The Mummy (2017) and the Dawn of the Dark Universe

mummy 2017 13
The site of Haram – The Mummy (2017)

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw the previews for the most recently released version of The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis.  Mummy movies are a genre staple, but all things considered, they’re not my favorite approach to horror.  I mean, I appreciate them, I like them, I’m always willing to watch one, but as I indicated in an earlier post, I have yet to watch a mummy movie that truly scares me, that captivates me as much as I’d like it to.  As it turns out, the most recently released version of the film, The Mummy, which came out about two weeks ago, is an intriguing approach to the horror subgenre, an approach which mashes up action and horror but has creepier overtones than the 1999 Brendan Frasier version of the film.  The Mummy (2017) is the first installment in a series of darker films that fall under the bleak umbrella of Universal Studios’ Dark Universe.  The film, and its broad appeal, is an apt indicator that Universal Studios has the potential to both combine horror and action, and make horror suitable for a wider age range of viewers – two challenges which, if approached rightly, have the potential to create an incredibly successful series of films. Continue reading “The Mummy (2017) and the Dawn of the Dark Universe”

The Mummy (2017) and the Dawn of the Dark Universe

It Comes at Night – And You’ll See None of This Coming

It Comes At Night Three
Photo Credit – It Comes at Night

I’ve always enjoyed titling pieces on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever come up with a more appropriate title for a movie.  And I say that because when you walk into the theater to see It Comes at Night, I’d highly advise you to surrender all expectations.  At a glance, this suggestion may come across as a criticism, which is not my intent.  I actually really invested my attention and energy into this film as I watched it, and I commend its originality, especially in a sometimes murky sea of similarly constructed modern horror films.  I have nothing scathing to say about it, but I think someone sitting in front of me and to my left said out loud as the credits were rolling, “What the fuck was that?”  To be sure, the type of story you’re expecting from the fairly elusive trailer is not the story you’re likely to receive.  Even the title of the movie seems crafted to intentionally deceive.  At the end of the day, because I always like to define horror broadly, I’ll say that yes, I’d situate It Comes At Night in the horror genre, but in many ways I found it highly unlike the horror I’m used to.  Bearing that in mind, I can’t help but talk about the film without giving away more than the trailer intends to reveal.  I also have a tricky habit of just saying whatever I want about a film on this blog, which often entails including spoilers (sorry).  So I’m not sure how much of the plot this post will ultimately reveal as I sit down to write, but know that by reading it you’re going to have information that the trailers don’t give you.  I will give you more warning about major spoilers.  With that in mind, continue if you dare. Continue reading “It Comes at Night – And You’ll See None of This Coming”

It Comes at Night – And You’ll See None of This Coming

An Alien Franchise Tribute, Part One: The Genre-Defining Original

Alien Franchise 1
Ripley and Jones the Cat in Alien

Amidst rapt excitement about the incredibly unique albeit troubling film Alien Covenant, I neglected all of the film’s predecessors – which was fine, for awhile.  But now that I’ve rambled incessantly about why I think the recently released Alien Covenant is such an excellent movie, perhaps it’s time to return to the film’s roots and take a look at the original Alien, and the one after that, and the one after that, and so on, and so forth.  Frankly, I’ve been meaning to write about the original Alien for a long time, but every time I’m faced with a highly-respected genre classic that’s stood (at least some) test of time, I get a wee bit intimidated, and this is especially true when we move into Science Fiction territory, which is far from my area of expertise.  But a couple of days ago, Michael and I hunkered down to watch Alien and Aliens, and I was mesmerized all over again (since I’ve seen them both before).  One wonderful thing about being me is that I have a horrible memory, especially for a lot of film.  While this could be detrimental to my performance on the imminent PhD candidacy test I keep writing about (for which I have to read and recall over 100 books) it really comes in handy when I re-watch a film.  More often than not, I’m surprised by certain plot twists and character actions all over again!  It’s fantastic!  With that in mind, I think it’s time to pay homage to Ridley Scott’s classic Alien and discuss why the film is so freakin’ fantastic.  Continue reading “An Alien Franchise Tribute, Part One: The Genre-Defining Original”

