movie

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

Advertisements

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

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

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

Funny Games

Image result for funny games movie posterListen, you get it. This is a horror game, so as soon as I post something not horror (below), I need to sandwich it so it looks like my tastes are diverse.
So today, we are taking it back to scary with Funny Games.

Before Michael Pitt shook his creep persona from Murder by Numbers and started stealing hearts and liquor as Jimmy Dormody, and before The Strangers was serving us creepy home invasion realness, there was Funny Games. (In fact, even 10 years before that, there was the original).

If you ask me, horror is mostly fun because it is gratuitous and unbeleivable.  But the home invasion sub-gendre scares me top to bottom for it’s ability to seem absolutely plausible.  Funny Games takes it even further by pulling this sh** in the daylight. *Full body shudder.*

Sadistic Peter and Paul come across the vacation home of a family of three, and take them hostage, forcing them to participate in twisted games.  The simplicity of this take on the invasion, paired with the sadistic games, daylight, and helplessness of a family not expecting such an attack makes this film so scary.  There is a sense of dread associated with not being prepared for the very simple attack of two unarmed intruders.

Intentionally or not, this serves up the psychotic scare reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange, made more familiar in the psychos’ all white outfits and use of objects for beatings.

While not the penultimate home invasion movie, this certainly stirred up my own fear, and features great performances, including that of Naomi Watts and Tim Roth, masters of the creep, in protagonist positions.

Watch this whatever time of day you want, because it is not going to make daylight feel safe for you anyway.

Great if you liked: The Strangers, A Clockwork Orange, Copycat, Last House on the Left, Vacancy, The Collector, Panic Room, You’re Next, Cape Fear, Fatal Attraction

Sadako v Kayako

So people have been all abuzz about the release of Rings, the follow up we didn’t ask for, but all kind of wanted since The Ring totally changed the game for a lot of horror fans.  I remember when The Ring was in theaters, and my entire high school told their viewing stories as if we had all survived a natural disaster.  “J Horror” (Japanese horror) had made a big splash for Western cinema fans, and sparked remakes of plenty Japanese horror giants like The Grudge, Dark Water, and One Missed Call.

Much of J Horror focuses on these black haired crawling demons, like the ones we fell in love with in The Ring.  (A lot of them live in toilets… it’s weird).  I don’t mean to brag, but for the premiere, the city of Toronto was covered with locks of black hair and the demons were creepin’ all over.

For those of you who don’t follow along with the Japanese counterparts, the demon from The Ring (or Ringu, the J original), is known as Sadako, and the demon from The Grudge (or Ju-On) is known as Kayako.  So before you go flooding the seats to see the American follow up, check out this unreal death match of your two favourite J Horror demons, Sadako v Kayako.

After two girls accidentally stumble across the legendary Sadako tape, and another upon the Kayako house, they contact a demon expert to try and rid themselves of said demons.  After some failed attempts, they conclude the best method would be to have the demons face off against each other.  That’s pretty much all you need to know.

It’s actually pretty scary and doesn’t skip any J Horror tropes, but has a full heap of that dry horror humour that J Horror does so well.  It manages to be hilarious without being too campy, and is an absolutely unreal follow up for any casual J Horror fan, even if you’ve only seen the remakes.

The promo was for a new horror streaming service called Shudder.  This isn’t an ad for it, but it’s dope and maybe if they see this, they’ll give a girl a few months free, n’am sayin?

Great if you liked: The Ring, The Grudge, Ringu, Ju-On, Freddie vs. Jason, Sinister, Insidious, Death Note, Shaun of the Dead

Equilibrium

Remember all those books you read in high school about the dystopian future? Fahrenheit 451? The Handmaid’s Tale? The Giver? 1984? All ‘dem? Now imagine someone took all of those, added pre-Batman Christian Bale, some ridiculous gun fighting and made it into a badass sci fi action flick. Boom. Equilibrium.

Don’t let writer/ director Kurt Wimmer’s tendency toward unnecessary remakes scare you, this totally original (well, save for the books mentioned above) sci fi is an absolutely wonderful self contained story line.

In the not so distant future, the government has suppressed all emotion with the mandate of preventing war via a drug to be taken at required intervals.  (The giver, anyone? #Soma).  Along with doing so, all sources of emotion are contraband and, if found, burned on site. (451, anyone?).  John Preson is a cleric tasked with maintaining the world order.  After meeting a woman who has been off her drugs, before her execution, Preston questions his emotionless lifestyle.  After slipping up, he seeks out the resistance and considers the uprising.

There was a while when ipod video was still a thing and this was the only flick I had saved on mine, so I watched it far too many times.  But with the current “rise up” climate, this one comes straight back to me.

This is a really fun take on the dystopian drama that will ease you into wanting the more heavy stuff. I just blew through V for Vendetta and am on kind of a resistance rebel kick, and this blends in seamlessly.

And side note, the whole gun fighting thing is actually pretty dope.

Great if you liked: 1984, The Giver, Batman Begins (ugh), The Prestige (also ugh, but same Bale, I guess), The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Minority Report, Gattaca