Thursday, October 29, 2015

Housebound: Awesome Subtitle is Too Spoilery

I'm having a really hard time coming up with a witty subtitle for this review. Everything I want to say that is perfect is also probably a major spoiler. So I think the best way to solve this is if everyone who hasn't seen this yet, go and watch it right now then come back.

I'll wait..............................


Good. Here are my awesome subtitles.

1. Is that you Ronald?

2. Bad Eugene.

3. I always feel like...somebody's watchin me.

Ugh now I feel like that was a lot of eager anticipation that probably made you underwhelmed. Sorry. The point is though. Housebound is awesome. So awesome that when I was finished watching it, I immediately ran to the rooftops and shouted it for all hear. The best part is--I had NO idea what I was getting into when I started watching it. I thought yeah OK ghosts....whatever maybe funny we'll see we'll see. But man. MAN!

The plot focuses on Kylie who after a botched ATM robbery is sentenced to house arrest at her childhood home with her mother. Here she understands that her mother's insistence on a ghost being in the house may not be far from the truth after all. And really what do you expect if you keep things like this in the basement?

The first thing you need to know about Housebound is that it is funny. It is very funny. But not in that hahaha jokes kind of way--more in that subtle John Landis kind of way where things just are funny. Don't be put off by the at times weird music cues. Sure, they are a little jarring and maybe not totally needed but overall I can wave those off because the actual humor is so good. There's a really good peeing scene for instance that had me realize just how few female peeing scenes there are and how we probably need more of them. Not in like a gross creepy way but why don't women ever get to pee on screen for comedic effect? Yes, this will be the leading lecture in my series entitled: Bathroom Humor. Where did you go?

There are also a good deal of jump scares which actually did make me a bit angry in the beginning. After I peed my pants twice in a row I figured the whole movie would be this unfair 'aha gotcha!' moment but again--after a while that all seems to just float away because you are enjoying yourself. And dare I say it, that after awhile the jump scares were kind of fun? Who am I?!

But really, the best best best thing about this movie are the turns it takes. As you've probably deduced by now (even though you should have all watched this and should know..) Housebound is not just a ghost story. There are levels of awesome. With a lot of movies that undertake this same multi-tier approach to genre. The excitement, or quality often decreases the further away we get from the original genre. The common misstep is when ghost stories devolve into psychological , 'just kidding the ghost was this crazy person who hallucinates things' turns. It makes you angry and for a brief moment I feared Housebound was going down that same route.

But fear not fear not---Housebound knows exactly what it's doing and how to preserve the awesome through every single turn it takes and that my friends is impressive.

I don't want to say much else here because I know that even though I asked you to stop reading and watch the movie first none of you probably did. So therefore now please, please go watch this right away. It's so much fun and it has heart. And.......a cheese grater scene. So please, run don't walk to your Netflix queue and watch this right now. NOW DAMN IT. If anyone would like to talk details on the awesome meet me in the comments section. K bye.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

American Horror Story: I Think It's Time to Stop Making These

Sunday afternoon: driven by a peanut butter M&M coma and depression caused by the realization that there were no more Teen Mom's to watch, I wandered down the rabbit hole of the new season of American Horror Story: Hotel. I'm not sure why I put myself through these every year. I completely gave up on Freak Show a little more than halfway through the season because I was sick and tired of Evan Peter's scream acting and Emma Roberts' bad acting. Also I could not for the life of me figure out why they got rid of that terrifying clown guy within a few episodes when he was obviously the scariest and most interesting thing about the show. Additionally, controversial though it may be I could definitely do without another Jessica Lange awkward musical. Sorry guys.

So why then was I possessed to begin watching the new season? Morbid curiosity. Plus with the announcement that Jessica Lange would not be taking part, I figured that at least one of my annoyances would be removed, so I had a slightly better chance at not completely hating it right?

I just pressed the stop button on episode 2 and I have some things to say to you all.

