Archive for the Review Category

Why I couldn’t finish “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Supposedly based on the Grimm fairy tale “Briar Rose,” The Curse of Sleeping Beauty follows Thomas, a reclusive artist who consistently dreams of a beautiful sleeping woman that he just can’t wake up. When he inherits a property that’s been in his family for generations, his nightmares become real. He has to free Briar Rose from her prison in order to free himself from the property.

It sounds like it could be a beautiful story… if done right.

The movie was so awful, though, we couldn’t even finish it. We got about half-way through and turned it off. This is actually a big deal for Winters and me. In our entire friendship, we’ve only ever turned off three movies.

It’s especially a big deal for me given that I love bad horror movies. I’ll watch bad horror until the cows come home, but I couldn’t finish The Curse of Sleeping Beauty. Here’s why.

1) The acting was atrocious. While the actors were all beautiful in their own right, they weren’t right for the roles. Ethan Peck, at first, seemed perfect for a reclusive artist role. As the movie went on, however, it became obvious that Thomas was supposed to care about both Briar Rose and Linda, the woman helping him learn more about the mysterious property. Ethan Peck, however, continued with his emotionless character, causing his lines to fall flat. India Eisley, who played Briar Rose, was gorgeous in her outfit, but could have spent more time with a dialect coach. Her English accent was reminiscent of that of a teenager pretending to be “posh.” Finally, Natalie Hall’s Linda attempted to be the comic relief, but the delivery of her lines combined with the overall feel of the movie made that attempt fall short. We felt as though each of these actors was only hired because of their good looks.

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2) The script was just bad. The acting probably would have been better if the script was better written. Instead, there were lines that made no sense and major plot holes. Not only that, but near the middle of the movie, the plot changed from straight horror fantasy, where one or two people deal with an evil force, to an ensemble let’s-tackle-this-together movie. The dynamic completely changed when the two extra characters were added. Thomas and Linda were all that were needed, in my opinion.

3) They mixed several cultures together. This goes along with bad script writing, but deserves a point all to its own. The Sleeping Beauty story is of French origin. The movie takes place in America (I think!). All the characters seem to be American or Canadian, with the exception of Briar Rose, who is supposedly British. Richard (Bruce Davison), shows up in a car with a European license plate. And, finally, when they determine what the actual curse is, they reveal that it’s Middle Eastern… Dear writers, pick one and stick to it!

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While those are my three big points, there were a lot of little points as well. Let’s call it nitpicks. First, Thomas’ uncle supposedly lived in the mysterious house for 40 years, but it looked like it hadn’t been lived in for quite a long time. Second, Thomas at one point says he just wants to get out of this “godforsaken town,” but there was no introduction of the town itself or Thomas’ interaction with it. Finally, there’s a scene where a bunch of mannequins are attacking Thomas and Linda, attempting to protect the secret of the house from outsiders, and I was just reminded of an episode of Doctor Who, which took me right out of the story.

I didn’t see the ending, but absolutely nothing could have made this movie worth it. I assume Briar Rose turned out to be evil and they had to defeat her. Otherwise, they never would have introduced Linda as Thomas’ other love interest. I also assume that the 53 people who had gone missing on the property were the people inside the mannequins. But, hey, I could be wrong.

Watch it for yourself and tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

Review: Stranger Things (TV Show)

Posted in Review on March 10, 2017 by Lilliandra Winters

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Created by: Matt and Ross Duffer
Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard

Welcome to the 1980’s! Full of Dungeons & Dragons, nerds, awkward telephones and Stranger Things!

Netflix continues to nail original show after original show and Stranger Things is no exception. Filled with an amazing cast, great effects, a killer story line and all the nostalgia of my childhood, I was glued to my television. In one season, I ranged every emotion I could think of and a few new ones that I’m not sure how to deal with. I don’t know that I have a negative thing to say about it. In fact, if you haven’t watched it and are mildly curious, stop reading this right now and go binge watch. Come back when you’re done.

I’ll wait.

Done yet? Ok, great! For those of you who haven’t seen it and still aren’t sure, I have no idea what you are waiting for. Hands down, Netflix is one of the few services that I pay for that I feel actually earns my money (and may even deserve a little more). From Daredevil, Jessica Jones and now Luke Cake, you had me at Marvel, but Stranger Things is truly original and more beautiful than the Mona Lisa. Sorry, Mona.

This epic tale starts out like all of them should, with a bunch of nerdy kids playing Dungeons & Dragons in a basement. By far not the best DM out there, they are having a blast fighting monsters until it’s time to call it quits for the night. Of course, that is when it all goes downhill.

Will, who is the bravest motherfucker around, disappears and the town starts their search and turn up with nothing after nothing. His mother starts to look crazy while his older brother tries to keep everything together and hold out hope for his brother’s return. All of Will’s friends are frantic to find him, but they find someone else instead: Eleven, a mysterious girl with powers, answers and enough social awkwardness to make me proud.

