The Silver Scream

Horror movie reviews with the audience in mind.

Zombieland: Double Tap

Rating: 4.25/5

A solid showing for a much anticipated sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap is great for laughs, gore, and a good time.

The world has been turned into Zombieland for so long now, that the remaining uninfected have adapted their ways of survival, and have started to put the types of zombies into different categories. It is with this knowledge that Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have managed to keep their odd, little makeshift family alive.

As they make their travels across the barren remnants of the United States, they find themselves at the vacant Whitehouse. At first, they feel this could be their new home, especially in Columbus' eyes, but others aren't so content. Little Rock is yearning to find more people her own age, and Wichita is starting to feel the pressures of domestic life. Soon their familial bliss comes to an end when Little Rock runs away, and Tallahassee, Columbus, and Wichita have to venture out into the unknowns of Zombieland to find her.

The first Zombieland is one of my more loved movies, so when I heard that the sequel was finally going to be made, I couldn't wait for it to be officially released. With that being said, I went into the theater with caution, making sure I didn't set my hopes too high, so I wouldn't be overly disappointed if the film ended up not being everything I wanted it to be. Thankfully, I found that I really enjoyed my time watching Double Tap. Could it be because I went in without expecting too much out of it? Perhaps; but it could also be because this sequel did a very good job at sticking to the formula that made the original so great, but adding in enough new material to make it not seem like a complete repeat of its predecessor.

Easily my favorite part of Double Tap was one very creative sequence that occurred roughly half-way through the film. There is a fantastic set of tracking shots where the characters battle it out with members of the living dead, and the ingenuity, fluidity, and energy that comes from that scene is absolutely spectacular. What's so frustrating with scenes like this, is that I rarely catch on to the tracking shots until about a quarter of a way into them, so I continue to watch intently until the cinematic brilliance is over, but then long to go back and watch that section of the film again so I can fully appreciate it in its entirety. I know that this moment in the film isn't one continuous cut, but they do a very impressive job at taking the handful of extended shots and putting them together in a way that made it seem like it was one.

When the first Zombieland came out, the majority of the cast members were fairly new to the film world. Of course Woody Harrelson was incredibly well known, but Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin, not as much. When first seeing the trailer for Double Tap, I found it quite humorous to see a movie of this type have every lead cast member with the words "Academy Award Winner" or "Academy Award Nominee" as part of their name. Even though this movie is far from something that would be nominated for an Oscar, the cast gave it their all and because of that, made it a wonderfully fun and entertaining comedy.

Zombieland: Double Tap has definitely been receiving some mixed reviews, but I personally had a great time going to see it. My amusement by it could be partially connected to the somewhat stressful week I had had prior to seeing it, so watching some comical zombie fighting proved just the ticket to ease my mind. Even so, I think my enjoyment of Double Tap is primarily because it is a well made and humorous contribution to the ever growing zom-com genre.

Crimson Peak

Rating: 4.5/5

Crimson Peak has its occasional flaws, but is more than worth the watch for the look alone.

Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) lost her mother at a young age and saw her ghost the night of the funeral. The experience has haunted her ever since, especially the words whispered by her spectral mother, "Beware of Crimson Peak."

Years later, Edith is living with her father and working for him as well. She dreams of becoming an author, but her local publishers show no interest in the ghost stories she's been writing. When a dignified and handsome aristocrat named Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) arrives in her town, she is quickly fascinated by his charm and mystique. What appears at first to be a great romance quickly turns sinister for Edith, when she returns to Thomas' home; a crumbling mansion that sits atop a mountain composed of red clay, covered by a blanket of snow.

As if there could have been any other outcome, the visuals for Crimson Peak delivers in spades. Whether or not people are fans of Guillermo del Toro's stories, there's no doubting the dedication and impeccable style that he brings to each and every one of his films. What is truly remarkable about Crimson Peak is how clear it is that the stunning and spectacular look of the movie is actually real and not CGI. When I noticed this, I found it impossible not to marvel at the meticulous work that went into every moment of the movie. The look and style of the corridor in which Edith finds herself so often along with the contrast between the stark white of the snow and the richness of the colors around it were what captivated my admiration the most. Crimson Peak is a film that is hard to turn your eyes away from, because you are so entranced by each striking visual the film has to behold.

When it comes to making a period piece, the casting is one of the most crucial elements for turning the film from a mediocre attempt to a masterpiece. For Crimson Peak, I would say that overall, the choices for the actors were fairly well made. Tom Hiddleston easily slips into another time period with his elegance and manner, so there is no trouble in believing him to be from the late 1800s. I have seen Mia Wasikowska in more films based in the past than I have the present, so again, no fault to be found. At first, I was a little hesitant about Jessica Chastain, because she's very modern in my eyes, but I was pleasantly surprised with the chilling performance she gave as Thomas' unwelcoming sister. With this role, it was proven to me that she is able to tackle just about any role that is handed to her.

Oddly enough, for a ghost story, the actual phantoms were my least favorite part of the movie. Don't get me wrong, there were times where the spirits were certainly frightening, but I have learned from this film and a few others, that I am apparently very hard to please when it comes to making convincing and eerie ghosts. I find that I am more afraid of what I can't fully see compared to something that is shown head on. When Edith has a decrepit hand reaching around her shoulder in her sleep, that is unnerving enough to me to make my skin crawl, but when she is actually being chased by the malevolent spirits, not so much. Perhaps my practical brain is taking over and suddenly I have a hard time believing it once I actually see it, or maybe my imagination can concoct a ghost more horrifying than a movie can ever produce. Either way, Crimson Peak's moments of terror are far more sophisticated and well thought out than your average horror movie, and for that it is to be applauded.

Guillermo del Toro is a director whose work I have sadly not seen enough of, but my recent rewatch of Crimson Peak has solidified my thoughts that I definitely need to spend more time dedicated to seeing his films. It's rare to see a movie like Crimson Peak where you can practically forgive any blemishes it may have just because of its brilliant direction and design. For that it should be a must see for any fan of cinematography and film.

Shaun of the Dead

Rating: 5/5

Shaun of the Dead is a fantastically funny movie that has a heart of gold hidden just beneath the gore.

Shaun (Simon Pegg) goes through every day of his life following the same exact patterns. He goes to the same bar, works the same boring job, and gets the exact same snacks at the store. His roommate and best friend Ed (Nick Frost) is unemployed and spends his days lazing around on this couch, but doesn't seem to mind his lethargic lifestyle.

Shaun and Ed's repetitive and mundane days get thrown a major curveball when they discover that a virus has swept the planet that turns the infected into zombies. Suddenly, their lives are all about survival and finding anyway possible to get back to their beloved pub so they can barricade themselves in until the world crisis is over.

