Once Upon a Time ‘I Trapped the Devil’ and ‘Something Else’

What’s on tap?

Guys and gals, there’s a couple of neat little indie flicks headed your way, one is on VOD right now (I Trapped the Devil) and one just had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Here are my thoughts on both: (more…)

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‘The Wind’ Swirls Around Madness and Demons on the Prairie

Life on the prairie is hard enough with the endless rolling hills of nothingness for miles, wild feral animals, and–in the case of The Wind–demons. This, strictly female, of life on the prairie quite literally demonizes the mental anguish of a well-to-do wife in an early American settlement, but are her visions of a vicious demon real or is it just *gasp* the wind.

How many times in your life have you been told or heard someone explain off the existence of a spooky sound or happening as the wind. “Oh, it’s just the wind playing tricks on you,” might specifically be the agreed upon script for sleep deprived parents across the globe. A direct line from Teresa Sutherland’s script declares, “The wind never stops.” The intention of the line is aimed right at the heart of the film’s overall thesis that at this time in American culture, the vast emptiness of the prairie horizon the whipping wind over the open fields would plague the minds of those left alone to their own devices day in day out. Director Emma Tammi uses the film to all at once portray the desperate loneliness inherent to such isolation, the brief relief and subsequent skepticism when faced with new settlers, and finally the dissolving of one’s mental stability when confronted the endless rustling of the wind as the rustling becomes a whisper and the whispers, become manifestations of evil. (more…)

TGoF’s Top 10 of 2018

What’s on tap?

The post’s title is fairly self explanatory, and in spite of not being able to make it out to everything I intended to see this year I still think it was another great year for movies. I seem to say that every year seeing as how there’s always a nice list of movies to pick from when it comes to what were my favorites. This year though, it felt like there was a larger than usual gap in what critics and larger blogs have pinpointed as the best films of the year destined for Oscar gold and the movies I’m about to list below. Doesn’t really matter to me since the Oscars every year are a glaring example of why I don’t put much faith in the yearly awards shows, and why life if some much better if you just embrace what you like instead of what a group of snobs are telling you to like. With that being said…read this list of movies that I’m telling you to like.

J/K….but ya know, since you’re here maybe just take a peek anyway. Thanks!

(10) You Were Never Really Here – Fans of Lynne Ramsay, especially those who may have watched We Need to Talk About Kevin (or rewatched, but I dunno who would do that to themselves) should have known what to expect here. Joaquin Phoenix puts in a stellar yet subtle performance as a tortured veteran doing some pretty depressing work who gets caught up in an even darker conspiracy. (more…)

The Movie Review You Been Stirring For!

What’s on tap?

It’s no secret, it’s been tough to keep up with reviews. Time and energy have not been on my side. Working full time, raising a [now] three-year old, prepping for baby number two, and tending to other writing commitments leaves a very small window for motivation to get in here and throw together thoughts on every single thing I see. Maybe one, when I’m old and retired I’ll have much more time to devote to my cranky old man movie thoughts, or perhaps I’ll just bequeath this dusty old blog to my children. Who knows what the future holds. Anyway, over the last few months I’ve been able to take in the likes of movies such as Halloween, Creed II, Bad Times at the El Royale, Widows, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Overlord (ok so maybe I SHOULD have way more time to write a silly review) but I’m here with a review of a movie I’m sure everyone is clamoring for….All The Creatures Were Stirring.

Wait, you’re saying you have no idea what All the Creatures Were Stirring is? Ok, grandpa…clearly you’ve been living under a rock. All the Creatures Were Stirring is the long awaited Christmas horror anthology directed by the husband and wife tandem of David Ian McEndry and Rebekah McEndry.

Fine, you got me. Poll a hundred people and I’m sure maybe you’ll find the one weird horror nerd that doesn’t look at you like a complete n00b that’s misremembering the lines of the famous Christmas tale. (more…)

It’s Time to Go Gaga for Gaga in ‘A Star is Born’

astarisborn2018_posterI wouldn’t say I’m a closet Lady Gaga fan, but let’s be honest, there is a lot to admire about the way the artist handles herself against endless scrutiny and judgmental passes. It’s not entirely likely to change with the release of A Star is Born, but man does it just add one more thing to admire about not just the talents of Gaga, but of Bradley Cooper’s repertoire as well.

We’ve always known Cooper had acting chops to go along with being annoyingly handsome, but the dude has a knack behind the camera as well. A Star is Born is his take on a property that’s been visited and revisited four times now and it’s a testament to the ever-changing landscape of the music industry that it has the capability of seeing even more iterations long after we are gone.

The film follows the road weary Jack (Cooper) as he happens to stumble into a drag bar to quench his alcoholism and is mesmerized by the voice and stage presence of Ally (Gaga). Fascinated by her he persists in learning the rest of her story and eventually inviting her on stage to perform a duet of a song that she regaled him with the night they met. (more…)

TGoF’s 2018 Halloween Binge: Jigsaw

jigsaw_posterWhat’s on tap?

