Monthly Archives: August 2016

No New Posts Until October

This time I’m actually able to give an explanation for my hiatus. I haven’t reached burnout, but I know I’m not sticking to the standard I’ve set for myself when it comes to paying attention to detail and writing. If you want the full reason why I’m taking a break, check out my personal blog here. Hopefully I’ll come back with the same sarcastic wit that has kept this going for 4 years. See you all October 1st.

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Slasher: Season 1 (2016)

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I know I promised to do a review of Deathgasm, which is outstanding by the way, but after I realized a new horror series was added to Netflix I changed my mind.  If you have no idea what this is and don’t have Netflix, check out this trailer:

Pretty awesome, right? The opening sequence is even better. It’s like it was lifted from American Horror Story, and it seems like a great substitute to tie any horror fan over until September. Then…you actually sit down and watch it, and all of your hopes and dreams are quickly crushed. But, I’ll get more into that later. If it wasn’t made clear from the trailer, the plot is a woman named Sarah decides to move back into the house where her parents were brutally murdered by The Executioner. We’re not talking your normal murder here. Her dad almost gets split in half, and Sarah was actually cut out of her mother’s womb while her mother was still alive. That being said, why in the hell would you want to move back into that house? Most people would guess closure, a fresh start, or maybe the fact that the town is small enough that it would be perfect to raise a family. Your guess is as good as mine, because no explanation is offered in any of the 8 episodes. And we’ve only scratched the surface.

We have our (highly questionable) plot set up, what about our cast of characters? All of them suck. I’m not kidding. By episode 2, you wish a horrible death on every single person, including the one that’s supposed to be our heroine. This entire show is a victim of terrible writing. The first episode is incredibly misleading. You think you’re getting your standard slasher show, where a character will be killed every episode right up until the last one (think Harper’s Island). We do get a pretty gnarly murder every episode (swan dive unto a saw is my personal favorite), but then we get these convoluted, soap opera-like plot twists that created more questions instead of answering them.

For example, the town’s police chief is the biggest jerk for no reason at all. Halfway through the season, we discover he’s an alcoholic, a murderer, a kidnapper, and a rapist all within a span of 10 minutes. The sweet editor of the town newspaper is actually a fame-hungry harpy than framed an innocent man of molestation and murder, which leads to him committing suicide. Sarah’s husband only married her because she was the best lead to learn more about the original Executioner murders. But none of this beats Sarah, the woman we’re supposed to be rooting for. Where do I start? Believing her husband is the copycat killer, then minutes later screwing her high school sweetheart? No, that’s not the worst offense. No…it’s the fact that her constant nagging and snooping leads to several of the murders. If she had just left town, or had not “uncovered sins”, several people would still be alive.  Am I the only one that sees something severely wrong with that?

This gets 2/5. About 30 minutes into the first episode, you give up hope and just stick with it because of the Saw trap-like deaths. The acting is decent for what it is, but you can see that even the actors were quite uncomfortable with how their characters developed. I understand that they were going for the whole “even the quietest town can hold the biggest secrets” thing, but it didn’t work. Instead  of letting plot twists unfold at a natural pace, they bludgeon you with each ridiculous addition. But I have to mention the ending. Out of freaking nowhere, this cute, blonde little girl who can’t be older than 10 breaks a cat’s neck, and gives the camera this creepy grin.

What does this imply? My best guess is that the writers just couldn’t leave it alone, and threw this in to give the impression that “it’s not over”. How the hell would you do a season 2 for this? They freaking killed everyone! Of course, that hasn’t stopped the writers.  If you’re a gorehound like me, the deaths definitely pay off. However, if you want a decently paced story along with gore, look elsewhere. Let’s hope Slasher gets a new writing team for season 2.

Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

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This will require some back story if you’re not familiar with the graphic novel. First, there’s the main theme: one bad day. The Joker gives a chilling monologue about how just one bad day could permanently change anyone, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the two characters that best showcase his point. We have Batman, created to make sure a city has a hero, and will bring justice to anyone that threatens it. Then we have the Joker, insanity and injustice incarnate. The Killing Joke also provides the series of events that finally drove Joker into madness…maybe. I don’t think we’ll ever find out his real story, but that’s for another time.

