Review: The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)

7

“Why are you doing this?”
– Kinsey

SYNOPSIS: A family of four staying at a secluded mobile home park for the night are stalked and then hunted by three masked psychopaths. – via IMDB

So after sitting through that disaster that was The Strangers, I completely forgot that there was a sequel to it. I disliked the first enough that I wrote off the second and forgot about it, but dear Eric the Chop asked me whether I had watched the second, and offered that it wasn’t too bad. So, that is all I needed to sell it to me, the recommendation from the Chop, and I hit it up and let me tell you, I did not expect to enjoy it o.O But I did!

There are still some heavy issues with this movie, but it fixed some of the major flaws of the first movie, namely the totally hateful characters and the worst logic of all time. The characters this time around actually fought, and the three masked strangers certainly took them for a ride, terrorizing and hunting, but it was just better to watch than its predecessor. Also, it didn’t feel like it was a million years long. Also, I was a big fan of the soundtrack.

So while the characters are still not the best and the dialogue is silly and naturally questionable horror movie logic prevails constantly, the movie is not bad. In fact, I went into this expecting to hate it, and then eventually I ended up enjoying it. It isn’t great, but it was a fun horror movie watch for a movie night. It’s a quick watch, and doesn’t grate on you like its predecessor. Not bad!

Review: The Strangers (2008)

8

“Well they want something. People don’t just stand out there, staring at us like that. They want something.”
– James Hoyt

SYNOPSIS: A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants. – via IMDB

After always hearing how good a horror The Strangers is, I decided to finally give it a shot with my husband. While he hated it to the core, I can’t say that I liked it an awful lot more. Where do I even begin?

I know! The logic of the characters! These two are just hands down the stupidest two I have seen together in a horror in a really long time. For one, he returns and finds her hysterical and he’s like “it’s nothing”. Then he’s all macho and leaves her alone and realises there are a bunch of crazy people out there stalking, and he’s just like “oh whatever”. Together these two progress to make some of the most idiotic decisions I have seen in horror/thriller in a while, and let’s face it, this is not really a genre of smart moves.

The two characters we are following are also not really nice people, so you aren’t really invested in their survival, either. The movie starts with promise, it really did, but it went downhill so fast my head is still spinning if I think about it. You just say The Strangers around my husband now and he will start a bitchfest about this movie.

The Strangers is overly vague, which would have been fine, had it just been a better watch. With better writing, the potential would not have been lost, and there was quite a bit. A nonsensical home invasion, masks, psychologically torturing people, initially a great atmosphere, the whole lot. But instead it is bogged down by flawed logic, unlikable characters, a score I didn’t like (too loud for action/music ,speech nonexistent), faulty pacing, therefore letting itself down before it even got started. The tension that was built in the beginning, the scares it put forth, dwindle in the face of the infuriating decisions made by the characters. Overall, it is nothing but a bland and frustrating experience.

Review: End of Watch – Stephen King

2

Bill Hodges Trilogy #3

SYNOPSIS: In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

Retired police detective Bill Hodges now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city. – via Goodreads

And so ends the Bill Hodges trilogy, and that’s sad, too, because I enjoyed the trilogy. This one definitely had me drawn in because I wanted to see Hartsfield and Hodges have their showdown again, for them to go toe to toe and all that, and I was not let down, though I honestly was hoping that Hartsfield was more Carrie than an electronic handheld device, but no matter.

End of Watch is, of course, well written, and brings Hodges, Holly, and Jerome back together, and I always like it when the trio teams up and gets to it. This is definitely the first of the three books that goes back to a typical strange, supernatural King story as opposed to the simple, clean investigative mysteries so far, which I like, as it marries this current series with a style of his we are more familiar with, and he does it successfully.

This is a fast, easy read, and I must say that the story was engaging. A little more predictable than some of the other work we are more used to from King, but well worth it. I don’t really have an awful lot to say about this, other than I enjoyed it.

End of Watch is a solid end to a good trilogy, and I enjoyed it. Well written, good pacing, characters we have come to love, I would recommend this trilogy for anyone wanting to check out King, especially if they are looking for his work that is not firmly rooted in the supernatural horror.

Review: The Mist – Stephen King

5

SYNOPSIS: It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light? – via Goodreads

I have been on a real roll with King recently, and wanted another read recently, but did not want to commit to a bigger book again (don’t even judge me), and decided I have put off reading The Mist for way too long now, even though I have seen the movie and enjoyed it, too. Well, The Mist is a great pick as you get your King fill and it breezes along so quickly that it is over before you even know it.

