Review: Pet Sematary (2019)

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“It was a myth. Kids used to dare each other to go into the woods at night. They knew the power of that place. They feared it. Those woods belong to something else.”
– Jud Crandall

SYNOPSIS: Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home. – via IMDB

After having a lot of fun at the cinemas recently, and completely forgetting that Pet Sematary was even still a thing, I saw the posters up for this and obviously decided I needed to see it. So, while I was maybe not expecting it to be It, or even The Mist (if we are looking purely at the more horror based side of King’s adapted works), I thought it would be a watchable movie, maybe not great, but entertaining. Plus, you know, I will watch Jason Clarke in just about anything.

Well, let me state it simply and succinctly: Pet Sematary sucked. I wasted time and money tripping out for it. And I took my husband, he is always keen on a horror. Then there was this, and it was just… rushed, sloppy, messy, and features a different story from the book. I felt that the movie was going downhill slowly pretty much from the minute that family arrives at the new house, and completely lost faith in the story as a whole by the time the wrong kid died. I mean, that is a driving point of the book! I know, I know, what lunacy is this, comparing a book and a movie? But honestly, you would think the basics would be the same. Also, I am capable of appreciating it for what it is and ignoring the book, but I really didn’t like this.

Anyway. Even the music was just meh in this. The movie was heavy handed trying for scares and failing miserably. The story doesn’t resonate at all and the characters are all flat caricatures. If there is one thing that Stephen King excels at, it is writing characters. This movie did not highlight that in the slightest. As much as I love Jason Clarke, this movie sucked. I wish it had been an okay movie, but it is not even that. I had serious regrets. I could have gone to see another movie. Any other movie.

Pet Sematary  isn’t very long at all, but it is absolutely chaotic – and not in the good way. Scenes jump all over the show, the content is heavy handed, there is nothing creepy or scary about it, and that whole child progression they are marketing on the posters? You see it once.  Skip this. Completely.

Review: Us (2019)

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“Once upon a time, there was a girl and the girl had a shadow. The two were connected, tethered together.”
 – Red

SYNOPSIS: A family’s serene beach vacation turns to chaos when their doppelgängers appear and begin to terrorize them. – via IMDB

I tried to read as little on this as possible prior to seeing it because I really love going into movies blind sometimes, just go with the flow. I am glad I did for this one, because I didn’t have any actual concept about what we were about to watch, and it was a weird one to watch unfold. I was interested to see where Jordan Peele would go after Get Out.

I don’t want to say too much because of spoilers and such. Tonally, the movie is a little all over the show. There is a lot of confusion, and there is a section before we get into the third act that just feels like the movie was falling apart – the creepy factor was gone, and nothing was happening, but no explanations were given up, and you don’t really get involved with these people. Because they are just people who turned up in a house and suddenly had doppelgängers chasing them, you don’t root for them more than you would the average horror movie character.

Anyway, just as you think that is going on, the third act brings the movie right back up, and I really liked how it all came together. While watching Us, you cannot shake this unsettling feeling that it brings on you, and it lingers after. The score worked hand in hand with this to leave you disconcerted. The performances were quite good, Lupita Nyong’o nailing her role, and delivering a solid performance for a seriously strange story.

In places, Us is nothing unique, but on the other hand, it is a different beast altogether. I thought the story was refreshing, but there were places where the movie was let down due to pacing and is certainly uneven at tomes, and the humour also didn’t work for me (sparingly used, but comes across as unnatural). Overall, I thought it was well worth a trip to the cinema. I can’t say much about a lot of things, because I hate spoilers, but so far I have enjoyed Peele’s work, and I am interested to see where he goes next.

Beware, the trailer is pretty much the whole movie bar the twist :/

Review: Odd Thomas – Dean Koontz

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Odd Thomas #1

SYNOPSIS: “The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.

Maybe he has a gift, maybe it’s a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd’s otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo’s sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it’s different.

A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world’s worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd’s deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.

Today is August 14.

In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares, and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere. – via Goodreads

So for years I have been meaning to get to these books after I watched Odd Thomas and learned that the movie was based on book. I, contrary to what most people felt, really enjoyed the movie. I thought it was fun. I didn’t see the twist coming. I adore Yelchin, so it all worked. So then I finally got myself together and actually got to reading this the other day and, well… yeah. I liked it. I just didn’t love it. I wanted more from it.