Second, we witness one of Joker’s most heinous acts. I would prefer not to spoil it because of those that still want to read the graphic novel, or see the movie adaptation. Let’s just say no one wanted to make a movie out of this because of that one particular scene, and the extreme torture and violence that occurs. Imagine my and almost every Batman fan’s shock upon learning that not only were we getting a movie, but that it would also be animated with several of the Batman: The Animated Series cast members lending their voices. On top of that, they officially gave it an R rating. This was pretty much my nerdy wet dream.

I was lucky enough to catch the premiere Fathom Event…and overall this is one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve ever seen, except for one glaring problem: the completely unnecessary “prologue”. For reasons that I still don’t understand, Batgirl was added, as well as a sex scene between her and Batman. My assumption is this was done to imply Batman had more than platonic feelings for Batgirl, which means what happens to her later on is even more horrifying. All this does is stretch out the run time from about 60 minutes to roughly 76. It just really doesn’t make sense, and it was a huge mistake on the writers’ part to add it in. Other than that, this…wasn’t completely terrible.

I give it 3/5. Ultimately, we get to see the symbolic relationship between Batman and  Joker played out: opposite ends of the spectrum in almost every aspect, and yet it’s almost impossible to have one without the other. Mark Hamill will always be one the best voice for Joker in my opinion, and Kevin Conroy once again manages to bring the iconic, brooding voice to The Dark Knight. The “One Bad Day” monologue is absolutely the highlight of Hamill’s stint as Joker. I don’t know whose idea it was for that damn prologue, but they need to be fired. There was no purpose for turning Batgirl into what is basically a sex object. Also, it’s not who Batman is as a character to do something like that. The only real reason to watch this is because it is R rated nostalgia for those of us that grew up with the original animated series. I still say get it if you’re a huge DC fan.

Lights Out (2016)

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For those of you that are unfamiliar with this movie, just watch this: The first short film that scared me so damn bad that I threw my phone at the wall.

2 years later, and that damn face still gives me the willies. Naturally, I was kind of excited when it was announced this was going to be made into a feature length film, with James Wan at the helm. For those that aren’t neck deep into the horror community like I am, he’s best known for giving us Saw, The Conjuring, and Insidious. With his film-making skills, I figured the film adaptation was bound to be really creepy, atmospheric,  and very well done. Boy, did I misjudge this one. Take a look at that poster. Whose name is first? What would you assume if you weren’t paying attention to the conveniently small print next to Wan’s name? Wan is a producer, not the director. The director is actually David F. Sandberg (look all the way at the bottom), who actually made the short film. The person that made the source material also made the movie…and somehow managed to completely drop the ball and royally screw it up. How is that even possible?

While I was watching this in theaters, I could not figure out what was so wrong with this. I remember watching it, being extremely bored, and trying to figure out why this felt like such a mess. Then it hit me: it’s the plot. Obviously, there’s no real plot in the short film, but it’s creepy enough that it works. The main issue with the movie is that out of all the plots that could be created, we have the one that’s so unnecessarily convoluted. Also, I’m 99% positive that Lights Out combined about 3-4 different plots from other movies. We have the mental deterioration of a parent due to a supernatural force (The Taking of Debra Logan), a childhood “friend” that has a mysterious disease early life and died a tragic death (pick one of the many movies that shares this plot), and a bond between a mother and her children that is strained due to the untimely death of a father, and is then manifested in a demonic entity (The Babadook).