The Mist is not a long book (obviously), but is a bit longer than one would expect for a short story, so it’s pretty cool like that. The book wastes no time setting itself up and diving into the story, and also doesn’t spend too much time exploring the whys and the whats, it just gets into it all, which is fantastic. You get this little slice of terror and then it is over, leaving you reeling, asking all the questions that won’t really get answered, and that is okay.

For a short story, there are quite a few characters, and more are fleshed out than you would expect, and I liked that. Our main peanut is David Drayton, and we read of him, his struggles, and how he tells the story of all the crazy that ensues after Maine suffers a heavy, odd storm. Ollie is a character I enjoyed, as well as Mrs Reppler (teacher). Mrs Carmody peeved me, so in a few short pages King still manages to give you a character to dislike.

The Mist is a great example of a monster horror, which is awesome. Not much mincing around with the paranormal or psychological here my friend, oh no, let’s get straight into that bizarre, nasty, monster horror that one sometimes so desperately craves. This book totally delivers on all fronts there, so that is good.

Overall, The Mist is a pretty damn good short, quick read if you are interested, and has monster horror to keep you going. It knows what it is and it goes for it, no mincing about. It is well written and barrels along, definitely worth the read.

Review: Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)

8

“Alright, you son of a bitch!”
– Sheriff Dan Tashtego

SYNOPSIS: Sheriff Dan Tashtego and a team of creeper hunters enlist the help of officer Davis Tubbs to help stop the monster’s eating spree. – via IMDB

Holy shit, another one of these?! I don’t even know what to do with that! When I saw this on Netflix I was sure that there was some kind of a mistake, but no, there (unfortunately) is not. Naturally this meant that I had to check it out and see how it goes because really, the last one was pretty terrible. In comparison, it was a damn masterpiece.

This movie features more slow-mo scenes than you can shake a stick and and should legally be allowed. I am telling you, it dragged that movie out into that intolerable zone, too. This movie was entirely too long, and entirely too lame. They are still trying to link up these three movies as being part of the same 23 days and all that, but hell, it’s getting a bit long in the tooth now, and it is really starting to jumble the already dodgy timeline. Like what, he drops to his knees, screams and yells and performs and birds of carrion rain down from the sky and they “know what he is” and all that and then he just moves along all hunky dory to hunt some kids on a school bus? What?

Jeepers Creepers 3 is bogged down by a ton of dodgy CGI, so it was certainly not going to be winning any love for me. I HAVE AN ANSWER FOR THE VANITY PLATE! This truck is so smart it probably waltzed into the DMV and ordered a plate. Also kept itself clean and running and reading for Jeepers for when he returns every 23 years. Because really, WTF? It can think for itself? Protect itself? Drive itself? What is this? Never once has it been even remotely alluded to, and then this movie this stupid thing is zipping around and responding only to the Creeper. What on Earth is even going on anymore?!

While we are on a tangent on what’s wrong with this movie, let’s not forget the characters or the acting. It was some next level terrible stuff, and horribly awkward to sit through because they all took themselves and this project way too seriously.

Anyway, apparently the third time is not the charm in the case of Jeepers Creepers 3. The movie feels like it is a century long, has awful effects, no answers, lame action, and a shitty story. Skip this stupid thing. Definitely the worst of the thee, and hopefully they will really just leave this alone now, it’s getting really old.

Review: Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)

7

“Two classes of people? What, the “will be eaten” and the “won’t be eaten”?”
– Buck

SYNOPSIS:  Set a few days after the original, a championship basketball team’s bus is attacked by The Creeper, the winged, flesh-eating terror, on the last day of his 23-day feeding frenzy. – via IMDB

Alrighty peeps, so I am back with the next instalment of this series. Well, where Jeepers Creepers gave us a flawed but entertaining horror, its successor just… misses the mark, and widely. There is just so much more wrong with this than the first, and unlike the first, we don’t even really get that entertainment factor, either.