Odd Thomas breezes by. Seriously, it is an easy book to read, and the characters are fun, albeit a little thin. There is the Elvis angle, and then there is Odd himself, who is truly just a sweetheart, simple and pure. There is the whole backstory with his mother that could legitimately be way more messed up than was delivered here (who knows, it might be different in later books), but I just felt it was a little flat, like just glossed over? Plus two, what a hideous woman. His dad, too, was no real great shakes.

I enjoyed the story well enough, and as I said, it breezes by. It was an easy read, nothing too hectic to commit to, nothing too major to sink your teeth into, so that means you feel that you have missed a little by the end of it. It leaves you feeling a little wanting. That being said, I had a good time reading Odd Thomas and will read more of the books at some point, though I won’t be rushing for the next in the series anytime soon if I’m being honest. I suppose Odd Thomas prescribed to the typical Dean Koontz recipe of being entertaining and fun and all that, but not really staying long after as it doesn’t pack a major punch.

Review: The Chalk Man – C.J. Tudor

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SYNOPSIS: None of us ever agreed on the exact beginning.

Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures, or when they started to appear on their own?

Was it the terrible accident?

Or when they found the first body? – via Goodreads

So my extreme book hangover following The Infernal Device trilogy left me confused and lost. I was floundering when Luke recommended I check out The Chalk Man. As I am one who takes suggestion seriously, I rooted around my Kindle until I found it again and set out to see what it was all about, as I remember rave reviews for it and a lot of advertising for it when it was originally released.

The Chalk Man reads very easily. It is slow paced and uses this to set up a pretty damn creepy vibe; it’s hopeless and damning and draws you in. It is not necessarily a scary book, and not the most fascinating, yet it keeps you going the whole way through. The story juggles two timelines, and this is one of those times were both timelines were handled well. There was not too much of the one or too little of the other. They trundled along neatly and it all worked out.

I don’t feel that the book featured an awful lot of likeable characters though. Okay, so maybe none. They all sucked, and reading about the constant alcoholism was also a little much at times. The story gives its secrets up bit by bit, and it works. The book was insanely bigged up here from the marketing and all, so I was a little wary that it might fall flat, but this was not the case. Okay, so maybe not the most amazing book ever as it was proclaimed to be or anything, but I had no regrets checking it out. I had a good time reading it. I liked how easy it was to read and how engaging the story was, even though at times it was a little predictable.

I think that The Chalk Man is also really well written, especially when you find out after the fact that this is a debut novel. I will certainly be keeping my eyes peeled for more of Tudor’s work, and I can recommend this for a read. While I might not be as hyped for this as some were, it is definitely worth a read. Thanks for the recommendation Luke!

Review: Bird Box (2018)

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“Listen to me, we’re going on a trip now, it’s going to be rough. If you hear something in the woods, you tell me. if you hear something in the water, you tell me. But under no circumstances are you allowed to take off your blindfold.”
– Malorie

SYNOPSIS: Five years after an ominous unseen presence drives most of society to suicide, a mother and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety. – via IMDB

So there was so much hype surrounding this that I figured it was time to give it a shot and see what it was all about. I think this was largely down to people doing silly challenges. Well, I got to it and it was… okay. I know, I know. Opinions seemed varied about it, but I didn’t love it.

I felt the movie was excessively long for what it gave us. Like, it could totally have justified the run time if there was just more going on. As it was, way too much. Also, it never felt like it got intense enough, if that makes sense? It was always on the fringes of delivering, but never did. It didn’t even get you riled and then not pay off, it just… carried on and on. So I wasn’t super invested. And for all the “it’s unique and different”, I didn’t feel that.

I thought the performances were decent, albeit not groundbreaking material that you will remember long after the movie is over. The story itself won’t even linger long after aside from the blindfolds. I suppose that is how it was with Hush. It was not necessarily unique in terms of genre (home invasion), but had a different spin (deaf victim). So it was with Bird Box. End of the world/invasion type deal, and you can’t look at anything because it will drive you crackers (serious Lovecraftian stuff going on there).

So Bird Box was okay, albeit long. It is not something that will stay with you long after all is said and done, and is not as different and unique as it would like to think it is.

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)

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“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)

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“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

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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.