Of the collaborative films between Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, and director Edgar Wright, Shaun of the Dead is likely their most famous. This movie is the perfect blend of comedy and carnage. It has the ability to make you laugh out loud, but also make you cringe away from the screen ever so slightly, as you watch the zombies devour the various members of the human race. Shaun of the Dead possesses the type of humor that I enjoy most. It's able to be silly without crossing the line into being senseless, and it blends its comedy styles and doesn't focus on just either slapstick or joke based humor. In fact, this movie contains one of my favorite comedy scenes of all time, that being when they are fighting off the zombies in the pub to the music of Queen. Perfectly timed and unique, it makes for one hilarious scene.

Edgar Wright's directing style is very distinct, in that almost every film, if not all of his that I have seen, use the same frantic editing style. When someone slides a drink across a bar, the camera rapidly zooms in and the sound the glass is making as it is moving gets heavily amplified. Now, I am not normally someone who likes it when directors or editors repeat their techniques from film to film, but for Edgar Wright, I find no annoyance with it. I look at it as the trademark for his fast paced action comedies, and he always seems to do it in the exact moment that would bring about the most humorous result. He is an expert when it comes to timing, and that is just one of the many reasons I have loved every movie of his that I have been fortunate enough to watch.

Shaun of the Dead, though mainly a comedy/horror combination, differs from many other films that attempt to take on the genre, because it has the ability to pack an emotional punch. Yes, the majority of the time they are turning almost every undead attack into a moment for laughter, but there are also moments where it is clear that the characters are aware of how high the stakes are, and what they could lose if their plan were to fail. Even though their goal is highly dangerous and faulty, you are constantly rooting for each character to make it to the pub before the film's end. Whether it is because you don't want the friendship between Ed and Shaun to be severed by the teeth of a ravenous zombie, or you don't want to see Shaun lose his girlfriend or his mom, you are pulling for the characters and their relationships to succeed each step of the way.

Though Shaun of the Dead was not the first movie to tackle a horror subject and turn it into a comedy, it has definitely become one of the most memorable. I am slightly more partial to the trio's movie Hot Fuzz, but that's mostly due to the fact that zombies tend to make my stomach turn. Shaun of the Dead is a wonderfully good time and is always one of my go to's for the Halloween season.

It Chapter Two

Rating: 4/5

Though it lacks the some of the fright and charisma of its predecessor, It Chapter 2 is a solid film with impressive performances.

27 years after the self-titled "Losers Club" rid Derry, Maine of the terrifying and murderous clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), the disappearances and deaths begin to once again surface in the small town. Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) is the only members of the original club who's stayed in Derry, and once he begins to see the familiar and frightening patterns recurring, he knows he must contact his old friends to carry out the pact they made so many years ago.

It Chapter Two was a slightly unusual scenario for me, being that I was watching a film based on a book that I hadn't read. Usually I do my very best to read the text beforehand, so I have something to compare it to. In this case I hadn't yet read the book, but I actually knew a fair amount about the actual novel anyways, and one of those things I knew was that the second half of the book is almost always discussed as being weaker than the first. Now, whether or not that is true to the book, I cannot say for sure, but I can attest to the fact that it is accurate to the films. It Chapter Two was in no means a bad movie, but it certainly paled in comparison to Chapter One. For me, though Bill Skarsgard's portrayal of Pennywise is as brilliant as ever, I didn't find this installment of the story to be nearly as frightening as the first. There are many reasons that could have contributed to this result, but for me I feel it is primarily due to the heavy use of special effects and the pacing of the film.

In the first It, there were of course times where the use of computer created scares were necessary, but there was also a lot of practical effects, darkening of the atmosphere and tone of the scene, and reliance on Skarsgard's skill to enhance the fear in the film. However, Chapter Two strongly relied on the use of CGI to create the many forms of Pennywise, and I found myself rolling my eyes rather than jumping in my seat. The actual moments off screen, leading up to the supposed "scares", where you could only hear what was about to come rather than see it, were much more frightening than actually getting the visual of what was attacking the character at that given time. Speaking of which, to me it didn't seem like there was enough time between each horror packed moment. I have always felt that the key to a really great horror film, is to give the audience a good fright, but then let the plot briefly mellow out, so the viewer's heart rate can return back to normal, be lulled into complacency and then surprised by the next terrifying scene. Now, as previously mentioned, I have yet to read this book, so for all I know the movie was just following the chain of events laid out for them by the novel, and if that's the case, well done for sticking to the source material, but if it wasn't, then I do feel the rapid fire scares brought down the fear level of the overall film.

I know I have said a lot of negative comments towards It Chapter Two and it may even seem like I didn't like the movie, but be assured that isn't the case. I think I may have gone into the movie with my expectations a little too high, and therefore my opinions on the film may come off a bit more pointed than anticipated. That being said, what really shines through in this movie are the performances by its cast, both young and older. Bill Hader, who plays the grown up version of Richie Tozier, is easily the stand out member of the adult Losers Club. He has proven before now that he can master both comedic and serious roles, and he brings that skill set to this film with full force. I believed every moment of his fear and anguish for the situations his character was presented, but I also found myself laughing out loud with his well timed and sarcastic sense of humor. All the other members of the adult cast were great, especially James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain, but Hader was without a doubt my favorite.

Though there were definitely aspects to this movie that I didn't particularly love, I do have to 100% give it props for how fearless it was on what it dared to put on screen. It's one thing to tell a story of a clown who preys on children, but its a whole other ball game to actually have the guts to show it. Aside from the tenacity the film had, what really made me love it was its central location. Being born and raised in the Maine town Derry is based on probably makes this film more exciting to me than to the general viewer, but even so, It Chapter Two is a much better than average horror movie and a must watch for the fall season.

Ready or Not

Rating: 4.25/5

Ready or Not is quite the unique horror film that is quirky, gory, and a whole lot of fun.

On the day of her wedding, Grace (Samara Weaving) is more than excited to be marrying the love of her life Alex (Mark O'Brien), but is apprehensive about the family she is going to wed into. Her soon to be husband comes from an incredibly wealthy, pretentious, and odd family dynasty, and they haven't been exactly subtle in their disapproval of their newest family member.

Once the wedding is over, Grace and Alex return to the Le Domas family estate to prepare for their honeymoon. Their night of newlywed bliss is disrupted when Alex's Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) appears in their room telling them they need to be downstairs by midnight to play a game. The playing of a game on the night of a wedding is tradition in the Le Domas family and is their own special way of initiation. Grace finds it odd, but agrees to play, having no idea she's about to get herself into a deadly game of Hide and Seek.

For starters, I feel it is necessary to say that I am particularly picky when it comes to horror-comedy crossovers. I feel that sometimes they can be very distasteful, making a mockery of some pretty gruesome concepts. In the right hands, these types of films can be pure genius, and in the wrong ones, a total disaster. Overall, Ready or Not is able to remain a balanced film, not swaying too far into the direction of ridiculousness. The type of scenes the movie does for laughs is slightly reminiscent of the comedy found in Hot Fuzz. However, unlike Hot Fuzz, Ready or Not approaches the humor and horror in a more acute style, by making the stakes seem far more dire for the main protagonist; thus creating a movie that has the ability to cause more apprehension rather than just straight laughs.