This movie is also where they started messing with the monster, good ol’ Jeepers. I mean, we all had questions in the first one – the most glaring for me being the fact that this dude hibernates for 23 years and then gets 23 days to feed. In those 23 days every 23 years, he has somehow managed to:

  • Learn to drive
  • Procure a car he can stash for 23 years (and it still runs just fine and remains undiscovered until he returns)
  • Somewhere cough up a vanity plate for said car
  • Manufacture weapons
  • Preserve the bodies and build a creepy Sistine Chapel type deal (that is also never found)

Like, I have a lot of issues, but those pop up super quickly and without much thought. The Creeper is also less… scary in this one? Like the first it was all about the hunt, about the terror. Like crazy hunting. This one he toys with his victims? Winking and smiling and what the hell? He also suddenly has a barrage of weapons at his disposal? We never saw those! There are also a lot of dodgy looking scenes in this one, and the characters are just freaking awful. The least offensive characters are the avenging dad and his dutiful son, and the outcast kid that people fear for potentially being gay. But then you get the high school students. They all freaking sucked, especially that douche nugget Scott. I was actually kinda thrilled when his racist, abusive ass got hauled off by the Creeper.

It was nice to see Justin Long in a few scenes though, and I can appreciate the movies trying to keep up some form of continuity, having this happen a few days after the first, although I can’t recall whether the first let us know how far into his 23 day spree he was.

Anyway, Jeepers Creepers 2 is not a great movie. It is not the worst, but the flaws are glaring and obvious in this one, and it lacks the campy charm of the first. Still not a bad movie for a cheap flick movie night, so I guess it scores some points there.

Review: Jeepers Creepers (2001)

2

“You know the part in scary movies when somebody does something really stupid, and everybody hates them for it? This is it.”
– Trish

SYNOPSIS: A brother and sister driving home through isolated countryside for spring break encounter a flesh-eating creature which is in the midst of its ritualistic eating spree. – via IMDB

I remember this movie being a pretty big deal when it came out and I was a rugrat. I remember I watched the crap out of it, too. I remember watching it a few years back and thinking that there were a hell of a lot of issues with it, and there are a lot of silly logic issues with it. I didn’t enjoy it very much. Then I felt like watching this the other day and I enjoyed it… if you can find it in you to not look at those things a touch too closely, you might be in for a relatively decent horror.

That could also just be because I get nostalgic when watching this, I don’t know. There are flaws to be found here, sure, but that is most movies, and a problem that especially plagues horror movies. There is also a lot of fun to be had with this, too, if you let yourself have it. Justin Long is quite entertaining here, and manages to hold his own in a lead role. The characters make a lot of super stupid decisions, but are also quite aware of their shortcomings, too. I just need to reiterate how stupid these characters are, and the things that they do defy logic, but I suppose it would be a totally bland story if they saw him dumping bodies, called the cops, went home, and heard no more. That doesn’t sell movie tickets.

The monster, too, is icky. He’s a weird one, and is kak creepy in his truck and his duster, but the effect is somewhat ruined when you get to see too much of him. At least the movie doesn’t insist on this. But seriously, initially out in the country and being chased by a crazy trucks, one you later see the occupant of dumping bodies and then hunting you down? It works so well. Gets a little deliberate after that, but it’s okay. It’s a crazy ride. There are a lot of things that remained unanswered when watching this, and things that aren’t really addressed. The characters are not overly complex, neither is the story, it just wants to give us some screaming college kids running (unsuccessfully) for their lives, and it works for some light popcorn entertainment.

Overall, Jeepers Creepers might be flawed, but it is also a fun horror to watch. It’s a quick one, too, and doesn’t overstay its run time, and has a very high school horror night feel going for it, which is great. Sometimes that is all you want. If you aren’t looking for horror movie classics, this should be entertaining enough for you. If you can overlook how ridiculously stupid it can be. I guess that’s what makes for the love/hate relationship one can have with this movie.

Review: The Ritual (2017)

7

“My old scoutmaster used to say ‘If the shortcut was a shortcut, it wouldn’t be called a shortcut, it would be called a route’.”
– Dom

SYNOPSIS: A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them. – via IMDB

So I have been meaning to catch up with this at some stage since the posters took over the tube stations before it was released, and found it the other day. Decided to give it a go with my husband, and I thought it to be a pretty decent horror overall.

We have the isolation of the woods, some friends out and about in the wild to pay their final respects to a dead friend, so there is that whole aspect. Naturally their perfectly planned trip fall apart, and we get into the horror neck of things when they enter into the woods. Things start to go haywire from there, and I like the fact that the movie took its time with that. Subtle freaky things happening, nothing too on the nose.

The Ritual is really weird in the sense of how the scary things happen, blurring between reality and the nightmare of our main peanut basically, and the two get twisted together. Also, the creepy that is hunting them really is creepy, because you never see too much of the monster, and when you do, it really is messed up. Near the end we might have seen a touch  more than was strictly necessary (I always prefer glimpses and the concept of the big bad more than I actually like seeing it), but it didn’t ruin it. The Ritual is suspenseful and maintains that and the eeriness throughout, which is quite a feat, considering how that gets forgotten so often nowadays.