Day 4 of the daily genre consumption inspired me to search the depths of Hulu since I’ve spread the love of Netflix and Shudder. However, the search somehow stalled at me finally decided to check out the latest in the murderous legacy the Saw franchise known as 2017’s Jigsaw.

What an unfortunate choice it was. The series has always been a grim exercise in waning morality, but the silver lining being that at least there were some pretty cool traps on display. In Jigsaw, it’s just more of the same. Murder, justified in a twisted sense of moral justice with a half-baked mystery at its center.

I’m not sure what I wanted or even expected with the latest sequel, but in a perfect world as the credits rolled I foolishly hoped that maybe this will be the end. The film certainly does not conclude taking my wishes into account, but perhaps it’s overall perception will spell the demise of this franchise which has been in steady decline ever since Saw II. (more…)

TGoF’s 2018 Halloween Binge: Ruin Me

ruinme_posterWhat’s on tap?

Day 3 of my October quest to consume at least one new piece of horror media a day brought me back to Shudder’s deep well of personally undiscovered titles and I came up with one of their Exclusives, Ruin Me.

Ideally the goal of this whole month will be to sometimes randomly pick titles and be pleasantly surprised to genuinely thrilled to find something great that I would not have expected. While with Hitchcock’s Rope there wasn’t much risk in turning up a dud, there’s always a risk for unproven talents and titles sitting out there waiting to be watched. While Ruin Me is certainly not a full on dud, it also was not the undiscovered gem I was hoping it could be.

Using the staging piece of the ever popular escape rooms/extreme haunts there’s a semblance of a solid idea at Ruin Me’s core. Placing a bunch of strangers to work together to solve a puzzle but maybe the experience is more real than what they signed up for. (more…)

TGoF’s 2018 Halloween Binge: Rope

ropehitchcock_posterWhat’s on tap?

In my continued efforts to challenge myself in watching at least one spooky show/movie a day that I had not previously seen, on October 2, 2018 I took in Alfred Hitchcock’s suspenseful killer classic, Rope.

There’s no easy way to say it…Alfred Hitchcock’s films have long been on my Shame List. Seeing Psycho on the big screen recently ignited a fire in me to right a cosmic wrong by taking in some of these suspense classics whenever possible. Thanks to Shudder I was able to check out this particular gem.

1948’s Rope follows Brandon (John Dall) and Phillip (Farley Granger) moments after they have murdered one of their peers, David, and hid his body in a wooden trunk in the middle of their apartment. All the while they are awaiting guests for a party that includes some of David’s best friends and his parents in an effort to get maximum thrill for what Brandon believes is the perfect crime. (more…)

TGoF’s 2018 Halloween Binge: Cargo

cargoposterWhat’s on tap?

October is the perfect time to sit back and take in some spooky cinema. Each day leading up to Halloween I plan to sit down and watch at least one spooky flick or TV episode and report back daily with some brief thoughts on the media.

On the docket for October 1, 2018 (sorry, didn’t decide to do this and finish the first flick until zero hour) is Netflix’s original film, Cargo. Starring the always charming Martin Freeman as a dad, Andy, wandering the Australian Outback during an unexplained apocalypse that’s left zombies, some with their heads buried in the ground, others shambling around doing what they do best–takin’ a bite out of the living. This epidemic leaves the infected victim with 48 hours before they turn and with a young child, Rosie, to worry about Andy desperately searches for someone who can take care of his daughter before it’s too late. (more…)

The Definitive TGoF Recap of the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival

What’s on tap for today?

I look forward to the Fantasia Film Festival each year for a variety of reasons. One, you get to take in a wide array of genre titles, many of which may or may not find their way to a broader audience. Two, it’s one of the few festivals that caters to the film blogger with a jam packed lifestyle and makes a number of the titles available for remote coverage.

While I hope to one day actually be able to escape to the Montreal fest in person someday it’s equally as busy on the home front balancing work and home life while trying to fit in some weird flicks in the interim. As a family man with a full-time job it’s not a walk in the park finding the free time to watch insane genre movies and then sitting down to write about them–as much as I wish I was the guy who was getting paid for people to disagree about movies with on a daily basis. So, while my Fantasia intake is a fraction of your typical writer who attends the fest, here’s a rundown of some of titles I caught that hopefully everyone will be able to take a gander at sooner rather than later.

Bodied

bodied_posterHollywood has yet to see the value in the chaotic brain belonging to director Joseph Kahn. His work has been ridiculed and praised in equal parts for his cinematic efforts Torque and Detention. The frequent music video director may have really hit his stride though with Bodied, a battle rap comedy and drama that, if there is any justice in his world, will see Kahn finally breaking through into the mainstream of film culture.

The straight pitch for Bodied (a term I had no knowledge of prior to this film’s existence) is essentially what if 8 Mile were about a privileged white kid studying battle rap as an art form and became a heavyweight in the medium in the process. Also, if the climatic battle rap of 8 Mile were stretched into 2 hours. Calum Worthy stars as Adam, the aforementioned privileged white Ivy League geek who attends a battle rap session to interview Behn Grymm (Jackie Long) and get the 411 about the use of the “N word” in and out of the battle rap context. When asked to put his battle rap knowledge to the test Adam impressed, finding his star thrust to the big leagues of the battle rap circles. The higher his star rises, the more he loses his grip on what’s acceptable in and out of the confines of a battle rap stage.

