Tuesday, March 4, 2014

We Are What We Are: Fatty and Not Very Delicious

I am on a roll with watching movies that I meant to watch like a year ago. Looks like I'm putting laziness to bed suckers...... until my next wave of laziness.. mwahaha.

Anyways. Out of all the movies that have come out recently, We Are What We Are has been at the top of my must see list. I figured it was one of those movies that I would appreciate--probably filled with enough artistry to keep me satisfied and then also some great performances and horrific subject matter to boot. It was also about cannibalism which I find to be one of those sub-genres that people think are 'cool' but then they get a whiff of a really powerful cannibalism film that isn't terrible and is like you know... terrifying and they suddenly remember that they prefer the lackadaisical style of cheesy slasher films and/or horror movies structured around the presence of some boobs.

Cannibalism does not mess around. And We Are What We Are definitely does NOT mess around. So much so that I still find myself playing the ending scene over and over in my head and then dying a little bit on the inside. It's plaguing me with its horror. THE HORROR.

The film centers around a family of -'unspecified' religious nut bags. Or maybe they did specify it and I was too busy trying to not be fooled again that Senor Esteban Vihaio is not really Mexican. But actually no, I think it's supposed to be unspecified because that makes it more terrifying. So yeah. Religious nut bag father, his two daughters and son try to cope with life after the untimely and suspicious death of the matriarch. As the film progresses we slowly start to be let in on their little 'secret' and fall prey to the horrors that come with knowing about it.

I wasn't entirely sure this was about cannibalism until about an hour or so into the film. It's set up in such a way that the audience has to do a little detective work on their own. We aren't given an open book look into the family and their private lives. We are there with them yes, but it's like we have to get to know them first before being let in on the secret. That basically rocks because it allows us to really absorb the characterization of the family before becoming completely disgusted and upset about that they do.

It's important for instance to understand and to know the daughters. Their lives are controlled by their father and their family's longstanding traditions but when we meet them, we start to see things that things are unraveling for them. Now that their mother is gone and the oldest daughter must assume the main responsibilities, they are finding it hard to swallow. Pun INTENDED.

Truly, I felt very moved by the entirety of the film. But nothing was more terrifying than watching that ending scene. I like to think that I have a fairly strong stomach but watching that was....difficult. It was also disturbing just because of what it suggests. The implications of their actions (and what they chose to take with them when they leave), is almost more disturbing than everything else.

I'm also in love with the cannibal sickness---Kuru. I had remembered this from an X-files episode and was thrilled to see its name pop up again. The realization that the family has been doing this for centuries and then connecting the apparent 'symptoms' with the mother's death at the beginning was a moment of pure genius.

Alright well I came here armed to talk about stuff and wax poetic on We Are What We Are but I'm failing. Let me just say that I loved this (well like loved it like giving someone an imaginary hug love because really I am a little terrified of what actual contact would bring you know?). It really makes you think and appreciate the fact that there are things out there more terrifying than monsters and serial killers. There are traditions. And religion. And internal prisons. Man.....it's scary out there.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

You're Next: 'Survivor Camp' is Code for the 'Kevin McCallister School of Home Invasion Survival (KM-SHIS)

I've been really bad at catching up on more recent horror as of late. Actually I've just been really bad at watching horror movies in general. So bad in fact, that I haven't watched one in..........oh I don't know... FOREVER. This causes me much embarrassment and a little sadness. I was so behind on my movie watching that I had to ask my Twitter followers which 'recent' horror movie was better: "You're Next" or "The Purge". I did this not because I wanted people's advice but because I knew one of them was better but I forgot which one it was. I am such a sham! It's not my fault they were both about people wearing masks ok?

Anyways. Overwhelming consensus was that You're Next was the movie to watch (except for one person who said You're Next was terrible and The Purge was excellent but maybe he was confused about the two movies also?). So with that, I snuggled in to watch You're Next and now can finally say I've watched a horror movie this year. Yeah!

