Review: The First Purge (2018)

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“Please don’t tell me you’re sending mercenaries into the island disguised as purgers?”
– Dr Updale

SYNOPSIS: America’s third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America, comes to power and conducts an experiment: no laws for 12 hours on Staten Island. No one has to stay on the island, but $5,000 is given to anyone who does. – via IMDB

Sweet baby Jesus, this franchise is never gonna give up the ghost. There was The Purge, which was wasted potential because it was a home invasion movie with an interesting concept we didn’t really get to see. Then there was the Anarchy sequel, and I unexpectedly loved that one – we actually got to see the Purge, and I got all excited that the franchise was actually going to do something with itself. But no. Then there was that botch job that was Election Year, and I thought it couldn’t get worse. Well, it could. I also see that there is now a series on Amazon. Come on! Will this never end?!

Apparently not. So let’s tackle this one. It sucked. Plain and simple. It was predictable and it was awkward and it just… no. Like wheeling and dealing with politics with absolutely no finesse, giving us characters we don’t give a crap about, generating more idiotic sequences than you can shake a stick at, not to mention that the psychological angle of this was completely and utterly ignored, which in conjunction with the politics had the potential to deliver a much better punch. But no, let’s not do that.

The pacing was off, too, because while the movie doesn’t necessarily boast a long run time, it feels like forever and six days long, and just didn’t feel like it was coming to a close at all, or moving along. It was so frustrating, and that adds to the litany of issues I have with it. I wanted to see so much more than this. I mean let’s face it, this franchise has been milking the concept because it is one that has fascinated viewers, but hasn’t really fleshed anything out. It strives to from time to time but falls short. It’s just coming across as a cash cow.

So no, I was not a big fan of this one and feel that this was an interesting concept, I mean the first  Purge, and how it came about, and instead of spending some time exploring the psychological aspect and truly delving into the politics, we get this half-assed offering from a tired franchise that churned out exactly one good movie. My recommendation? Skip it.

Review: Mandy (2018)

5

“You are a vicious snowflake.”
– Red Miller

SYNOPSIS: The enchanted lives of a couple in a secluded forest are brutally shattered by a nightmarish hippie cult and their demon-biker henchmen, propelling a man into a spiralling, surreal rampage of vengeance. – via IMDB

Uhm. Okay. Yeah. This. Well. I expected so much more. I heard so many good things (Ryan especially enjoyed this) and I had hopes, so my husband and I decided to give this a shot and… it took a sharp left turn. My husband said it more like took a major u-turn to head back up into oncoming traffic. It just… no.

The movie is bizarre. It really is like a bad trip. Initially everything starts out just fine, what with Red and Mandy living their isolated little life, but it works just fine for them. Then that crazy cult gets involved and everything goes downhill. Like… I am all for revenge movies. I honestly, truly am, and I even like them when there is loads of humour involved, but this movie? It went from serious and heartbreaking to stupid ridiculous. Not the fun kind, just so cringy. I also read someone day it had like a David Lynch type vibe, which might also explain what I didn’t enjoy about it.

Mandy looks fantastic. The use of colours and neons is wonderful, and the score is also good. It is just a pity the content doesn’t keep up. It goes from a strange, dreamlike, trippy vibe movie to a complete… I don’t know what. Not to mention Nicolas Cage delivered a super goofy performance. The two halves just don’t really gel together, and the movie’s tone is all over the show. The villains and the story are not fleshed out at all, so it’s just this strange journey you are undertaking with Red, and you know he wants payback, but that is all really. There are some half-assed reasons for this cult and these bikers dudes but… no. Also, that dialogue :/

Mandy didn’t work for me. I didn’t have a good time, and this movie could have been serious and dramatic and hardcore revenge, or it could have been an entertaining revenge flick, and instead it starts off atmospheric and then gets embarrassing. Not a cool wtf like Evil Dead or great revenge like John Wick. No. I know a lot of people enjoyed this, but I did not. And it was excessively long. So while Mandy was stunning to look at, it just totally wasn’t my cup of tea.

Review: Hereditary (2018)

6

“Who’s gonna take care of me?”
– Charlie

SYNOPSIS: After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets. – via IMDB

So there are a lot of rave reviews about Hereditary, and I figured it was about time to check it out and get up to speed with movies lately (gosh, I have been so behind it is shocking). Plus it is October, so there are horror movies everywhere you look, and I do so have a soft spot for the genre, even though there are more terrible ones than good ones nowadays.

So Hereditary is super atmospheric. Like, seriously. It is weird and dark and tense and sets you on edge and doesn’t really let up from there. That being said, I definitely feel that the movie is split into two very different parts. The first presents a deeper, psychological story, stuffed to the brim with an unsettling feeling and a family in extreme mourning, and this all devolves into the second which is just cuckoo crazy supernatural madness. I don’t necessarily love the way ended (being just a wee bit cracked), but I still enjoyed watching it. I did like how some scenes were set up and executed, especially that WTF car scene. The family history is also slowly but surely laid out, and it works so well in explaining the characters and their weird little world.

