Sunday, August 21, 2016

British Parents are Weird

So, after the long and complicated bit of mental juggling required to tell myself that Lauren Cohan's breakout piece The Boy wouldn't suck the chrome off of a trailer hitch, I sat down to watch it.

I've got to tell you, I was wrong.  I was only wrong by a little but I was wrong.

Basic premise:  American woman named Greta straight up becomes an ex-pat to escape her abusive ex and lands a very lucrative job babysitting a doll.  Yes, you heard me right, a damn doll.  A very proper young doll whose parents love him dearly and there are rules that have to be followed very precisely or the whole damn day is just wasted.  Because very proper young dolls don't like to have their routines interrupted.  And then things just get all freaky-deaky up in here.

I suppose you should be warned right now that the statute of limitations for spoilers HAS passed.

That's right, bitch.  Follow the fuckin' rules!
So, the movie starts out as just strange.  Like there's almost no lead-up at all.  She drives to the house, immediately trespasses and gets found by the handsome local grocer who, for some reason, has a goddamn key (we'll talk about that more in a bit) and THEN gets introduced to the family which, of course, means meeting the boy, Brahms.  The rules are explained to the young woman and the family leaves the next morning on holiday which hadn't been possible for the last year or so because they kept losing nannies.  You know something is going to go horribly wrong when A) you bought the ticket to a horror movie and B) the lady of the house hugs you tight, as if you were her own daughter, less than 12 hours after meeting you and whispers "I'm so very sorry" in your ear as she steps out to the fucking chauffered Bentley.

A-DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHH!!

Now, I think I need to step in here and say that I'm really tired of this whole meaningful name tropiness crap.  A toddler should not have to have a degree in Classical Music to be able to understand their own name OR to say or spell the names of others.  Personally, the kid's name alone is just begging for trouble.  You know what name is good for not raising a haunted doll?  Steve.  Name the boy Steve.  Or Paul.  Or Joe.  Brahms is some straight-up "I need my home life to be fucked up" bullshit.

ANYWAY!  Back to things and such.

So, yeah.  The new girl.  Alone in the house.  Weird shit happens.  She has bad dreams.  We get exposition about her ex and her clothing ends up missing or strewn about because Brahms is unhappy that she blew off the rules to, y'know, live in a gorgeous, if somewhat run-down, mansion with a wine cellar the size of Paris Hilton's colon and a fucking doll.  Then she gets trapped in the attic.

This guy...
Yeah, the grocer...  who has a key... and with whom she is most definitely not going on a date because she just got out of "a thing"... finds the house locked and the woman who does not have a car and can't really go anywhere is not answering the door (but IS legit trying to bust up the attic window and screaming bloody murder out of what is, for all intents and purposes, an open window) so he leaves. 

He.  Leaves.

There wasn't even a "Hey, what happened" thing, there was just a "I know you were here but I was locked in the attic, YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!!"  where she figures out that the doll is haunted and goes to show him.

Do I look even remotely amused right now?  I'm not your science experiment, Greta.
I blame bad editing.


So, she decides that, yes, the rules need to be followed, no, she can't go out on a date with the handsome Limey, and Brahms will officially be the surrogate for the baby she lost due to the abusive ex.

And then shit gets fucked right the fuck up because guess who shows up?

Not the handsome Limey.
If you said "The Ex" you have won.  You've won nothing because in any horror situation where the woman has been abused, if he hasn't shown up by the third act to cause trouble, the director is doing shit wrong.

Anyhoo, this is where the picture went off the rails and took us from "somewhat funny and delightfully spooky haunting" to full-on "The People Under the Stairs" craziness.  I don't have a problem that the doll wasn't actually haunted.  I have a problem with the transition from "supernatural" to "insane burn victim living in the walls a la Hugo fucking Simpson".  It could have been done well.  It was not.  It was kludgy and wrecked any sense of timing the movie had.  It feels like the director wanted to divorce any kind of "Hammer Films" vibe from the movie altogether.

No, sir.  I did not like it. 