What I really loved about Ready or Not, was its unpredictability and use of music. It's clear from about twenty minutes in that nobody is safe in this savage game of Hide and Seek, and you really never know who will die, or in what absurd and outlandish way they will meet their demise. When it came to the film's climax, I really wasn't sure what the outcome was going to be, because the movie itself was so unusual. I love it when a film constantly keeps you guessing, especially in a movie like this, because it makes you feel like your invested in the plot, rather than just an observer watching the predictable chain of events unfold. As before mentioned, the music in Ready or Not was great. Not only does the movie come with a catchy and slightly unsettling theme song, but the score itself worked beautifully with the scenes as they progressed. Music in films is something I have always taken a strong notice to, and I personally found the instrumentals in Ready or Not to be slightly above par compared to your everyday horror movie. They most certainly added into the concept of making the Le Domas family appear as if they were stuck in a different era, as well as majorly increased the intensity of many of the scenes.

The only true negative that I could say for Ready or Not, is I felt some of the scenes, and a big portion of the events leading to the climax, dragged on a bit too long. At times, it felt like a very bloody and haggard game of cat and mouse that seemed forced to continue until it ran out the clock. I completely understand the necessity of a creating a big build up to a film's major moment, but there may have been too much excessive chasing to make Ready or Not be a true home run. Yes, it is a game of Hide and Seek, but how long can someone attempt to hide before it becomes a tad overzealous?

Any negative comments said about the film aside, Ready or Not is a really entertaining and energy charged movie. It has definite rewatchability, even if the outcome of the game is already know to the viewer. Ready or Not beats to its own drum and is easily one of the best movies to come to the horror genre for 2019.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Rating: 3.75/5

With monsters better than the content in between, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a well made horror movie that doesn't fail to entertain.

In the year 1968, Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti) and her friends are going trick-or-treating to celebrate Halloween. When a prank goes wrong, the group finds themselves having to hide out a haunted house that used to belong to the Bellows family. Legend has it that if a child goes in asking for Sarah Bellows to tell them a story, they die.

Thinking it is just Halloween fun, Stella takes Sarah's storybook from the house, hoping to be able to explore it more at home. When Stella begins to look through the book, she is horrified to see a story beginning to write itself in blood red ink. The next day, a boy has gone missing. It doesn't take Stella long to realize the connection between the two mysterious events, and soon she and her friends are on a race against time and terror to stop Sarah Bellows from claiming more victims.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a perfectly adequate horror movie that I really wish had existed when I was growing up. It faces a tricky balance at entertaining a wide range of audiences, given the books in which it is based off. The books themselves most certainly pushed the boundaries for what could be considered too scary for a young reader, and the film tries to push those limits as well and mostly succeeds. It is definitely too frightening to be considered a children's movie, but isn't too silly to be found irritating by an older audience. Given the fact that Guillermo del Toro wrote the screenplay, it couldn't have been easy for him to tone down his typical way of storytelling, so for that reason it did seem like the movie struggled at times to stick to its PG-13 rating.

Easily the best part of Scary Stories were the creatures and ghouls that appeared periodically throughout the film. The dialogue and plot points in between each monster appearance was fairly mediocre, but that mediocrity was completely saved by how creepy each scary story scenario was. Most notably would for me would be "the Pale Lady". There's something effortlessly eerie about the slow moving villain. When the killer or monster doesn't feel the need to run to catch its victim, it appears to have more power than the sprinting and chasing antagonists do. The slow and relentless killers know they are going to get their prey and don't feel the need to hurry. The scene in which "the Pale Lady" is the story in focus, is not only the most frightening part for the movie, but is visually the best as well. The contrast between the intense bright light and the paleness of the hospital walls makes for a impressive movie moment.

Performance and character wise, Scary Stories left something to be desired in most of the cast except for the main character, Stella. Her friends were all fairly static characters and fell into your basic horror movie character tropes; the smart sensitive guy, the immature dim witted friend, and the mysterious newcomer. Stella on the other hand, being the protagonist, had to go through many changes throughout the film and Zoe Margaret Colletti was definitely up for the task. There were many times where I felt her performance was actually better than some of the material she was given, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if we see bigger things from her in the future.

Overall, I really did enjoy Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark despite its occasional flaws. I do feel that its release was a bit premature given the topic of the movie and the fact that its mostly centered around Halloween. However, if you consider the fact that It: Chapter Two is about to drop into theaters very soon, it makes perfect sense that Scary Stories didn't want to compete with such a highly anticipated release.

Crawl

Rating: 4.25/5

Does Crawl have the potential to do for Florida what Jaws did for the ocean? Probably not, but is it a good time anyways? Absolutely.

College student and competitive swimmer Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is planning on staying away from her hometown in Florida, as there is a Category 5 hurricane beginning to take over. Her plans however, get a wrench thrown in them when her sister calls to ask if she's heard from their father. When Haley responds no, she starts to question his safety from the storm and makes the decision to head towards the storm to check on her dad before the weather gets too bad.

As Haley gets to her town border, she sees the evacuation is already underway. The only way she can get to her father is to defy the police officers' orders and charge passed them so she can get to her family home. Once there, her dad is nowhere to be found, and she begins to worry something more ominous than a storm is lurking about.

Crawl is a good ol' fashioned monster movie and I love it. The runtime for the film is quite short, being just under an hour and a half from beginning to end, but for this type of film that's a positive, not a negative. Had this movie been any longer, the numerous alligator attacks would likely have been overdrawn and gratuitous. I have seen films that do just that, and by the end of it you are more than ready for it to be over. The writers for Crawl were very smart in having the inevitable blood and gore last only as long as needed, and making sure the novelty the film was trying to sell, killer gators, didn't overstay its welcome. By doing so, everything in Crawl appears to happen in rapid succession, leaving very little down time to let your nerves or adrenaline begin to normalize.

When I first watched Jaws many years ago, I remember that for me, the most frightening scenes weren't where you actually saw the shark, but when you were witnessing scenes from its point of view under the waves. The same can be said for the most fear inducing sequences in Crawl, though in a very different setting. Instead of underwater shots looking at aquatic plants and the legs of swimmers, you are seeing cars and gas pumps submerged by hurricane flooding. What might make this even more unsettling than a look beneath the ocean, is the lack of clarity to the water in Crawl. As a viewer in the audience, you struggle to see exactly what the gators and main characters are swimming through, but you know, as by what was previously stated in the film, that the scaly swamp predators have impeccable hearing when it comes to finding their prey beneath the surface. You can't help but feel your heart rate begin to increase as you strain your eyes to see what lies within the murky water.

What so many movies like this struggle to do, is effortlessly weave in any backstory for the characters. Many times, the relationships presented are strained for one reason or another, meaning that there is almost a guarantee that at some point a heart-to-heart conversation of reconciliation is going to take place. Without that, it seems the filmmakers worry the audience won't be able to form any connection to the characters, and therefore they feel the need to bring an emotional background to them, no matter how forced it may appear. Crawl does have some remnants of this concept, but it doesn't feel quite as fabricated or artificial as other movies' attempts have been. I did find myself suppressing the occasional eye roll when any moment of sentimentality presented itself, but I definitely understand why Crawl felt the need to include them. In order to ensure their film would be many steps above a SyFy channel original movie, they needed to give their characters a certain amount of depth in order to add a level of realism to them. For the most part, this tactic succeeded, but it wasn't able to fully escape the trap of having the added emotion come off as being a bit out of place.

