Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Forest (2016)

A while ago, YouTube star and professional fuckhead Logan Paul got some flack for taking a web-video in the infamous Aokigahara forest in Japan, which is known as a spot where people go to kill themselves. People reacted strongly and he got ads pulled and he got temporarily banned from YouTube – though in the time it's taken us to do this review, he's now unfortunately back on YouTube and doing whatever he wants again, which proves to me that there is no God.

But did you know that's NOT the only time the suicide forest has been used distastefully in shitty media? Here's a review of the awful horror movie called The Forest.

Director: Jason Zada
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Eoin Macken


Co-written with Michelle.

This is just another rock-bottom, dumb-ass horror movie full of cliches. The message is something like 'be afraid of foreign countries.' After all, America is the only normal place. Everywhere else is just a breeding ground for superstitions and myths that turn out to be true. Stay home and turn on your TV and lock the door! Renew that Amazon subscription!

I guess this is about some woman, Sara, played by Game of Thrones and Hunger Games actor Natalie Dormer, who wants to go all the way to Japan to search for her missing sister. Her reasoning is, apparently, that her sister MIGHT HAVE gone into the suicide forest! Why does she think this? Pure speculation. Like yeah, I'm sure whatever you think happened IS what really happened! Because why have any surprises? That's for wimps and weenies.

So she does go, and along the way, as it goes, runs into some extremely weak-ass jump scares – seriously, they're so soft it's like the movie didn't want to wake up mom and dad napping in the other room but still wanted to have a loud screamy jump scare.

Honestly, she wastes a lot of time when she gets there, just sitting in a bar and looking at the forest but not going in. It doesn't seem like she's really all that interested in finding her sister. I guess she goes to some school her sister worked at, where a girl faints and thinks she IS her sister, and nobody tells the girl she's a twin until later – it's just more fun that way, if you can scare a kid. All of this shit just seems like a waste of time. Didn't she know beforehand that she wanted to look at the fucking forest? Why are we wasting time with all of this other nonsense?

Huh? What's that? Oh, it's just been explained to me that the movie is trite hack work and is padding out the runtime so as not to be a short film. Okay. Carry on, then.

She meets a few other silly characters, like a stereotypical elderly Japanese woman who works near the forest and just... shows her some fucking dead suicide bodies for no reason. How nice of her! The hospitality here is just through the roof! Oh, and don't forget that despite everyone speaking perfect English, to throw in “Konnichiwa” every chance you get just as the bare minimum to remind you we're in Japan. But if that wasn't enough to convince you, there's also some Japanese “mysticism” speeches about screaming spirits and other stuff that sounds cool if you're racist against Asian people and think this is all they talk about.

I guess the REAL “meat” of the movie, if you can call this rotting roadkill “meat,” begins when she runs into this random dude at a bar who starts telling her he'd met her sister and can lead her into the suicide forest. Uh, if this is slang in Japan for “I want to sleep with you,” then I guess this dude is being honest. Either that or he's a horrible opportunistic piece of garbage who somehow got REALLY lucky this one time.

They team up with another random dude to go in. Who are these guys with all this free time? They apparently have no obligations or family or anything. I personally would have asked some questions – they spend ALL FUCKING DAY with her in the woods, at the drop of a hat, with no real preparations. I think these guys are probably fucking lazy bums who have no jobs and contribute nothing to society.

They find a random tent in the woods after walking all day (which Sara is SURE is her sister's! And it is!), and then the one random Japanese guy with them wants to turn back and come back tomorrow. Well then how would you ever get anything done??? It took you all goddamn day to get HERE. Are you just trying to waste time? There are better ways to get your cardio in, you know.

After this, I'll be honest, the movie just kind of turns into mush. We get the truly ridiculous story of how her sister apparently thought the forest was “romantic,” and how one time years ago she didn't answer the phone, and so I guess that's enough to deduce that she killed herself. There's also some story about how they once saw their parents die, and because the sister didn't look away, THAT made her adventurous and want to go do weird stuff all the time. Brilliant! Someone call Freud and tell him he's a hack and he's done! We have a new paradigm of modern psychology and it is The Forest! Oh my God!

There's a lot of screaming and running around in the dark, as the movie is so poorly lit it's near impossible to tell what's happening a lot of the time. She ends up killing herself in a hallucination, and the movie predictably ends with some cops seeing her ghost at the end – ooooOOOOooooh, spooky! I mean, if you're a kid in a shitty haunted house. Who has been sheltered your whole life and never allowed to watch anything besides kids programming.