This tale unravels in the most elegant way; it is beautifully complicated. Just when you think you know what’s going on, they pull the rug out from under you and you are left staring at the ceiling wondering what just happened. You feel such a range of emotions for so many different characters that, at some points, you are left just an emotional mess hoping that everyone will have their happy ending, and that some people will get what they deserve.

I’m not even gonna talk about Barb.

The cast of characters fills quickly with Will’s friends, Will’s family, and unsuspecting members of the town just trying to get by in their everyday life. It’s full of insanity, dysfunction and confusion, but in the best way. I want to sit here and tell you about this show all day, reveal every goosebump, each moment I yelled at the TV, each time I was at the edge of my sit and starting a new episode, even if I was exhausted. However, I won’t. This show is the puzzle box, it’s so much that I don’t even know where to start and I would never finish.

At the end of the season, I was emotionally drained, happy it was over but wanting more at the same time. I hope you go and watch it, come out on the end as distraught as I feel and just as happy to have watched it as I am.

Review: Don’t Breathe (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Written and Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette

What’s it about?
Three amateur thieves (Levy, Minnette, Daniel Zovatto) devise a plan to steal $300,000 from a disabled veteran (Lang) living in a house in an abandoned neighborhood in Detroit. The plan goes wrong, however, when they find they’re stuck in a house with a trained killer.

What did I think?
These kids are dumb. I can’t express how dumb these kids are. First of all, the man may be blind, but blind people can hear and smell really, really well. Don’t take your shoes off and certainly don’t take steps backwards if you’re not absolutely sure there’s not a creaky floor board. Secondly, the man’s a veteran. He’s not going to be defenseless, even if he is disabled. He had four locks on his front door for Christ’s sake.

I can’t say I was really scared during this movie. The people in danger broke into a house in a Stand Your Ground state. Of course the owner’s going to use deadly force to defend himself, his money, and the girl he’s got tied up in the basement. You can’t just walk in with one pistol and think you’ll be alright. I had no empathy for the main characters, so I found that I didn’t care what happened to them. This made the jump scares and the general suspense far less effective.

I’d much rather see the story of the girl he had tied up. Sure, he explained it, but that’s a far scarier situation to be in. Make that movie. Don’t try to make me empathize with a bunch of burglars who should know full well they’re in a Stand Your Ground state. He had every legal right to kill the intruders in his home, regardless of whether or not he has a hostage in the basement.

The acting was pretty good, though, despite the premise. Though, to be honest, not a lot of talking happened in this movie. The few times the main characters did talk (which, of course, was at the worst times), they were immediately bombarded with a bullet. They barely even had full conversations during the exposition, which I can get behind. The less talking, the less any particular actor can ruin a scene. Though, they all did facial expressions really well. And, because they had to be quiet to avoid this killer, there was no fake horror movie scream. Thank you for that, Fede Alvarez.

Do I recommend it?
Yeah, it’s pretty much just like every other horror movie, so you might as well go watch it. The main characters make bad decisions, so at least it’s a good opportunity to yell at your screen, if you haven’t done that in awhile.

Review: Split (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson

What’s it about?
Split follows a man named Kevin (McAvoy) who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). One of his alternative identities kidnaps three teenaged girls in an effort to sacrifice them to “The Beast.” The three girls must find their way out while Kevin’s other alters work to either help or hinder the alter responsible.

What did I think?
I’ve got to be honest with you, I had no idea this was an M. Night Shyamalan movie until my boyfriend and I went to go see it opening weekend. I’m not on my game lately. I have to tell you, though, my assertion in my review of The Visit is still true: M. Night Shyamalan is back.

The acting was superb. James McAvoy’s ability to switch between Kevin’s alters within seconds is just astounding. Anya Taylor-Joy also brings an amazing performance to the table, which can only be expected after her excellent acting in The Witch.

The premise is terrifying, even if problematic. In a time when society is struggling to end the stigma against mental illness, M. Night Shyamalan releases a movie where the villain is a villain because he has DID. This can be harmful to the perception of mental illness in this country. If not for Kevin’s well-meaning psychiatrist, Dr Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who asserts that those with DID have ascended to a higher plane than us mere humans, it would be completely problematic.

Overall, though, the movie was scary and filled with an amazing amount of suspense. And the twist ending, which I’m sure you all already know about, is amazing. And, more good news, M. Night Shyamalan is going to make another one to complete his trifecta!

Do I recommend it?
Yes, despite its problems, it’s still an amazingly well-made movie. M. Night Shyamalan is definitely back… Let’s just hope he doesn’t revert back and try to make another Avatar

Review: Tattletail (Video Game)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2017 by Lilliandra Winters

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Furbies were fucking everywhere. I mean everywhere. You couldn’t get away from them. If you didn’t have one, then you knew someone who did and that was that. They were adorably creepy and I can’t tell you how entertaining I find it that my mother was constantly jump scared by mine. I remember they weren’t allowed to be in most places because they held the ability to record. Fast forward and those of us who find dolls terrifying now have a reason to fear furbies, or Hatchimals, if you want to be more current.