When I first saw the trailer for Crawl, I can't say I was overly eager to see it, but I figured I'd give it a shot, expecting it to just be a silly but overall entertaining film. I was truly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and not because I found it silly. It was exciting, genuinely jumpy at times, and an all around solid creature feature.

IT (2017)

Rating: 4.5/5

IT is a film that lived up to the hype that surrounded its initial release, and continues to hold up as an unsettling, yet oddly comical, horror movie.

In the late 1980s, in the town of Derry, Maine, a young boy named Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) goes missing after chasing a paper boat made for him by his brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher). Months after his disappearance, Bill refuses to give up the search, and gets his close friends, Richie (Finn Wolfhard, Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) to help him look for his little brother.

Unfortunately for the four boys, their quest becomes more desperate as numerous children in Derry begin to disappear. At first, it is just the vast number of missing kids that are troubling Bill and his friends, but when each one of them confesses to experiencing a horrifying event involving a clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), they are quick to realize that their fight to find Georgie is going to be more terrifying and treacherous than any of them could ever have imagined.

When a movie is as talked about and as publicized as IT was, there's always the risk that it won't live up the high expectations it built for itself. Honestly, I can say going into it I had my doubts of how great it was going to be, given that so many of Stephen King's novels that had been put to film have had a tendency to get majorly lost in translation. Now, of course I am not speaking of all Stephen King movies, but a large number most certainly have failed to be as captivating and as frightening as their written source material was. Thankfully, IT was able to fully deliver everything its trailers promised the audience it was going to be and more. The film is less "make you jump out of your seat" scary, and more, "show you disturbing imagery that follows you into your nightmares" scary. The latter type of film can be a tough sell, as it can have the tendency to either go overboard, or come off as too silly. IT was able to tread the boundary between the two, making it a horror film that is rewatchable, and somehow enjoyable despite the distressing premise of the story.

What this movie had going for it from the very beginning, was the uncanny magnetism a story about a group of bike riding, foul-mouthed, preteens always seems to have. Any film that has characters like that at its core, is almost guaranteed to have a leg up when it comes to entertaining an audience. Casting for these types of films must be immensely tricky, because the kids who play the roles can't solely rely on wit, humor, or charisma. Their characters experience a hefty amount of trauma and fear, and they have to be able to make those scenes feel believable, so the audience is frightened for them and fighting for their survival. Of the young cast members, the one who I felt excelled at this task the most was Sophia Lillis, who played Beverly Marsh. Her character's home life was almost more terrifying than Pennywise itself, and Lillis was able to run the gamut of emotion needed to sell the role in its entirety. Another person deserving ample recognition, though not one of the child actors, is Bill Skarsgard. He had the difficult job of reinventing a character that was both feared and revered by fans of the 1990 mini-series starring Tim Curry. Skarsgard was able to make Pennywise his own, especially with the voicing of it, and was able to successfully bring terror to a whole new generation.

As great as the kids who make up the cast and the story of IT are, what sent this movie over the top was its setting of Derry, Maine. What may be unknown to some, is that Derry is not a real place, but is in fact a fictional one based on a small town in Maine, which just so happens to be where I have lived my whole life. I have grown up with people being fascinated by the fact that I live in the same town as Stephen King, and up until IT, I hadn't seen a big budget film based on his works that had shown the true nature of his hometown. I can tell any viewer who may be wondering, yes, IT did an incredible job at mimicking the look and feel of the town in which it was set. I can't even seem to find the words to express how surreal it is to see landmarks I have been driving passed for over twenty years, be recreated in a film I know to have been viewed by millions. The immense dedication and time the creators of IT took to make sure Derry looked like its' inspiration is what truly took this film from being one that I really enjoyed, to one that I absolutely loved.

IT: Chapter Two's release is quickly approaching, and I find that I am actually more excited for the continuation than I was for this one. Not because I think it will be better, but because I now know how brilliant the creative team behind the film is. If IT: Chapter One is indicative of how potentially frightening or bizarrely humorous Chapter Two may be, than its practically guaranteed to be great.

Ma

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to Octavia Spencer, Ma is upgraded into a horror movie worth watching.

Maggie Thompson (Diana Silvers) has just been forced to move from California to Ohio with her mom. On her first day of school, she befriends Andy (Corey Fogelmanis), Haley (McKaley Miller), Chaz (Gianni Paolo), and Darrell (Dante Brown). Her four new friends are very much into the party scene, and it is not long before they ask Maggie to try and get alcohol for them.

Outside a convenient store, Maggie is desperately trying to stay on the good side of her new friends, and is asking the people who enter the store to buy them booze. She is seemingly getting nowhere, until she meets a woman named Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) who agrees to help the teenagers out. At first, they are excited about the prospect of having someone be their alcohol supplier, but Sue Ann, who begins to go only by the name of "Ma", becomes too obsessed with the life of the party.

Going into Ma, I didn't have very high expectations, so I wasn't overly disappointed when the film proved to be fairly unoriginal. It follows the similar archetypes found in any horror movie centered around the illegal escapades of teens, but I wouldn't categorize it as being bad because of that. There are only so many plot lines that can be in existence, so completely critiquing this movie based on the fact that the story is a tad cliche seems a bit unfair. What did make me give this movie a lower rating was the very forced attempt at creating backstory for the characters. A major part of Ma's storyline takes place in flashbacks, and that part seems fine most of the time, but there are small and insignificant moments where the teenaged roles are bringing up painful pieces of their past, in an effort to give their characters depth, but they just fall completely flat. You can see right through the facade of the writers trying to get the audience to care about the people on the screen, but sadly, for any of the teenage cast members, their performances and delivery still make their characters very one dimensional.

What turns Ma into a slightly more than adequate horror movie, is without a doubt Octavia Spencer. Her acting talent is far beyond any of the actors playing the teenagers, and in any scene she's in, she outshine everyone else in the film. There are many parts of Ma where it is clear they were heavily inspired by Misery, and Ma's Annie Wilkes-like tendencies are hard to pull off without over doing it. She's one of those villains that knows how to make the audience fear her, but also see her point of view and almost even take her side at times. Octavia Spencer treads on that border of staying creepy, but not going so far as to make Ma into more of a caricature than a person.

Between the lackluster attempts at a resolution and the general sense of confusion, the ending of Ma was much more disappointing than I would have liked. The build up and exposition was great, and definitely had its scares and enough horror movie tension to make the audience happy, but it all seemed to fall apart a bit in the last twenty minutes. Had the climax of the film been stretched out and had more detail or explanation added, it definitely wouldn't have felt so chaotic and rushed. There was such great potential for this to be a really decent horror movie, but it almost was as if the creators knew they had a great lead, but weren't one-hundred percent sure what to do with the rest of their material.