This is horrible. There's absolutely nothing we liked about it – in fact, it makes what Logan Paul did look like carefully considered, culturally sensitive art-school stuff. I hate this movie and you shouldn't watch it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Post (2017)

The Post is a well made movie – I don't think anyone's disputing that. Steven Spielberg is a veteran and he obviously had shit to say here... from the commentary on the current Trump administration, in the way the movie talks about Nixon in the 70s, and in the feminist leanings as it has Meryl Streep buck the patriarchal system that condescends to her. These things are timely in the context of today's news, while also being a part of the straight historical tale Spielberg is telling.


Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks

But I just wish it was more exciting as a film. This is about as ramrod-stiff as a movie can be, and while it tells the events of the infamous Pentagon Papers in a well-directed way that moves the story along, I just couldn't really bring myself to be truly excited. I'm a journalist myself, so I enjoyed the rah-rah nature and the fuck-you to the establishment trying to suppress the First Amendment. All of that was kinda cool, albeit predictable.

The whole thing just ends up feeling so rote. You might as well just make a conveyor belt with every Oscar-baiting trope in existence. Despite its professional sheen and the talented actors, you get everything I always see in these historical biopics and true-life type films... there are enough dramatic 'fuck you' speeches in this, and enough Eureka moments and shocked faces when something Big and Important happens, that I pretty much knew when it was about to happen next. Every dialogue has to be some monologue that's important and has all this real world meaning and gravitas. I just think it gets a bit boring after a while. Yeah I enjoy seeing them the first time, maybe the second time – but does every bit of dialogue have to be something you wrote while fantasizing about an Oscar for Best Script? If people talked like this in real life, we'd never enjoy conversations again. We'd be rolling our eyes so much that people would think we were imitating The Exorcist.

It just seems like a common trap these movies fall into. I also saw Trumbo the other day, which was similarly stiff in a way – though bolstered by an incredible Bryan Cranston performance. But in the same way, all the dialogue and scenes started to feel very rote and by the book. It's a cheap shot to say that we know things will work out in the end for these courageous rebels in these films, because then why make any movie if you're not going to round out a story well? It wouldn't be as good if they failed in Trumbo and every writer got blacklisted forever. Or if, in The Post, they altered history and Nixon crushed the First Amendment under his boot. That would be weird. Though maybe it would at least be funny if nothing else, to go in expecting the usual happy, historically accurate ending, and then get a twist like that – I'd find that oddly humorous anyway.

I guess all I'm saying is that these movies just all feel the same. They all follow a formula – a historic tale woven into a simplified Rebels Take On The Empire type of story, with a seemingly choreographed amount of Big Speeches and dramatic, hushed silences playing out over two hours before we get a scene of everyone hugging and cheering when it all works out. It's like Mad Libs with big budget Hollywood scripts.

I'm not saying these movies are bad – they're OK at best. They are the vanilla ice cream of movies. Safe and dependable and not really all that challenging. And I give The Post credit for trying to tie in some current themes to a historic context, which made it a bit more flavorful at parts. But it wasn't enough. I just didn't find it that exciting. Recommended if you want something to watch with your grandma's book club I guess?

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Best Movies of 2017

I honestly had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to put on this list this year. There were so many good movies that it was tough to choose - in the end I went with 13 movies as opposed to 10. And even beyond that, it was tough to really order the fucking things. I think the majority of films on this list are about equally good, and the numbers are mostly a formality. The top three are definitely in the right order, though.

We got some of just about everything this year, and I was happy to have seen pretty much all of these in a theater. Like every year, these are the films that made me remember why I enjoy going to the movies so much.

BEST MOVIES OF 2017

13. Star Wars: The Last Jedi


Marvelous, sweeping, grandiose sci-fi epic. This is the best Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back, with compelling character development and drama and explosive, fast paced action making for a generally rich, engaging cinema experience like these movies should be.

12. It


Easily my favorite Stephen King adaptation yet. This is a vibrant and evocative film that brings the book to life – with its childish curiosity as well as the creeping horror underneath, It (2017) captures what King was doing perfectly. I can't wait for the second part.

11. The Bad Batch


A unique film from up-and-coming director Ana Lily Amirpour, this film engages in both wanton violence and gore as well as majestic, romantic scenes, and comes out an extremely interesting, colorful viewing experience.