You're Next is apparently in a 'newish' sub-genre called "Mumblegore" which is a spinoff of another subgenre called, "Mumblecore". Good thing Wikipedia tells me everything I need to know about the world otherwise I'd be one confused lady. Mumblegore is basically just an indie horror movie that focuses on 'natural' situations and dialogue or something like that. At any rate, "You're Next" doesn't feel very natural to me at all but we'll get to that later. It does correctly use "You're" though so that's nice.

The film follows a family as they reunite at their isolated family mansion. Each sibling has brought their respective partner along for the ride and as they eat their dinner, some maniac starts shooting them with arrows. This causes a panic naturally and the rest of the movie follows the family (or whats left of them) as they try to stay alive against three masked killers with apparently no agenda.

That summary is really just a quick rundown and if you've seen it you know that's not entirely the whole story but alas, I have a short attention span for writing summaries. All you really need to know if you've never seen it is that You're Next is a home invasion movie.

Home Invasion movies aren't my favorite thing ever. My favorite thing ever is watching Full House and eating delicious sandwiches. Followed closely by kissing my cat's head. But if we're talking horror movies, my favorite thing ever is SPOOKY. GHOSTS. SUSPIRIA. etc., Home Invasion has always been kind of meh for me. The difference with You're Next is that it takes the Home Invasion idea and spins it a bit. It also uses several annoying horror movie cliches but then does it's best to spin those on their heads too. Most notably the 'final girl' is pretty frickin kick ass. And although her insanely convenient background of having grown up at a "Survivor Camp" is about as far away as 'natural' as you can get---she still never makes a dumb move once and we continue to root for her all the way till the end.

The twist is expected and revealed almost in the middle of the film and here is where it kind of went south for me. SPOILERS from here on out yo.

If 'Mumblegore' focuses on the natural---how 'natural' is it to have your entire family killed so you can get your inheritance early? I had a really hard time believing that either character was capable of doing this. I don't care how much you hate your family (and keep in mind that nowhere did I really feel that either of them hated their family)---this is not normal behavior for non-psychopaths (and I stand by the fact that they weren't psychopaths).

I also had a hard time with the level of humor in this. Things said were funny, but when viewed in the grand scheme of things---not natural at all. The humor was awkward which I suppose makes it natural....but I still can't help but feel that weird humor and one liners like that wouldn't be said at all in real life. Right? Maybe I'm just overly sensitive to semi-bad writing or a jerk....who knows.

So anyways. Although I did really like this and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it despite it being a home invasion kind of thing, I wouldn't put this up there as an insanely mind blowing awesome movie. It has its moments sure---mostly all having to do with Erin and how awesomely bad ass she is. Like straight up running and jumping through a window to escape a killer or killing someone by smashing a blender on their head and turning it on. That rocked.

Overall I suppose the main thrill of You're Next is the level of awesome and moments of creative gore/violence that abound. Also that whole cheering for Erin thing really works in its favor. There's also Barbara Crampton which is a plus in many horror fans' eyes.

 It's not a movie that makes you terrified of the outside world or makes you fear strangers with masks though. Strangers, Ils, etc., are movies that do this because the violence and the motivation behind it is so random and unexplained. You're Next however was too calculated. I know I don't need to fear three men in animal masks because I am not part of a wealthy family of assholes. So that kind of takes me out of the film too I guess.

I also wished that instead of the motive being wanting an inheritance early, it was that the three masked men were terrorists or ex-military men with a personal vendetta against defense contractors and the money behind them. I thought for a minute it was going this way when we found out that the two brothers 'served together' but that concept was never fleshed out so-- alas.

Hmmmm if I say that it's good but just not my cup of tea, will people not hate me?

I still liked it! I just don't think I'm going to put a poster of it in my bedroom okay?

OH I did notice the little nod to Giallo/Italian horror in general with the seemingly random and awkward background music that would occasionally happen but I felt it really out of place especially in a Home Invasion movie...so yeah. Man I am turning into a cynical old lady huh? I also used quotation marks like 100 times in this review. Don't hold it against me.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm: Jacob's Ladder

You know what 2014 needs more of? C+C Music Factory.

