will, a Danish cross between Låt den rätte komma in [ Let the Right One In ] (2008) and Ginger Snaps (2000). I mean, if that doesn’t make you want to see this movie then I don’t know what will.

It’s extremely well shot, features some great actors, and has an ethically grey plot that leaves it up to you to decide who was the real monster.

To be fair the ending is a bit lackluster and the motivations of the love interest aren’t really explained at all. The result isn’t a complete miss, but it struck me as a bit lazy and failed to release the potential energy of the film’s tension as well as it could have. But other than that I don’t really have anything much to criticize about this movie.

While there is a lil bit of gore (unless you happen to be a fish in which case there is a LOT of gore) it really isn’t a film that’s trying to scare you. It’s a film that uses the monster genre as a metaphor. Similar to Låt den rätte komma in, the most frightening parts for me weren’t the monsters, but the bullies. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or just a lack of personal experience thing, but bullies in foreign movies are always doing shit that’s just full on crazy-town. Just no-question-about-it illegal kind of stuff.

In spite of the slightly lackluster ending, the rest of the film is an eerie and atmospheric piece that will get under your skin and make you ask some big questions about yourself and the world at large.

“If you leave the house like that,

I can’t help you anymore.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Krampus

Day #14.b


A dysfunctional family gets together for Christmas and subsequently creates a atmosphere so devoid of cheer that it summons an demonic entity named Krampus to wreck havoc upon their holiday.

Fright Factor:
1.5 / 5  Likable Characters

Gore Factor:
1 / 5 Holly Jolly Bite Marks

Should you watch it?

Ummm...I would say it’s one of those movies that are great to watch while you’re multitasking/not giving it your full attention (like while you’re wrapping presents or something), but if you’re just in the market for something good to watch I’d probably look elsewhere.

The whole thing suffers from a severe lack of any worthwhile or—failing that—relatable characters. Out of the 10 main characters there were really only 2 that I cared what happened to. We’re supposed to believe this is a family, but I found them wholly unrecognizable. The big sister lets her little brother be cruelly and openly mocked by her cousins. The dad interacts with his mom as if she was an old lady he took in off the street. And the list goes on. The audience has already accepted that this is a movie about an evil anti-Claus, but just how much more disbelief are we expected to suspend here?

Not to mention the whole premise doesn’t really make sense. A family loses its Christmas spirit and that allows an evil demon to just go and start killing every single person in town? Is Santa cool with all this? And if believing in Santa or the spirit of Christmas or whatever keeps him at bay, then why aren’t A LOT more families suffering the same fate? I spent most of the movie hoping Santa would show up and lay down some jolly justice, but unfortunately I wasn’t that lucky.

There are lots of great actors (Toni Collette, Allison Tolman, Adam Scott, Conchata Ferrell, Krista Stadler), lots of great practical effects, some really funny jokes, but the heaps of plot holes and poorly constructed characters prevented me from being able to really get into it.

P.S. The ending is really stupid. So watch out for that.

“I’m old enough to know when life is coming at me with its pants down.”