10. The Disaster Artist


James Franco's adaptation of this book about the making of 'bad cinema classic' The Room is several things all at once – a love-letter to the film's bizarro legacy, a mulling on art and success and just a funny fucking movie. Brilliant stuff, especially since I didn't think they'd be able to make a good movie out of the source material.

9. The Shape Of Water


Finally, a Guillermo del Toro movie to match the brilliance of Pan's Labyrinth from over a decade ago. This is just a well-rounded, kick ass movie, with romance and drama and supernatural intrigue all over it. It's a simple story done up with an attention to detail that makes it a full, rich cinematic experience.

8. The Florida Project


A heavy film but an important one, this depicts poverty right on the edge of my home-town Orlando and the famous Disney World. Raw and visceral, this film doesn't pull its punches and delivers a memorable and haunting experience. We all need to do better at helping people and shouldn't need a movie like this to show us that.

7. Lady Bird


Another wonderful comedy this year – Lady Bird is a coming of age story about a teenage girl in a small town, and while you've seen films like this before, they're rarely so well-written or incisive as Lady Bird. This is a film that bursts from the seams with wit and personality and good humor.

6. Baby Driver


Edgar Wright is a great director and Baby Driver – his first totally original script done all on his own – is a marvelous spectacle. Fun action, great acting and inventive, kick-ass music and sound editing make this a treat for every sense you have.

5. The Big Sick


Just a wonderfully written and directed film about the real life of comedian Kumail Nanjiani and how he married his wife – involving his Pakistani heritage and a mysterious illness on her part. There was really nothing wrong with this and it worked because it's funny, personable, warm and very human.

4. Get Out


For those who say there are no original ideas left anymore, I'd offer up Get Out as a counterpoint. Part horror, part comedy and part social commentary, Get Out is tricky to define, but not everything has to have just one genre. It's a powerful film about the black experience and director Jordan Peele is one to watch.

3. I Don't Feel at Home In This World Anymore


A wonderful film that tackles feelings of alienation and unlikely friendship with a very human, down to Earth angle and great character writing. Plus a bizarre crime story. This was a delight from beginning to end and I can't stop watching it.

2. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri


Masterfully complex, this is Martin McDonagh's best film yet. It masterfully weaves issues of justice into an off-beat comedy with a lot of shocking parts. This movie subverts every expectation you have and comes out beautifully, surprisingly human for it.

1. Colossal


My favorite movie this year was an oddball tale so strange I can barely describe it to people who ask. It's about a girl who can conjure up a giant Kaiju-like monster in Seoul, South Korea. But it's also about power, about corruption and about perspective and how men and women navigate power dynamics. It's compelling stuff, and I notice new things every time I see it. It's a singular, unique tale and had a very specific story and goal in mind. I find it endlessly fascinating. Movie of the year for me.

There were also some other movies I wanted to include here, but figured 13 was a nice and neat enough number and didn't want to mess that up, Here's some runners-up:

RUNNERS-UP

Logan
A killer action flick and a superhero film that digs into the gorier, less marketable side of the genre. A simple story but a powerful and memorable film.

Wonder Woman
With how bad the other DC movies have been lately, this was a breath of fresh air. Really well-written, well-directed and well-acted.

Mudbound
A powerful, classic-Hollywood-style epic about race in the 1940s. This had some slightly Hollywoodish moments as it built to the climax, but the real meat of this movie is the sheer day to day minutiae of the weighted relations of white and black people back then. If this doesn't make you angry, you're not paying attention. A sweeping and powerful film.

Gerald's Game
The best Mike Flanagan film since Absentia, this adaptation of a challenging Stephen King novel succeeds on how suspenseful and atmospheric it is. It's a hypnotic and daring horror movie and one of the best of the year for the genre.

Images copyright of their original owners; we own none of them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Disappointments and Worst Movies of 2017

Well, it's that time of year again - when we pass the Godlike judgment on the movies of last year, as if random bloggers' opinions somehow mean everything. But really, none of this truly means anything - it's just the opinions I had all year, and hopefully you'll glean some cathartic entertainment out of this list, if nothing else.

First up is disappointments. There were just a couple of movies this year that I wanted to be good but they didn't live up to what I'd hoped.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Thor: Ragnarok


This wasn't bad, and when it focused on the lead characters bantering and riffing off one another, it was quite fun – director Taika Waititi is good at that sort of thing. But it also had a super generic villain and serious side of the plot. This shit was like someone thought we'd never heard of Hamlet or something. Sorry – I need more than that.

