All posts by Charmaine

About Charmaine

I'm a poor college student that hopes to make a living out of writing, just like millions of other people.

The Neon Demon (2016)

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I remember seeing previews for this over the summer…and I vividly remember how indifferent I felt towards it. What added to my confusion is the fact that this is the same man that gave us Bronson, which happens to be one of my all time favorite films. As the summer went on, no one talked about this movie. It was like it just vanished as quickly as it appeared in theaters. I said I wasn’t going to bother watching, but a recent opportunity allowed me to see it for free, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Thank the Lord I didn’t pay for this in any capacity (except my sanity). Normally I tear into the directors at the end of my reviews, but I’m going to start at the beginning. Nicolas Winding Refn recently had an interview that tells you everything you need to know about his most recent films, and what we get to expect from him in the future. According to Refn, he “brings the singular, the narcissistic, the high art“. If that doesn’t reek of pretentious douche-baggery, I don’t know what does.

Now that we know our director is the textbook definition of a tool, what about the actual movie? Would his creative talents outweigh his questionable personality? I think you know the answer to that. To his credit, this guy knows what looks incredible on film. The cinematography is absolutely stunning. I’ve never seen something so gorgeous. Couple that with a head pounding, synth-heavy soundtrack, and I have to admit that certain parts of this are very well made. Unfortunately, that’s literally all there is to this. It’s beautiful, but has zero substance, plot, or character development. Something tells me Refn would claim that’s what he was aiming for, but I call BS. The whole movie feels like a cheat shot at the modeling industry, and maybe even women in general. Actually…it doesn’t speak highly of men either. This movie doesn’t like anyone or itself, and it comes off as borderline Maudlin in how depressing it truly is.

I give it 2/5. The only thing that made me stick with it were the 30 minutes of pretty scenes I mentioned. The other hour and 30 minutes are spent wondering how the hell no one has gotten arrested for the assault of a minor. I must have really been distracted because I also forgot to point out: sapphic necrophilia, pedophilic rape and assault, murder of a minor, and cannibalism. All I learned is this: Filmmakers, if you want to highlight the horrors of one person, a group, or even a whole freaking country…just make a damn documentary. Stop hiding under genres such as “art house” because all you’re doing is using that as a way to go for shock and gore. You’re not being clever with visual metaphors. You’re being a narcissistic douche. I would recommend something else with great cinematography that has a plot, but my brain is a little fried after watching this mess.

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Rapid Retrospect: October

I’m going to try something a bit different. A couple years ago, I was doing a segment called Rapid Retrospect. Basically, it was 4-6 mini reviews lumped into a list. I’m finding that some of the more recent movies I’ve been watching tend to fall into a generic area, where there’s not quite enough for me to give lengthy review. So for the time being, I will try to make a list of three movies and post them at the end of the month. This month’s block comes from a Netflix horror binge that occurred when I was deathly ill.

Baskin (2015) 3/5

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I first heard about this when I noticed different horror fan pages on Facebook ranting and raving about it. After doing some digging, it earned high marks because it one of the best splatterfests in the last 5 years. Me being the demented individual that I am, I was overjoyed when it was added to Netflix not too long ago. I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed. It definitely satiates anyone who loves gore, and it is downright horrifying at times. However, I have more questions that answers. Are they actually in hell? Or is this purgatory? Did that woman in a hula skirt give birth to some sort of calcified baby, or pass the world’s worst kidney stone? I don’t think I want the answer to that last one.

Anyway, this is decent if you want moments of Lovecraftian-like horrors with a questionable plot and disgusting moments. I kind of think of this as a rough draft version of In the Mouth of Madness. It lives up to the hype about the gore, but I feel like that’s pretty much it.  If you want a very realistic depiction of a Black Mass (and weird, demonic beings humping each other), give this a shot. If have a weak stomach or easily grossed out, stay far away.