 Let's stop making these

The first season of American Horror Story felt revolutionary . It brought horror back to TV and we were all thrilled and giddy about it. With the announcement that each season would be a stand alone chapter we were at first saddened but then excited in all the different directions the show could go. Then season 2 came and most of us wanted to jump off a bridge. Season 3 came and more of us jumped off the bridge and so on and so on. Basically what has happened now is that American Horror Story tries every season to get more and more bloody, gory and controversial and less and less interesting. It's essentially just turning into a worse and worse Saw movie---maybe with some Rob Zombie-ness thrown in.

It also has become perhaps the LEAST surprising thing that's ever happened. For instance, having a near exact replica of the carpet from The Shining is not earth shattering and is definitely expected.

But then to also have iterations of creepy twins roaming the place? Come on. Get a new gag. And naturally it doesn't stop there.... Vampires addicted to blood?! WOW all these creepy people in the hotel are dead? Who would have thought?

Also, I shit you not. When I was almost done with the first episode I thought to myself sarcastically, 'The only thing that would make this better would be if they played Hotel California" and what do you frickin know? I mean COME ON.

All I want is for some originality that does not feel cringe inducing. It's like Ryan Murphy goes out of his way now to be current and it completely ruins everything. Scenes where characters discuss the importance of vaccinations *face palm* 'Comedic' lines about vampires wanting to binge watch House of Cards *double face palm* The desire of a newly turned vampire to want to kill Kendall Jenner and using Grindr to lure a gay bearded hipster to the hotel? UGH.

Some other thoughts and annoyances.

--Oh good Evan Peters is back and he plays a textbook version of a 1920s smarmy businessman. His acting is bad you guys. Doesn't anyone see this? Why does he keep getting cast in these? Newsflash:Screaming loudly is not acting.

--The killer is proving a point by murdering people who break the 10 Commandments. Oh yes, I saw that movie when it was called Se7en. Sins/10 commandments whatever. Get a new idea.

--I've decided everyone is terrible in this but I think I'm going to have to blame it on the writing (except for Evan Peters who really cannot act).

Conclusion: Morbid curiosity is over. American Horror Story Hotel is awful.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Babadook: Let's Recap the Awesome

If someone asked me to summarize what my favorite kind of horror movie is, I would probably give up and just show them The Babadook. This is because A. I'm lazy and B. I can't think of anything more perfect. The Babadook has it all guys. Let's recap.

1. It's terrifying.

The Babadook has the distinction of being one of few movies that I've had to turn off in the middle of watching it for fear that I'd never be able to fall asleep ever again. The scenes where we catch glimpses of the Babadook in both his more illustrated form and his more human form are all able to momentarily stop my heart. And the scenes where scary noises are followed by heart pounding under the covers hiding are way uncool. Uncool in terms of how much I wanted to pee myself.

I think this stems from our childhood memories of being terrified. Maybe not everyone watched the Exorcist at a young age and then stayed up all night because they were afraid of being possessed OR maybe no one else watched The Shining and then imagined the sound of the water rushing through the pipes was actually the sound of blood gushing out of the elevators but whatever.... we all had to have experienced moments of fear when we were little right? And what did we do when we were scared? Hide under our covers. For some reason hiding under the covers felt so safe and so secure. So those scenes where we have characters hiding seemingly safe and secure are filled with so much tension that it's practically unbearable.

2. It's secretly about mental illness

I love me my psychological horror movies. And the best part about psychological horror movies is that the really good ones put the psychological themes front and center without most of the audience knowing about it. For many, the Babadook is just a horror movie that takes childhood fears and creepy stories and brings them to life. But for others--the Babadook is really only about grief and depression and how easily it can consume you if you let it in. And unlike many horror movies that put a great deal behind the vanquishing of the monster or bad guy, The Babadook emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the 'monster' and controlling it. It's just all so.........brilliant!

It's okay to be sad about things, or to miss those we've lost. But it's not OK to let that sadness take you over and it's not okay to shut out the memories, and good things because you're afraid of what it will bring up. That is the message at the Babadook's heart and it's powerful and it's so well done in how it portrays this. I have a hard time talking about it without melting into a pool of excitement.

