Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Damned--8 out of 10 stars

We watched a marathon of horror movies on Thanksgiving Day. What? What do you mean that's not normal? Well, I'm not a huge football fan, and my husband was still too sick to argue. It's not like he actually stayed awake through most of them anyway...

Which brings us to The Damned. It was the first in the line up and luckily, was available on Netflix streaming. I love me some free movies. I'd read about it on someone some where's list of the year's best horror. And they weren't far off.

Synopsis: After a family is involved in an accident, they take refuge in a secluded inn where they free a girl locked in a basement without knowing she's an ancient evil spirit.

Some of it is spoken in Spanish so there are a few subtitles, but not enough to really bother you. And in one instance the characters were hollering, "hola," when they were supposed to be shouting, "ayuda." ("Hello" versus "Help") I'm not sure why they messed that up, but if you don't speak even rudimentary spanish you wouldn't notice anyway.

The plot is actually decent, with no visible holes or missing pieces. It makes sense (which I find very important) and plays by the rules. The acting isn't bad either. The father/daughter combo is convincing, as is the tension between the future stepmother and daughter. The characters don't do ridiculous things that make you go, "what?" And the ambiance is spooky enough.

There aren't any big name actors or actresses, but the lead characters are at least recognizable from other films. And they do a good job, which is the most important thing.

I definitely recommend the film. It can be found on Netflix for free, or Amazon Prime for $3.99.

Happy Viewing,

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Horns 9 out of 10

One of the best things about streaming TV is the availability of all movies, even some before actual release date. This was the case with Horns. I could rent it on Amazon Prime for $9.99 even before it's theatrical release. I'd been waiting for this movie for so long, and yet I waited just a little longer. Why? I knew the special effects were good. I'd seen a picture of Joe Hill (Stephen King's son who wrote the book the movie was based from) wearing the horns. How you ask? Well I happen to know a fantastic special effects artist, Mike McCarty, who did the work on Horns. And was thoughtful enough (because he knows what a huge Joe Hill fan I am) to send me some pics during production. (Thanks, Mike!!) I guess I waited out of fear. I loved the book, but I was unsure how it would translate to film. And well, I just wasn't sold on Daniel Radcliffe as Ig.

But Thanksgiving night was the night. I rented it for $6.99, but I would have gladly spent more. Now, as much as I liked the book, it has been awhile since I read it. So there may be a few things I missed. But to me, the movie definitely did the book justice. There were differences, most notably, the grandmother was missing from the family. The book has a funny scene where Ig pushes her wheelchair (with her in it) down a hill. And the ending is quite different. But all in all, the movie works.

It's not scary, by any means, but it does make you think. What if people suddenly started telling you  their deepest darkest secrets? And why as a culture do we always want to blame those closest to the victim? Why do we leap to the conclusion their loved ones are guilty?

The movie also has it's funny moments as Ig embraces the power of the horns and encourages some people's dark side. I think Daniel's performance really shines in those moments. And in the end, the movie is about love, loss, and redemption.

I highly recommend this movie to both those who have read the book and those who haven't. My husband doesn't read horror and he really enjoyed the movie. Don't look for scares or jumps though. This movie is not about cheap thrills.

Happy viewing,


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dracula Untold-- 8 out of 10

I just saw the trailer for this movie this week, but it peaked my interest and last night I dragged my husband to the movies. I really didn't know what to expect. The beginning of the movie is narrated by Dracula's son, Ingeras, which is the first bit of movie invention. In real life, Vlad had two sons and neither was named Ingeras.

The movie goes on to tell the story of why Vlad becomes a vampire, and it's actually a noble cause. But like all fatally flawed characters, it's the nobility that gets him into trouble. Wanting to save his people and his family from the turks, he risks taking on the power of a vampire. He's told he will have the strength, healing properties, shape shifting abilities, and command of the night for three nights. If he abstains from drinking human blood for those three nights, he will simply die. If he partakes of human blood, he will be forever cursed to live in darkness.

Vlad does pretty well with resisting until everything goes to shit. When the chips are down, he decides the vampire gig is the only way to get revenge.

Visually, the movie is stunning. Lots of action, beautiful scenery, and the whole shape shifting thing is pretty awesome. Historical accuracy wise, the movie is pretty damned inaccurate. But I can suspend my knowledge for a short time, to enjoy the movie. And really, if you aren't a super huge horror nerd, you probably won't notice anyway. And you might not even then, unless you're also a history nerd.

So I gave the movie 8 stars because it entertained me, and isn't that what a movie is supposed to do? I didn't glance at my phone once. My butt did not get numb. I never once wondered when the movie would be over, or pondered where we should eat dinner. I was caught up in the onscreen action. Also, the guy playing Dracula was hott, in a dark, broody sort of way. (Which is my favorite way)

But only an 8 because I was left with a lot of questions. A lot. I won't pose them all here because it would spoil the movie. But generally, I don't like to leave the theatre with a lot of questions or having caught many discrepancies. I'll let it go this time because I love vampires.

So go for the entertainment factor, but don't expect brilliance.

