Guns and the Sound of Silence

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You know how much I love going to the movie theater to share my love for horror films with too many people who have never heard of Emily Post. If that’s you, google it and then go to Amazon and buy the book. I believe manners are the only hope we have to save our society.

When A Quiet Place released earlier this year, I was conflicted. I really wanted to see this movie. It was top on my list going into the new year and early reviews from critics and real people I trust were excellent. But everything about the title and the trailer screamed “shut the hell up” to an audience that I did not believe had the aptitude to remain . . . well . . . quiet. So I didn’t go.

 

I also didn’t go to the theater for Winchester when it was released but for a different reason. The film got horrible reviews from critics and scored an embarrassing 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t need much of a reason to avoid the uncouth movie crowd and I need less of a reason to just be anti-social. That score was all it took. I mean, the movie world loved Get Out (99%) and hated Winchester and since I didn’t care for Get Out, how could Winchester be any good?

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 See? This is the problem with movie reviews. The critics are ruining the experience for the rest of us. They are biased and they tell us what to watch and what to ignore. And damn it – we listen to them. How many times have you put a movie on your watch list, only to skip it once the reviews come out? How many of you went to the theater to see Winchester after seeing the RT score?

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 Vudu has this cool feature where you can pre-order a not-yet-released video on disc and get instant access to the digital copy. It’s actually kind of dangerous. So when I was home from work due to illness one day, I took advantage of the instant gratification and purchased Winchester. It was supposed to be a crappy movie and I was feeling crappy so what the hell. Anyhow, I really love Helen Mirin and worst case scenario, I would get some much needed sleep.

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 To my surprise, I was rewarded with a well written, well cast, and well executed film set in a real place with real history. A fictional story written around a house rumored to be haunted by victims of the Winchester rifle. A history that asks you to imagine the what ifs? What if the rooms were constantly built and rebuilt in order to free or contain ghosts? What if the reason some people could see the ghosts while others could not was ... well, that’s a spoiler. The film was criticized for its jump scares, and yes, there are those. But they were well timed and did not substitute for a suspenseful plot. (BTW…I love a good jump scare.) When you see Winchester, as I hope you will, keep in mind that the real Sarah Winchester was indeed an inventor and she was obsessed with the number 13, and see how these attributes are woven into the screenplay. I hope you look past the rotten review on Rotten Tomatoes and give this one a look. Let the critics know you are in charge of the movies you choose.

 

I had been told that my fears of seeing A Quiet Place in the theater were not founded – that the nature of the film practically ordered the audience to be quiet, and the audience complied. I waited anyway and then I watched it twice in the same week. The second time was to catch what I’d missed the first time. Am I the only one who thinks a good movie is better the second time?

 

Well maybe not better but … deeper? Let me explain. Once you know how the movie ends, you can’t be surprised by the ending or the jump scares or anything else.  (Although I still jump when Michael Meyers sits up in the original Halloween.) But I find that the second take frees me up to pay attention to the details I missed. It’s why debriefing a movie with friends is so much fun – everybody sees something somebody else missed. It’s also another reason to wait until the movie is available on streaming. The downside to watching at home is that distractions like dogs and refrigerators can really interfere with the story here. I missed a key piece at the very beginning the first time around while messing with the audio. Ironic, isn’t it?

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You barely have to watch the trailers for A Quiet Place to know that making even the slightest noise is bad. Like death bad. Talking is not allowed so there is very little dialogue – 25 lines in the entire movie and you’ll have to wait until you are almost half way into the film to start. It’s almost as if you are watching a really good silent movie. One that relies on great scenes and even greater acting which John Krasinski and Emily Blunt deliver in spades. Krasinski nearly turned the movie down because, like many actors, he doesn’t do horror. This is the point at which people challenge whether this move belongs in the horror genre. To answer that challenge, I go back to my first post ever and then suggest you decide for yourself. Just don’t miss this film, and then don’t miss it at least one more time.

Film Review: The Open House (Netflix)

I watched The Open House twice in a row. That's not a compliment.

In previous years, Netflix coffin nailed the horror film genre.  I laughed out loud with Little Evil and The Babysitter. I found Death Note gripping in spite of it's gentrified cast. The Void unnerved me with its imagery.  Even 1922 was watchable if predictable. I keep Before I Wake as part of my Halloween film requisites. Yes, it smarms at the end, but given the nightmares it recreates, it's more than forgivable.

I had hoped The Open House would follow the Netflix pedigree especially since it starred Dylan Minnette, otherwise known as the kid from Netflix's 13 Reasons Why. And while Dylan's acting honors the Netflix family tree, he has so little to work with that it doesn't matter.  I suppose sooner or later, every family has that one kid they'd rather not talk about.

I watched this movie twice, back to back. The second viewing was motivated by a belief that I must've have missed clues to explain things.  After repeated pauses and rewinds and reviews, which is much more difficult on a Roku player, I concluded the only thing I missed was time doing something much more valuable, like resurrecting my Farmville account.

This movie barely reaches the minimum criteria for Horror. It spends nearly the entire film setting you up by providing a parade of people as suspected antagonists. Your diligence as a viewer is never rewarded. It's a movie that uses real estate in it's premise; the loss of investment should have been a given.

I can't see a thing through all of the plot holes

I can't see a thing through all of the plot holes

Whoever the killer is, they must be psychic. Only a person with clairvoyance could put together a plan this ridiculous and expect anybody to follow it. Do you really expect me to believe that inducing hypothermia will wake up a person just in time to stab somebody accidentally? What idiot keeps running through the house or lunges at a fellow family member in the dark after such a torturous physical and psychological trauma?   Contact lens removal as a plot point...really? I don't know where the writers got their ideas, but I'm certain they never been conscious for a planning meeting.

Throughout the film, you are constantly reminded that somebody is playing some kind of game. Not only do you never learn who's playing it, you never have any clue what game is being played. When I was young, my older brother and his friends used to play a card game called Fizbin, inspired by the game from a Star Trek episode. The purpose of the game was to make up so many confusing rules that I'd get frustrated and leave them alone. Open House is playing this same game and getting the same results.

Netflix has other new films and hopefully these new children will be worthy proteges. For now we'll just try to keep this miscreant on the downlow.

 

Are you ready for a new year of Horror?

Most people I know welcome a new year in traditional ways; reflecting on the previous year, thinking about goals for the upcoming year, taking a moment of silence for those we lost; perhaps making a few resolutions towards better physical, mental, or financial health. Stuff like that.  

Not me.  No way.  For me a new year means a brand-new line up of horror movies.  Some new, some old, some highly anticipated, and others, well, not so much.  I have read that 2017 is winding up to be the most unoriginal year for horror films.   I don't know - that is a pretty bold statement. The most?  What is the basis of this opinion? Where is the data from previous years to validate this claim...

WAIT A MINUTE!  Data?  Validation?  That's just too much like work. Halloween is supposed to be fun. 

I say we keep it simple.  Let's look at what's out there and approach these movies with complete objectivity. Expect and enjoy the cliche', the cheesy, the redux, and the outright weird.  I'm sure we'll have a blast and even find some thrills along the way. 

I found 26 movies to choose from presented in order of (anticipated) release, and nearly a dozen awaiting a release date.  Enjoy!

January


February


March


April

Nada for the month of April.  "Sleight" was suggested but the trailer and the summary didn't pass my rules.  Do we need to go over the rules again? 


May

The selection for May could also be challenged.  I often watch the original and its first sequel as part of the moviefest, but I am willing to acknowledge my hypocrisy given my comment on the April selection.

 


June


July


August


September


October


November

Even I take a break in November.


December

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TBD