Here's the thing, even with my comments previously stated above, I would still watch Ma again. Sometimes, when you're in the mood to watch horror movie or a thriller, and you don't want to sit down and watch one that will deeply disturb you, or maybe push the limit too far, Ma is a perfect choice. It definitely has its unsettling moments, but not enough to make you have to psych yourself up to give it another viewing.

The Reef

Rating: 4.25/5

There's nothing like a good shark movie to get you in the mood for summer, and the Reef is a definite one to watch.

Off the coast of Australia, a man named Luke (Damian Walshe-Howling) earns a living delivering yachts. On one trip, he decides to invite some friends along for the journey. Matt (Gyton Grantley, his sister Kate (Zoe Naylor), and his girlfriend Suzie (Adrienne Pickering) have all agreed to join Luke and another sailor named Warren (Kieran Darcy-Smith) on the delivery to Indonesia.

At first, all seems well on the ship, and everyone appears to be having a grand time. However, when the boat hits the reef and begins to capsize, the five passengers find themselves stuck with the impossible decision of remaining on the overturned boat, or facing the open seas and all that could lurk beneath the surface.

The Reef is most certainly a lesser known shark movie, but it shouldn’t be that way. This film thrives on the use of realistic fears, tension, and shark footage; three things that are generally lacking from your cliche summer-shark blockbuster. The “drama” that is found in the Reef doesn’t appear to be at all fabricated, in fact it feels just the opposite. Every fight or emotion that is portrayed by the characters makes absolute sense to the situation in which they have found themselves. There’s no need for extended death scenes or fake scares, this movie is aiming to be realistic, and realistic it definitely is.

The Reef may not be the ideal film for someone who is looking for the next cheesy shark movie. There’s a minimal amount of action in this film, but it is replaced by heart rate increasing tension. The creators of the Reef rely on the audiences' ability to become ill at ease with the thought of being so completely vulnerable and exposed in the ocean, with absolutely nowhere to hide or escape, and the reliance pays off. For me, one of my worst fears is being stranded in the middle of the open sea, and this movie preys on that fear in the worst and best way. I found myself being more anxious watching this movie than I have with any other shark film to date, and I’ve seen a lot of them, so that’s saying something.

Other than its realistic approach to a shark story, what also makes the Reef so great is its less is more tactic. For this movie, there’s really only one major setting and five actors; nothing more, and nothing less. By having such an intimate cast be dropped into the expansive setting of the ocean, the audience is able to create a stronger connection to the characters. There’s no distractions to pull the viewers attention away from the main plot at hand. You are invested in the survival of the people floating in the water, and it is near to impossible to think of anything else until the movie is over.

There are many people who critique shark movies for being unscientific or unrealistic, but I don’t know many people who watch a shark film for an overwhelming sense of accuracy. If you don’t agree, consider the fact that there’s been six Sharknado movies. With that being said, the Reef is one that definitely attempts realism with its facts and portrayal of the ocean. It is because of this, that even when you’re home on the safety of your couch, you still want to tuck legs in while watching, to keep them from dangling a little too much over the edge.

Us

Rating: 4.75/5

Jordan Peele's latest film Us, once again proves that straying from the pack is exactly what's needed for the horror genre.

Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o) is returning to her childhood beach house with her family. Her husband and kids are excited about the summer escape, but Adelaide is having increasing anxiety about being so close to the pier at Santa Cruz. Unbeknownst to Adelaide's husband Gabe (Winston Duke), when she was young, she experienced an incredibly traumatic event at the pier's house of mirrors where she came face to face with her own double.

After telling her story to Gabe, he attempts to be supportive, but clearly thinks there's no merit to Adelaide's worries of her doppelgänger creeping up onto their family. However, before he can even take the time to fully process it, a family of four appear in their driveway. In the blink of an eye, the Wilson's vacation is turned into a nightmare with seemingly no chance of waking up.

Us is a movie that is certainly categorized as a member of the horror genre, but tackles the concept in a very different way. It is frightening for sure, but not because of gratuitous violence or predictable jump scares. Instead, it unsettles the viewer with the subtlety and unease of its' atmosphere. The plucking of the violin strings in the score or the lack of fluidity of the movements of some of the characters, all blend together to create a very impressive horror film.

It's rare to see a horror movie and walk out thinking, "wow, that was really well made", but Jordan Peele has made it clear that it is very possible. He seems to approach his films with the thought process that the horror genre can be respectable and just as deserving of awards and praise as any other style of movie. His eye for what can cause fright combined with what will be visually stunning is uncanny. I can't think of many other times where I have watched a scary movie and been just as focused on the beauty of the scene as well as the fear induced rapid beating of my heart.

Us could not have been an easy movie to make, what with each character having an evil double that makes an appearance at some point throughout the film. Peele, along with the actors, should be strongly commended for their work on this film. Nyang'o's two characters are vastly different, yet oddly alike at times. One is highly terrifying, especially with the quality of her voice, and the other is fiercely maternal and protective. Both performances given by Nyang'o are brilliant, and are the empowered backbone of the movie. Peele's skill for humor definitely shines through the terror of the film, and those moments are perfectly delivered by Winston Duke. He works the comedy in at the exact right moments, and avoids the age old problem most horror movies face, where they use a poorly placed joke to make up for the lack of skill behind the movie. Jordan Peele is one of the few who can blend fear and comedy together to create a cinematic masterpiece.

Many who have reviewed this film have spent too much time comparing it to Get Out, and if you do that, you may find yourself not enjoying this movie as much as you should. If you watch Us for its' brilliance and not as a comparison, you will have a very hard time not finding it to be a very impressive and frightening piece of cinema.

Halloween (2018)

Rating: 3.5/5

If Kevin McCallister grew up to become a reclusive neurotic, you would have the general plot for 2018's Halloween.

Forty years after Michael Meyers terrorized the members of a small town, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), has never been able to get over her night of horror that happened those many years ago. She has practically alienated any family relationships she may have had, due to her constant obsession of preparing for the day when Michael comes back.

Meanwhile two podcasters have decided to investigate the case and reopen the wounds of those involved. Their attempts at speaking to Michael or Laurie get them no where, and they feel they are at a dead end with their investigation, but little do they know, they will soon have more than just past events to focus on.

For me, the beginning and end of Halloween were much better than anything that occurred in the middle. In the original Halloween, Michael had reasons for his slayings, however vague or barbaric they may have been. In this film, Michael appeared to have many more times where he killed just for the sake of killing. I know this tactic was common in any of the numerous sequels to the original film, but considering this movie was supposed to be a direct continuation to the 70's Halloween, I was hoping for a bit more reasoning behind the murders committed by Michael, so that the movie would come off as well thought out and not just a typical teen blood bash.

