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”
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”
M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable (2000) is an utterly unique part of his canon –nothing like the film that preceded it, The Sixth Sense (1999), and nothing like the film that succeeded it, Signs (2002). While The Sixth Sense and Signs are obviously horror films, Unbreakable falls more appropriately under the suspense umbrella. Unbreakable is the tale of an unlikely superhero who only slowly comes to believe he has superhuman powers, and an ardent comic enthusiast who’s been searching for a superhero his entire life. Despite the ostensible pleasantness of this plot line, the film is remarkably dark and foreboding. Unbreakable is at least as heavy, if not heavier, than The Sixth Sense, and far darker than the uplifting Signs. As I find it impossible to discuss an M. Night Shyamalan film without addressing the ending, be warned that spoilers will occur in this analysis. Continue reading “Breaking Patterns with Unbreakable”
Michael and I have been talking lately about the phenomenon of hating. Of course, hate is prevalent in all sects of life, and more problematic in some sects than others. But when it comes to the arts, and films specifically, people love to hate. Witness the new female-driven Ghostbusters film: it’s brilliant and funny and original, but people get this weird high off slamming it on the internet. The same goes for the Star Wars prequels: any attempt to re-visit the highly successful plot of the first three films was certain to be met with some contempt, because our proclivity to love has an opposite proclivity to hate. And I think the same observation could be made with M. Night Shyamalan. Continue reading “Sensing Brilliance in the Sixth Sense”
I have a self-imposed challenge as an avid horror viewer: I must find an exorcism movie that truly terrifies me. Huddled with a group of giggling 12-year-olds when I was in seventh grade, I watched in near-disbelief while Regan spewed unthinkable profanity and did immodest things with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Assuredly, I was not old enough to watch the movie without being flung into a shock-provoked state of uncomfortable laughing fits (a twelve year old is hardly mature enough to take those scenes seriously), but something about that reaction seems significant when I reflect upon exorcism films almost 20 years later: Namely, the film was shocking, unorthodox, compelling – and indisputably ground-breaking for the era – but The Exorcist, along with, I think, every other exorcism film I’ve ever watched, has never really scared me. I find them interesting, and essential from the standpoint of someone who makes it a (humble, wage-less) second-living to know and review horror fare (albeit for a small number of readers), but for some reason I’ve always found ghosts a lot scarier. Don’t get me wrong: conceptually, the devil is terrifying (to the extent that I believe he exists, at least), but films rarely do justice to the horror of the demonic. The Vatican Tapes, a fairly average film, was no exception to this trend. If you like exorcism movies, it may be worth seeing, at least for comparative purposes. But, there was a small, hopeful part of me thought I might feel afraid during The Vatican Tapes. As it turns out, I did not. Read my discussion below (which, admittedly, has some spoilers) to find out why.
After I watched The Darkness last night with my boyfriend, Michael, he asked me what I thought. Answering honestly I said, “Well, it was a little cliché and culturally insensitive, but I expected that. Overall, it was a fun movie.” All of this is true, which raises the question: Why—especially as a horror fan drawn to artsy and unique horror movies, like The Shining and It Follows, and even cult classics like Black Sunday—would I advocate seeing The Darkness? An apt question, to be sure, and one that seems daunting to answer in an essay-style blog entry. After all, I haven’t written for online publication in months; I’ve been simultaneously exploring the realms of literature and online fashion, spattered with a little journaling, but certainly without the added pressure of writing for an audience. So I’m easing back into the writing life with a notorious, and I hope, not too cop-outish – see that word I made up? – top 11 list. (Because, why create a top 10 list when you can create a top 11 list?) Here are 11 reasons why you should see The Darkness, which came out in theaters this Friday, the 13th. Continue reading “11 Reasons to See The Darkness”
Despite being perhaps the least creatively named movie in the genre, The Boy is one of the more original plot lines I’ve seen in horror lately. Take It Follows – one of Hollywood’s most recent horror hits. The plot line of It Follows is compelling and unique, but the movie’s title is perfectly indicative of the events in the film: an unnamed “it” will follow you. (Let me emphasize again that I love It Follows and proudly proclaim my adoration here, but the film’s brilliance doesn’t lie in plot twists, and its title is perfectly indicative of the film’s central conflict.) The Boy is similar in that yes, in part, the movie is about a boy, but forecasting the plot twists in this film will be tricky for even the most seasoned horror veteran. Predicting plot lines isn’t much my forte, but Michael is exceptionally adept at doing so, and his prediction turned out to be mostly wrong. The Boy will surprise you, and at least for me, that surprise was welcomed and refreshing. Continue reading “Expect the Unusual with The Boy”