Happy viewing,

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Easy "A"....9 out of 10

So last Friday, Lu and I did a double feature movie. That doesn't happen very often, what with the cost of seeing a movie what it is and all, but we were so torn by what we wanted to see, we decide what the hell? And I'm so glad we did. It was a night of good movies. I've already reviewed M. Night Shyamalan's "Devil" and now we move on to "Easy A".

"Easy A" is a story about consequences. It's a story of how sometimes even something you do with the best of intentions can go horribly wrong. What's that saying? Oh yeah. "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive." Emma Stone plays Olive, a girl who's practically invisible at her high school. She gets good grades, stays out of trouble, and secretly crushes on the same boy since 8th grade. But things go horribly awry when she pretends to have sex with a friend in order to help his reputation. The one lie leads to more and the situation soon spirals out of her control.

It's an absolutely hilarious movie. The dialogue is witty and sarcastic. The themes are handled well. It's not your typical teenage movie ala "Superbad" (although, I did laugh my butt off at that one too). It's got much more depth and a moral to the story.

Excellent performances by a host of funny characters. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are laugh out loud funny as Olive's parents. And Thomas Hayden Church plays a fantastic English teacher. Personally, I think he's totally under utilized by Hollywood. Love that guy.

All in all...9 out of 10 stars. If you're looking for a film to go see to get your mind off of your troubles, this is it. Or if you just like films with great one-liners, again, you're in luck. Whatever the reason...just go see it! You won't be sorry.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Devil 9 out of 10

Lu and I saw this movie opening night. I will fully admit up front that I am an M. Night Shyamalan fan. I think the man is brilliant. Okay, not all of the films are winners for me. I did not really like Unbreakable. And The Village was not my favorite either. But for original ideas, taut psychological drama and films that make you think...I give him high marks. I know he has his critics and that some of the general movie going public may not necessarily understand all his films, but so what? I like him. That said, I always go to his films with my fingers crossed. I mean, no one makes a winner every time. This time, I was rewarded.

Devil is about the actual Devil. One of the characters, a catholic security guard narrates part of the movie with a story his mother told him about the devil. It sets the background for the story nicely. Then, 5 strangers are trapped in an elevator together. Each has something to hide. And each are targeted for death by the Devil, who wants their souls. It could have been cheesy. But it's not. It's a tight drama filled with jumps and twists. It's a scary movie with a moral. In the end it's about salvation, redemption and forgiveness.

It's a good scary movie that will make you jump, leave you with that "creeped out" feeling, and give you something to think about for days to come. That adds up in my book to 9 out of 10 stars.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Iron Man 2...10 out of 10

Last Tuesday night Sean and I went to see Iron Man 2. I was torn between wanting to see it and wanting to see the new Robin Hood. We went with Iron Man, and boy am I glad. It was amazing. I love movies that are funny, action-packed and star studded. So I'm easy to please? Sue me.

The first Iron Man was great. Robert Downey, Jr and Gwenyth Paltrow rocked those comic book characters. The second Iron Man lived up to the high standard the first had set. In my humble opinion, anyway. I'm sure some of the die hard comic book fans found some things to nitpick (I mean, disagree with), but not having that background, I'm a fan of the movie.

Since I don't want to give anything away, as it's a relatively new release, I'll just say that the cast was an awesome ensemble. Of course, Robert Downey Jr delivered as Iron Man. Gwenyth is a beautiful and elegant Pepper Potts. Mickey Rourke was genius (quite literally) as the bad guy and Scarlett Johannson kicked ass (also literally) as Agent Romanoff. With other performances by Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle and John Favreau, how can you go wrong?? You can't!

I've heard it argued that the fight scenes were too brief, the love story too developed, and the plot lacking. I don't care. If you want action, laughs, and an all around entertaining movie...this is the one to see. I give it a great big nerdy 10 thumbs way up.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Otis...9 out of 10

So most of you are probably going Otis? The hell? Has Spot strayed off the deep end?? No. Well, not yet anyway. Otis is a charming little black comedy that I'm pretty sure most people overlooked! I know we did at first. Luckily, we found our way back to it and got to enjoy some big laughs.

Sean and I first saw a trailer for Otis while watching one of the 8 films to die for. I don't remember which one or even what year it was from. Most of those movies are totally forgettable. But Otis stuck in my mind. Last week, before my stunning and public breakup with Blockbuster, we found the movie in the horror aisle. It probably should have been in comedy.

Anyone who loves a good laugh, laced with a little blood, gore, and violence will enjoy this movie. The concept is that Otis, played by Bostin Christopher, a local pizza delivery guy, has been kidnapping teenage girls. He keeps the girls locked up and tries to force them to answer to the name "Kim" and help him live out some deranged high school fantasy. The girls keep winding up dead. Whether through Otis' brutality or their own doing, it's hard to say.

When Otis delivers a pizza to Riley Lawson's (played by Ashley Johnson) home, you know she will be the next victim. But Riley's not like the other girls. She plays along until her chance to escape comes. She gets away and phones home. Her family, played by Illeana Douglas, Douglas Stern and Jared Kusnitz, decide to take matters into their own hands. They set out for Otis' house to mete out some payback. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned.

It's an hour and a half of giggles and some very quotable lines "What is wrong with you?". We were happily suprised and you will be too. Give it a chance. What do you have to lose?!


To see a trailer, click here.