movie to watch

In a Valley of Violence

Image result for in a valley of violenceThere are always moments when I bring up Westworld and someone responds “I don’t like Westerns.”  And often, I retort “well it’s more of a Sci-Fi than it is a Western.”  But, as someone who also never liked Westerns, I think I need a new retort.  Maybe I watched the wrong kind.

In a Valley of Violence is the right kind.  I saw this at a small festival for the sole reason that I trust Ethan Hawke.  Predestination had played the year before at the same fest and I wanted more of that.   I was totally blown away by how much fun Valley was and was revitalized in a desire to watch some cowboys.  The cast acts the hell out of this off beat script and it results in a real delight. It has all the ‘dog protectiness’ of John Wick and the “this dude made a western?” of The Quick and the Dead.

This is usually where I put the short synopsis to prime you for the flick, but it honestly would be really difficult to narrow this down to a few sentences.  In the tradition of a Western, rising actions are numerous.  The mysterious Paul stumbles across a town en route to Mexico where they run into this priest, and there are these girls, and a cop, and something about being an army deserter, I don’t know. Just trust this one.

Great if you liked: No Country for Old Men, John Wick, The Quick and the Dead, There will be Blood, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Gangs of New York

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Mom and Dad

Image result for mom and dad posterThere is a lot of buzz about Nicholas Cage and his horror chops these days with the release of the Mandy trailer.  Nick showcases some pretty spooky scary screams in that joint, and is being praised for his self aware “Cageiest performance ever.”  But for those of us that saw Mom and Dad, Cage going… full Cage… in horror is nothing so new.

This one part The Crazies and one part Santa Clarita Diet flick is the most fun you’ll have watching suburban parents try to slaughter their own children.

When an unknown cause inflicts a suburban town, parents are suddenly hit with an insatiable need to kill their own children.  Children left to fend for themselves, desperately cling to life by fighting back at their own parents.  Carl and Josh must survive this impossible day by using everything they know about their own family to fend off their murderous mom and dad.

This obscene horror comedy is so much more.  It serves as a blatant allegory for the stresses of being a suburban parent and what it means when your whole life is suddenly about your children.  Brent and Kendall struggle with their changing identity from individual to parent, you know, until becoming totally murderous.

I had so much fun watching this, and Cage and Blair are so flawless as the psycho Mr. and Mrs. Jones types. Blair’s performance is so great in this off beat genre, I feel obligated to campaign for her in more roles.

And, while I am not making early assumptions about Mandy, this movie features some pretty epic full blown Cage that I don’t imagine can be topped.

Great if you liked: Santa Clarita Diet, The Guest, Mum and Dad, The Crazies, Get Out, Cooties, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, Jennifer’s Body, Weeds, Little Evil, Idle Hands, The Belko Experiment.

You’re Next

Image result for you're next posterThis month, I participated in Grim Magazine’s Slasher Madness bracket, where I, obviously, picked You’re Next to win.  But, despite making it to the final showdown, it lost by a large margin.  That leads me to assume one thing; not enough people have seen it.

I stumbled across this slashic by having my ear to the horror grindstone and it both revitalized my slasher fandom and skyrocketed me into becoming the massive fan of the blogged about, The Guest.

Erin is on her way to her new fiance’s family during their anniversary celebration.  The nerves of ‘meeting the parents,’ are taken to new heights when the family finds itself under attack by masked killers.

What this movie does painfully right is take us back to the slasher basics by mixing the right amount of camp and gore into a new story about a ‘cabin in the woods’ massacre.  It keeps it simple, doesn’t set out to do anything it can’t accomplish, and therefore leaves the viewer satisfied in the way you were after the seminal slashers of old.  Final girls have had such a great boom this decade, and Erin is no exception.  Yes, this was written and directed by men, but Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett are great at handling their female leads, something they double down on in The Guest.

Great if you liked: The Guest, The Strangers, Funny Games, A Clockwork Orange, The Purge, Hush, Vacancy, Black Christmas, Halloween, Friday the 13th

John Dies at the End

Image result for john dies at the end posterSorry, twitterverse, this movie’s title is a spoiler.  You’ll also never believe what happens at the end of The Sixth Sense.

This movie is weird as hell.  Is that enough of a selling point?  I immediately fell in love with this for being so strange and weird and fun and remember it being an hours long universe building mind trip, but it’s 100 minutes long.