Holidays (2016) 3/5

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All things considered, I really think this should have been better than what it actually was. Some segments are predictable, while others reek of a cocaine-fueled brainstorming session. For example, Valentine’s Day ends with someone’s heart getting cut out. That’s not original. Hell, we already have a movie dedicated to that damn concept. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are painfully underwhelming. The absolute worse is probably St. Patrick’s Day. I had to Google why the hell a cartoon snake baby was significant to the holiday. Apparently, St. Patrick banned snakes from Ireland. No, that’s really it. I’m still trying to figure out what that has to do with getting knocked up by…actually, I don’t remember how the woman got knocked up, but it’s a safe bet it was in a very dumb way. Halloween is the definition of “meh”, even with Kevin Smith directing it.

Easter, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are arguably the best in the bunch. How can you not love a Jesus/Easter Bunny humanoid creature that births baby chicks from the wounds Jesus endured from being nailed to the cross? Even better? Apparently the next Easter Bunny Jesus is chosen when bad little kids wake up while he’s making his “deliveries”. It is highly sacrilegious, but also hilarious. Christmas is great because it has Seth Green and a murderous wife. New Years Eve involves online dating, a man with completely yellow teeth, and dismemberment. The whole thing does feel a P.S.A. against online dating, but it’s still pretty good. Normally I would say watch this for the three high points, but I say spare yourself and just find them on YouTube.

Necrofobia (2014) 1/5

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I’m going to guess this was supposed to be an homage to Dario Argento and many other Italian filmmakers. It failed…miserably. It just doesn’t make any sense. It keeps toeing the line of supernatural horror and psychological thriller, but it refuses to fully commit to either genre. Even at the end, everything is extremely vague and no questions are answered. As far as characters are concerned, everyone’s survival skills are non-existent. Why is there usually a cop that walks into the killer’s trap, and gets butchered? The worst part is it ends so abruptly that I thought I accidentally skipped several scenes. I will never understand how one movie could have so little plot, and then tries to be “artsy”. Then again, if a horror movie is less than 80 minutes, I think I need to stop expecting anything remotely good.

6 Movies I Will Never Review

It’s kind of hard to fathom that I’ve been doing this for almost 5 years. And to think it all started because I was angry at one of the more recent incarnations of Hellraiser and its chubby version of Pinhead. Back when I first started, I reviewed ever single movie I watched and gave a scene by scene analysis of the entire thing. Is it any wonder that I reached burnout about 6 months in? Then I tried doing 4-6 condensed reviews in one post. That’s 2-3 hours per movie that I would have to devote to watch it, plus another 1-2 hours to write that post. Burnout occurred yet again. We’re also going to ignore my attempts to review anthologies. My whole point is is this is all done of my own enjoyment, and the fact that I’m able to entertain others. However, it got to a point where I figured out I do not have the time nor the resources to review every single thing I watch. It takes the fun out of watching movies. That being said, there have been some films that I will not revisit even if I have the opportunity to do so. Why? There are so many reasons, but more than likely it’s simply this: I can’t stomach watching certain movies again.

A majority of movies that I absolutely refuse to do are disgusting, offensive (even by my standards), or I don’t like the overall message that is presented. Some of these I have watched once, but depending on the subject matter I turned my head in disgust and missed a lot of key details. As you guys know, paying a little too much attention to detail is kind of my thing. I won’t review a movie if I feel I haven’t gained enough information to back up my opinion. So if there’s something you want me to review that happens to be on this list, just know that’s never, ever going to happen. Starting with:

6. The Sharknado franchise (2013-?)

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Okay, so I fully admit to being mildly entertained by the first one. It has to be one of the dumbest premises in cinematic history, but hey…it was a little funny at times. Then they just had to make a second one. Then a third. Then a fourth that I’m surprised didn’t get shut down due to copyright infringement. I think we can safely assume number five is on the way. So why won’t I review any of them? You guys should know by now how much I completely loath The Asylum. I think they’re con artists that take away resources from film-makers that actually give a crap about making a decent film. Also they’re so artistically challenged that they don’t have any sort of original plots.