I mean, it's not completely horrible and straight-up gaslighting a young woman into caring for a doll like a child aside, had they left the film as a "woman going slowly mad" piece, I would have been OK with it.  It would have been slow and beautiful but that's OK sometimes.  Instead, we got "super-strong Billy Lenz" and his parents giving him permission via suicide note to do whatever he wanted with poor Greta.  And, they left this shit open for a damn sequel.

No.  That is not OK.

Greta's gonna have some mental scarring and probably never be OK with any kind of relationship again.  It's probably better that way.  I can give you the names of a few awesome cat shelters, Greta!  You know... for your crazy cat lady starter kit.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Spores, Molds and Fungi Redux

YAY!  It's "Horror-Adjacent" time, here at CCRB, and you're just in time for me to get all kinds of nerdy.

Y'see, I know that I never did a post on the original Ghostbusters (and I should have) but there's a very good reason I'm reviewing this one and I'll get to it in a bit.





First and foremost, I'm going to say GO AND SEE THIS MOVIE! Because it is just fucking delightful and I heart it much and greatly.  The comedic timing is almost always on point and, yeah, there are some lame cheap shots, but it kept me laughing throughout the whole thing.

Now, the plot?  This is where things get tricky because this is NOT, let me repeat, NOT like the first movie other than the fact that it's an origin story.  The three scientists find proof of the supernatural and band together to research it and, along the way, fight it because there's some malevolent-ass shit out there and a literal conspiracy to unleash it.  That's really all I'm going to tell you about that except to say that this isn't your parent's Ghostbusters.

OK, so maybe this guys is a little bit.
I have to say that I am NOT a Paul Feig fan but he took this source material and ran with it.  He gave us four very new and different and, frankly, FANTASTIC female leads and a story that was as much a loving homage to the original as it was a whole new entity of its own.  These ladies have definitely earned their comedy chops and I can't think of anyone better to play these parts.  I was INTENSELY happy to see my beloved childhood memory treated so respectfully and that it was just as goofy as the first.  I was also pleased to have a movie out that promoted STEM in general, and to girls specifically (even though I do not believe in the paranormal, there's no reason not to study it and make sure that it's not real).

This, right here, is an iconic callback.  We LIKE them in our reboots.
Remember that "good reason" I talked about up there at the top?  Let's talk about why this movie was so controversial for a minute.

People ragged on this from the start when they learned that it was going to star women instead of being a clean remake with men in the roles we all know and love from before.  There's not reason why we shouldn't have that clean reboot but the sheer amount of vitriol surrounding these actresses and how they were "going to ruin our childhood" was disgusting.  There were actual plans on Reddit (granted, set up by trolls which got SERIOUSLY out of hand and, no, I will not link it because the behavior of these sexist pricks is horrific) to tank this movie ONLY because it starred women instead of men.

They forgot this guy.  Who knew Hemsworth could be hilarious?
As I've said before, I will always judge a remake or reboot on its merits.  There are some remakes I don't want to be made because I think there are some things that don't need to be remade but I don't have a problem with them, in general, and seeing the new perspective is sometimes refreshing.  In this case?  I was iffy, I'll admit, but I also wanted the franchise to continue and it had been too long since the concept had been touched so I was OK.  This remake got some HATE.  And we're not just talking about jerks saying "OMG, this will totally suck," I'm talking legit death threats and shit, again, because the stars were women.  

That is some fucked up shit, yo.

If you feel the need to dog on a movie because it stars strong female characters, you need to get the fuck up off my doorstep because I do not play.  It's attitudes like this that made sure that Black Widow and Gammorah got shut out of the merchandising for Marvel's Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy and we didn't see any Rey merch for Star Wars: The Force Awakens until the movie came out (which the studio blamed on "spoilers" which we all know is a crock of shit).  You know what, dickbags?  Girls are allowed to have action heroes, too.

Holzmann is my new lesbian, autism-spectrum, femme-hero.
And, there were also some questions about race.

Leslie Jones' Patty is perfection, even though she's been hailed as the most racist of the new characters but there's really only one instance where race is even called into question.  Yes, she's a bit stereotypical but so is a damn Medea flick so why don't we just let her have her cultural mannerisms since her character is legitimately attempting to better herself by joining with the scientists in an effort to learn about the apparitions that are haunting her subway on her own damn time and outside of the authority of her bosses rather than just being "sassy, black woman".  Personally, I was afraid this would be a problem but it really wasn't.  The trailer lied to us.