Blade Runner 2049


I really wanted to love this, as Denis Villenueve is my favorite modern director and I've only recently fully “gotten” the original Blade Runner. But this was a lot of gorgeous visuals in service to a boring story that didn't really expand upon anything the original did – 30 years and all we got was a slightly scrambled rehash of themes from that movie. A dull performance by Ryan Gosling doesn't help.

And now the worst of the year - holy shit, there are way more than usual. What a year. Let's not waste any time and just get into this right now!

MY WORST MOVIES OF 2017

9. A Cure for Wellness


A truly ridiculous movie that, in spite of its exciting scenes, is entertaining mostly for how dumb it is and how unbelievable every choice the characters make. It goes on too long and just gets worse as it does so. You'll be tearing out your hair at why the main characters don't just leave this insane asylum – because, of course, there wouldn't be a movie otherwise. The ending twist was probably the worst, but the whole thing is a ghoulish slice of over-done cheese.

8. Mother!


I felt odd about putting this very artsy film from director Darren Aronofsky on a list with some of the rest of this – unlike some of these, this had a clear ambition and was trying to accomplish things. But for me this just didn't work. It treated its characters as chess pieces in service to an allegory, and there just wasn't any real humanity in this, no true complexity. After its two hour runtime was done I felt like I had just been preached to rather than entertained.

7. The Bye Bye Man


A basically objectively awful horror film, hitting every box of cliché and bad writing you'd expect. Like a mutant spawn of every piece of trash I ever reviewed. So bad it's almost funny but is then just bad again.

6. Split


People praised this M. Night Shyamalan vehicle for not being as bad as some other Shyamalan travesties in recent years, but rest assured I am here to tell you he's still a complete fucking hack.

5. Free Fire


Like last year's Hardcore Henry, this was a completely vapid and soul-sucking movie that asked the question 'what if we removed all plot from an action movie and just gave you the shooting scenes?' The answer is that you get an unwatchable movie.

4. Downsizing


I reviewed this a few weeks ago, so go check that out – but this was an infuriatingly pretentious, directionless mess, and director Alexander Payne seems to have completely stepped out of his comfort zone... too far, even. To the point where he's risking being eaten by wolves out there. He should come back to his comfort zone.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales


This was a completely soulless Product™ of a movie, and every choice just seemed to be made to pander to the dumbest levels of the audience. There was nothing about this that was funny or exciting in any way. Johnny Depp is superbly annoying.

2. Justice League


Another movie that exists purely as soulless corporate Product™. Basically Zack Snyder playing with action figures again. An enervated, generic plot and bad characters make this a true slog to get through, and even the action gets boring. Pretty much every single thing about this was mediocre and all of them combined make the movie horrible.

1. Alien Covenant


This just sucks hard. A superbly dumb plot that manages to both rip off the original and be stupid in its own way, which is pretty amazing... this is the worst movie of the year simply because it had nothing redeeming about it, and every single choice made contributed to its horrendous, hacky quality. This is just the pits and I hate it. So it is the worst of this year for me.

Well, that's the 'worst' out of the way - and now we can move on to the best movies of the year, as it's usually better to end on a good note, after all...

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

Right from the title, this is suspect. That's a seriously unwieldy, awkward title – not sure there'll be any T-shirts of that one. And there also won't be any T-shirts because nobody would ever want to touch such an appalling film. We Need To Talk About Kevin is a miserable film and I am here to tell you why.

Director: Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller

I guess this is one of those 'evil kid' movies that was for some reason popular through the years – like the Omen, the Good Son, and so on. Only this time he gets to grow up and we see that it's 100% what you'd expect, a violent sociopath that makes American Psycho look like a well adjusted individual. Who needs surprises in a movie anyway, right?

The movie is done in a jumbled fashion where scenes are shown out of order, for no real discernible reason. I guess they wanted to create some kind of tension or mystery, but the effect this creates is just a simulation of walking into a meeting halfway through and missing all context. For like the first 20 minutes, I was just scratching my head – it was too difficult to tell what the actual story was. There are a few scenes of Tilda Swinton's main character Eva being bombarded with red paint on her house and screamed threats that she's a murderer, a few scenes of her and John C. Reilly as the husband playing with small children and some others of Eva in some other country doing activist work. None of it is put together well. It's like if a small child holding a jigsaw puzzle sneezed and dropped all the pieces everywhere, and then we just made that into a movie to placate him.