Their credits include films like Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies, or Snakes on a Train. They got semi lucky with the first Sharknado only because it was too dumb for people to pass up. Miraculously, this still holds an 82% rating on the now controversial Rotten Tomatoes site. Then they got greedy, and turned this hot mess into their cash cow. I’m not buying into this anymore, and I’m not going to support a company that is okay with blatantly ripping off the hard work and talent of others. How this company is still able to make movies is honestly beyond me.

5. The Green Inferno (2015)

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I love Eli Roth, I really do. He’s the reason why I am a self-professed gorehound. But…he is far from perfect, and The Green Inferno is glaring proof of that. There’s the obvious fact the release date for this consistently got pushed back, but that’s not the main reason why I won’t touch it. It’s because of the reason why it was made. For those that don’t feel like clicking the link, Roth basically says he made this because of modern activism and so-called “keyboard warriors”. He claims that while we might want to help, we won’t inconvenience ourselves to do so. My problem with that statement is there are so many organizations and individual people that go unrecognized for their efforts, and yet Roth wants to focus on the minority groups that won’t give up their daily Starbucks just to donate a couple dollars?

I kind of have to call BS. Not to mention, the way he pretty much says “screw you” to these people is a bit extreme. Cannibals and female genital mutilation? Is that really necessary, Mr. Roth? For now, we’re just going to ignore the offensive indigenous tribe stereotypes, as well as the gore that almost made me barf into my popcorn. I’m a gorehound, but even I have my limits. Even if I ignore all of the questionable social commentary, there’s nothing to this movie except the dismemberment and human BBQ scenes. While I might be able to put my comedic spin on it, it’s really hard to riff on cannibalism and a painfully awkward masturbation scene for 500+ words.

4. Nymphomaniac Vol 1 and 2 (2013)

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You guys have no idea how long it took it to find a still from this movie that’s safe for work. You’re welcome. Anyway, this requires a little bit of explanation. Director Lars Von Trier admitted in an interview that whenever he’s going through some sort of psychological turmoil, it’s projected into his movies. It sounds like the ultimate therapy, but what we end up seeing is incredibly graphic sex, abusive relationships, and violence against women and children. Dude has some serious issues that need to be worked out with a therapist, and not a camera.

Nymphomaniac is the worst offender. I knew some sex scenes would be involved, but I was not expecting the 5 minute sequence showcasing penises from every race there is. I also could have done with the threesome that included men that were so well endowed that is was borderline comedic. The most disappointing part is that this would have been an incredible movie if it had relied on story instead of full frontal. Either volume is basically two hours worth of porn, peppered with drama. Lars Von Trier is an outstanding director, but unfortunately his demons got the better of him this time. And because of that I’m not willingly going to sit through this again.

3. The Human Centipede trilogy (2009-2015)

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I think it took me less time to find a safe for work still for Nymphomaniac than it did for this. I blame curiosity as the reason why I sat through the first two. But once I finally figured out this whole series is a way for a grown man to act out his poo porn fantasies, I quickly gave up. Normally I will see any and every franchise to completion (except for Sharknado), but Tom Six pisses me off so much that I can’t support this. It’s movies about people being forced to eat poop. Do I really have to give a lengthy reason as to why I don’t want to review that?

2. A Serbian Film (2010)

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Just want to mention it took 45 minutes to find a non-graphic still. Where do I start? An infant being violently raped? A drug-crazed father raping his son? A man murdering a woman, then raping her blood-covered corpse? See a theme here? That’s because director Srdjan Spasojevic says the movie is a metaphor for the Serbian people being “raped” by the government. I’m not making this up. I know absolutely nothing about Serbia, so I’m not going to comment on whether or not there is some sort of foul play within that country. What I don’t understand is what possessed this dude to show what are arguably the most notoriously graphic scenes in cinema as a way to bring awareness to Serbia. Why didn’t he just make a documentary?