This is the face of a trailer whose pants are on fire.
The trailers lied to us about so many things.  None of the trailers were what I'd call good trailers.  Ignore the fucking trailers.  Go watch this and laugh your ASS off.  I did.  Stay through the credits. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous

I, ahhh...

I watched The Neon Demon tonight.  Also known as "America's Next Top Corpse".

I have to admit, I did not know what to expect and I kind of got what I almost expected but since I didn't know what to expect it threw me for a little bit of a loop which means I must write stream of consciousness style in order to fully process what I have just witnessed.  Here be spoilers.  Run, now if you don't want your soul scarred by them forever.

It starts with your standard "I'm going to run away and become a model" bullshit because girls aren't allowed to admit they're good at anything but being pretty.  Our girl Jesse is staying at a skeevy motel run by creepy-pedo Keanu Reeves (who has, like, four lines and he reads them like he does any other set of lines: as if he's literally made of cardboard, which means he should be up for some kind of an award soon, I guess.)  She's kind of seeing the guy who took her first set of photos for her portfolio and he's pretty much the only nice person in this movie which is the exact OPPOSITE of how "Trust me, I'm a photographer" normally works out.

Enter Ruby, the makeup artist.   She seems OK, if a bit on the "predatory lesbian" side of the fence.  She just wants the new girl to have some fun and make some contacts in the industry, right?

Well... she starts out nice, anyway.
Right.  Well, yeah.  The girls she's introduced to instantly hate her which really sets the tone for things.  Jesse gets signed up with an agency and is immediately booked with, like , THE top photographer in the country right now which still ends up feeling gross because he closes the set, slathers her in gold paint, ruining a beautiful vintage 70s camera, and we find out that Jesse is really only 16.  Skeeeeeeeeeeevy.

But, hey.  She's pretty and she can make money from that, right?

I think the message in this shot is that fame is a drug and it'll do weird things to your face... Like meth.
From this point forward, Jesse is not the naive farm girl we initially thought, she's a calculating bitch who runs roughshod over her elders' careers, occasionally lets mountain lions into her hotel room and passes out at the sight of roses while bleeding a LOT from small cuts on her hand.  And then she gets the best part in runway shows, pisses a lot of people off including the nice-guy photographer, has to literally throw the lesbian lust interest across the room to prevent clam-to-clam rape and gets eaten alive by Ruby and the other two models for being a complete bitch.

No, seriously.  Eaten alive.  As in "Chow Down at Chik-Fil-A".  Not an example of pretty language.  Literal food.  Which is weird because they make a point of stating earlier in the movie that they don't eat.  An "I don't drink... wine" moment?  Maaaaaaaaaaaybe.

I mean, you knew this had to happen when Ruby went to town on her latest dead client.  Oh, hey, boob.
SO! 

What did we learn from all of this?

Besides the fact that Australian girls have a mean right hook?
Well, we learned that Nicholas Wending Refn is kind of a freak in the best way possible.  We learned that Jena Malone has weird-ass nipples and menstruates like she's parting the damn Red Sea.  We learned that metaphors for the cut-throat world of modeling can never be subtle.  We learned that anything can be forgiven if you throw enough glitter on it.  And, finally, we learned that Elle Fanning can literally look like at least 4 different people depending on the lighting and makeup used on her because I could have sworn that they replaced her with Emma Stone at one point.

This girl is a chameleon.  I kind of hate her a little.
In all seriousness, though, this movie is STUNNING.  It is, visually, one of the best movies I've seen in ages.  You really don't CARE that the plot is so simple.  Sometimes, simplicity is best.  This throwback to Blood and Black Lace, mixed with a heaping helping of Elizabeth Bathory and a splash of Jem and the Holograms is... well, it's not something I'd recommend to everybody, nor is it something I'd watch more than once, but it's DEFINITELY something I'm glad I watched.

It gives me so much insight into how Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell still look so good.

If trippy, beautiful, cinematically brilliant horror is your thing, this is for you.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

CGI Rabbits... *shudder*

OK, so it's been a minute and I know I have a lot of absence to atone for so let's dig right in, shall we?

