Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Goodnight Mommy


So, in the interest of full disclosure,  I actually watched this a few weeks ago. Why has it taken me so long to write about it? Well, honestly, I just didn't really know how I felt about it. I really STILL don't, but maybe I can hash that out this way. Join me on the journey, won't you?

The plot  of this Austrian film is a relatively simple one; young twin boys move into a modern house in the country with their mother right after she's gone through some cosmetic surgery and they begin to think the woman under the bandages is not who she says she is. It then promptly devolves into uninspired torture-porn.

 Also, the twins have the most punchable faces I've ever seen.

While that plot sounds all fine and good, and the idea behind it is a truly terrifying one, unfortunately this thing is so poorly written ultimately nothing has any power or substance behind it. Every character performs such bizarre, nonsensical, seemingly random actions during the course of the film
it feels like the writers were trying way to hard to be "quirky" and "artsy," and my word the dialogue leaves plenty to be desired. The most egregious offence, however, is a "plot twist" that is so poorly handled and cliched I'm not entirely sure if it's actually supposed to be a twist or not.  Seriously, I'm an idiot and I had the whole thing figured out in literally the first four minutes.

Really the only thing I could possibly recommend about this movie is just how stunningly beautiful it is. The gorgeous home and country landscapes are wonderfully photographed, and the dual directors really know how to frame a shot. Unfortunately, the old saying 'style over substance' really does apply to Goodnight Mommy.

Hey. look at that, I figured out how I feel! While it looks pretty, there's absolutely nothing else positive to say about it. I give Goodnight Mommy 2 out of 10 Madagascar hissing cockroaches in rural Austria for some reason.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Don't Get Lost in The Forest



I must start this review off with a caveat. I went to see this a few days ago with a couple of friends (Evan Van Elkins of inplacesdeep.blopspot.com and my roommate James, specifically) and apparently I read the wrong show times so we accidentally ended up seeing the last 20 minutes or so of The Forest first, then stuck around for the next showing to see the rest of it. Trust me, however, when I say it doesn't seem like viewing this movie in ANY assortment makes it a decent film. In fact, I dare say the only enjoyable part was getting to see the trailer for The Conjuring 2 before the movie. I'm tempted to just forget about The Forest (everyone else seems to have done so already) and just talk about that trailer, but there's plenty of time for that later.

Our story revolves around a pair of identical twins; Sara the blond professional and Jess the "bad girl" (we know she's the "bad girl" because of her rebellious dark brown hair) who lives and teaches English in Tokyo, both of whom are played by Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer. One night Sara's spidey sense goes off and she races off to Japan, fearing something is wrong with Jess. As it turns out Jess was one of the chaperones on a field trip to Aokigahara, the infamous "suicide forest" at the base of Mt Fuji, and apparently no one thought it was weird she just kinda disappears, so Sara finds a hunky white guy and a hunky Japanese guy -who works in the forest as something of a "spotter," ei. someone who finds dead bodies and marks where they are for the authorities) to take her into the titular woods. Dumb, boring-ass bullshit happens from then on.

Guys, just in case the 11% Rotten Tomatoes score wasn't enough to convince you, allow me to reiterate; The Forest sucks. First off it takes way to damn long to actually get to the titular location, then once there nothing really happens for an absurdly long stretch of time. Aside from a couple of surprisingly clever scenes, this is little more than a dull time-waster full of the same false jump-scares you'd expect from a studio horror film, and the acting is universally, as my bro Evan put it, fantastically no bueno. Really the only times we enjoyed ourselves is when we were laughing uncontrollably at the ridiculous CGI ghost faces, the laudable dialogue,  and the way one of the Japanese actresses pronounces the word "animal" with a giant grin on her face.

That's not her, though. That's just a ghost.

Trite, boring, and astoundingly unoriginal in just about ever way one could imagine, I give The Forest 3 out of 10 "animars."

On the other side of things, I give the Conjuring 2 trailer 9 out of 10 Vera Farmigas.



Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Best Horror of 2015

This is usually the time I write some long-ass introduction about the year in retrospect, however, as good a year overall as this was for movies it kinda sucked in pretty much every other regard. So, let's just get right into it, shall we? I really didn't see very many movies this year, and the vast majority of my favorite films were of the non-horror variety (Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars Episode VII and The Hateful Eight just to name a few), but here's my list of the 10 best horror films of the year.


Cooties


A horror-comedy about teachers (played by the likes of Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Leigh Whannell, etc) trapped in an elementary school while fighting off hordes of zombified 3rd graders? Sign me up!



Creep


This found footage flick, about a videographer hired over Craigslist to film a strange guy for one day, found it's way onto my list solely for the incredible performance by Mark Duplass as the titular weirdo. 



Deathgasm


If the band Deathclok from Adult Swim's Metalacolypse were real and made a movie, this would be what they come up with. 



Crimson Peak



A visually stunning Gothic melodrama from del Toro, easily the prettiest film of the year.


Final Girl


I was originally hesitant to watch this, thinking it was just going to be an I Spit on Your Grave wannabe. Boy was I wrong. Instead, I found something I've deemed a "revenge-by-proxy" film. And Abigail Breslin was great.



It Follows

Obviously.




Krampus


Reviews have been pretty mixed for this kid-friendly holiday horror film from Michael Dougherty, but I loved it.



Spring


A romance film that just happens to include a centuries-old reptilian creature, this indie from IFC Midnight feels like a mix between one of those 60s Italian vacation films mixed with the stories of Arthur Machen.



The Gift


Even though the trailer did absolutely nothing for me, I was thoroughly impressed by this film when I finally got around to seeing it. The performance by Joel Edgerton, who also wrote AND directed, was outstanding.


We Are Still Here


A throwback to the mature haunting flicks of the late 70s/early 80s starring primarily older and middle-aged leads. It came out of nowhere and smacked me right across the face.



What We Do in the Shadows

An absolutely brilliant horror-comedy mockumentary from the creators of Flight of the Conchords, this (surprisingly gory) vampire satire will keep you laughing no matter how many times you watch it.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Midnight Syndicate --Christmas: A Ghostly Gathering



I've been running this blog for over five years now and this is only my second music review, and that first one is also a novelty Christmas album. Huh, interesting.

Anyone who's visited a haunted house or Halloween store anytime in roughly the last 20 years has undoubtedly heard Midnight Syndicate, even if they were unaware that's what they were hearing. Over the course of 11 studio albums (not counting soundtrack work and collaborations) they've redefined Halloween music with their dark original instrumentals. They've even been so bold as to release two instrumental concept albums (2001's Gates of Delirium about a night in a haunted sanitarium and 2002's bloodsucker opus Vampyre) and an officially licensed collection of music for beloved tabletop RPG institution Dungeons and Dragons!  And now they've set their black-tinged sights on Christmas.

What may surprise long-time fans is this release features a few original pieces and consists mostly of covers of Victorian and Edwardian-era classics like Carol of the Bells, Greensleeves, Up on the Housetop, and even Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. I gotta say, I think it was a brilliant choice to eschew more contemporary songs and stick with the Gothic tunes that play right into their wheelhouse even in their more upbeat variations. 

Dark, atmospheric, but still beautifully evocative of the (sometimes black) magic of the holiday season,  I couldn't possibly recommend A Ghostly Gathering highly enough to make your December a frightfully good time!