And also---lots of re-watching of Jacob's Ladder.

I definitely "got" Jacob's Ladder the first time I watched it. Just to make sure, I re-read my original post on it and breathed a sigh of relief that myself 5 years ago also caught that time where they tell you exactly what is happening over the course of the movie. Good thing I paid attention. Otherwise I would have been like, "Hmmmm" (and not in a C+C Music factory I think my boyfriend/girlfriend is cheating on me kind of way but in Hmmm? What the hell? way)

Hell is right.

So anyways. Pretend for a minute that Hmmm is a good thing because it sends your brain into overdrive while you recall that time you 'read' Dante's Inferno's in high school. Jacob's Ladder in that case, makes me go hmmmmm a lot. On my most recent viewing I decided on two things that especially made me go Hmmmmm in the best way possible.

1. Do NOT go into the light

One thing I definitely don't think I caught after my first viewing was how perfect Jacob's descent into 'hell' is in the beginning. I say 'hell' because it's not really hell---I guess it's more like purgatory. But let's look at the facts shall we?

Jacob wakes up on a subway car---exits the train after seeing something unsettling coming out of a homeless guys pants. (NOT his penis) and tries to exit the station. However. The door is locked.

This prompts him to cross the tracks to get to the other side. While standing in the middle of the tracks, a subway car starts barreling down the tracks and Jacob stares straight into the LIGHT. The problem is he's terrified and so he jumps out of the way and watches the train go by. A train full of dark shadowy people.

This part of the movie perfectly illustrates Jacob's fear of dying or letting go. The train coming for him is the light of death and peace. Jacob however is too scared to 'get on' and so jumps out of the way. Hence, landing him in Purgatorio. But as we all know---Jacob's purgatory is disguised as hell because he's afraid of dying. Poetic isn't it?

2. So Hellish.

This brief scene that takes place in the hospital is perhaps one of the most sickening and spot on interpretations of hell I've ever seen. Not that I've been to hell and am an expert on the happenings down there--but let's just say that I imagine it looks something like this. I think Hellraiser could use a few pages from this scene, am I right?

The gurney with the one squeaky wheel. The quick glances of things that get progressively creepier. Then, the insane amount of carnage just littering the floor and how they seem to get more and more rotten and revolting.

Gah this scene is so unbelievable it makes me want to plunge a giant needle into someone's forehead. Just kidding. But I still think it's really neat.

Jacob's Ladder is the bees knees.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What is a Jackal? I'm Glad You Asked!

Ever since Blogger introduced its nifty little stats button, I've been enthralled by seeing what people are searching to find my blog. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of people end up here by searching for miscellaneous naked people. All variations of ways to describe a vagina are usually in the top 5. Naturally my post on Aftermath (which I mistakenly titled 'Dead Vagina' in my links sidebar) has been the #1 viewed article for a while. Apparently I missed the part where everyone suddenly became very interested to know what a dead vagina looks like?

This past year however has seen some changes in the most viewed line up. Now my top keyword search list is filled to the brim with variations of, "what is a jackal" "jackal, omen" "wtf is a jackal?" Naturally my post about The Omen (aptly subtitled 'What Does a Jackal Giving Birth to a Human Actually Look Like? And Follow-up Question, is that Even Possible?) is what people land on. Unfortunately that post is a review about a horror movie not a lesson on jackals. Which naturally got me thinking---why not give the people what they need? Let's have a lesson on jackals!

Jackals are real animals. They are in the wolf family and look like this.

Jackals in mythology were representations of cunning wizards/sorcerers and are usually paired with phrases like; sly, tricky, miserable etc., The Jackal is also what Anubis' head is in Egyptian mythology.

Now, I can see why people are still trying to figure out what a jackal is. There really is no explanation anywhere for why Satan is having sex with a jackal and producing Damien. As far as I can the explanation is---shut up it's just a movie.