Though it comes as no surprise, Jamie Lee Curtis was, of course, the best part of Halloween. Many so called "scream queen" actors and actresses have tried to hide or put their horror movie pasts behind them, but not Curtis. She revels in it, and with good reason; she's really great at being the hard core heroine of a horror film. The other characters in the movie are clearly there for the sake of being a number added to the body count, and aren't even significant enough to have their names fully remembered. Had it not been for Curtis, the movie would have run the risk of turning into just another cliche slasher film.

I think the biggest issue I had with Halloween, was that I went into it with my hopes too high. Yes, it is thousands of times better than 99% of its' predecessors, excluding the original of course, but it just feels more generic than I would have liked. That being said, there was a brief scene where a tracking shot was used to create suspense, and I was quite impressed with that sequence. That scene alone was unique and refreshing for the more recent horror genre, so kudos to the creators in that respect.

Comparing Halloween to the modern horror climate, it is definitely above most of what is released these days. I don't know how much of an ambition I will ever have to watch this again, but it was definitely worth a full run through.

The Babadook

Rating: 4.75/5

The Babadook is as ominous as it is frightening, and is a horror film that is unlike the majority.

Amelia (Essie Davis) has been a widow since the day of her son Samuel's (Noah Wisemann) birth. Seven years later, Amelia has been struggling to cope with the loss of her husband, and with her son's incessant fear of their being monsters in the house. One night, Samuel brings a new book to bed for a story, but it is one that Amelia has never seen and has no recollection of where it could have come from. Upon reading the first few pages, both Amelia and Sam are terrified by the contents of the book; a monster who goes by the name of the Babadook and preys upon young children in their sleep.

With the discovery of the Babadook, Samuel's phobia of monsters increases and Amelia personal strain starts to become unbearable. Soon, she herself becomes taken over by the fear of the Babadook, and neither mother nor son can tell what's real anymore.

The Babadook is similar to films like Hereditary with its' lack of conformity to the rules of mainstream horror. For the most part, The Babadook uses a less is more approach when it comes to the actual horror in the film. There are few jump scares in comparison to the amount of disturbing imagery that sticks in your brain, almost making you wish you'd closed your eyes beforehand. Given that this an Australian film, and not one made in America, it makes sense that the style of horror would be different to what we would normally see here, and it is incredibly refreshing.

When it comes to the performances by its' two leads, the acting is stellar. Both child and mother go through some grueling character transformations throughout the film's duration. Samuel begins the movie as an erratic and out of control child, but as his mother becomes more and more unhinged by the fear of the Babadook, Samuel begins to mellow out and has to start taking control. Both characters have physically and mentally exhaustive scenes, making the viewer feel worn out by the end of the film.

The Babadook is clearly full of metaphors from beginning to end, but it's almost hard to notice the symbolism, because you are so taken aback and distressed by the images on the screen. One the one hand, kudos to the director/writer for creating a horror movie that wasn't just about violence and gore, but on the other hand, by using the metaphors, the actual story of the movie becomes slightly confusing.

This movie had a lot if hype upon its' initial release, having many people claim it to be the scariest movie since the Exorcist. So many films have tried to live up to this monicker, but rarely succeed, even if the publicity says otherwise. However, the Babadook comes very close to matching the fear and disturbing tone brought to the screen by the Exorcist. The Babadook is deeply unsettling at times and genuinely terrifying. It is without a doubt, one of the better horror films to come out in recent history.

Split

Rating: 4/5

Split is an intense film with a lead that is better than its' direction.

Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a reserved teenager who keeps to herself, but has been invited to a birthday party fir one of her classmates, Claire (Haley Lu Richardson). After the party, Casey is offered a ride home by Claire's dad along with Claire's friend, Marcia (Jessica Sula). While waiting in the car, the girls are terrified when a stranger gets in and sprays them with a gas the knocks them unconscious.

When they wake up, the girls discover they are being held captive in a dark room with seemingly no escape. Trying to figure a way out of their horrifying situation, Casey attempts to discern who their captor is. At first, he presents himself as a man named Dennis (James McAvoy), who is compulsively clean, but when they hear a woman's voice and scream for help, they are shocked to see that it is in fact the same man, but in different clothes and an alarmingly different personality.

M. Night Shyamalan is quite the confusing director. He started out his career being highly thought of, but his movies began to become overly complicated and even laughable at times. When he came out with the Visit in 2015, it seemed that his films might be heading in an upward direction, and then Split came on the the scene and proved that he hadn't completely lost his touch. Yes, this movie sadly has some of his unfortunate trademarks such as overly stylized shots, editing, and dialogue, but the story itself is creative and even shocking at times.

Hands down, the best part of Split is the phenomenal performance given by James McAvoy. It could not have been easy to portray so many different facets of one man, but he also had the challenge of making the audience believe that each personality he presented was actually a different character. His talent is undeniable when you are able to witness him go from a character like Dennis, that is so meticulous and frightening, to Hedwig, who is an intelligent and humorous 9-year old boy. Both characters come off as incredibly genuine and they are just two of the eight personalities that take the spotlight throughout the film.

Given the use of flashback to tell Casey's tragic story, it is clear that she is supposed to be the hero that the audience is rooting for, but her scenes were actually not my favorite ones in the movie. The scenes between McAvoy's characters and their therapist, Dr. Fletcher, played by Betty Buckley, were the ones that were the most memorable for me. The chemistry between the two actors is just part of what sold the complicated concept of Split. Their scenes together were also some of the most intense and unsettling to behold.

Overall, Split was a much better film than I had anticipated it to be. I had partially written off Shyamalan's work, so I didn't go into the movie with very high expectations. The story and performances are what make Split so impressive, even if Shyamalan's overly directed scenes give off the feeling that he is still in film school and really trying to impress his professor.

Zombieland

Rating: 4.5/5

In what is essentially a Simon Pegg and Nick Frost movie with an American backdrop, Zombieland is equal parts hilarious, disgusting, and fun.

Amongst the deserted streets of America, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is fighting for survival in a zombie infested wasteland. The only reason he has stayed alive as long as he has, is because he follows a very strict set of rules. However, his rules are put to the test when he stumbles upon Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a zombie killing machine in search of the last remaining Twinkie.

Columbus and Tallahassee make the decision to stick with one another as they travel across the country. On their travels, they meet two girls, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). Attempting to increase their chances of survival, the four of them decide to take on Zombieland together.

Though it is clear that Zombieland took inspiration from other horror-comedy films like Shaun of the Dead, it has plenty of its' own originality to make it a unique and hilarious addition to its' genre. Of the many creative elements that were put into Zombieland, Columbus' rule book sticks out to me as one of the movie's best. Not only do his guidelines actually make sense, but the way they appear on the screen and become a part of the enfolding action is truly innovative.

Considering that this is a movie about an apocalyptic world, there is obviously going to be a minimal amount of living characters in the film. Jesse Eisenberg has played awkward and timid roles before, but I think Zombieland is where he does it best. His character could very easily have been obnoxious or irritating by the end of the film, but Eisenberg was able to give Columbus just the right amount of quirkiness to make his character lovable and someone to root for. Not to be forgotten are the excellent performances by the rest of the cast. Harrelson perfectly portrays Tallahassee. He gives his character all the traits of someone who was born to hunt zombies, but is also able to bring unexpected emotion into the role.