What can we say about The Witch?


Let's start with some basics.

Ultra religious family gets tossed out of a puritan town for being TOO religious.  Was that even possible?  Did that happen?  "Oh, noes, you love your Jeebus too hard, GTFO"?

Ultra-religious family now has to cope with being outcasts in the wilderness.  Ummm... yay, camping?

HAIL to the forest that I've already told you to stay the fuck out of!

The eldest daughter is a TEENAGER?  You don't say.  A teenager in a hyper-religious household with a mother that's gone pretty much insane from guilt after something horrendous happens to the infant?  Nooooo.  That's just not going to end well for anybody.

Well, she's not quite Katie Kaboom, just yet.  Waaaaaait for it.
Cue the father doing stupid shit and keeping it from the mother (Oh, Kate Dickie... you play crazy so well) and bringing the eldest son in on the secret and allowing dear old Mumsy to persist in her belief that the daughter is to blame.  It's nice to see that puritans hated honesty.  Truly.  It's refreshing.  In a time when just about anything can be blamed for witchcraft, a little white lie can go a long way towards utterly destroying someone's life (in this case, their own daughter's), literally, because they were NOT fucking around with that whole "ducking stool, heretic's fork, Judas cradle, burning at the stake" shit.  You almost feel glad that they WERE kicked out of town because if they weren't, the entire town would have been in on this weird shit and out for teenage witch blood.

Weird shit like the kids having conversations with the angry goat.

First off, there hasn't been this deep a Puritan-era horror movie since Witchfinder General.  That's probably a lie but it's my story and I'm sticking with it.  This has "I'm a prequel to The Crucible" stamped directly into it's desaturated, high-tech-thee-thou-ese forehead, even though it's really not because this movie did not display ANY signs of being an allegory for McCarthyism and I'm pretty sure that Arthur Miller did not sign off on that.  Beyond that, there is some actual supernatural shit in here even though it looks like it could be all hallucinogen-ariffic until about 2/3rd of the way through.

Although, I gotta tell ya, drugs would have made listening to these two brats a lot more tolerable.

Second, what it DOES seem to be is a deep, simple allegory for religious oppression in the home.  As part of the LGBT community, this shit hit home hard and fast and after the Orlando deal, it's particularly poignant.  This girl does everything she can to help out, even though she's clearly exasperated by the situation and the fact that her mother has gone utterly insane with grief, but is still mistreated to the point of LITERALLY being called a monster who is not living in line with the family's faith on the word of two toddlers. I know entirely too many people to whom this has happened in real life for it not to sting.  The end of the film, where life seems right again for our young lady?  Kinda makes you wonder who the good guys of the world really are.

All of this being said, this is a movie you will HAVE to be in the mood to watch and you have to prepare yourself in advance to watch it.  Get plenty to drink and snack on ahead of time and perhaps install a catheter because you have to pay attention.  The dialogue is all in Ye Old-ee Englishe and you can almost hear every middle-schooler in the country going, "Awwww, but I can't understand it, it doesn't have emojis in it!"  There is no "modern English" subtitle track.

It also gets dark and stays dark through the whole movie.  There's VERY little in the way of relief.  You'd expect to laugh at the antics of the twins but nope.  They're as bleak as the rest of them.  Even the coloring of the film.  It may as well have been in black and white.  As it is, it's all shades of grey and tan.

Also, there's not a lot in the way of "action".  It's a very dramatic film.  It plays on the human side of horror and I, for one, appreciate that from time to time.  Since it plays this way, the parts that ARE action-oriented stand out that much more.

Angry pilgrim shows disdain for the cinematography choices.



Everything considered, the film is stunning.  It is gorgeous from concept to delivery.  The script is tight, the acting is nothing short of brilliance, the atmosphere is relatively claustrophobic, the examination of sin from all angles is spot-on.  I HIGHLY recommend this one. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dammit, Pete!

Oh, it feels good to write again.  I'm sorry for the extended leave.  It just... needed to happen.

ANYWAY!  Today we're revisiting Shark Week for a bit and stepping right into The Shallows.


Spoilers, fucking, ahoy.