Really though. A jackal is a dog/wolf thing that Satan implanted his child in. The jackal somehow gave birth to Damien and then possibly stopped off at Baby Safe Haven or died in the hospital. I'm guessing the dying jackal collapsed on the hospital steps with Damien snuggled in her bosom. Just kidding. Here's what probably really happened. Satanists took Damien birthed from the jackal and brought him to the hospital, while at the same time killing Gregory Peck's actual child so that he would have no choice but to adopt a random baby that wasn't his and just pretend that it was his. See? Makes perfect sense.

I'm still unsure about why Satan chose a jackal but I'm guessing it was just a sort of dark/evil animal and also he probably had a thing for jackals. So what?

Any other questions?

Friday, January 3, 2014

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane: And the Hype Monster Does Too

A long, long time ago people saw a movie called All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and talked about it a lot. They talked about it so much that people who had not seen it…..wanted to see it. There was only one problem. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane wasn't released! All the other people couldn't see it. They got sad and then mad and then forgot about it. Then on a magical day in 2013,  All the Boys Love Mandy Lane was released and people bought it and watched it. Then on an even more magical day, it was released on Netflix Instant Watch. And then we all joined hands and sung and danced and watched the movie. Here's what happened next.

It was OK.

Fact is, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a pretty good movie. But I don't think it's anything to write home about. Such is the wrath of the hype monster. Maybe it's because it took so long to be properly released? Maybe the modern-take on the classic Slasher formula thing got overplayed in the time between when the film first came out and when the majority of the public actually saw it. That's sad. That means that all the other sucky movies that could get released took all the glory. Ah the injustice.

The film is set-up as classic Slasher movies usually are. Teens in a secluded ranch house get picked off one by one. The modern twist is that the killer is revealed/obvious fairly early on. And our 'final girl' has something so mysterious about her that we still can't figure it out by the time the credits roll. The twist in the ending is a little predictable although the film does try to do something a bit different with it, which is nice. The ultimate question though is---WHY do all the boys love Mandy Lane so much?

Admittedly there is something tantalizing about Mandy Lane. I think it's because she's so aloof all the time. She don't give a crap about how all the boys like her that's for sure. Plus, she has some weird dark past, and she lives with her Aunt and is really good at running. Her main attraction though really is her unattainableness. At the film's beginning a meathead jumps off the roof of a house into a pool right before shouting his love for Mandy Lane. Then whoops he dies.

So there we have the key factor. All the boys love Mandy Lane so much that they die trying to get her. Makes sense. I guess.

What doesn't really make sense is the motive behind the killings.

I'm still scratching my head. I'm also still scratching my head about the timeline of events. There's something to be said for things intentionally being left vague, but so much of this just feels way too vague and possibly unintentional. I just couldn't help but feel that the movie was missing a solid 20 minutes or so of….I don't know explanation? Flashbacks? I still just don't understand key elements which is bothersome. Why this group of people? Why Mandy Lane? What happened to her parents? Why is it good she make new friends? What happened to her old friends? Has this happened before? Is she secretly a lesbian? Is the movie a commentary on the social stigma of being gay in high school?

Why won't anyone tell me anything?!! DID the movie tell me this but I somehow missed it because I busy trying to make sure my cat didn't shit on the rug again?

Anyways. If you put aside all that confusion and annoyance, the movie is still just OK. The first kill is fun but the rest are mostly just shotgun parties. And what fun is that? I think unfortunately the reveal of the killer so early on kind of ruined the real fun and satisfaction that the movie could have attained if it stuck with the classic slasher motif. But it's desire to split into this new modern trickery-spin thing…kind of derailed all that satisfaction.

Oh Mandy. I just don't know about you. I'm not even sure if I liked you or not. But I want to. Someone help me. Someone who saw this long ago and sung its praises tell me why, help me understand. I want to join the circle of laughter and fun. But I'm stuck outside moping.