Thursday, December 3, 2015

November Movie Roundup

Movies I've watched and haven't written about, and movies I've written about but haven't given my opinion on...

The Visit. The Visit was kind of a strange blend of creepy and off-the-wall weird. Overall, it worked for me, because there were some really scary parts (your mileage will vary based on how scared you are of old people before seeing the movie), and most of the gonzo bits mixed in nicely with the unsettling atmosphere to give the movie an off-kilter feeling. There were a few things that were hard for me to get past, though: I didn’t like Tyler (the younger brother played by Ed Oxenbould), and a lot of the quirks surrounding his character were really hard for me to buy into. I thought Olivia DeJonge (as Becca) did the best she could with her character, and overall it worked for me, but again, the way she was written seemed somewhat forced on more than one occasion. I think the kids were a bit of a weak spot, and I’m inclined to blame the writing. (See my essay on The Visit here.)

Stung. This is a movie about gigantic wasps that attack a fancy party – and that’s pretty much all you need to know. It’s a midnight movie, a get-a-bowl-of-popcorn-and-a-blanket creature feature. It’s not anything groundbreaking, but it serves that purpose quite nicely. Plus Matt O’Leary is a main character, and he’s been quietly popping up in a lot of good movies lately.

Harbinger Down. Color me disappointed in this one. I read a while back about how a practical effects team decided to make its own movie when their practical effects got scrapped from the remake of The Thing, and I was definitely intrigued. I love good practical effects – the Evil Dead movies (including and especially the 2013 reboot) are some of my favorite horror films of all time, due largely in part to the fantastic practical effects. Unfortunately, Harbinger Down’s effects are not roundly impressive, and don’t seem worth building an entire film around. What’s more, the plot is nearly identical to The Thing, but with subpar acting. I wanted to like it, guys… but I can’t pretend it was awesome.

Cooties. Cooties was a pretty big disappointment, too. I won’t discount it completely, as there were some very funny bits (though most of them were of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it variety), and it did have some nostalgic value going for it (read my essay on it here), at least for this viewer. Overall, though, it wasn’t paced well; it started off fairly strong, but it really petered out as it went on. Furthermore, the characters, while amusing at first glance, were too one-dimensional and not compelling enough to carry the audience through the entire story. I didn’t hate it, but I won’t be watching it again.

Kristy. So… knowing that the U.S. premier of this movie took place on Lifetime, I was pleasantly surprised by Kristy. I’ve always liked Haley Bennett (a.k.a. the only reason I’ve watched the dull-as-ditchwater The Haunting of Molly Hartley more than once), and she makes for a likeable heroine to root for here. The premise is simple – college girl alone on campus is stalked by an online cult obsessed with killing “Kristy’s,” i.e. pretty girls with nice lives – and it works. Don’t watch it if you’re looking for a lot of gore and straight-up horror. It’s sort of The Strangers meets a 90s thriller, and I dig that.

The Gift. I actually saw this in theaters and never wrote about it, I guess because it’s not necessarily what most would consider horror. But hey, this is my blog and I like thrillers, too, so I’m gonna mention it! The Gift is an exercise in restraint, keeping you on the edge of your set right up until the end credits roll. It may not be horror, per se, but it certainly leaves you with a lingering sense of dread – for the characters, and for humanity. It also brings to mind Sleep Tight (“Mientras duermes”), which you should also watch. One last thing: why isn’t Rebecca Hall in all the movies?

What've you been watching lately? Do you have your own opinions about any of these movies? Talk to me in the comments!

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