3. Little boys with accents kick ass

British, Australian, Irish, Scottish---I'll take any of those accents and dare you to not think that the kid speaking in that accent isn't the cutest kid that ever lived. Even Samuel who is basically an asshole for 80% of the movie is still pretty frickin adorable. When he emphasizes his love for his mom and how he's going to protect her? Kill me now with the cuteness.

4. Sweet old lady with Parkinsons doesn't die.

I love that sweet old lady with all my heart. Thank GOD she didn't die when we saw the Babadook hiding out in her closet.

I mean she's sweet as fuck right? The mom says mean things to her and she doesn't care. She's like Samuel in that she recognizes an issue and accepts that it's difficult to get through but doesn't give up! We all need more old lady friends like Mrs Roach. I'm putting an ad in Craigslist today to look for mine.

5. OK you're right I only pointed out the fact that the sweet old lady doesn't die because I'm still very upset about the dog dying. 

I get why the dog dies. I don't! I really still don't think that the dog needed to die. I think we would all have been a lot better off if Samuel chose that moment to stab his mom with the kitchen knife and then the dog would have run off and into Mrs. Roach arms where it'd be safe. Can we all just pretend that is what happened? Ok good.

So yes. The Babadook? Love it. I realize this is again old news, but I did actually see it closer to when everyone else did. I just didn't write about it because I was busy eating cake and watching bad reality TV shows. We all have our weaknesses.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Oculus: Never Underestimate the Power of Conehead Teeth

Whilst on my year or so long (or two year?) hiatus in which I basically just watched Reality TV and ate cake---I missed A LOT of things. I missed a lot of good horror movies and I missed all the elbow rubbing with fellow horror fans being like, "Oculus. Huh!? Huh?! Yeah!!" It made me sad to hear brief snippets about what was great, and why horror was seeing some serious resurgence in the 'good stuff' category of our minds. So now that I'm back (knock on wood) I have a lot of catching up to do. Some things I did watch but never got around to writing about, and some stuff I just plain missed like today's film---Oculus. So let's do this.

Oculus intrigued me for several reasons. For one it was what many called a huge win for horror fans and for the little people of the horror world in the shape of Mike Flanagan who also directed one of my favorite indies--Absentia. Also we're Facebook friends? So yeah. Good stuff. Good stuff. Proud of you Mike. For two---horror fans loved it. For three it stars Karen Gillian aka Amelia Pond which made my head explode. I should also mention that during my year long hiatus I fell down the deep rabbit hole of Doctor Who so this was probably the best thing to happen ever....even though she wasn't Rose Tyler, it still put a gigantic smile on my face. So yes, Oculus had all the good stuff going on.  But did I like it?

Sure! Here is a secret. I turned this off when I had about 25 minutes left to go because I was worried I would not be able to fall asleep. Yup. Look, I'm sorry if Conehead teeth affect me so much OK? Its' not my fault it's like the number 3 scariest thing behind sharks and clowns. More on that later.

Ultimately, Oculus weaves an original story of a mirror that possesses those around it with evil thoughts. The film is told between two time periods switching rapidly between the two which gives the whole film a feeling of unease and uncertainty. Which funnily enough is exactly what those evil mirrors do. And I don't just mean the evil mirror in this movie--I mean in general mirrors are pretty evil. Sometimes they trick you and make you think you look good in that dress but you don't. You don't! ............... so anyways, there's this evil mirror and Kaylie and Tim have reunited to destroy the mirror and avenge their dark family history. There are more details but since I'm sure everyone has seen this by now I think we can skip it.

For the most part--Oculus really griped me. The story is simple enough and not convoluted with mazes of the ridiculousness that tends to handicap many modern horror films today. The gore is present but is overpowered by more legitimate scares. The ending while somewhat predictable and slightly maddening still fit within the entire story well. It wasn't an out of left field, 'Oh just kidding you guys it was actually aliens who are diabetic" kind of ending. (although now that I mention it, I think we could all use more movies about diabetic aliens.) The scares--as previously mentioned, made me pee my pants a little and were well orchestrated. There were a lot of my favorite kind of 'quiet moments' of horror---the scene where Kaylie glances into her father's study and sees a woman massaging his shoulders that is NOT her mother for instance, and the little subtle tricks the mirror plays on the mother were extremely well done. There weren't too many jumps which I appreciated and the CGI was kept to a minimum.