What good does showing an infant being raped for the sake of creating an unbelievably sick new genre of porn actually do? Maybe I’m taking crazy pills, but I don’t think that’s best way to gain help for your country. Honestly? I shut this off. I only know what happens because I had to Google the most notable scenes from the movie instead of watching this mess. The issue I have is the choice to use shock value, and then claiming it’s used to bring awareness. I would respect directors a lot more if they could just be honest: they want notoriety and to achieve cult status at any cost. They don’t care about making a good movie. This is best example of that.

1. Nekromantik 1 and 2 (1987 and 1991)

I’M NOT GOOGLING A STILL FOR THIS. Instead, here’s a picture of a cute puppy, because I refuse to relive the imagery in this movie.

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This is a movie about having sex with corpses. I repeat: This is a movie about having sex with corpses. I’m afraid to Google stills from this movie because 1. Google safe search is a freaking joke, and 2. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up on some sort of F.B.I. watch list. Being a horror fan has lead me to some horrible, life scarring things. I felt this impulsive need to seek out the most disturbing, and vile horror movies around. This consistently makes the top 10 on any disturbing horror list, and it is well earned. This movie doesn’t have one or two scenes of…I really don’t want to say it again. One scene in the first movie easily surpasses the 5 minute mark, and I don’t even want to talk about the stomach turning finale in part two.

I don’t think there was ever a point to this movie. I’m convince the German filmmaker behind this (again, I have zero faith in Googling that), just decided he wanted to film naked women bumping uglies with dead people and call it “art”. Whatever the case may be, this is something else that is notorious, but I don’t think it’s for the right reasons. I won’t knock the creativity and work that went into making this…but it’s really hard for me to compliment a movie about boinking corpses. I don’t actively hate it like some of the others on this list. I just really, really, do not want to watch this again…ever.

 

Dead Silence (2007)

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“Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children, only dolls. And if you see her do not scream, she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam.” If that doesn’t give you the willies, you are such a liar. Fun fact about me: I have automatonphobia, which is defined as the fear of wax figures, humanoid robots, audio animatronics or other figures designed to represent humans. As you can imagine, going to theme parks is not a pleasant experience for me. As a side note, I almost threw my laptop after Google decided to provide images along with that definition. Curious about just how strong this fear is for me? I’ll gladly provide examples.

Do you remember the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios? The one where the life size T-Rex robot drops down out the freaking ceiling and almost eats you? I cried after merely watching a video of a test ride. The last time I went to Disney World, I came close to having a fear induced meltdown on the Jungle Cruise experience. The “It’s a Small World” ride is what I imagine a descent into hell is like. The point is, I’m petrified of dolls and robots much like someone who fears spiders. Dead Silence is my fears personified in cinematic form, but I loved it because it actually scared me and it stayed with me for a bit after the first time I saw it. After 9 years, would I still have that same paralyzing fear?

Before I get into all of that, I just have to point out one major fact about this movie: its writer and director. Leigh Whannell and James Wan have been behind a couple of the greatest horror movies in the last 10 years. I said a couple, not all. I think they’re incredible just because of how they consistently tap into our most basic fears, and then use suspense to scare you half to death. I am one of many that can’t stand jump scares, but the way these guys use them is kind of remarkable. They are truly talented film-makers, and even their bad movies are fun to watch just because of how well they’re made. Well…sometimes it’s fun. 9 years ago, I would have said this was moving making at its finest. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I said a lot of questionable things 9 years ago. Thanks to maturing and actually learning about what makes a movie good, I’m able to see its many flaws. Also, I was a bit too petrified to notice the glaring and repeated plot holes.

For example, the “grand reveal”: Jamie’s dad has been dead this whole time, and was turned into a ventriloquist dummy by the ghost of Mary Shaw. How did the house not smell like a rotting corpse? How did she prevent the flesh from decaying, or flies from overtaking the house? If you really study his father’s face, it’s pretty easy to see that more happened to him than just a stroke. The guy shares the same complexion as Roger from American Dad. Also, why is a nice chunk of the movie Jamie driving back and forth? There’s really no story progression. It’s him driving, deaths peppered in between the driving, and then the end. After watching this again, I know I was only scared because of an existing fear. The movie itself has little to no weight to it, other than 2 really creepy scenes with dolls.