When you realize just how many times you seen this played out, it feels so watered down and lazy. There’s no passion behind it. Everyone is just going through the motions until we reach a very predictable ending. Even the parts where the ghost (?) attacks has been marred by the PG-13 rating. This is one of the few times where an R rating might have saved it. That says a lot when gore is the only thing that can make a movie remotely interesting.  The parts that haven’t completely ripped off other movies requires way too much suspension of disbelief. For example, if a parent has been proven by the state to be mentally ill and incapable of raising a young child, why the hell is that child still living with that parent? Also, the kid fell asleep in a classroom 4 days in a row before the school called to see if everything was okay at home. 4 days…before checking on the welfare of a student. Please explain to me how that makes any sort of sense. Don’t worry. I’ll wait.

This gets 1/5. There’s…just nothing to care about. It’s yet another PG-13, jump scare filled cash cow to get all the teens in seats. It’s another case where something semi popular gets made into a movie simply to cash in on it. This wasn’t about making a decent movie. It’s an overblown marketing ploy. It’s just infuriating to me because it’s taking the genre I’ve spent a good chunk of my life following, and it’s turning it into something cheap and gimmicky. All I see here is that Sandberg is incredible with short films, but obviously does not know what to do with anything feature length. But nevermind that because he’s our director for Annabelle 2. I don’t think anything is this world could prepare me for that upcoming train-wreck. Just watch the short film Lights Out, and don’t bother with the full length movie. If you absolutely just want to see it, be smart and take the time to watch the 3-4 different movies it stole its plot from.

 

Ghostbusters (2016)

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I’d be lying if I said I actually wanted to see this. That wasn’t because I was one of the many that violently hated the idea that a classic was being remade. I just didn’t care. Hollywood is having a hard time finding original scripts, so to me it was logical that something like Ghostbusters would be the latest to be remade. But…then my curiosity got the better of me. We have a trailer that I believe holds the record for the most dislikes. The actresses are getting mercilessly attacked simply for just being in it, not because of their performance. And of course, it keeps getting negative reviews across the board. I just had to see for myself if this was really the abomination people claim it to be. Remakes are far from bring a new concept, so why was everyone collectively losing their shit about this one? After being able to see it after months of it being pummeled by the public, I can honestly say…

It definitely DOES NOT deserve all of the hate it’s getting. There are several different factors that go into why it actually works as a whole, so bear with me. The movie is set in its own time, and thankfully does not try to reference back to the original. Of course, we get cameos from many of the original cast members. However, they’re random bit parts that feel more like nostalgia than anything else. I will say it is the classic “bad guy trying to destroy NYC” plot, but it  doesn’t feel quite as predictable as you might think. I have to admit my biggest concern was the cast.

Each actress has a very strong personality, so I was fully expecting them to basically try and “out-act” each other. When the movie starts, that’s exactly what happens. The first 20-25 minutes is nothing but caricatures, and it just feels like everyone is trying way too hard to be a believable character.  I mean we’re subjected to a queef (you might not want to Google that) joke within the first 15 minutes, so I was worried that they would go with bathroom or sex humor to compensate. Thankfully, all that disappears around the half hour mark, and it’s actually kind of cool to see each actress play her respective part well. Also, I was probably way more entertained by Chris Helmsworth playing the idiot receptionist than I should have been, but whatever.

So the cast kicked ass, the story is borderline hokey and yet still tolerable…but there is one thing I kind of have to nitpick about: the ghosts. I felt like I was on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World for 2 hours. I didn’t expect actual scary ghosts, but I also didn’t think the special effects would be as bland as they were. They’re not horrible, but I kind of expected something a bit different since special effects have improved so much in the last 30+ years. Like I said, I had to nitpick. Overall, I think it earns  3.5/5. It has heart. It grows on you. It’s the classic underdog concept in cinematic form. It’s really not fair to try and compare this to the original, because it tried its damnedest to stand on its own. It is a victim of poor pacing and overacting in the beginning, but once that goes away it’s a lot of goofy fun. The idea to touch Ghostbusters is still debatable, however how these people chose to do it isn’t all that bad. So if you’re one of the many that’s boycotting this just because it exists, don’t. I legitimately cannot find a solid reason to hate this in any way. Support it, and respect those involved for being ballsy enough to actually do it.