An Alien Franchise Tribute, Part One: The Genre-Defining Original

“To Serve in Heaven or Reign in Hell”: The Will to Power in Alien Covenant

covenant 3
Photo Credit – Alien Covenant

Existentialist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (you know, that German philosopher with one hell of a curly mustache) once theorized that all of life and human activity rests on the will to power.  Though I am no expert on Nietzsche, this seems to suggest that each individual’s desire to hold power, feel a sense of power, etc. – in a variety of contexts – governs much human activity.  Moreover, we can look at, say, a movie, and understand character actions and motivations at least partially through this context.  Famous theorist Michel Foucault suggests much the same thing when he says that “power is everywhere, diffused and embodied in discourse, knowledge, and regimes of truth.”  While Foucault examines power on a more sociological level, his viewpoints converge with Nietzsche on the influence and the prevalence – indeed, the omnipresence – of power.  And while there are many elements of Alien Covenant to discuss (I saw it tonight) power seems of critical importance. Continue reading ““To Serve in Heaven or Reign in Hell”: The Will to Power in Alien Covenant”

“To Serve in Heaven or Reign in Hell”: The Will to Power in Alien Covenant

What Makes Sinister So Scary?

Sinister 7With the mass-produced barrage of horror movies available to us – sometimes formulaic, sometimes cheaply made – it can be tempting for the jaded horror-goer to presume that nothing is truly scary anymore.  I offer no new argument, after all, when I contend that in our increasingly sensationalized visual culture, we become (or at least risk becoming) desensitized to so many horrible things, immune to so much tragedy.  It takes far more, at least from a visual standpoint, to scare us than it did sixty years ago (a fact that will be evident to anyone who compares The Haunting to an Eli Roth film).  This may not be the case universally, but it’s a general rule.  And still, scary movies are manufactured, and the passionate horror fan does encounter, every now and then, a film that is particularly, unexpectedly scary.  Such was my experience with the film Sinister, released about two weeks before Halloween in 2012 (although I saw it much later ).  Granted, Sinister is not as artistically scintillating as my two favorite horror movies of reference – The Shining and It Follows – but it’s still a well-made, incredibly unsettling film.  When I told Michael I wanted to write a piece about it, he reassured me that he wouldn’t be upset if I re-watched it without him; one time was enough for him.  So I sat down tonight, in my little Indiana apartment, with a focusing question in mind: What makes this film so scary?  While I may discuss other things in the post below, I am particularly interested in exploring possible answers to this question. Continue reading “What Makes Sinister So Scary?”

What Makes Sinister So Scary?

Phoenix Forgotten and the Found Footage Phenomenon

phoenix forgotten oneWhen it comes to the found footage genre, it seems like everyone has an opinion, and they’re not all favorable.  Personally, I love the genre’s faux-authenticity (how’s that for an oxymoron?) and I don’t hold films that fall under the found footage umbrella up to unreasonable expectations.  CGI’d specters and ostentatious sound effects are necessarily off-limits, forcing the filmmaker to work within certain parameters.  What’s trickier, still, is any attempt to work within the found footage genre while somehow also making the film seem unique and original.  It’s hard to emulate The Blair Witch Project, for example, and still deviate from it enough to produce something that critics will deem “innovative.”  With those observations in mind, I’m going to give the recently released Phoenix Forgotten my seal of approval.  It has been, and will continue to be, lambasted for not being scary enough (and perhaps too imitative of similar predecessors), but as I’ll suggest below, that’s a fairly shallow bit of criticism that doesn’t take into account both how intriguing the film is and how chillingly it concludes.  Continue reading “Phoenix Forgotten and the Found Footage Phenomenon”

Phoenix Forgotten and the Found Footage Phenomenon

A Tribute to The Shining: Let’s Not Overlook Anything, Part 4

the shining part 3.2So…final papers continue to be imminent, and I continue to break for a frequent, intense, scene by scene examination of The Shining, my all-time favorite horror film directed by the one and only Stanley Kubrick.  My intent, when I started writing, was to write a couple posts.  But, this is segment number four in the series, and Jack isn’t even (completely) crazy yet.  As such, I think I’ll continue.  If you’d like to read my first three blog posts, which cover about the first half hour of the movie, you can check out the first, second, or third!

Continue reading “A Tribute to The Shining: Let’s Not Overlook Anything, Part 4”

A Tribute to The Shining: Let’s Not Overlook Anything, Part 4