So, I wrote about the sometimes-blasé nature of contemporary horror in a recent piece on The Bye Bye Man, a much hyped movie that turned out to be a dull, formulaic disappointment. Shortly after, I embarked on a Shyamal-a-thon to mix things up; contrary to the flack he gets, I think M. Night makes a great, original movie with a unique vision. But if you really want unique – and, that is, unique with a side of extra fucked-up (there’s no eloquent way to encapsulate the reality of this film) – look no further than Gore Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness, which crawls under your skin like a festering amoeba and provokes distinct discomfort throughout what is, for horror, an epic-scale movie length: two and a half hours. A Cure for Wellness is also a cure for boredom, for the common moviegoer and the volatile sadist alike. But even as I write this, I find myself torn: do I spend a post emphasizing how uncomfortable and unconventional the film was, or do I explore some reasonably intelligent questions the film raises? This, then, is my disclaimer: I have no idea how to begin to discuss this movie, so I can’t predict where this post will go. I’ll try not to divulge the film’s big secret, but beyond that effort, I make no promises about anything.
I don’t remember the first time I saw The Ring, but it was probably in college over ten years ago. Then there was a sequel that didn’t get much attention (I’ve never seen it). Since a more advertised, more acclaimed sequel, Rings, came out yesterday (I intend to see it tonight and write about it thereafter) I thought it would be appropriate to dive into the American original, which is based off the utterly eerie Japanese Ringu. Perhaps in part because its origin is Japanese – and thus beyond our cultural sphere – The Ring is a highly original horror and suspense classic, mixing an investigative mystery plot-line with sheer horror and eschewing a lot of horror film conventions for its own original storytelling. But I intend to do more than sing The Ring’s praises in this piece – although I will, assuredly, do that. I plan on looking at some binaries that construct the storytelling behind The Ring and examine what the film implies about our culture’s relationship to technology. Continue reading “The Ring: Technophobia or Technophilia?”
With the most unstable U.S. president to date having been sworn in today, I feel it more than apropos that I’m reviewing a story about a character who is, well, relatively unstable himself. But rather than serve as a political statement, M. Night Shyamalan’s Split is an immersion into a morbidly formidable world that will transport the viewer – for about two hours – notably away from our chaotic political climate and the imminent danger that our country may face, and into the world of a man with DID – Dissociative Identity Disorder –a man who has multiple personalities, including a few rogue personalities bent on causing harm and destruction. This review contains minor spoilers, but since the film is so new I won’t reveal the ending; as always, Shyamalan hits us with a barrage of surprises. Continue reading “Split Lives Up to Great Expectations”
Any semi-regular reader of my blog will be unsurprised by my title, which is, as usual, adequately cheesy. (I just love an obnoxious title). But there is at least a scintilla of truth to the title, if you’re at all inclined to relish in life’s darker corners. Yes, The Disappointments Room is sufficiently scary, and not exactly what I expected it to be. But it is dark. If you’re looking for a classic haunted house story, you’ll probably like the film. But if you’re looking to be disturbed and depressed (because that’s everyone’s goal, right?) then you should definitely see it. I was in a delightful mood when I entered the theater. After the film was over, I wasn’t quite certain how I felt; I was lingering in an uncomfortable emotional limbo for a bit. To be sure, life seemed a little darker and more contingent. But, perhaps that’s the marker of an effective film; it changed my mood. And the darkness wore off, leaving me with the memory of a genuinely jarring cinematic experience (as in, I was rigid with discomfort throughout most of the movie). The Disappointments Room, then, is well worth the time investment. It borrows from genre elements without falling into the “tiresomely cliché” trap.
Alert: This article contains spoilers. It would be best to read this when you’re done with the movie.
Who doesn’t like a good M. Night twist? In that respect, The Visit surely delivers. Now here’s my dilemma: You see, on the one hand, I like the movie. The film sits comfortably in the realm of what I call “horror with heart”: genuinely scary movies that also have warm moments and likable characters. My boyfriend, who tracks the nightmares he gets after watching horror movies with me, didn’t lose any sleep – or experience any tumultuous sleep – over this one. Continue reading “Unsavory Stigmas in The Visit”