After a party, Chase wakes to discover is friend, John, is missing.  After getting some mysterious phone calls from what appears to be a clairvoyant John, Chase sets on a mission to solve the mystery of the new drug, “soy sauce,” and save the planet from what might be an otherworldly, sinister force.   Along the way, he encounters ghost hunters, evil beings, and maybe an alternative universe or two. This movie takes you so many places, you will honestly feel both older and revitalized by the end of it.

Told by Chase to a reporter, the transcendence of a linear timeline in the plot is stacked with non-linear story telling, and it’s used with careful purpose.  Watching the level headed Chase transform throughout the narrative via his own telling is relateable enough to have you wonder if you’d, you know, hunt ghosts or whatever.

In the same way you fell for the “whatever is going on,” weirdness of Dirk Gentley, you’ll fall for this.  You will spend some time trying to reason the transcendence of space and time, and ultimately land on having a great time.

Great if you liked: Dirk Gentley’s Holistic Detective Service, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, A Scanner Darkly, Bubba Ho Tep, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Phantasm.

Cube

I told IMDB that I liked this movie, and it started recommending movies to me like “Sphere” and “Triangle” as if the only qualification was that I liked movies titled for shapes. That said, Triangle looks dope. (And NGL, Circle is very similar and will probably be up here eventually).

Cube is like the expanded Saw franchise without the gore. Before Saw 2, there were lots of cool indie sci fi films that asked what would happen if strangers (to each other and the audience) were in an unfathomable predicament and had to reason their way out. Cube is one of the best of these.

Six strangers wake up trapped in a seemingly endless maze filled with twists, turns and traps.  Each stranger is attempting to reason why they have been selected for this deadly game and why they have been put near the others.  If you’re like me, math stresses you out, so prepare to be stressed.  The attempts to solve the cube are so frustrating for you and the characters, you’ll be scratching your head angry at every past high school math teacher for not making you care more.

Films like this are great because you never know who is telling the truth, it raises ethical questions of who’s lives matter most, and forces you to wonder how you would behave to stay alive.

A fun tidbit is that there is a sequal to this called “Cube 2: Hypercube” and a disappointingly named third called “Cube 0” as if no one noticed how good “Cube Cubed” would have been.

I recommend this for a rainy Sunday inside, which will hopefully happen at some point this sunny October, ammiright?

Great if you liked: Saw, Exam, Circle, Triangle, Identity, Coherence

Hatchet Trilogy

Or Quadrilogy, I should say.

HAPPY FRIDAY THE 13TH, FRIENDS  A F13 in October?  What a gift we have been bestowed in this crazy year they call ‘2017.’

My usual F13 plans involve, well, watching a Jason Voorhees flick, because, of course.  But that’s not why you’re here.  You’re here because you’ve seen all the popular slashers and it’s the middle of October, and you want MORE. Don’t worry, I’m here.

So while I would usually be watching a Voorhees flick, I am actually currently attending the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.  Tonight is slasher night and while there is no Voorhees, we will get to see Kane Hodder  (who’s often adorned that iconic hockey mask as Jason) on the big screen as Victor Crowley in the fourth installment of the series.  Hatchet is often skimmed over by slasher fans, so I am here to share it with you, dear readers.

The entire trilogy reads like one long movie as each picks up exactly where the last left off.  After the mysterious and tragic death of a boy in a swamp in Louisiana, legends spring up about a father accidentally killing his son, a deformed cursed boy, and a fire set by mean spirited boys.  Victor Crowley, the cursed deformed boy, terrorizes anyone who comes to the swamp after dark.  After her family falls victim to Crowley, Mary Beth sets off on a mission to rescue her father and brothers and rid the swamp of the curse of Victor Crowley.

This series is great junk food when you’re looking for a new slasher, and, who isn’t.  I won’t lie to you, the third installment is by a landslide, my favourite, so I recommend committing to this trilogy.  It’s absolutely obscene and has no excuse for some of its missteps, but you will certainly be entertained.  Settle into this while I screen part 4 for you tonight at #tadff.  I’ll let you know how it is.

Great if you liked: A Nightmare on Elm Street, NOES, Friday the 13th, Jason Goes to Hell, Jason Lives, The Final Friday, Scream, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, I Know what you did Last Summer, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, My Bloody Valentine, Maniac

Layer Cake

Image result for layer cake posterAs a Guy Ritchie fangirl, this used to be my go to film for those who’ve exhausted his roster of jacked up crime flicks.  Although, produced by the same company behind Snatch and co, Layer Cake is directed by another British Gem, Matthew Vaughan.  You heard me, the very same genius behind, say it with me, Kingsman.