The only thing that really saddened me was that I felt that Karen Gillian had a really hard time covering up her Scottish accent. I'm not sure if it was her lines her what, but she kept getting down into this extremely low octave kind of husky voice that really jarred me. Also even though the gore was kept to a minimum the gore was very upsetting. This is the kind of gore that truly makes you cringe. The pulling off the finger band-aid scene for instance had me slowly dying and the lightbulb vs apple scene made me want to cry.

Sure, maybe another small problem is that the film has a habit of falling back on that--AHA gotcha, trick of the mirror trope, but I think for the most part it balances what is real with what is a mirror illusion fairly well. Also, I sometimes wish we had more of a glimpse of the other mirror ghosts. Sure, Marisol was terrifying and her Conehead-like teeth will probably haunt my dreams until forever, but what about everybody else?!? Give them a chance okay?

Ultimately, Oculus is a pretty solid entry into the horror world. I'm sad I missed the hubbub surrounding it and now I feel like that loser who is like...."Hey about those Beatles!? Huh? Huh?!" Oh well. We can't all be winners.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Let's Get a New Idea: Books Edition

It's come to my attention that we seem to have no new ideas anymore. The other day whilst perusing the eBook selection at my local library I realized that there were an alarming amount of books that all looked the same and titles that all sounded the same. I know picking a title might be difficult but can't we just make a new set of rules that prevents people from selecting titles that are just variations of the same thing? Why do you want your book to be confused with the 20 other books that have the same kind of title? And can cover designers be banned from using certain image motifs or metaphors or whatever PLEASE?! Come on guys, there has to be another way to portray loneliness.

Now, because I so enjoy proving my point--it is without further ado that I present to you the Gallery of More of the Same. Keep in mind these are just books pulled from the eBook selection at my library so there are probably thousands of others I've missed!

Cover Cliches


For some reason, umbrellas have seen a real uptick in their representation on book covers. Is it because a character standing alone in the rain is the only way to warn people that the book might contain lonely characters? Probably. But then there's also the summer Chick Lit beach umbrella...and the not opened umbrella which means.... the character is always prepared? I don't know! I don't know why umbrellas are so popular someone please explain it to me.

Empty Chairs

Oh I forgot. There IS another way to symbolize loneliness. Empty chairs! Nothing says, I'm worried about never getting married like a pair of empty chairs.

Hold My Hand Small Child

These could also double as ads for laundry detergent.

Mi Reflejo

I can't be the only person in the world to always sing 'Reflection" whenever there is a blatant reflection starring me in the face. Right? 

(Less Frequent but Notable Cliches)


I guess we would call this one the empowered woman pose? Pretty sure those last two are the same stock footage. BUSTED. 


I suppose eggs are a cover designers way to avoid the 'bird' cliche?

Title Cliches 

The Wife

Apparently, the only interesting characters worth reading about are some other character's wife. I'm not denying it--wives lead very interesting lives. But why can't we think of cleverer titles? Also I'm surprised how many different kinds of  people and...things  have wives.

The _____'s Daughter and other Variations

Originally I had marked both the wives and daughters titles under one sub-cliche---family tropes. But then I sadly realized that the majority of these are just wife and daughter references. I found maybe 3 books titled after sons and the only books titled after husbands seem to be creepy romance novels. Oh well women win again.

The Odd Job

OK so not all of these are odd jobs and some of these I suppose shouldn't be classified as actual jobs but hey---we all need to make a living right? Yes even you, the Arsonist. 

So what does it all mean? Why are we out of ideas? I'm sure there's something larger and more sinister at work here. Something about how the vast majority of woman authors whose books get read by certain kinds of women are just marketed in a certain way? Do we need these titles so men can be warned that a woman wrote this book and it will probably be about 'woman' things? I hope not! Man, now I'm depressed about society and the nature of books. 

What book cliches annoy YOU the most?