I’m going to have to give it 2/5. I give it that much because ventriloquist dummies are nightmare-inducing by themselves. Whannell and Wan are amazing at setting the tone, and drawing you into whatever world the story is set in. However, Dead Silence is definitely the weakest out of everything they’ve made. There’s no passion behind it. It’s a generic, creepy doll movie that was done as a way to make money in between Saw films. Thankfully, we dodged a bullet because this did so poorly at the box office that they scraped all plans for future sequels. Whannell himself even admitted this was kind of terrible. Ouch. Anyways, if you want to terrify children or anyone else that’s just as scared of dolls as I am, this is perfect. If you want a well thought out plot along with your scares, check out The Conjuring.

The Gallows (2015)

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Hopefully you’re not reading this on a lunch break, because this is going to take a while. I’m kind of amazed that someone thought this plot was good enough to make it into a full length movie. The whole thing feels like a teen version of one of the cheesy Goosebumps episodes. But, let’s start with the preview and marketing campaign. I remember seeing the preview for this in the spring of last year. I wasn’t blown away, but I knew I would probably go and see it just to support independent horror. Then the makers just had to make a stupid move, and decided it was best to include the Charlie Charlie challenge in one of the previews. Naturally, I then refused to pay to see this. For those that manage to avoid news of the latest internet crazes (please teach me your ways), the Charlie Charlie challenge is basically a Mexican Quija board, where the movement of a pencil signifies demonic activity. Most of us just call that gravity, but whatever.

News of this “dangerous teen challenge” absolutely took over the internet for a few hours back in 2015, and everyone and their mother uploaded their own videos of them completing the challenge. And some people are still legitimately terrified by this. No, seriously. And now we’ve reached the first glaring problem with The Gallows: if you have to piggyback on the latest internet craze to promote your movie, you already know it sucks. I still believe that if you even have to use viral marketing, you know your movie isn’t strong enough on its own. The Charlie Charlie challenge was chosen simply because the “ghost” in the movie is freaking named Charlie. That’s it. Moving on before I give myself an aneurysm…

This is basically the film school project version of The Blair Witch Project, with elements of every other found footage film that has been released in the last 10 years. In case you haven’t already guessed, creativity is not this movie’s strong suit. Don’t believe me? Check out the names of the characters, as well as the actors that play them:

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I don’t know what’s more insulting: the mere changing of last names for characters in the movie, or the sheer laziness of not even bothering to change Ryan Shoos’ name in any capacity. What about the actual plot and acting, you may be asking? Take a guess at how well this all plays out. Our 4 highly unlikable characters get locked in their school, all because the father of one of them backed out of a play 20 years ago, and his understudy got killed during a high school play. Want to know how much time it takes for good ole Charlie to get his revenge? About 4 minutes, during the last 10 minutes of the movie. I would also prefer to not relive the unnecessary and quite confusing Shyamalan-like twist at the end.

Is it possible to give a rating of less than 0? That’s what I want to give to The Gallows. This is 87 minutes I won’t get back, and frankly I’m pissed. You can see where scenes and ideas where blatantly stolen from better movies, and there’s zero passion behind any of this. It’s also another case of casting ridiculously good looking adults as teens, instead of picking actual teens or even average looking adults in order to make a pissed off theater kid ghost movie believable. And of course, there’s the whole “we’re stuck, so let’s stab each other in the back” trope. The last 30 minutes are nothing but shaky cam and screaming. But…what do you expect from a movie that wasn’t even creative enough to create its own viral marking campaign? If you want to see found footage done right…let me know when you find a movie that actually does that well. I’m not sitting through another one of these any time soon.

 

 

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.

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.