In this audition for James Bond, Daniel Craig stars in this adaptation of JJ Connelly’s novel as a drug dealer planning for his retirement.  When asked by his boss to help locate a missing woman, and getting into a bad deal with stolen pills, his perfect plan gets derailed. Hi-jinx ensue.

This is not a simple rehash of your typical British crime flicks, but it does have that same list of quirky characters, interwoven subplots, and British slang you wish you could pull off without sounding like a twat.  It is a lot more colourful and upbeat in appearance (does that make sense?) than what you’ve seen from Ritchie, but still reminds you of the writing style.  If you’re in it for a complex story, or just for a British drug romp, this is the one, baby.

This also has both one of my favourite soundtracks and favourite scores, since you asked.

Great if you liked: Snatch, Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, Gangster No. 1, Rock N’ Rolla, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Revolver, Fight Club, Reservoir Dogs

Coherence

A friend was explaining to me that one of her favourite movies was one about messy timelines and I called said movie (to be posted later on the list) a “poor man’s Primer.” She was instantly insulted, despite not having seen Primer.  So I gave her a list of three superior films in the genre, the aforementioned, Predestination, and Coherence.  Immediately after watching Coherence, she called me to sulk it was over, and to plan our rewatch. It’s that good.

I stumbled across this movie in an imdb rabbit hole, and when it popped up on Netflix, I was instantly psyched.  It does not disappoint.

A group of friends are on their way to a dinner party, the night a comet is passing overhead. *don’t read this if you prefer to go in fresh* The comet causes some sort of quantum decoherence and allows the characters to pass through to alternate timelines.

What’s really exciting about this movie, is that it doesn’t bother to hold your hand.  You are learning what is happening as the characters (and the actors!) are.  You can’t help but be focused in, trying to figure it all out.  That also lends to being a bit scary.  Even better, it leads to rewatches paying off in so many ways.

Much like Saw, this was born out of the desire to make a movie that takes place in one room, and this sci-fi delivers in a completely different way.

Great if you liked: Predesination, Timecrimes, Primer, Pi, Timelapse, Cube, Circle

Big Game

I would love to write a thesis on what it’s like making action movies about the President of the US in 2017.  What would Air Force One look like? All The President’s Men? Executive Decision? Is it a coincidence that White Olympus House Down Fallen or whatever is the last US Pres focused action movie to come out?

Well back in 2014, Finland’s Jalmari Helander pumped out the President focused action of your dreams with Big Game.

Coming off of the success of the straight up weird (and excellent) Rare Exports (prep for that entry near the holidays), Jalmari applied his wacky style to the “save the pres” genre.

Samuel L. Jackson stars alongside young Onni Tommila as the US President who is marooned in Finland after a failed attempt at his kidnapping causing an Air Force One Crash. Onni, as Oskari, the skilled young camper, stumbles across the pres and the pair go on an exciting adventure through the woods.  Oskari is out hunting and camping to prove himself as a man to his village, and the pres stumbles right in to give him the opportunity.

This absolutely ridiculous spin on the genre adds an entire level of fun to an otherwise Clancy written Ford starring version of the same.  Take a trip back to a time when these movies were a fun spin on reality.  This is EASILY one of my favourite camp action movies, and of those, there are many.

Great if you liked: Rare Exports, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Air Force One, Con Air, All the President’s Men, Independence Day

The Crazies (1973)

Yesterday was a rough day.  The world lost George A. Romero AND Martin Landau.

For those unfamiliar, Romero is the godfather of the modern day zombie.  Before his iterations, there was no head shot, no double tab, no infectious bites.  Romero’s career is riddled with “of the Dead” features that have inspired an entire genre and generation of film makers.  Further, his films were diverse in such a way that they were so before their time.

But almost any casual fan has watched a Romero zombie flick.  Here is my oft missed selection.

The Crazies tells the story of a small town wherein an infection has caused certain people to both laugh at and commit heinous violence.  The infection is born of a failed military operation, and the town is sealed off by personnel attempting to contain the situation and study the results of this accidental test.  A small group of survivors attempt to evade quarantine and save themselves from the military wrath.

This film is so different from your average fright, and is a new take on a ‘zombie’ genre film as the ‘zombies’ are not the rotting bitey corpses you imagine, but psychopathic versions of living people. The opening scene is pure terror and the third act is absolutely devastating.  This oft missed film totally breaks the mould and is absolutely wroth the watch.

Great if you liked: Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead