horror

[Mega Movie Review] Catching Up on 2017

13886469_1267046413328617_7042198926381498825_nBusy time of year folks, so apologies to anyone who actually looks forward to my latest reviews. I didn’t want everything I’ve seen to fall by the wayside, so here are some brief thoughts on everything I’ve seen so far in 2017 but haven’t had time to sit down and put full write ups on. Sit back relax and “enjoy” some candid hot takes on these 2017 releases!

Kong: Skull Island – Come for the star studded cast then shove them aside for the awesome creature fights. Kong is visually impressive, but it lacks humanity in a pretty comical way. The characters very much feel like empty shells taking us from one place to another to be bait for the eventual breathtaking spectacle of the Kong fights. In spite of the lack of characters to hang your hat on this was still a pretty tremendous and crowd pleasing theater experience. Rating: B+

Gifted – Sort of let this one get lost in the shuffle. This is a very understated film. There was almost no marketing push and it just sort of appeared in theaters with little to no fanfare. If its still out there though, get out and see it. I could have used a little more closure for some of the relationships and perhaps a little more emotion out of Chris Evans’ character, but this has been the most affective dramas so far this year that also happens to have a pretty delightful sense of humor. Rating: A-

Raw – Coming out of the film festivals the press on this was touting how extreme it was and how it was causing audience members to faint or throw up. When the credits rolled I had one question: What kind of p****** were attending these screenings? I can’t fathom anyone watching this and feeling sick. The sound design is effective, but never to the point that I felt even the slightest bit nauseous. The film looks great, the central performance is quite good and the themes are intriguing…but color me disappointed that this is apparently what gets people worked up these days. Rating: C+

The Blackcoat’s Daughter – I have watched this film at least 4 times now. Each viewing has made it grow on me a little more each time. You’ll want to have been a fan of moody slow burns such as It Follows and The Witch for this one to be in your wheelhouse and if it is you’re in for a treat. Oz Perkins has a knack for creating an uneasy tone and depth to story without over explaining and hammering themes down your throat. Horror fans should quickly familiarize themselves with Perkins…that’s the moral of the story. Rating: B+ (inching ever so close to an A-)

The Devil’s Candy – When The Loved Ones FINALLY came out there was little that would convince me that Sean Byrne wasn’t going to be a horror breakout filmmaker and that his next film wouldn’t be my favorite one of the year. Get Out is going to make it tough for anything else to take that title this year, but even then I still don’t think The Devil’s Candy could pull it off. That being said, it is still pretty great. Byrne’s sophomore flick is tense and totally metal, but could have benefited from a more energetic sense of momentum. Rating: B+

Detour – If you don’t know the name Christopher Smith no one–including me–would blame you. If you haven’t seen any of the movies he’s made, shame on you. The director’s name is so plain that remembering it is understandable, but if you’ve seen and love his movies like I do you’d remember. Detour is just another road of twisty mind games to add to the road map of his career that’s also well worth your time–even if I don’t enjoy the acting chops of Tyr Sheridan. Rating: B+

The Girl With All the Gifts – Those clamorong for a The Last of Us film should know that you kind of already have one–and this is it. The storyline is not the same, but the film has so many aspects that mirror the game that it’s sort of surreal. The emotional resonance is lacking, but the thrills and mythology are more than enough to draw you to this one. It seems as if the creative team involved envisioned something even more ambitious, but budget constraints hold it back at times. Rating: B+

XX – The anthology genre over the years has been cluttered with some singularly focused male visions so it was about time we got some fresh female voices a space to shine. Sure, the final product ends up being about as mixed as most other anthologies, but there is some serious talent on display in each segment in some way shape or form and XX should definitely at the very least be on your radar when it’s released on DVD/Bluray May 23rd. Rating: C+