So, it’s days before Christmas and you wake up in the middle of the night to go peek at your presents and discover that you are receiving a Tattletale, the hit toy for the holiday season. You are so eager that you open it up and immediately play with it, but the Tattletale is much more than it seems. The Tattletale is increasingly demanding, requiring grooming, actual food and charging at its station in the basement. Also, don’t forget about Mama.

This game is fucking terrifying. It combines several fears together and shoves them into a child’s toy. After the first night, I am constantly wondering why you would go back but it seems like these fuckers, once unleashed, will NOT go back to sleep. Every night, you have to deal with this tiny demon, feeding, brushing and charging. However, Mama doesn’t like you. (THEY NEVER SAY WHY, SHE JUST DOESN’T, LIKE A JUDGEMENTAL BITCH!) You are sent on these crazy quests, having to take Tattletale with you (who WON’T SHUT UP). (I KNOW YOU LOVE ME, SHUT UP ALREADY!) However, there is a reason for the chaos. You realize that shit is much worse than previously thought, it is creepy as fuck once you figure it out. Don’t forget to collect all of the eggs for the ‘good’ ending.

This game is amazing. The concept is terrifying. It’s well written, the art/graphics are incredible, and the music/sound creates so much anxiety on top of what you already have to go through. Panic on top of panic is how you want to play a horror game. An extreme sense of urgency makes it easy to forget that you are a terrified child just trying to survive your own Christmas toys and make it the joyous holiday of gift giving. I can’t give this enough praise, the fear is real, the ending is almost perfect and I’m setting every Furbie I see on fire. Play it for yourself, FFS it’s only $5! Prepare for some jump scares and have fun sleeping!

Review: A Cure for Wellness (2017)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: Justin Haythe
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth

What’s it about?
After being implicated in a crime by his employers, Lockhart (DeHaan) is recruited to travel to a sanatorium in Switzerland to bring back Mr. Pembrooke (Harry Groener), a former board member, so that he can sign papers that will allow for a merger to go through before said employer goes out of business. Here, Lockhart gets into a terrible car accident and is admitted to the sanatorium under Dr. Volmer (Isaacs). The longer he stays, and the more water he drinks, Lockhart begins to notice strange things happening.

What did I think?
The premise for this movie was unbelievable. If Mr. Pembrooke needed to be admitted to a sanatorium, he would have forfeited all rights to the company, leaving it to the other board members to complete the merger themselves. Lockhart would never have needed to go to Switzerland in the first place. It was implied that Mr. Pembrooke was supposed to “take the fall” for something, but that was not explained and the other board members could have used his admittance to the sanatorium to imply that he was not mentally fit to continue to run the company.

That being said, the rest of this movie was amazing. The history behind the sanatorium is enough to make you think that one thing is going to happen, but as the story unfolds, it’s something completely different. Justin Haythe (screenwriter) and Gore Verbinski (director) did an amazing job at building suspense and creating a twist.

I didn’t think the acting would be as good as it was. When you’re introduced to Lockhart, Dane DeHaan seemed like he was going to be a monotone actor who couldn’t get emotion across. Oh, how wrong I was. He captured Lockhart’s trauma like the pro he is. Jason Isaacs, of course, did an amazing job as Dr. Volmer. Let’s not forget about Mia Goth’s perfect portrayal of Hannah, a young woman who’s been at the sanatorium for as long as she can remember.

If Lockhart could have gone to the sanatorium under different circumstances, the overall experience of the movie would have been better. As it is, the movie is a mix of The Wolf of Wall StreetCrimson Peak and Shutter Island.

Do I recommend it?
Yes, I highly recommend you go see it. There’s violence, intrigue and a bit of a psychological component that makes any horror movie make your skin crawl. Not to mention forcefully feeding someone eels… Don’t ask.

Review: Sinister (2012)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Clare Foley

What’s it about?
A true crime writer (Hawke) moves his family to a new town in order to write his next best-selling book about a young girl who went missing. In the process, he comes across a box full of home movies that depict the gruesome deaths of several families. As he and his family begin to go crazy, they have to figure out who’s behind these murders and try to stop the same fate from happening to them.

What did I think?
Sinister keeps you on the edge of your seat. In true horror fashion, it keeps its audience in the dark until the very chilling end.

The acting is superb. Ethan Hawke plays crazy writer well, and that’s a hard role to fill as it’s been done so many times. Clare Foley is just the right amount of creepy to fill the role of the creepy horror kid.

The plotline wasn’t anything special, though the ending was definitely not what I expected. You have your typical, “strange things are happening, main character thinks he’s crazy” plotline up until you find out what’s actually going on. That’s where the true beauty of this film lies. The twist ending was not only terrifying, but also left me feeling sick and uncomfortable – the sign of good horror.

Do I recommend it?
Well, yeah. I mean, you’ve probably already seen it, but if you haven’t – watch it! It’s currently playing on Netflix.