I guess eventually we start to see the real story – Eva's son Kevin is, shock and awe, a weird, bad kid! He does wacky shit like mess up Eva's paintings and cry all the time when she's holding him. Wow. What a truly horrible thing and you deserve sympathy more than other people. Though there's at least one scene where she's holding him as a baby and says, with real malice, that she was happy before Kevin was born and now just wants to cry all the time I guess. Gee, real surprise he didn't turn out well... we never return to this again, but honestly, I'd love to see a smarter movie actually tackle bad parenting like that. Too bad this one isn't it.

The movie isn't a fan of brevity or getting to the point, as we cycle through endless vague time-hopping scenes, like a drunk Dr. Who episode, switching from a miserable and enervated looking Eva trying to keep afoot when everyone hates her, to Eva with her family and kids in the past. There are a lot of just boring as fuck scenes of Eva in some office building that finally hires her. And there's one set at Halloween when an army of awful children pound on the windows screaming for candy – Jesus. Where do kids act like this? I want to know so I can recommend we quarantine that hellish place for all of time.

When it isn't showing those pointless scenes, you get downright awful and miserable scenes of Eva trying to relate to her hopelessly sociopathic son. I love the one scene where she's telling him he can decorate his own room to show his personality, and he goes “what personality?” The kid's delivery is just so hammy and the line itself is such dogshit that I'm tempted to say the kid could've done better if he wrote his own dialogue.

There's also a scene where Eva is teaching him to count and, to prove he can, counts from one to 50 in a very obnoxious manner, and then shits his pants. I guess the pants-shitting was meant to rebel against his mother. Truly this kid is the next incarnate of punk rock. Then he farts as he's walking away and she throws him against a wall, breaking his arm. More of those amazing parenting skills! I'm amazed this woman could ever create a child who wasn't well adjusted!

Honestly, I get it – the kid is “just evil.” It isn't the mother's fault because this is a stupid movie that doesn't care about actually saying anything. This is just agonizing, dull scene after agonizing, dull scene of the kid tormenting her and, after she breaks his arm, basically blackmailing her. There's a scene where he makes her go home instead of getting something she needs at the store because of that. Wow, what a riveting scene if you're 89 years old and in a coma. A real nail-biter.

It isn't any better when they grow up and there's a second kid born – if anything, it gets worse when Kevin is a teenager because now he is as pretentious as your average dude-bro atheist philosophy “expert,” only also a psycho fuck. There's a scene where he jerks off in front of his mom, if you were wondering if there was. I know you were. And there's one where he gives her computer a virus. All of these scenes are as bad as any bad movies you ever saw. There's no redeeming value.

I especially love the scene where Eva takes Kevin out for a day for them to just talk, because it's everything bad about the movie – there's one part where they're at some outside eatery and Eva totally randomly says she hates fat people because they're just fat due to eating too much and are unhealthy for that reason. It's totally out of nowhere. Like a scriptwriter just had a bunch of hateful shit he wanted to get off his chest.

Then, at another restaurant later, Kevin shows off those college atheist philosophy reading skills again and pompously “predicts” what his mother is going to do – scold him for fucking girls and then cry because she drank too much wine. It's a carnival of dog shit writing, just terrible garbage spewing everywhere like a malfunctioning sewer. But then, that IS the movie.

Perhaps the crowning moment of awful parenting goes to John C. Reilly as the dad. After an entire movie where he has done nothing except scoff at Eva and say she's dumb for thinking Kevin is bad, he gives Kevin a fucking bow and arrow for Christmas. I can see liking his son – but for Reilly to see that dead-eyed piece of shit he fathered no doubt under the influence of alcohol, and give him a fucking weapon – that's insane to me and the biggest plothole in the film. This kid was never even close to sympathetic, even when Eva broke his arm earlier. He's been shown to be a one-dimensional evil psycho from the beginning. There's no nuance here and it's just crazy that his dad is so blind to this.

It's no surprise that the whole thing ends in a school shooting? He takes a bow and arrow to school like the only angry fucker in America to not have money to buy a gun. He isn't even the real deal – how many of these guys get their sole weapon from their fathers? I think this kid is weak as hell.

I'm making a lot of jokes here, but hey, the movie isn't taking this issue even remotely seriously. What's the message here? A bad kid will turn out bad if you parent him in a terrible way, I guess, and even that's a stretch to say there's any message at all. There's no real exploration of why he turned out that way or what we can do about it – all the movie wants to do is show shocking things for no reason. So fuck that.