John Wick: Chapter 2 – The fist installment of the John Wick saga came out of nowhere with its weird comic book hitman universe. The sequel just stacks on the crazy around every corner with some clever set pieces and a sh*tload of headshots. If you don’t walk out ready for Chapter 3 then maybe you just really really hate dumb stylish fun. Rating: B+

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – The Resident Evil franchise hasn’t been my thing for quite some time now. Each new film seems less connected to the actual video game than the next and instead opts to force in characters and foes from the game with little to no context. The Final Chapter is more of the same and the best part about it–assuming the title is a promise–is that it’s the last time we’ll have to endure any of it. Rating: D- 

A Dark Song – There are a lot of reasons why I don’t practice in the occult. A Dark Song just added one more pretty big reason–it’s friggin hard. Another reason on top of that–it takes a really long friggin time. A brooding character driven horror film that really swings for the fences during the finale which is as divisive as it is emotionally resonant. This is one that most will love or furiously hate. Somehow I was just on the outskirts of love. Rating: B

The Void – As a movie watcher I gravitate toward the horror genre. It’s a world I feel like I know and am comfortable in–in spite of having quite a few gaps in knowledge in the classics. When it comes to horror I’m a sucker for some crazy gore and awesome practical effects, both of which The Void has in spades. However, that’s about all it has. There’s a solid creepy villain near the end, the cult figures are cool looking and the idea is solid. Yet, there’s something lacking in the overall plot and the characters just feel flat. Still, you should probably check it out–at least once–when it hits Netflix this July (2017). Rating: C

Small Crimes – Speaking of Netflix, how about all the original content they’ve been churning out this year? Crazy right? When you tell me the director of Cheap Thrills has a sequel that came out via Netflix I couldn’t hit play fast enough. When it was all said and done, I probably could have waited a little bit and not rearranged my whole schedule to watch it. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s actually quite good. Not as good as Cheap Thrills though. The dark humor and sudden bursts of violence would make this a perfect middle movie for a Netflix Triple feature of Shimmer Lake (scroll down for that ‘review’), Small Crimes and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (which is fantastic and there might be a ‘review’ below but as of writing this I haven’t added it to the backlog). Rating: B

Free Fire – After High Rise my stock in Ben Wheatley took a mild dive. Kill List is still a work of bleak art so no one can take that away. Then Free Fire happened. Holy cow, you guys. This movie is a blast. It’s also mostly kind of a one trick pony. It’s a good trick, but the circumstances at which all the mayhem goes down is pretty petty and ultimately uninspired. That doesn’t change the fact that watching things escalate and turn to sh*t wasn’t some of the funnest nonsense I’ve seen this year. Rating: B+

Colossal – I go to the movies to have a good time. Sometimes I go to be moved. Sometimes I go to learn a little about myself. Rarely do I get all three. Colossal isn’t the most profound movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s one of the most unique. I got some chuckles, it has some moving realizations and it more than once made me think about my own actions and words with some reverence. For that it is well worth your time and money, even if it is a little weird for its own good. Rating: B+

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – I was tempted to just link to my review of the first movie and call it a day. Volume 2 is very much just a repackaged version of the original, but with a few more gadgets and upgrades attached. There’s sequences that I could have easily done without near the middle, but the end is enough to tweak everyone with a soft heart in the feels. Also, because it was so much like the original I couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t as fresh and surprising. Rating: B

Wonder Woman – Right in front street, Wonder Woman is hands down the best DC movie of the new batch–aka since the Nolan Batman movies. The bad news is that the bar was not very high–even I could limbo under that rotten stick. However, even that is undermining what WW accomplishes. The action is good, Gal Gadot is great as is her chemistry with Chris Pine on screen. The finale is dogsh*t. It’s so bad and unoriginal that it made me wonder if everything before it had tricked me. I don’t think that’s the case so in the end I think what we got was a genuine attempt at righting the ship at DC even if it forgot to drop some of its dead weight. Rating: B

It Comes at Night – Whenever someone asks me about this movie I always say simply this: good movie, sh*t marketing. Except to call out specifics of the marketing could spoil part of the movie for some, even if it would serve to align their expectations. It Comes at Night is a depressing movie. It’s misery porn at its most basic levels. The performances are great, the idea is solid and the director seems to know that less is more when it comes to making us scared and feeling dirty. However, the film shows us so little and tells us nothing that would make enduring the misery all that profound. Rating: C+

Rough Night – Have you seen Very Bad Things? Well, it’s that, but with a cast of women. The case could be argued that Rough Night is considerably less dark than VBT, but let’s face it, were taking about a comedy with a murder at its center. Once there’s a dead body it is tough to pick back up the funny and lets just say the cast tries very hard to do so with mixed to mediocre results. By mixed I mean mixed decent jokes that are still to easy to be considered that clever. All in all you’re money is best spent grabbing a bag of dick straws and having your own party at home. Rating: D

Shimmer Lake – Shimmer Lake, another in the growing line of Netflix Originals, is a weird little flick that for those patient enough to stick it out should feel at least a minicam of appreciation. For those like me, you’ll get a kick out of it. The film is a botched robbery told in reverse and if you are invested enough to not ask why it’s being told in reverse then you, like me, won’t feel like you guessed what was going on from the beginning. It’s certainly not perfect, but I found myself laughing and impressed by a first time filmmakers grasp on reverse storytelling from beginning to end. Rating: B

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore – I know, I’m not a fan of long bizarre titles either. But once you watch this movie you probably couldn’t think of a more appropriate title either. Fantastic performances end to end and a near perfect yarn of normal people in over their heads in a mostly realistic scenario. Macon Blair wow’ed everyone his performance in Blue Ruin, might as well let him do it with his directing chops as well. Rating: A

47 Meters Down – You can thank The Shallows for giving hope to the possible theatrical success of this one. Saved last minute from a direct-to-DVD release at zero hour this Mandy Moore vehicle’s most redeeming aspects come in the form of those who have a fear of being trapped underwater with sharks in nearly pitch black conditions. Bad CGI sharks and questionable twists hinder the movie’s ability to be all that effective, making it similarly pulpy when compared to The Shallows. Rating: C+

[Movie Review] ‘Get Out’ is an Enthralling Exploration of Social Fear Through Liberal Racism

getout_tgofposterJordan Peele, a name synonymous with clever biting commentary on social issues, has stepped into the cinematic ring and delivered a one-two punch that’s more potent than anything audiences have seen in a wide release horror flick in quite some time. Get Out leans a little bit more studio than recent critical darlings such as The Witch or It Follows, but has a punch all its own that rivals some of the best genre films of all time.

Whether or not Peele’s debut feature will stand the test of time is yet to be seen, but it’s hard to imagine something this sharp and witty to get pushed back in the annals of cinema history. No, it’s not just possible, but likely that Get Out is going to be talked about amongst critics and audiences alike for the foreseeable future. Exploring the simple yet all too real awkwardness of an African-American male meeting his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents and the weird stuff going on within the grounds of the family’s sizable estate. From scene one, Peele sets an uneasy yet humorous stage with an intro that features a black male waltzing in a suburban neighborhood at night before befalling something a little spooky. The racial factor is of course not lost on an audience of any race or gender, but is in fact a fear I’m sure we’ve all had walking late at night in unfamiliar territory–the possibility of being stalked by someone with less than noble intentions.  (more…)

[TV Review] CBS Might Be ‘BrainDead’ For Cancelling This Easily Digestable Gem 

braindeadcbs_tgofHere at TGoF Headquarters (aka my living room or wherever I happen to be consuming media) I don’t catch a whole lot of TV. It’s a shame really, as I’m sure I’ve missed out on some quality programming. However, it’s proven tough to keep interested in multiple shows at a time while also seeing as many movies as I have time for and keeping up with the hustle and bustle of daily life. When I can, binging has been the way to go for me and DVD or Netflix has been the way to go in that regard.