There’s a double edged sword slicing its way throughout the course of Bodied and its the character of Adam as a whole. Joseph Kahn as director and working from a script he co-wrote with Alex Larsen allows the audience to experience what it’s like to completely flip their opinion on Adam left and right. At first he seems like a well meaning–if somewhat intellectually obnoxious–scholar obsessed with a culture that he more or less doesn’t belong in. Eventually he transforms into a completely obnoxious, homophobic, and racist scholar, but the complex part is deciding if Adam IS all of those things, or if he just loses himself in the art and culture that he’s co-opted.

Once you can stomach the ups and downs of watching Adam spit fart smelly intellectual musings about cultural appropriation and race relationships then rap poetically about various racist stereotypes, misogyny, and homophobia then you’re well on your way to connecting with Kahn’s overall vision. The filmmaker flip-flops around from straight up comedy to dramatic beats in a natural way without alienating the overall satire.

The performances are fantastic, combined with a number of impressive battle rap scenes that you’ll have to watch over and over again to catch the rapid fire jokes and insults being hurled around. Bodied is a whirlwind of cringe-inducing slams and genius level satire that has to be seen over and over again to be believed.

Rating: A-

I’ve covered the films below in one centralized location, so as opposed to regurgitating my thoughts, I’ll give you a brief overview of my overall thoughts and provide a handy dandy link to the full review.

CAM

If you are jonesin for a full length film that feels like a Black Mirror episode, then look no further than CAM. There’s a reason why this film was given the honor of as the best first feature and best screenplay at the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival. Plus, a brace and committed performance by Madeline Brewer make this a flick to put on your radar and check out as soon as you can.

Full Review: Coming Soon

Pledge

The horror of pledging a frat or sorority is not lost on those who have likely done so or are considering doing so. However, if you find yourself in a dark room with a bunch of psychos who want to brand you as the FIRST step of their initiation, you’ll do well to walk out the door ASAP, cause things won’t get much better from there.

Full Review: Pledge (Bloody Good Horror)

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot

Word of advice, don’t EVER make your decision to see a movie based on the title alone. Not that The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is a bad movie, but boy howdy is it a whoooole lot different from the movie I was expecting. A great, but subdued performance from Sam Elliot is the anchoring piece for this one that should probably be added to your list, once your expectations are adequately realigned.

Full Review: The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot (Bloody Good Horror)

Cold Skin

Xavier Gens’ career in the genre is unique if nothing else. However, the potential in all of his films to this date has yet to really hit a peak leaving a lot on the table, which can only keep you employed for so long before people get hip to your tricks.

Full Review: Cold Skin (Bloody Good Horror)

Knuckleball

You like Home Alone right? Of course, who doesn’t. What if I told you there’s a version of Home Alone for genre fans that answers the question if Harry and Marv were one person and had a thing for little boys that didn’t involve just robbing their famiy? Well, this is that movie….for the most part.

Full Review: Knuckleball (Bloody Good Horror)

Hurt

No, sorry Nine Inch Nails fans, this is NOT a full length feature based on the popular song once famously covered by Johnny Cash. It is however, an ALMOST pretty good kind of stalk and slash flick that tries way too hard to pull the rug out from under the audience with annoying misdirections. Of note, after this movie was screened/reviewed it was brought to my attention that the screened copy was not the final version, so take the review with a grain of salt as there’s currently no way to know if the new cut may have alleviated some of my issues.

Full Review: Hurt (Bloody Good Horror)

The Witch in the Window

Hindsight is a weird thing. After reviewing this film I’ve gone back and read some reactions and additional reviews to see what some of fellow writers had to say about this one and apparently I’m in the minority. Personally, I found this little slice of Canadian ghost nonsense to be a quite dull but also a supremely effective sleep aid.

Full Review: The Witch in the Window (Bloody Good Horror)

Lifechanger

One of the cool things about Fantasia is coming across films having no idea what you’re in for. Lifechanger features a fascinating concept that spends a little bit too much time info dumping in clunky ways instead of focusing on the engaging bits of serial killer body horror that its concept has the audience begging for. Still, despite its missteps its definitely worth checking out.

Full Review: Lifechanger (Bloody Good Horror)

Overall, of the movies I was able to catch, this year’s fest didn’t yield the same number of hidden gems that the previous year’s did, although it did give me two titles that will be vying for spots on my top 10 lists of the year.

Best Overall: Bodied (A-)
Best Genre Flick: CAM  (B+)

Over the course of the three week festival I also took in screenings of films from the festival that were supplied to me separate from the inclusion of festival coverage that I will be sharing reviews of very soon that include The Ranger, ArizonaPuppet Master: The Littlest Reich and Summer of ’84–so stay tuned!