Image copyright of its original owner, I don't own it.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Downsizing (2017)

This movie looked something like a quaint, oddball little sci fi – and it was directed by Alexander Payne, who's made a lot of movies I enjoyed like Nebraska and Sideways. It had an interesting premise and the trailers looked fairly fun, so what could go wrong? Apparently, a lot. Pretty much everything in fact.

Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Matt Damon, Hong Chau

SPOILERS AHEAD!

It's about a future world where, to curb the effects of global warming and population overload, humanity finds a way to shrink themselves and drastically reduce their waste, carbon footprint, etc. Which sounds like an interesting concept. The only problem is that this is the kind of movie that doesn't know how to tell that story. Just a little qualm, ya know, a tiny problem.

We start off with a sort of quick rundown of how the technology and science behind the world existed – it was, uh, invented by scientists. Wow. I never would've guessed. Totally worth not just doing a text crawl or having a minute of exposition in the beginning, right? I love that they show the first families who underwent the procedure to become small, which is irreversible apparently. There's at least one family with small children. I feel like that's a form of child abuse – those kids didn't fucking get a say in that. You're just breeding the next generation of angry rebel kids listening to shitty punk and emo music here.

Then we get main character Matt Damon, who is a bland white guy who cares about the environment. There are some throwaway, kind of obvious scenes where he sees small people and kind of is in awe of it, I guess. There are a lot of time jumps – you see him with his mom for about a minute, then it jumps 10 years and he has a wife. Kind of awkward. You wouldn't lose much if you didn't have the scene with the mom. A bit poorly edited maybe.

It takes over an hour for them to get to the point where they're actually ready to shrink themselves. I'd say this was overkill and a poor use of time, but for me this was actually the interesting part of the film – watching them debate over it and really consider the ramifications is actually a bit dramatic and interesting; words I can't use to describe anything that happens later.

I'm serious – after this, it really does just kind of go off the rails. I was wondering if they were just making it up as they went along – there's not much of a coherent story. I could tell you plot points in conversation and you'd think I was kidding or that I was ad-libbing some shit. But no, everything I'm about to tell you really happens.

So, I guess you get a long scene of preparing Damon to be shrunk – you get to see them strip him naked, take out his teeth and put a douche up his ass, which I guess was a fetish of his. Hey, we're all into something.

Then it turns out his wife doesn't end up going through with it – the character isn't written well enough for this to be totally believable, and it mostly just makes her look like a terrible person for no reason. We never really see her again, so it'd almost have been better if he never had a wife. What a clusterfuck...

Then, no joke, you get close to another hour of boring scenes of him just living as a tiny person. It's infuriating to me that he gets a job at a call center. The whole first half of the movie, he had said he wanted to be this great surgeon, and he worked in a medical position in the “big” world. And there's a plot point that money you had originally is exponentially multiplied when you shrink – so Damon's character is essentially a multimillionaire. All that money and all that time he spent bitching about wanting to be a doctor – and he works at a fucking call center when he shrinks? You have got to be kidding me. That was almost enough for me to walk out of the theater right there.

But it keeps going. For some reason, they decide to introduce a plot point about a Vietnamese woman activist who was apparently shrunk as punishment in prison. Now she lives in the same place Damon does, and the two strike up an unlikely friendship. She lost her foot due to a disease, I guess, and Damon, being a complete idiot, accidentally breaks it. So now HE has to work as a maid and clean houses to make up for her incapacitation! Oh the hijinks! Did I mention the comedy in this is bad? It's kind of like if your uncle's jokes at holiday dinners mutated in a lab and came to life.

This character also speaks in a goofy, exaggerated way that comes off like how a low-brow 60s comedy would have played an Asian character. The actress, Hong Chau, does an admirable job anyway, but it's funny to me that a film this much about saving the planet and being progressive in that way doesn't care about being racist.

Then for whatever reason, they end up all going to Norway – is this sounding like a terrible improv yet? Honestly, at this point I was so bored and annoyed with this movie, the only way it could have improved for me was a mass killing spree of most of the characters. Just utter carnage. A bloodbath, with most of these characters knifed to death right before they had the best day of their lives and they knew it. That's what would have made this movie better.

… which made it all the stranger when, in Norway, we find out that the guy who invented the 'downsizing' process is now certain that the world is ending. He and his wife say that. The world ending is now part of the plot of this movie about a shrinking Matt Damon. I can't even properly convey how insane all this is.