However, waiting for DVD introduces another set of issues–in the case of BrainDead its finding a top-notch ‘brainless’ piece of pulp entertainment only to learn later that it’s been cancelled. Of course, therein lies the silver lining–with only a season under its belt, BrainDead stuck around without ever having the chance to grow tiresome and as easily consumable as the show was, it’s easy to see it jumping the shark quickly…even for a show about brain eating bugs with a flair for politics.  (more…)

Movie Review: Blair Witch

blairwitch_posterTurbulent, clever and frightening. Those are just a few of the most important takeaways from Adam Wingard’s, Blair Witch. Enthusiastic reviewers all over the internet like to throw around some lofty and hyperbolic quotes such as “game changer” or “one of the scariest movies ever made,” with the best of intentions. While the enthusiasm is catchy, Adam Wingard’s Blair Witch doesn’t fully embody either of those aforementioned descriptors.

Folks just can’t stay out of the Black Hills Woods as James (James Allen McCune) discovers a video online recovered from the outskirts of the woods that he believes shows his sister, Heather. Convinced she’s still alive James corrals three of his closest friends to venture into the Black Hills to figure out what happened to her.

Screenwriter Simon Barrett and director Wingard obviously use the original film as the basic bone structure for their unique take. The duo deviate from what we know about The Blair Witch Project simply to extrapolate a mythology of their own based on aspects of what we’ve already seen or suspected. This results in some of the film’s most interesting aspects, without innovating within the genre itself. (more…)

TGoF Hangover: Fantasia Film Festival (Final Round)

anotherevil_posterThe last batch of Fantasia Reviews is a doozy, so why don’t we just hop right in, shall we?

Another Evil

As a huge fan of HBO’s Silicon Valley I was extremely intrigued to check out one of the show’s sporadic writers, Carson Mell’s, directorial debut. Another Evil explores the uncomfortable world of bringing in an emotionally fragile individual into your vacation home to exorcise ghosts that are cramping your style–we’ve all been there, am I right?

The film is bolstered by a uniquely unsettling performance from Mark Proksch as Os, the socially challenged exorcist on the verge of divorce and a potential midlife crisis. In many ways his work calls to mind the great Mark Duplass and his performance in Creep, except…ya know, there are demons. As the audience we know there’s something supernatural afoot so Os’ intentions at first seem on the level, but after a while it’s unclear if he really has a gift or if he’s a lunatic with a glove that emits radio static. It all culminates with a troubling finale that drives home the ultra dark comedy by transforming into an even darker horror/thriller–with a touch of drama. (more…)

TGoF Hangover: Lights Out & The Fantasia Film Festival (Round 1)

Malevolent light sensitive ghosts, evil beds and invisible dads. This edition of the Tall Glass of Film Hangover touches some interesting points on the genre compass, two of which (Bed of the Dead and The Unseen) were screened as part of the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival. So sit back, relax and enjoy some of TGoF’s thoughts on a few upcoming flicks!

Lights Out

I’ve gotta be honest–I don’t think there was a chance in Hell that a three minute short would translate effectively into an 80 minute feature. Sure 80 minutes is lean and mean, but considering the lack of plot in David F. Sandberg’s original short for Lights Out was non-existent it’s reasonable to assume the feature wouldn’t remedy that to a significant degree. Luckily, I’m wrong a lot. Lights Out takes the smart route by setting up a simple story but hanging its success in the shoulders of a stellar cast and a relentless (but constantly recycled) barrage of scares.

Teresa Palmer stars as Rebecca, a concerned sister that has never had to shoulder real responsibility looking to possibly become the legal guardian of her brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman). Martin hasn’t been sleeping because his mother, Sophie (Maria Bello), is on the verge of a mental break that has invited a dangerous specter, Diana, with deep ties to the family to enter all three of their lives once again. With CPS breathing down her neck Rebecca must find the secret to ridding the threat before it’s too late.  (more…)

TGoF Hangover: Warcraft, Angry Birds, Captain America: Civil War, Neighbors 2, TMNT 2, and More!