Though they sometimes don't get much recognition, I feel that the special effects make-up department that worked on Zombieland deserve just as much credit as the director and cast. Not only do the zombies take a slightly different spin on the classic look of the living dead, but each one is made up to look different from the other. Even when they are swarming around their victim in a grizzly hoard, you can spot the differences between every zombie, and it is that incredible attention to detail that makes Zombieland not only an entertaining film to watch, but an impressive one as well.

Zombieland is a movie that has the unusual ability to make me laugh and be nauseous all at the same time. Whenever I watch it, I know that it will make my stomach turn, but it is always worth it.

Psycho

Rating: 5/5

The films of Alfred Hitchcock can fall into many different categories. Some are thrilling, others are full of romance, espionage and adventure. Psycho is one that is full of suspense and terror.

Secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) wants nothing more than to be able to marry her boyfriend Sam, but due to financial constraints they are unable to wed. When her boss entrusts her with depositing 40,000 dollars in cash, Marion decides to take the money and run.

Fleeing from her crime, Marion finds herself exhausted and stuck driving in a rain storm. She pulls into the vacant Bates Motel run by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). At first the motel seems quaint and eclectic and Norman appears shy and kind, but Marion soon learns that there is more going than what meets the eye.

Though Hitchcock made numerous movies that achieved lasting critical acclaim, Psycho may be his most famous film. His movies often dealt with brutal or intense plot lines, but Psycho was arguably his most violent to date. The scenes in which it is famous for are still shocking to watch, even though it is a horror film that was made in 1960.

Other than the iconic shower scene, what makes Psycho a lasting classic is the brilliant performance by Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. The other actors' portrayals in the film are done quite well, but Norman Bates will always be the stand out character of the film. Perkins is able to give Norman a sweet and self-conscious outward appearance, but allows his eyes to give a glimpse into Norman's secretive and sinister mind.

Psycho is a movie where all the elements come together to create a cinema masterpiece. The score is one of the most memorable pieces of film music. It accents each scene, aiding in its' ability to add terror to the already frightening moments created by Alfred Hitchcock. Where other movies may have been too afraid to push boundaries, Hitchcock knocked down walls in order to bring Psycho to its' highest potential.

It says a lot about the quality of a film for it to leave a long lasting impression. Psycho is a film that has been considered legendary for many years, and will continue to have the same impact for many more decades to come. Though it was made over forty years ago, Psycho remains to be one of the most frightening and unsettling horror movies of all time.

The Conjuring

Rating: 5/5

Feeling reminiscent of the older days of horror, The Conjuring is by far one of the best films to come to the horror genre within the past ten years.

In the year 1971, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren have become famous for their ability to cure houses of their haunted spirits. The Perron family have just recently moved into their new home when they begin to notice strange and frightening events happening throughout the house. The clocks all stop at the same time, one of their daughters begins to sleepwalk, and unexplained noises and smells begin to emerge from within the walls of their home. Fearing for the safety of their daughters, the Perrons ask the Warrens to help them rid their house of the evil that is terrorizing their family.

I remember seeing the Conjuring for the first time in theaters, and just based on the opening credits I could tell that it was going to be a great movie. With the film being set in the early 70s, the filmmakers not only made sure that the costumes and settings fit the time period, but that the style of the film and even the font of the opening title created a movie experience that would take the viewer to the film's decade.

What I love about this movie is that it takes the time to set the tone of the film. It doesn't rush into the scares and isn't afraid to be informative. It is that patient and detailed quality that makes the Conjuring far less frustrating than other horror films that carelessly leave plot holes throughout their duration in order to bring the horror early on. The Conjuring is an intelligent horror film, making all their scares seem expertly and effortlessly placed.

The characters of Ed and Lorraine Warren were based on two people that actually investigated cases such as the one in the film. The real Lorraine Warren was present on the set of the film and perhaps that is why the relationship between the two actors who play the investigators seems so real. They are able to bring an authenticity to the roles and it makes even the simple scenes of them researching be intriguing and adds an emotional backbone to the film.

Where so many horror movies rely on blood and gore to sell their story, the Conjuring thrives on style and sound. I admire the skill that it takes to make a movie truly frightening without having to make it incredibly violent or disgusting, and the Conjuring proves that you don't need to rely on cheap gimmicks in order to be terrifying. I rarely watch the same horror movie more than twice, but the Conjuring is one that I have seen many times, and will most certainly watch again.

Scream

Rating 4/5

"What's your favorite scary movie?"-That line and many other horror nostalgia/cliches are what propelled Wes Craven's Scream to success.

Scream begins with a teenager named Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) who's home alone for the night. She has big plans for eating popcorn and watching a movie and as she is putting her Jiffy Pop on the stove, the phone rings. Suddenly her quiet night has been turned into the makings of a nightmare.

The next day, teenager Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) arrives at school and hears of the gruesome murders of Casey Becker and her boyfriend Steve. As rumors and theories begin to fly about the school, Sidney attempts to hide from it all. Not only is she struggling with the news of her slain classmates, but she is also dealing with the upcoming one year anniversary of her mother's murder. Shaken from the day's events, Sidney decides to spend the night at her friend's house. While she is waiting, she receives a phone call. Soon, it is evident that the murders of Casey and Steve are not an isolated incident. Every teenager in the town of Woodsboro is in danger, and no matter how much blood is shed, it doesn't seem that the police will get any closer to finding out who the murderer is.

Scream came to the horror world in a time where the slasher genre seemed to be either repeating itself or taking itself too seriously. What made Scream a breath of fresh air was its' ability to poke fun and point out the cliches of slasher films past, but still be able to create a new style of horror. The cast does great work at keeping the viewers on their toes; wondering from beginning to end which one is the person behind the ghost-face mask.

Scream is a goody bag of nostalgia and scary movie references. I would assume that most self proclaimed horror fanatics have seen this movie, but if they haven't, it is a definite must see.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

Rating 5+/5

Though Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is drastically different from the dozens of motion pictures that sculpted both Joan Crawford's and Bette Davis' careers, Baby Jane is probably one of the most well known movies to be added to two women's film history.

Blanche Hudson (Crawford), is a former star from the glorious golden days of Hollywood. She rose out from the shadow of her sister Jane's childhood stardom, and made a name for herself on the big screen. Jane (Davis), struggles with her sister's past success as a movie star, and can only rely on the memories of her childhood fame to erase any recollection of her failed Hollywood career. To say the two sisters do not get along would be a massive understatement. For almost thirty years, Blanche has been confined to a wheelchair as a result of a mysterious car accident that was rumored to have been caused by Jane in a jealous rage. Whether she caused the accident or not, Jane has been a caretaker to Blanche for those thirty years. With the help of liquor and her own delusions, Jane is just about at her breaking point.