So, if for some reason you're not drunk into a coma at this point of the film, I guess the plot NOW is about a weird Amish-esque cult of people led by that founder guy, who have built a bunker to go live in while the world ends. I was really wishing this was actually a prequel to The Walking Dead. Wouldn't that be something? They come out of the bunker and then a zombie immediately eats all of them in one bite, like M&Ms.

But instead all we get is Damon, a spineless creature in the end, just joining this cult. He really has no personality or convictions of his own and just goes along with whatever is right in front of him like a dumb animal.

Fortunately, Damon decides against it at the last minute because he's in love with the Vietnamese lady, and also because he finds out it's going to be an 11 hour walk to the bunker these Norwegians built – honestly, the way the movie shows it, it's mostly because of the long walk.

Then, I guess, he just kind of goes back to the normal boring life he was already living. That's really how it ends – no other big revelations or twists or anything. What a wet fart of an ending...

This was just a bad movie. I really didn't know what to expect – it wasn't this, though. There were interesting parts in the first act, but ultimately the film didn't know what to do with its characters or story, and things went way off track as it kept going. Later on, you get non-sequitur plots apparently attempting to be socially relevant, and for that you need to actually be smarter to pull it off – this movie didn't hit the mark. All in all, they should've shrunk this down to a short film. Well, this has been fun. Bye!

Image copyright of its original owners; we don't own it.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

All Hallows Eve 2 (2015)

The first All Hallows Eve movie may not have been for everyone, but it was notable for the unusual savagery and violence it had compared to other such cheesy and campy Halloween flicks of its type – it was actively uncomfortable to watch. Then I guess someone wasn't happy with that, so they made a sequel and said 'okay, change absolutely everything, take out your cool clown mascot character, and also make it fucking terrible.' Here's All Hallows Eve 2!

Director: Various
Starring: A ouija board and a glass of wine

Co-written with Nathan.

Like the first one, this is an anthology of short horror films, each by a different director. But the first one had three fairly fleshed out stories with clear plots and development from beginning to end. This one has about four billion shorter stories and none of them are that good – in fact, the whole thing is like a wet fart, with no worthwhile moments and nothing of substance. They didn't even bring back their clown mascot, Art, from the first one. Instead, we get the jackass pumpkin-faced killer on the cover, who's never given a name or any kind of storyline. Just look at this piece of garbage:


Don't you just hate it already? It's like a watered down, dollar-store knock off version of a nationally well-known brand. It just sucks, reeking of pandering and not trying very hard. He is probably the kind of guy who bums rides off of his friends and then makes fun of them in a way that he thinks is much more charming than it really is, all while smoking in the car even though you asked him three times not to. Anyway, let's move on...

The wrap-around story is already a step down from the first one. This time, rather than the babysitter and the kids exchanging actual dialogue like real characters, we get a random mid-20s chick sitting at home alone drinking wine, playing with a Ouija board, asking it whether her boyfriend is going to come over or not. You know, I don't blame her boyfriend for not being there – this chick is kinda lame.

Yeah, fuck all the cool Halloween parties at bars, THIS is where the fun's REALLY at!

Then a mysterious haunted video tape is dropped off at her doorstep. So she starts watching it... wow, is that the entire set-up? How much lazier can you get?

The first story is about a babysitter carving a pumpkin with some dumb kid, in a world that recalls the 1978 Halloween with the Halloween imagery turned up to 1,000. You could overdose on the amount of orange colors and pumpkin imagery just in the first scene.

What season is it again?!

I guess they try to bake some pumpkin seeds for whatever reason, and the little kid accidentally starts choking on one. Here's where Nathan and I tried to play a game: who's dumber, the kid for choking on a fucking pumpkin seed, or the babysitter who's first idea for first aid is to take a knife to the kid's throat to try and get it out that way? I think I'm going with the babysitter. I mean, fuck calling 9-1-1, am I right? What can THOSE jackasses do?

What was her plan for when this kid's parents come home? "Sorry guys, I had to cut your kid's throat"? I have a feeling she wouldn't be called back.

Then I guess it turns out the pumpkin seeds start mutating into some kind of vague Alien-like chest-burster thing, which is the end of the story as both of them die from it. Wow. I am so amazed that this cliché deadpan sarcasm is all I can muster up. If this isn't the worst fear-mongering I've ever seen about GMOs, then I guess it's just a shitty horror story.

Second story is about a bunch of kids trick or treating in some weird post-apocalyptic hellscape. They come across a heavily guarded house that turns on its lights just to tell them to go away. Wow, sounds like you already had your mind made up, huh jackass? Inside, I guess, it's a dude and his wife, both kind of sick looking, pondering if it's even Halloween at all. Because the best Halloween movies are set in dreary dystopias where you don't know if it's Halloween. Ah the spirit of the holidays.

