Escaping the Atypical Monster in Escape Room

Well, unsurprisingly, it’s three in the morning and I’ve decided to write a blog post.  You see, I was reading On Monsters: An Unnatural History of our Worst Fears by Stephen T. Asma, and his writing is so fluid, his stories so interesting, his points so insightful, that I got inspired to write.  In general, I find that as I read more for my comprehensive exams, I tend to get so enthusiastic that I feel I absolutely must release some of my excitement through writing.  And, I have the perfect fodder for a blog post this evening.  Michael and I went to see a showing of Escape Room tonight, and we both really enjoyed the film.  Given that I’ve been reading about monsters and horror non-stop over break, my mind started playing with the movie in light of what I’ve been reading, and I jotted down some thoughts earlier.  So, here’s what will probably be a fairly short little post on Escape Room.  I’m not one for rating or grading movies, so while I won’t give it a rating, I’ll say it’s an interesting example of a horror archetype we’ve been seeing a lot of recently, and it’s a genuinely engaging film with (my favorite!) mostly likable characters!  As such, I highly suggest you check it out.  But…I’m no good at writing without spoilers, so those will inevitably follow this paragraph.  Beware!! 

Continue reading “Escaping the Atypical Monster in Escape Room”
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Escaping the Atypical Monster in Escape Room

In the Jaws of a Classic: An analysis of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws

Jaws 2When I was thirteen, my family and I took a trip to Florida.  I certainly wasn’t too old to love Disney World (I’m still not) but I was most excited to visit Universal Studios.  After all, commercials for Universal Studious basically consumed cable tv stations in the mid 90’s, and my imagination took flight when I saw the commercial for the Jaws ride.  Out of the depths of murky nothingness, a giant shark rises beside passengers in a boat, its face partially distorted by the flamboyant, spasmodic flashing lights that eclipse its visage and make the shark look more than a little surreal, and infinitely menacing.  I was simultaneously horrified and titillated by the prospect of actually riding the Jaws ride and experiencing the enormous, foreboding shark for myself. Continue reading “In the Jaws of a Classic: An analysis of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws”

In the Jaws of a Classic: An analysis of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws

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

Split Lives Up to Great Expectations

split-1With 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”

Split Lives Up to Great Expectations

Breaking Patterns with Unbreakable

Unbreakable © Touchstone Pictures
Photo Credit Unbreakable

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”

Breaking Patterns with Unbreakable

Sensing Brilliance in the Sixth Sense

sixth-sense-oneMichael 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”

Sensing Brilliance in the Sixth Sense

Exorcising Fear: The Vatican Tapes

vatican tapes one
Photo Credit – The Vatican Tapes

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.

Continue reading “Exorcising Fear: The Vatican Tapes”

Exorcising Fear: The Vatican Tapes