Michael and I decided to do a spontaneous Sunday night movie last week. Because of my urging, we ended up in the theater watching (of course) Happy Death Day, as opposed to Lego Ninjago or (another) viewing of Thor: Ragnarok – the two current most logical outcomes of letting Michael pick the movie. And while another viewing of Ragnarok or an initial viewing of Lego Ninjago wouldn’t have been completely insufferable, Happy Death Day turned out to be a really intriguing horror-movie going experience, if only because, well, it turned out to be a bit of an aberration. I was, I admit, underwhelmed by the previews of the cliché killer wearing a creepy mask and stalking a female college student. I didn’t think the film looked horrible, but it didn’t really look scary. And since the “re-live the same day over and over and over” trope is a horror off-shoot of Groundhog’s Day, I wasn’t expecting to be enamored (I mean, Groundhog’s Day is fantastic, but I didn’t think another film like it would work as well). And to be fair, I wasn’t enamored. But there were some surprising elements of the film that made it, well, entertaining to watch, and incredibly distinct from a lot of horror that’s currently out in theaters. Continue reading “Happy Death Day – A Pleasant Surprise”
I must confess: I adore seeing a newly released horror movie on a late October Friday night. It’s one of those macabrely sweet traditions that makes fall even more worth loving. So I was positively elated when I checked my local cinema’s schedule and found that Ouija: Origin of Evil was coming out Friday evening. Okay, pause, scratch that. Edit verbiage. I wasn’t positively elated. I was somewhat appreciative of an October horror movie release, but I wasn’t expecting a glistening performance. I mean, have you seen the first Ouija? If you haven’t, don’t bother. It was a cheesy Blumhouse bust (and, in general, I’m a fan of Blumhouse films). When Michael and I saw the first Ouija in theaters two years ago on Halloween night, our town experienced a sudden, broad-scale power outage that forced us to leave the movie before it was over. We were in no way devastated by this turn of events – although we did think a Halloween power outage was a little creepy – and chose to use our consolation free passes for a completely different film. In other words, I watched 65% of Ouija, never finished it, and couldn’t care less. But, I figured, if nothing else, Ouija: Origin of Evil was a horror movie on a fall night, and something to write about for my blog. Plus, on his twitter account Jason Blum proudly asserts that he thinks they “got it right this time,” with Origin of Evil, so I was at least a bit intrigued to see if he was feeding his fans a load of bullshit or if he could really make the sequel significantly better than the original. Continue reading “Pleasantly Surprised by Ouija: Origin of Evil”
Not surprisingly, I’m super stoked when basically any new horror flick hits theaters. That said, there are some films that inevitably provoke more anticipation than others. As I’ve insinuated on this site before, dangle an eerie ghost movie in front of me, and I’ll likely become more excited than I am for a murder mystery or similar fare. For that reason – and because The Purge: Anarchy was a little drawn out and monotonous – I didn’t have super high expectations headed into The Purge: Election Year. I mean, I was pumped, but I was experiencing a milder, more contained version of exhilaration, premised off the supposition that Election Year could get really damn boring by mid-movie. Alas, I was surprised! The Purge: Election Year is a film that delivers. It’s easily better than The Purge: Anarchy, and may be better than the original Purge. With a plot that grows increasingly more speculative of human nature and more critical of the purge, and the most likable cast to boot, The Purge: Election Year is almost certain to satiate the ardent horror enthusiast. Continue reading “The Purge: Election Year: A Thoughtful Study in Human Irrationality”
Ahhhh, election year. This year, Americans get to see an irascible, iridescent orange man with floppy straw hair standing behind a podium spewing vitriol and grandiosity while waving (rumor has it) little sausage fingers. And his harlequin fantasies of “having them” build a wall to “protect” our border (somehow, “we’re not gonna build it, they’re gonna build it,” he asserts) and banning over one billion members of a major, 1,406-year-old religion from entering our country, while punishing women who seek abortions, might make some wonder, what will he think of next? There are myriad possibilities. While I don’t think what I’m about to suggest would actually happen, policy ideas like his make me imagine, wildly, that anything could happen. Perhaps he would legalize one night a year for murder, to let resentful Americans release their stores of seething hatred. And if that were to happen, we’ll have Ethan Hawke and The Purge series to thank, a semi-dystopian horror series about what would happen if all crime was legal for one night of the year, including the big “Red Rum.” Continue reading “Problematic Presumptions in The Purge”
What is justice? What makes right actions right? Is it ever right, under any circumstances, to take a life? How do we treat the folksy mantra, “an eye for an eye?” These are all questions that Eli Roth’s short story “Valdivia” raised when I finished it, a story from Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Book of Nightmares.
My “relationship” with Eli Roth’s work is an interesting one. I find myself fascinated by his films and the uncomfortable ground he’s willing to tread, though I’m often prone to critiquing seemingly problematic elements of his work. At least, such was the case after I saw The Green Inferno, and then again when I saw Knock Knock. I can’t really see myself being best buds with him but I’m always excited to see what he’ll do next. Even if my thinking tends to differ from his, he has an alluringly creative mind. From the vantage point of a horror fan, the dude’s seriously twisted, but in a good way. Which is why when I opened The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares last night I was immediately attracted to Roth’s name, next to the title of a 15-page short story called “Valdivia.” Continue reading “Shades of Grey: Seeking Justice in “Valdivia””
For Christmas, I was unexpectedly gifted with the book The Haunted City, presented by Jason Blum. Because I’ve seen myriad Blumhouse movies – and have been moderately thrilled to terrified by most of them – I was unquestionably excited by this present. Indeed, the book received much praise, which it splashed across its beginning pages. My excitement intensified. And I stumbled upon a story by Ethan Hawke. We all know him. He seems like a likable enough guy, and certainly a good actor. So I thought to myself: I wonder how Hawke does horror? And I had to find out. As it turns out, he does pretty well, but he left me wanting more. Continue reading “Hawke Does Horror Fiction — And Does Pretty Well”