Though she is trying her best to ignore it, Blanche begins to see the downward spiral her sister is taking. She plans to sell the house, and put Jane in a home where she can be properly taken care. Unfortunately, Jane finds out what Blanche is up to, and devises a plan of her own that will take care of Blanche, and give her a second chance at stardom. With the help of her new friend Edwin, Jane will be Baby Jane Hudson once again.

Jane Hudson starts out the movie clearly unhinged, but still coherent. As the movie progresses, her connection with reality begins to slip away. Jane is unable to forget her time as Baby Jane, and as her actions put her deeper and deeper into trouble, the little girl trapped inside is brought up to the surface. Davis does an extraordinary job of making a deranged and ghoulish character somehow believable. Crawford's portrayal of Blanche is equally as strong. Blanche's character is drastically different from Jane, but just as challenging. Rather than playing a woman on the brink of madness, Crawford must convey Blanche's suffering and fear to the audience. When I think of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, I don't immediately think of the rat scene. Instead, I think of the scene at the telephone when Blanche is calling her doctor, desperate for help. A creak of the door announces Jane's arrival, and the acting done by both women is top notch.

You would think that such a movie would not be enjoyable, but it really is. From beginning to end, Baby Jane is brilliantly executed. It is a very dark movie, not just in its' concept, but in the lighting. As Jane falls deeper into her delusions, the light begins to lessen, and most of the scenes are covered in shadow. To add to the expert design, the two Hollywood powerhouses bring a level of talent and experience to the movie that makes Whatever Happened to Baby Jane the memorable horror classic that it is today.


The Final Girls

Rating 4/5

Though this movie isn't technically a straight horror movie, I have chosen to put it in the "Silver Scream" category based on the fact that it is a comedy trapped inside a horror movie.

Max, played by Taissa Farmiga, is the daughter of Amanda Cartwright, a struggling actress who's only claim to fame is from the 80s slasher flick Camp Bloodbath. After another audition rejection, Amanda and Max are driving home when tragedy strikes and they get in a deadly car crash.

Three years later, Max is still fiercely grieving from the loss of her mother. While trying to cope with her emotions, she is asked by her friend Duncan to come and be a celebrity presence at the double feature showing of Camp Bloodbath. Initially Max refuses, but after an offer she can't refuse, she decides to attend. During the showing, an unexpected fire breaks out, and in an attempt to escape, Max and four of her friends go cut through the movie screen, and find themselves trapped inside Camp Bloodbath.

The Final Girls is very similar to movies like Cabin in the Woods and Scream because the main idea of the plot is to poke fun at the many cliches that horror movies tend to fall into. However, what makes the Final Girls stand out is how it recreates the typical 80s slasher flick. Of course the fake movie Camp Bloodbath is an over the top tribute to movies such as Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp. However it does a great job at pinpointing the many character, plot, and dialogue flaws that those 80s slashers fell victim to. Most notably being Adam Devine's portrayal of the typical camp counselor horn-dog. It is also incredibly fun to watch Max and her other millennial friends trying to figure out how to navigate their way out of the movie, when titles, run time, and pre-written scenarios are all getting in their way.

As I was watching this movie I found myself laughing from beginning to end, but as I was watching I thought to myself, what is that other emotion I'm experiencing? Sadness? Compassion? Yes, this movie has it all. Not only does it live up to the comedy-horror genre description, it also makes you rethink the way you look at those body count movies. It humanizes the characters and makes the movie all the more compelling.

The Final Girls is a creative blast, and the actors do a great job at sticking to their movie stereotypes. There were a few times where I found the sentiment to feel a little forced, but overall I absolutely loved it. Seriously, if you are a fan of campy horror movies, you need to check it out, it's worth it for the nostalgia factor alone.

An excellent movie for fans of Cabin in the Woods and Scream

Hereditary

Enjoyability 1.5/5

Quality 5/5

What to say? What did I just see? I honestly could not tell you.

Hereditary is unique in many ways. One, I could not just give it one type of rating. For this movie I had to separate it into two categories, one for how well the movie was made, which was practically flawless, and another rating for how much I enjoyed it, which was not so much.

A movie made by the same company who gave us The VVitch and It Comes at Night, this film continues on the same uncomfortable and hope crushing style as its’ predecessors.

Hereditary opens up in a very unique way by zooming into a model of the home the story is based around, which then turns into the real house where we meet our main characters.

Leading the show is Toni Collette who plays a mother of two and wife to Gabriel Byrne. They lead what seems to be a fairly normal life, except for their slightly (maybe not so slightly) eccentric daughter Charlie. The movie starts out with a funeral of all things, and then we are propelled into the rest of the story, and that’s where it starts to get weird.

I honestly don’t know if it would be even possible to explain or spoil this movie, as it is so completely all over the map, I am having a hard time coming up with the words to describe it.

This movie almost lulls you into its’ confusion and simplicity, and then throws a major curveball that leaves you stunned and sitting in the theater wondering, “what just happened?” and thinking, “I will never listen to Judy Collins the same way again.”

As far as who would like this movie? If you thought The VVitch was a great film, then you would most likely enjoy (is that even the right word?) this movie. If you like stomach-churn inducing scenes of unexpected violence and heart wrenching parental misery, then this is the film for you!

Seriously, from a technical aspect, this movie hits a home run. It has fascinating shots and the soundtrack, or lack there of, adds an intensity to the film that definitely deserves recognition.

Final note, if you are a fan of horror movies and are looking for a good ol’ fashioned scary movie, then this probably isn’t the movie for you.

A Quiet Place

Rating 5+/5

Have you ever had a movie theater experience that you are so engrossed in, that you forget where you are? A Quiet Place was one of those experiences for me.

The film is set in a post-apocalyptic time where the world has been taken over by monsters that hunt with the sense of sound. I found myself watching this movie and being so hyper aware of the sounds around me, and so enthralled with the movie, that when someone dropped their change on the floor, I feared that the monsters were going to find us.

There is little information given about where the monsters come from. The only hints that the audience is given are from scattered newspapers strewn about the desolate streets that the main characters are traveling.

In a film where there are virtually no spoken lines, director and lead John Krasinski creates an intense film about how far someone could go for their family. We see him paired up with his real life wife, Emily Blunt, to give a picture of a family trying to find a sense of normalcy for their children and for themselves.

In a unique and riveting portrayal, Emily Blunt plays a mother who finds herself being pregnant in a muted world where the slightest sound could mean a horrific death. As her due date gets closer and closer, the anticipation of a silent delivery gets more and more intense for the audience.

The trailer portrays this movie to be strictly horror based, but I was pleasantly surprised to find an emotional and captivating film. Yes there are scary moments involving monsters and intense silence, but the film is more about just making the viewer jump out of their seat. It uses the muffled perspective of the hearing impaired daughter, and the over bearing sounds of nature to create a completely immersive movie experience.

For those who have seen the movie It Comes at Night, you will find many similarities in the tone that the film portrays. It has a similar sense of hopelessness and sorrow, but unlike It Comes at Night, this film has a few moments where you see the true love that can surround a family in a time where it seems like their lives are to be forever tainted with despair.

I would highly recommend this movie, not just to fans of horror, but to fans of film in general.

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