Yeah, I'm sick of the movie too. Maybe go get some Mucinex.

The kids find their ways inside, only to turn into a bunch of actual monsters for, uh, no reason that I can see. Seriously, there's no explanation. This shit is the equivalent of homework turned in with no explaining how you got the answer to that math problem. It's basically like an unfinished plot. I guess we do get some decent makeup for a few minutes?

I'm also calling bullshit on the devil in this one - I saw the first All Hallows Eve, and the devil in THAT movie's story about a cult that impregnates women in the sewer looked nothing like THIS guy. Clearly this is a sham and I want my money back. Is this the kind of shitty service I can expect from this establishment???

It's Satan's make-over day here at All Hallows Eve.

It ends with, I dunno, the wife sitting in the dark and then disappearing. What does it mean? Who knows - maybe her contract expired before they could finish shooting.

"My contract didn't cover speaking more than two lines, or even really getting up from kneeling. Too bad!"

It really doesn't get any better from here on out – there are a lot of half-baked stories with no good characters, story ideas or scares. It really just seems like there wasn't much thought put into these – I hate to dump on a bunch of indie filmmakers probably trying their best, but they're just kind of bad all around. I love how you barely ever even go back to the wrap-around story about the girl with the Ouija board. What was the point of even having it then?

I'll try to say something positive here... uh, it's less misogynist than the first movie? Maybe? However I don't get why that means they had to make this one so boring. Honestly, I was hoping for a shot of Art the murderous clown from last movie in therapy for his horrific crimes. It would be stupid, but at least it would tie together the two movies.

Like, one story is just a three-minute thing where some idiot teenagers go to a carnival and the first thing they see is a booth where you're allowed to throw deadly weapons at a person tied to a board defenseless. I always loved doing this the moment I walked into a fucking carnival too:

I guess doing this in public where anyone can see is no big deal... oh who am I kidding, trying to nitpick at something this vapid?

And it turns out one of the kids is the son of the guy tied up, and the guy apparently abused the kid. So then you just get a few quick shots of them throwing knives and spiked balls at the guy's crotch and stuff. Wow. I have no idea what we're supposed to gain from this except that child abuse is BAD and only SPAWNS MORE VIOLENCE LATER... oh, wait, it doesn't even really mean to say the second part. Never mind. Forgive me for accusing this movie of ever having a point.

Another one is absurdly long and focuses on a little kid afraid of a monster under the bed. There are absolutely no surprises here – it goes exactly as you expect. The kid is afraid of a monster, his mom tells him it's not real, there is some tragic backstory about his dad dying in the war so he is obsessed with his dad's old dog tags. All that's missing is Christopher Walken with a solid speech about how there was a watch up his ass for years.

Man I wish there was a watch-up-ass story in this. It would be one thing that actually came out from up its own ass in this story.

Honestly, I was so bored with this, I just used it as naptime before the next story. It's by far the longest one for no reason at all. How does it end; the mother getting sucked under the bed and the kid screaming like every single story like this? ZZZzzzzzz...

Of special ridiculousness is the final story, which is an absurd Spanish horror story about this guy who finds a ghost on his computer. Weird, usually that's just called porn ads. Are you sure you had your ad blocker running, dude?

Ah yes, the greatest social media site, Unnamed Facebook Knockoff Because Copyright. I love it so.

It's just another boring-ass story – nothing at all of interest happens, and the ghost kills this dude and his girlfriend at the end and that's it. It's straightforward to the point of being completely uneventful. But why is it in Spanish with no subtitles? The movie itself is all in English otherwise. It just feels like someone put this whole anthology together at the last minute after a cocaine binge once he realized it was almost time to turn it in.

Then in the wrap-around story, we get a very quick, watered down version of the ending of the first one - the girl tries to turn off the evil videotape, only it doesn't work. Instead, the pumpkin-faced killer appears and then comes into real life and kills her! Wow! All those other dumb movies that had EXPLANATIONS and STORYLINES for their killers sure are suckers! Who knew all you needed was a quick two-second shot of your killer murdering someone at the very end of an anthology that had nothing to do with him? It's SO FUCKING EASY.

That's All Hallows Eve 2. It's so boring and dumb that I don't even want to finish this review properly. It would be more effort to do that than anyone put into this movie... so, bye!

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