It’s been a while and there are plenty of movies in my rear view so to conserve some space you can check out my reviews of some recently released flicks all in one place- as well as beer recommendations to go with. Read on to check out some reviews for the following: Warcraft, Angry Birds, Captain America: Civil War, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Manson’s Lost Girls, and The Ones Below!

Warcraft

Zero. That is exactly the amount of not hours, not minutes, but seconds I’ve spent playing World of Warcraft. So what business have I to attempt to review a film that is so obvious in its attempts to please its fans? Technically none. As a fan of cinema and someone who tries to see anything and everything that I possibly can it behooves oneself to have a voice amongst those who are like me, but maybe are on the fence about spending money to see it.  (more…)

Movie Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

10cloverfieldlane_posterThe way 10 Cloverfield Lane came out of nowhere (at least the marketing) just a month or two before its release reminds one of an exciting time. A time when we didn’t have a year or more to stew about an upcoming release and let the excitement slowly fade by the time it saw the light of day. A time where mystery can still exist in our theatrical experiences.

The less one knows about 10 Cloverfield Lane the better, but here’s the bare minimum just to cover all my bases. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a woman running away from a relationship when she is in a terrible car accident. When she wakes, she finds herself in a stuffy bunker held by the mysterious and potentially dangerous, Howard (John Goodman). Howard informs her of an attack that happened and that she and another guest, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) may be living together in his shelter for what could be as long as two years. Michelle, must decide if Howard is indeed looking out for her best interest, or if her savior is harboring some questionable and unstable motives.  (more…)

Movie Review: Southbound

southbound_posterThe rise of the horror anthology in recent years has been a welcome trend to this genre fan. However, over the last two years the rash of sub-par entries cannot be ignored. The ABCs of Death, The ABCs of Death 2, Tales of Halloween, and VHS: Viral all have two things in common. They are all examples of the mediocre side of horror anthologies and they are all inferior to the latest anthology Southbound.

Keeping in mind that Southbound comes screeching through to us by many of the same names behind the V/H/S series, their latest concept is again rock solid in terms of presentation. Where it falters is that the writers and directors involved almost didn’t take the concept far enough.

What we have are five (four of you count the wraparound segment as one instead of two) interconnecting stories all unfolding over the course of one day/night. The Way Out & The Way In (Directed by Radio Silence) stands as the wraparound piece that opens and closes the film and features two gentlemen, their faces covered in blood and on the run from a mysterious force that is closing in on them. (more…)

Movie Review: The Green Inferno

greeninferno_posterEli Roth is back and doing what he he does best- killing dumb college kids wondering in foreign places they don’t have any business being in the first place. The Green Inferno finds the filmmaker challenging himself by filming in an environment ripe with complications and emerging with his most beautiful looking film to date when looking beyond the blood and guts. Yet, Roth’s worst tendencies lurk around some of the most pivotal moments keeping the film from being as good or horrifying as it had the potential to be.

The Green Inferno follows Justine (Lorenza Izzo) as a bright-eyed and well intentioned college freshman teetering on the edge of desire to become more actively involved in a group of “activists.” When the group led by Alejandro (Ariel Levy) take on a cause to stop a company from chopping down a Peruvian rainforest and killing a local tribe, Justine joins in. Their plan succeeds in a such a way that leaves Justine questioning her decision to join the cause, but shortly after leaving their plane’s engine fails and crashes in the backyard of the very tribe they were trying to save. Still dressed like the men who’ve been tearing apart their lands the tribe mistakes them as a threat and take the remainder of the group hostage. Unluckily enough, the tribe also has a taste for flesh and the group must find any means of escape before they end up being served for dinner.  (more…)