There is not too much to say other than this is a pretty good one. I don’t know how it will stand up to rewatch, or if that would even be necessary, but it is worth it while you are watching. There are some niggles, of course, and definitely some flawed logic, but for the most part it works. The pacing isn’t bad, laying everything out without rushing it or dragging it. The actors all did a good job, too. The fear is truly there, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t love it like some horrors, but this is definitely better than I was expecting.

Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

6

“There used to be a time it was hard to tell a comatose person from a dead one, so coroners tied bells to everybody in the morgue. “
– Tommy

SYNOPSIS: A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harbouring dark secrets. – via IMDB

I have been wanting to watch this for the longest time, and just never really got around to watching it. This past weekend saw the God of War release, which meant my husband was unavailable and all over that game. I watched a few things and finally decided it was time to get this off my watch list. Slowly but surely (after playing the whole day), my husband started watching snatches of this as I was watching, and eventually asked me if we could watch it, he would take a short break.

Why? Because this looked intriguing. He was fascinated about a whole movie revolving around a single autopsy, and I was also interested to know how it would be handled. Man, there was so much that I liked about this movie. Right off the bat, you can’t help but notice the cinematography. It’s beautiful – the colours, the lights, the shots, everything is so deliberate and works to bring you this gorgeous cohesive whole together. I was so drawn in by the visuals alone. Then came the music – never taking over, but never absent, just so moody and ever present. Cox and Hirsch also give super solid performances to this movie, taking it up another level.

The movie balances well, too, going from a regular drama movie, a thriller with questions almost, and embarking on a dark horror path, and it handles it all smoothly and work along well. The jump scares are placed strategically and while maybe not totally unpredictable, are pulled off well. My husband jumped at each one successfully, at any rate. I also really liked the story, and how the set for the movie might be limited, but never felt like too little. The movie is a short one, giving you just what you need and not stretching itself out.

I felt that this movie to be fresher and more creative than many horror films over the years, and I liked it. Cool, understated, solid, super atmospheric, it was pretty much exactly the kind of movie that was going to appeal to me. I think it will work for most horror fans. I am so glad I have finally seen this, and can see how I will go back to it in future. Highly recommended.

Review: Annihilation (2018)

6

“It’s destroying everything.”
– Dr Ventress

SYNOPSIS: A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don’t apply. – via IMDB

Alright, so this movie seems to have a lot of people either super loving it, or totally hating it. I guess when I think back on it I can totally understand how one could end up in either camp, if I am being honest. There is a lot to like about Annihilation, but there is also a lot that is going to be annoying and can’t be overlooked.

I liked it quite a bit. It was ambiguous, but not in that unsatisfying way that It Comes At Night was. It raised a lot of questions and answered very few, and the few answers it did answer, I could have done without, and some that I wanted, I went without. Visually Annihilation is a beautiful film, and that cannot be denied. Strange shimmer, exotic everything going on behind the shimmer, this new world, all of it, and it works really well.

Then there is the cast. I think this is where the movie got hurt a bit. The characters are all really flat and lifeless, after all is said and done. Jennifer Jason Leigh is just angry and resentful and there. I could have done with more Oscar Isaac, too. Tessa Thompson and Natalie Portman are the only two that will remotely stay with you. The logic is also a little bizarre – for years soldiers have been going in and nobody has been coming back. Let’s send a group of all-female scientists. Like, I got the sending scientists in and all that, but… the definition of insanity? Nothing is changing, evidently. With this there were inconsistencies (lost time only happening and addressed once the whole time??).

There were moments of delicious creepiness (you all know what I am talking about), and the explanation took away some of that beautiful horror shine for both my husband and myself, but the conclusion for this makes up for some of the weaker parts, all while leaving us with another ton of questions, which I liked. I definitely think that this movie is worth a rewatch to pick up on more things.

I think that Annihilation is ambitious and visually stunning, with decent performances of flat characters, and has a score that works really well. I don’t necessarily need a movie spoon fed to me, but Annihilation took it’s ambiguity throughout a little too seriously, leaving a slightly unsatisfied feeling towards the end, though the ambiguity of that is not what left me unsatisfied. Yes, I know that all sounds crazy. Worth a watch, and a rewatch for sure. Not Ex-Machina, but not terrible, either. I look forward to more of Garland’s work.

I went into this blind. I read a lot of good reviews on it, but didn’t read too in depth or anything. Don’t even watch the trailer, just go watch the movie.