The Shallows is the story of a girl who's given up on life and decides to spend her young adulthood hanging out with unreliable friends who get drunk and hook up with rando Mexican dudes when they're supposed to be all supportive when she wants to find this unknown beach that her mom used to surf at.  She's from Texas, so we don't expect her to be too fuckin' bright but she somehow managed to get into med school and is frittering away her scholarship in a quixotic quest to make her life meaningful again.

And also a story about Blake Lively's ass in a swimsuit.
For real, though, as a surfer, she should be aware of things like, oh, I don't know, high and low tide and the feeding habits of sharks.  Because the stupid bitch stays out too late in the water when her guide specifically told her "It's gonna get dark soon" like any concerned stranger who won't tell her the name of the damn beach from whom she hitched a ride because hitchhiking is extra goddamn safe, too.  I guess when you're an angsty post-teenager, you're allowed to be self-destructive.  "I'll just call an Uber."  Bitch, I don't know how you're getting a fucking signal to Skype with your fucking family to tell them "Don't worry about me, I'm fine, I'm not talking about why I'm dropping out of med school, stop hounding me, Daddy, Ugh! *angsty post-teenager shoulder slump*"  How the hell you're gonna get an Uber through the hour-long trek through the goddamn rain forest is completely beyond me.  HOW DID YOU GET INTO MED SCHOOL?!?

In case anyone is wondering, Great White Sharks do hang out in the Gulf of Mexico so the premise that one hangs close to a surfer beach isn't too far fetched.  What's far-fetched is the woman believing that she can do a whole lot of shit no normal human can do without being exposed to disease and fucking death.  Nancy (that's her name) decides that the first place she wants to get away from the shark after it has already taken a bite is ON A DAMN WHALE CARCASS!  That's just not sanitary. And, also, whale carcasses are FUCKING SHARK FOOD!

This is Pete.  His name isn't actually Pete but he's pretty much comic relief.
Then, she somehow makes it to this rock/island that only appears during low tide that her new surfer buddies (who still won't tell her the name of this damn beach, telling her "If I told you, I'd have to kill you" because that's not a giant fucking cliche or anything) told her about.  There, she steps on "fire coral" which is totally a real thing, look it up, I'm not doing your homework for you, and fucking sews her leg back together with her fucking earrings.  She was going to be a doctor, dammit.  And she uses that training to set Pete's dislocated wing.  Because Pete is just a parasite that wants people to take care of him. He's also rude and won't let the poor injured, dehyrated, hypothermic, gangrenous girl with the neoprene compression bandage sleep.

And the shark just kinda hangs out because the shark is petty. And eats would-be rescuers and people who try to steal Nancy's shit because... it's... protective... that way?

I'll watch your stuff, Nancy.  You just ripen in the sun with Pete.  I bet you taste like tan and rubber.
Many incidents with coral, later, she gets RULL STOOPID.

I can't give away too much of the movie.  Or, rather, I don't WANT to give away spoilers but... y'know... this happens:

Vague surfer is delightfully piquant.
And pretty much anything else that can go wrong in the fucking ocean happens.  Whale blubber is flammable, apparently, sharks don't like jellyfish, thin women from Texas don't seem to mind them so much and sometimes metal is not the shark deterrent we would hope it to be.  Also, gangrene isn't as devastating as we thought.

Shout out to Jaws in 3... 2...
All in all, this was a fun watch.  It was fun because it was entirely ludicrous but it was also exciting and an interesting take on every fucking shark movie trope in existence.  All that was missing was a goddamn voodoo curse.  I mean, I enjoyed hazing the hell out of it quietly so as not to offend other movie-goers but you may like it a lot.  It's not a BAD movie but it didn't get me into that whole "suspension of disbelief" thing that I like, unlike Jaws, which did so impeccably and still does or even Deep Blue Sea which was just such a ride that you didn't care about not believing it.  I just can't say that I loved this one.

I'm still freaked out by the ocean.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

TAKE THE MEDS, JERRY!

Never have I seen such an adorkable serial killer. 

Even Dexter wasn't this cute.

The Voices, kids.  Get into it.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Doomsday Prep 101

Hidey-Ho!

Today, on Candy-Coated Razor Blades, we discover that I'm not nearly as good with words when I'm speaking them without a script.

 

I'll get better at this, I swear.