I feel that Toni Collette delivered a pretty good performance, constantly making me think she was right on the bring of completely losing her mind. Her dinner breakdown was amazing, as that scene truly captivated her terrible state of mind, and exactly what kind of sticky situation her emotions were stuck in. I feel that Gabriel Byrne was underused, and I truly enjoyed his steadfast character, the one who tries and tries and keeps his head but is human and ultimately shatters, too. Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro also do a pretty good job playing the kids, with Shapiro being off pretty much from the outset, and Wolff being the typical teen from early on.

Anyway. Typical of an A24 horror, Hereditary looks really good, visually, and has a score that works hand in hand with the story being told. Overall, Hereditary is a pretty good movie that might not have ended as strongly as it had started, but is indeed still worth a look see, especially if you enjoy horror movies.

Sporadic Scene: The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018) – Poolside Fight

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SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS

So when I checked this out, I was surprised that there was actually a scene that I enjoyed so much that I could make a post from it. That scene was the one at the pool, and it was fantastic. We get all the crazy neon lights, we get Bonnie Taylor belting Total Eclipse of the Heart while one of the potential victims of these strangers decides he has had enough, and decides that he is going to stop toying around and just go for him. It all just comes together really well.

Review: Revival – Stephen King

0

SYNOPSIS: In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs Jacobs; the women and girls – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister – feel the same about Reverend Jacobs. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Then tragedy strikes the Jacobs family; the preacher curses God, mocking all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. In his mid-thirties, he is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings. Because for every cure there is a price… – via Goodreads

Yes, another King novel. I have made it my life’s mission to read everything from him. I absolutely love and adore King and his work and have read a hell of a lot of it, but a lot still isn’t all, so I am rereading the ones I have read and starting the others I have not. This is one I was curious about, as it is one of the more recent ones, and when I saw it in my library I thought it was time to give it a shot.

Man, I am so glad that I did. Revival is really good, exactly what I hoped for. You journey through life with a character, from when they are children to when that one, big, crazy event occurs, and as always, Kings blows it out of the park. When Jamie looks back on his life and reminisces, it feels as though you are, because his journey has become your journey.

Charles Jacobs is an interesting character, and the man is crazy to boot. I can totally understand how a tragedy like that could push someone clean over the edge, but the things that Jacobs was willing to do for his research is intense. I really liked reading this, and enjoyed Jamie as a character. I must say I enjoyed the gaps and the encounters between Jamie and Jacobs, though many have complained. The books devolves into plain crazy by the end, but typical King style, it takes you there and you have fun with it.

Revival is well written and an enjoyable read, definitely honing in on that Lovecraftian tribute, and something I thought was really good. I breezed through the book, and though there were some niggles, and I found the secret electricity thing to be a bit much at times because we never really got anywhere with that, this is still definitely worth the read.

Review: Apostle (2018)

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“These people, they’re blasphemers, a cult, a disease.”
– Charles

SYNOPSIS: In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island. – via IMDB

Alrighty, so there have been a lot of horror movies for me to be checking out recently because it is the month of October, and I will not let that go to waste, as I am always looking for a horror. When my husband and I saw the trailer for this on Netflix, we were intrigued. It looked vicious and dark and nasty and (for me at least) there was Dan Stevens, and yes, that was a super seller for me.

We popped this on and immediately went into this weird and twisted little story. The movie is pretty damn good, but not without flaws. There are a lot of things I would have loved to have fleshed out more, such as Thomas Richardson’s faith and the breaking of it, as well as Prophet Malcolm’s family life, the building of the village, etc. We don’t get those things, but we get other things. For one, the violence and brutality displayed in Apostle really is intense. It starts slowly enough, and it might not feature in every second of the movie, but when it is presented, it is crazy. I swear, when we got the violence and crazy, I was literally yelling about that asshat Quinn and all the evils I desperately hoped would befall him. What a cruel, wicked man.

Apostle fluctuated between going really fast and drawing you in, and then slowly delivering on other things. For the most part, this worked. I also liked the atmosphere that the movie builds, but do feel that the score wasn’t always worked in tandem with the movie. That being said, their is a constantly feeling of dread, which starts low key but relentlessly builds throughout the run time, and I loved that. I am always really big on the atmosphere on a movie. I prefer a scary atmosphere way more than I prefer a monster. I also liked that Apostle’s story is different from what we usually get in the horror genre. Aside from all that, Apostle is also really beautiful to look at, what with the scenery and the sets. Very cool.

I have never watched The Raid movies (I know, I know, maybe one day), so I had no point of reference for what to expect from Gareth Evans. Maybe that worked in my favour, maybe not, I have no idea. I enjoyed Apostle, though there are flaws. I enjoyed watching Stevens, as always, and thought that there were plenty visuals that were fantastic in here (particularly looking at that immensely merciless branding). The violence and brutality in this were pretty harsh, but worked hand in hand with the film. While there were many aspects that could have been explored to make this resonate more, the fact that they weren’t does not ruin Apostle, but does limit it from being a truly great movie.

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

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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.